Archives for November 2011

Novelty Snacks of Bangladesh

If you can find them.

Bangladesh wasn’t the easiest place to novelty snack, but we were still able to find a few treats.

Novelty Snack: Dried Peas
Description: Peas fried with spices and salt
Tastes Like: The texture of these peas reminded me of the last few popcorn kernels in the bowl that only half popped. Molly says the flavor is the equivalent of veggie “fried chicken.”
Verdict: Thumbs up!


Novelty Snack: Sun Chips, wasabi flavor
Description: “Every bite is a pleasure.”
Tastes Like: Wasabi flavored Ruffles
Verdict: Thumbs neutral


Novelty Snack: Pillow Chocolate Chips
Description: “Pillows with rich chocolate filling.”
Tastes Like: Stale Cocoa Puffs with a smidge of Nutella knock-off filling.
Verdict: Thumbs neutral

xo, jill

Running free.

Baby buns!

The kids in Bangladesh were just adorable. They were always running about playing with huge smiles on their faces. Their smiles may have had something to do with being allowed to run around pant-less.

Molly captured a few of these adorable kiddos with her camera.

Now doesn’t that just look “delightful?”*

It was so fun to see them running wild, playing imaginative games, and having fun.

xo, jill

*Let’s keep that an inside joke, family.

Sour: Part 2

Ridiculous demands and Pizza Hut.

We woke up the morning after wandering the night time streets feeling really ready to go. Our flight didn’t leave until later in the day so we had several hours to fill. We knew that asking a taxi to take us to one of the few remaining tourist attractions was out of the question. Instead, we decided to stay in our hotel watching Animal Planet for as long as possible.

Near midday we finally headed out in search of a restuarant where we could finish off those last few hours before heading to the airport. A taxi agreed to take us to where we were going for 50 takas. Very reasonable. Of course, we didn’t end up at our agreed upon destination. After a few extra trips around the block we decided that perhaps the restaurant didn’t actually exist. We decided to just let the driver drop us at Pizza Hut like he had already tried to do a few minutes before. This is when things got interesting.

I paid the driver but he would not accept the money. He kept smiling and saying, “50,000.” Remember how we agreed to pay him 50? Of course, we were not going to pay the taxi driver 50,000 taka when our hotel room cost 1,000 taka. What was he thinking? It didn’t take too long for a crowd to gather. After a lot of talking and shouting (not us) the price was lowered to 500 taka. Molly and I were not having it. Finally, someone came along who spoke English and both parties could explain the story. The referee agreed with us that 50 taka was a fair price for the ride. The driver was upset that he had to take so many trips around the block and therefore would only accept 150 taka for his troubles. At this point, Molly settled it. She half tucked, half tossed money at the driver so it would land on that little ledge your pants create with your shirt, declared “70 taka, finished!” and stormed off into the Pizza Hut. I was about .5 seconds behind her.

[Here are the amounts in US dollars: We agreed to pay $.65. The driver demanded $652. The dispute was settled with $.91.]

Over pizza Molly and I talked out what had happened. Settling money issues is by far my least favorite aspect of travel. It’s so frustrating when you think you’ve settled on a fair price but are surprised when you reach your destination. Usually, I don’t mind paying a little extra for drivers who work really hard getting you where you’re going… but I don’t like drivers who claim they know the way and then demand more money when they get lost. By the end of our pizza we were ready to giggle about it a bit. “50,000!” became our new favorite joke of the trip.

At this point we just decided to head to the airport early. Between the night before and our taxi kerfuffle, we were ready to go.

And then there was the plane ride.

xo, jill

Sour: Part 1

Dark streets and a few random photos.

Unfortunately, our trip to Bangladesh ended on a bit of a sour note. Our only option to get back to Chittagong in time for our flight was a night bus. Our guidebook suggested avoiding night travel if possible, but we really didn’t have a choice. Our driver was fearless as he talked on the phone while navigating through dense fog, potholes, speed bumps, stray animals, and other fearless drivers. It was a bumpy ride. Four hours later we arrived at the deserted bus depot at one in the morning. The baby taxis that started to swarm around us were driven by men with “crazy eyes.” I kid you not. We elected to ride with the least crazy looking driver and headed over to our original hotel. I suppose if we had planned ahead we wouldn’t have been met with a closed gate and a sleeping security guard. Despite knowing there was no way possible the hotel was full, we were turned away. “No rooms.” BS.

Hmm… I don’t know if I need to explain, but the streets of Chittagong don’t exactly exude a friendly feel. One of the many men sitting on stools in the middle of the night offered to walk us over to a nearby hotel. We were a bit skeptical but grateful for his help. This hotel was also locked up but he rang for an employee and explained that we were two “foreigners” needing a room. The hotel immediately wanted to know where our husbands were so I quickly explained that our husbands were working in Dhaka (the capital). Molly added that they had to work but we had a holiday. We are wonderful actresses when given a chance. Unfortunately, two foreign women wanting a hotel room in the middle of the night was just too perplexing. We were turned away again.

At this point it was about 1:30am and neither of us were thrilled. We found another hotel in the guidebook that was just a few blocks away. Our kind friend offered to walk us there too. Well, by this time we had made a few “friends.” And by friends I mean, men who were following us down the street in the middle of the night in Chittagong. Not such a comfy feeling. Good thing I had Molly who will masterfully go Momma Bear when need be. I believe her exact words were, “Please stop! You are too close!” and you know there was a hand motion. She was successful in at least getting this particular follower to walk beside us inside of directly behind. It’s infinitely more comfortable to be followed from the side than the back. (You know, if you have to be followed.)

Bicycle rickshaw ride.

Finally, we arrived at the third hotel of the night. The staff wasn’t exactly friendly but we were allowed to check in (even though the rate was higher than typical). At last we made it to a hotel room only now we had a new problem. The bellboy would not leave. I suppose our hints (like saying “Ok, thank you.” and tipping) just weren’t direct enough. After a few awkward facial expressions to each other, we managed to get him out. We settled into our rock hard beds very eager for sleep.

xo, jill

Feeling thankful

for so much.

Last night some friends and I gathered for a little Thanksgiving pre-celebration*. As usual, the food was bountiful and delicious.

Sarah prepared a little Thanksgiving craft for us as well. Gotta love the turkey variety.

When you can’t celebrate with family, having such a lovely group of friends really does help the holiday feel special. I mean, for most people in Abu Dhabi, today is just a regular Thursday!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American family and friends!

xo, jill

*my spell check really wanted to change “pre-celebration” to “pee-celebration.” Hehe, I could only imagine.

Markets, monasteries, and mermaids.

Dead cows and Sebastian too!

Our last day in Cox’s Bazaar we were determined to make it to Mermaid Eco-Resort. Our bus back to Chittagong didn’t depart until 9pm, so we had a lot of time to kill. We figured we should check out a few places around town, and then try to spend as much time as possible at the resort.

First we visited the Burmese Market via bicycle rickshaw. Unfortunately, most of the stalls were closed. The ones that were open sold the same bangles and scarfs you can buy in several countries… so it was a pretty quick stop. Then we stopped into a Buddhist monastery which I think was Aggmeda Khyang. That consisted of a large teak building we were not allowed to take pictures of, getting major side-eye from a monk, and being asked for a donation. You could probably skip it.

The market and the monastery were a bit lackluster, but don’t worry because the drive itself was quite memorable. Our last day in Cox’s Bazaar coincided with the actual Eid holiday, the day the animals are slaughtered. We saw plenty of dead cows. Some were slaughtered in a field, others in the road. Some were already chopped to bits by the time we passed, others were just getting started. The cow is divided into thirds to share with immediate family, friends and relatives, and the poor. All day long people were walking along the road holding clear plastic bags containing cow parts. Some were making deliveries, others were bringing their meaty gift home. It was an interesting religious ritual to observe, but I think I’ve seen enough.

Finally, we made it to the Mermaid Eco-Resort after a quick stop at a “waterfall”. Turns out the reason it was so hard to find is that it’s about 20 kilometers down the beach. We were only off by about 15km.

We immediately booked a boat ride for later in the afternoon and relaxed in their cafe. We didn’t realize that the boat ride was actually just transport to a private beach where you are left for several hours. We weren’t really interested in that (you’d have to see the beaches) so instead we just took a quick ride out and back.

Our boat did not look this cool. More like the one in the middle. / Photo by Molly.

Photo by Molly

The island was covered with these little red crabs exactly like The Little Mermaid. Do you know how badly I wanted to sing “Under the Sea?” They were pretty cute and super fast!

Photo by Molly

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the resort relaxing and snacking.

xo, jill

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