Bangladesh travel preparations 1/2

When I was 19 and 20 years old I travelled around Asia and south-east Asia.  This was a few decades ago, and, aside from airline staff and staff in hotels too expensive for me to stay in, few people spoke any English in most countries, although India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia to an extent were exceptions.

So on the plane, flying from one country to another, I’d learn enough of the language to be able to communicate for basic things.  In Laos I even had to use my appalling French. I was somewhere on the road between Vientiane and Luang Prabang in the jungle, taking the only transport available – a petrol tanker, and soldier riding with us could speak French, and thus explain why were had stopped.

Travelling in Bangladesh was like that kind of travelling I did as a student.  Normally I don’t plan or study much before travelling, but in this case I did, as otherwise I would be floundering around, as accurate information was hard to come by, WiFi rarely available, and I wasn’t sure of how good the mobile Internet coverage would be.

I did try to study the language on the plane, but the only two words that stuck were the words for “one” and “thank you”.  The rest I had to check on the printout of most useful words I had prepared. A pretty abysmal effort on my part this time.

So, this is my planning for this trip.  Read Part 2/2 here after this blog.

PLANNING
1. Get e-book travel guide copy for tablet and phone
2. Read Seat 61 & http://www.railway.gov.bd/ & http://forum.trans-sibtraveller.com/viewforum.php?f=11
3. Read Trip  Advisor  Forums and Lonely Planet’s  Thorntree
4. Search for a few blogs – read some Japanese ones
5. Penang Club Library for travel guides
6. Checked Couchsurfing – hosts, groups – for meetups and events – and Airbnb –
7. Downloaded and read Triposo (app) – have on tablet and phone – for Bangladesh
8. Wikitravel article on Bangladesh
9. Checked were was appropriate for the weather – April and May Silhet best
10. Visa on demand – USD$50.  Rang High Commission to confirm visa on arrival availability and cost. ( Mr Shahin, High Commission KL – direct 0342510146 ) (Check my next blog (2/2) for more on the visa.)
11. School holidays & public holidays etc.- Malaysia (1 & 3 May) Same Bangladesh (1 & 3 May). Not school holidays.
12. Checked flight schedule – MAS has three flights a day
13. Made more detailed plan including route, schedules and choices, all contact and other info
14. Booked flights – Try 21/04 MH1133, MH 102 out /  28/04 MH113, MH1134   inbound.
15. Printed out 13., air e-tickets, addresses, etc.
16. Packed
17. Get cash & USD cash = $100 in small bills – for visa and any emergency
18. Checked all airlines and hotels for contact details (& schedules)
19. Check latest news regarding safety, demonstrations etc.
20. Phone banks & say I will use credit / debit cards in Bangladesh.
21. Water plants
22. Check travel insurance cover
23. Book taxi to airport
24. Fully charge phone, camera, tablet
25. Put reading matter on tablet, and backed up tablet and phone
26. Printed out language list for tourists
27. Polished shoes

On 20/04/2014
1 USD = 77.9 BDT
1 AUD = 60.6 BDT
1 GBP = 115.8 BDT

Luggage

I travel light when alone.  With the clothes I chose I could mix and match to make different combinations.  I planned to wash every night in the hotel, so always chose a room with air-con. Socks are hard to dry unless you have a hair dryer in the hotel, so I wore them for two days and then threw them away.  With two pairs of trousers I didn’t need to wash them during the trip – although I could wash off a patch that got dirty and it would dry.  And other things were chosen in part because they dry easily.

My luggage weighed a tad over 7KG – the MAS hand carry limit is 5KG – but they didn’t bother to check. If I put the tablet and all cords and adapters in my pockets I’d be under 5KG. Normally I take a very light umbrella, but I skipped it to save weight.  I didn’t bother with the driving licence.  And I used everything I took, with the exception of the utensils – as I could always get them at a restaurant, the iodine – as I could always get bottled water, which I also used for brushing my teeth, the colloidal silver spray – as I didn’t need to disinfect anything, the antibiotics – as I had no need to,and spare batteries as the torch batteries lasted (but the torch was useful during blackouts).

The only thing I could have skipped, and thus saved 1KG is the tablet and the charger. I used the tablet a lot, but I could have used the phone, although it would have been harder. The tablet has a keyboard so typing is easy, and I typed up my notes – on the phone it is not impossible with the on-screen keyboard, but much more time-consuming. I also used the tablet to read a novel, and to consult the guidebook – both of which I could do on the phone, but it’s not as nice on the small screen. I did use the phone to consult the guidebook when my luggage (and tablet) was at the hotel and I was out, though. And for browsing the Internet the tablet’s screen is easier. I copied my camera’s photos onto the tablet every night as a backup. It was easier to check and then delete unwanted photos from the tablet’s bigger screen. Finally, I could use the battery of the tablet to top up the charge on the phone, so the tablet was a kind of semi-portable spare phone battery.

This is my list:

Documents Clothes 4 electronics Toiletries
directions socks 5 eBooks on tablet & phone toothbrush
(driving licence) underwear 2 music on tablet & phone toothpaste
cash shirts 2 UK triple adapter floss
emerg USD hat 1 adapter plug shampoo
debit card trousers 2 mobile charger hairbrush
credit card – visa belt mobile hair gel
glasses shoes 1 earphones fragrance
sunglasses swim cost camera soap
(umbrella) flip-flops camera charger wet razor
passport eye mask camera batteries 3 cotton buds
passport copy day pack tablet CS spray
packing list copy sleeping sheet tablet charger CS gel
MY visa copy umbrella mini-tripod tissues
passport photo USB-micro- USB cord towel
pen USB sd card reader nail clippers
paper torch & spare batteries lip cream
travel insurance card mobile phone/cam pouch ziplock bags
wallet camera blower/cleaner laundry detergent
money pouch laundry line
e-ticket printout pegs
mossie repellant
toilet paper
antibiotics
spoon etc.
iodine for water purif.
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