Monday, Monday (remember the Mama and the Papas song?), well, make that Friday, Friday, May 28, May 28!

Slept well in Bangkok hotel in our luxurious sheets and robes and slippers and after a nice buffet breakfast, we were off and running!  First stop Grand Palace but way of an express boat to Pier 9.  Spent some peaceful, meditative time, sitting on floor in front of Emerald Buddha and watching them prepare for some big ceremony where all the monks come to the Grand Palace and get new robes or something like that.  The ceremony was not open to the public.  I used the time to pray to Buddha, Allah, and the Holy Trinity to guide Christopher’s surgeon as he faced his hernia repair today.  In addition to great physicians and nurses, he had the best of the best spiritual energy protecting him as well!  And of course, Kathy at his side.

heading up the Chao Praya River

chris and betty waiting for the boat taxi

Grand Palace

this dude is prety tall!

martha and the elephants

my fav: like the yoga position "the goddess"

After the Grand Palace, or was it before, I purchased a pair of Bangkok sandals which are a little blingy, but I love them.  Unfortunately, I paid all of @20 for them because I didn’t even haggle?  What was I thinking?  Fact is, it didn’t occur to me, and by the time my friends were giving me the eye, I had already agreed to 700 Bat!  Oh well, they are cool and I wore them to dinner Wednesday night! 

 After dropping off our purchases we did some shopping nearby, and then decided to find a Jim Thompson (Thai Silk King) factory outlet.  Got a cab, and that cab ride lasted over an hour with Betty and Martha believing the driver was literally and figuratively taking us for a ride—in the end the fare was ~ $6, so he didn’t make much, but we sure did see the city.  The good news is we did end up at the outlet, and it was lovely, and even had a nice Jim Thompson small restaurant where I had some to-die-for Tam Yum Goong soup.  Best ever, although I would have to say that Tuptim at home is very authentic.  Got a at home with Jim Thompson cookbook for Jan, Mitch and I to try!

eating my favorite thai food in thailand

Another long taxi rides back to the hotel and then took our long boat ride (we were the only passengers) along the Chao Praya River and into the Klongs areas.  Tried some street vendor chicken satay on walk back to hotel.  Heavenly.  Here are some of the photos from the boat ride. Yet another slice of Asian life:

4-5 hours sleep, then 2:30 am to airport! 

luggin the luggage in Bangkok airport

Two more flights, both long.  BKK (Bangkok) to NRT (Norita, Tokyo)  6 hours and then NRT to DTW—12 hours .  This is the day of two Fridays for us!  And for the third time, Pringles to the rescue because that has been the only edible food offered to us and I am hungry.  I slept on the first flight and am now wide awake, and the rest of the plane is asleep, and all the lights are off!!

Very ready to be home, but so lucky to have had this experience, a whole new dimension has been added to my life, an awareness of daily life for millions of people half a world away, and a place in my heart for the people of South Asia and esp. the people of Chittagong, Bangladesh. 

As we said when parting, Til we meet again…and of course, we then had to once again belt out “Happy Trails to You…” slightly out of tune, of course!

So, the end of this blog is here.  Many thanks to all who endured it and thanks for all the comments—they kept me writing.  May have one more entry with some of the disposable camera photos once we get them digitized.

P.S. ( and it’s a big one).  Finally make it home–seats on the last flight which was the longest were in the middle of the middle.  I think that has become  a bottom line “never gain” for me for long flights–looking forward to my welcoming committee–will it be Lloyd?  will he bring Chip which I requested?  Will anyoe else come?  Those were the questions and the answers were:  NONE OF THE ABOVE.  Didn’t even remember that I was due home today.  Oh well, so much for being missed I guess!!  The entire flight became aware of my dilemma as we waiting for customs and immigration.  Many thought I should leverage this for years to come!!  I say all’s well that ends well!

Published in: on May 29, 2010 at 4:59 am  Comments (3)  

The Bangladesh Broads now based in Bangkok!!

Tuesday May 25, 2010, at the end of the day and proceeded by one last shopping trip to the same store (only store we went to and we went there 3 times!—well, we did go to a grocery store once!), and we received guests at the guest house!  Reaz and Morshed joined us for dinner.  We all were a little reluctant to eat out since I’d gotten sick at the first and last venture with Chittagong restaurants. 

Morshed announced that we would be having a special treat:  Litaya fish (couldn’t find it on Wikipedia!), and it was prepared two different ways for us:  one was deep fried with a batter and one was in sort of a sauce.  See photos below.  We tried really hard to like it, but the fried one had many bones and when I had to remove a spine from my mouth, the heaving started, which I hopefully disguised.  There was also some snapper, but I am just a little saturated with eating fish, unless perhaps some great whitefish (with absolutely NO bones) or some beer battered cod presented itself! 

morshed and eaz at the last supper 5-25-2010 CEITC guest house

 

latiya fish preparation #1

latiya fish preparation #2

So, we made it through the dinner and Morshed sang to us again, which will be an important memory to all of us.  They presented us with gifts (teas and Nescafe) and of course a bag for their beloved Patricia as well!

 Shapown and Kaisar were up bright and early with breakfast for us at 6 am, and by 0630 we were on the way to the airport.  Best car ride yet in Bangladesh—very little traffic!!  Reaz stayed with us in the airport, haggled us out of any overweight charges (they were here helping our country he said to the authorities) and stayed with us right through security and then waved good bye and said “Bye, mums”, because we were his mothers too and his mother agreed that sons can’t have too many mothers!

 Flight to Dhaka was uneventful, we were on United Airways, not be confused with United Airlines!  Very different.  Let’s just leave it at that!  We had quite a long layover in Dhaka with all our luggage, but we negotiated it just fine and found our way to the International Terminal which was much nicer and even found Pringles to buy.  For the second time on this trip, Pringles saved the day!  Dhaka to Bangkok was also uneventful and on Thai airlines which is very nice.  Flight attendants, (new terminology is Cabin Crew) wear traditional Thai attire.  Food was semi-edible, although Betty loved hers! and once I got to move to a seat that wasn’t wet and sticky it was a nice flight!

As always, hot and humid in Bangkok, but we managed to get to Royal Orchid Sheraton, where thanks to the empty hotel and Betty’s Starwood club membership, we got rooms on the preferred floor level, complete with fruit tray as you can see in the photo below! 

royal orchid welcoming gift!

 

rose apple, hairy lychees and other fruit!

 The pinkish colored smooth fruit is rose apple and it is very good—much like a jicama, and the hairy lychees peel easily and were very good!   We had dinner outside riverside, and then headed to Pat Pong, the red light district which Betty felt was essential to our Bangkok experience and she was right!  We believe three hot broads from USA really added to the atmosphere of that district that night!   Night markets not yet open due to the riots and fighting, and today was the first day that schools were re-opened. 

Published in: on May 29, 2010 at 4:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Ch-Ch–Chittagong, Cha, Cha, Cha

Some photos of life and times in Chittagong…

out and about on the compound

I just might bring this sign home!

roadside retail

after the rains

ooohhh the traffic!

And today, Tuesday May 25 is our last full day here.  After breakfast we gave small gifts to the guest house staff:  Shapown, Aktar, Safiq and Kaisar (not in photo)Shapown, Safiq and Aktar

 After breakfast we went for our final project meeting where we gave an exit summary of our work, our impressions and our recommendations.  We made a toast to new friendships becoming old friendships and til we meet again–we toasted with green coconut water, “nothing hard” as they say!

Then Mr. Morshed talked about his country and his hopes and dreams and then sang Bangladeshi folk songs for us, and translated after each verse.  It was very moving.  We too then had singing to offer:  they got our rendition of Teensy Weensy spider, Row, ROw Row your boat in rounds (we didn’t get that quite right), a robust Hail to the VIctors (our Ohio colleague abstained and made sarcastic comments about recent OSU football victories), and then GOd Bless America.  We certainly entertained ourselves if not our hosts!  Not quite done yet tho, we did the Dale Evan’s Roy Rogers, “Happy Trails to you”, and then being finally warmed up, we started a Chittagong rap!  Ch-Ch-Chittagong, Cha, Cha, Cha.  Everyone got up and danced with that!~  It was a fun way to bring closure to lots of hard work together.

A final celebratory dinner tonight at the guest house (not at restaurant because that is where we think I got sick from). 

Signing off/c.

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 9:04 am  Comments (2)  

Hopes and Dreams

The rain began a couple of days ago, and although, not the monsoons yet (they say it is the tail end of storms in northern India), ithas been a nice change in the weather esp.  the temperature.  Rain cools it down quite a bity–even turned off A/C in my room!   Although we felt the grounds and plantlife was tropical and lush prior to the rain–we can sure see the difference now that everything has had a good drink.  Green, green, green! 

In between rains we had a chance to go visit the Imperial Hospital Building Site.  This building represents the hopes and dreams of our sponsor and it has now become a hope and dream of my own, to help in any way to see it to fruition.  The construction site is huge, it was conceived by an American architect.  The workers on the construction site that we observed are young and very hard working and move materials around the site (which is in a swail, so multiple levels) by hand .

Professor and the site visit team

workers at construction site

We plan to return to Chittagong for the commissioning of the hospital and the opening of the School of Nursing, if not before.  Getting close to departure day and our hearts are a little heavy…

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 8:19 am  Leave a Comment  

CTG Port

Today we had the opportunity to see the Chittagong INternational Port which is the largest seaport in Bangladesh, located by the estuary of the Karnaphuli River in Patenga.  It is a deepwater seaport dominated by trade in containerised manufactured products (especially ready-made garments), raw materials and to a lesser extent passengers. It is one of the two main sea port of Bangladesh – most of the export and import of the country are handled via this port. (from wikipedia!)  We saw many, many large secure areas with large shipping containers–either waiting to out, or having just been unloaded.  Just like the ones that drugs and dead bodies are smuggled into in the novels I read! 

Driving to the seaport allowed us to see some areas a little less dense with people, at least along the highway.  THere were even times when we could travel over 25 mph!!  Still many vehicles and many lanes, and it’s kind of personal choice which lane you choose! 

Chittagong Port

  

Fishing boats

  

fishing boats and freighters side by side

 

Largest port in Bangladesh

And the influence of American mega companies seen in every country I’ve ever been to: 

just can't get away from it...

It was a very rewarding day–seeing yet another dimension of this country and its people.

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Name that fruit #2

It is the fruit of Bangladesh. Grows on trees everywhere, and the fruit gets very big!

Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds in weight and up to 36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter. The exterior of the compound fruit is green or yellow when ripe. The interior consists of large edible bulbs of yellow, banana-flavored flesh that encloses a smooth, oval, light-brown seed. The seed is 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and is white and crisp within. There may be 100 or up to 500 seeds in a single fruit, which are viable for no more than three or four days. When fully ripe, the unopened jackfruit emits a strong disagreeable odor, resembling that of decayed onions, while the pulp of the opened fruit smells of pineapple and banana.

Tall jackfruit tree on the CEITC grounds

And….drum roll…
the fruit in a bowl ready to be served! Our team gave it mixed reviews–I would describe it as pretty to look at, but pretty mild to taste!

JAckfruit ready to eat!

Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 10:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Out and about in Chittagong…

Here are some photos of urban life on the main drag in Chittagong.  The pictures don’t quite give you the feel for the number of people and vehicles!

main drag in Chittagong

Back on the compound, we got to watch mangoes being harvested from the trees:

picking mangoes from the tree!

and finally for this post…another new food.  This is called 

shafeda

kind of fig-like–not our fav!! And also not sure we have that name right!  Every day a new food to try!
Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 3:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Name that fruit!

Name that fruit!

This is a fruit I have used in Chinese cooking, but always canned, never fresh!  It is an amazing fruit eaten fresh.  Martha and I saw some passengers carrying bags of these (leaves and branches and all) on the plane from Dhaka to Chittagong.  We wondered what it was–our guesses were radishes, daikon, or maybe some type of berry–we were wrong as we found out when we were served these tonight! 

I haven’t written in the blog for a couple of days because my camera is broken.  THe lens won’t retract, and the hospital photographer examined it and he can’t fix it.  It is less than six months old, so I am hoping covered by warranty and service plan (Christopher–is it??).  Doesn’t sound like purchasing another camera here is much of an option.  Everyone buys their electronics in Bangkok.  Oh well.  Thankfully Martha is graciously sharing her photos which I will use in my blog!  Thanks again Martha! 

THe camera broke on Tuesday when we were visiting a 500 bed private hospital which will provide clinical experience for the students in the Nursing College we are planning for the first year and until the new hospital on this site is complete.  Seeing that hospital was a humbling and inspiring experience.  Humbling as always to see so many sick neonates, infants and children and to see the worry in their parents’ faces.  Inspiring in that the quality of care was impressive and the caring and compassion was so evident from everyone.  The physical environment is not at all high-tech or glitzy, and there isn’t the hustle and bustle and noise of American hospitals.  We observed appropriate treatment methods and good clean and sterile technique.  We will be returning to this hospital to have more in-depth conversation with the Principal Nurse and Matron Nurse.  I did get some photos from our visit and when I get my broken (sigh!) camera back I will include them.  

On Wednesday May 19 we were able to visit Katachara Pediatric Clinic in the village of Mirsarai–the village where our host was born and raised.  The drive to the village was probably about 30 miles, but takes 3 hours to get there!  Traffic until way out of Chittagong is vehicle to vehicle in at least 3 different directions.  It did get better as we got further out, and then it is horns and passing and many close calls, but the driver never flinched!! 

One of so many philanthropic projects that our host has is a school in his village.  The Pediatric Clinic is adjacent to the school and parents come with sick children from very far away to see a doctor.  The school is a coed playgroup to Grade 10 school.  We were able to present the playgroup class (like kindergarten) with some EMU coloring pages and I want to be a Nurse coloring books and crayons: 

Play group classroom Mirsarai, Bangladesh (village)

 

 

school children very eager to see the "pale" visitors!

 

 

Grade X students

 

outside the pediatric clinic

 

Martha, Reaz, Chris

 

After visiting the school and clinic we went to our host’s home in the village.  HIs son tells us this is where he is most happy and comes whenever he can.  We were treated to fresh coconut right from the trees–a machete was used to stab a hole in it and then we drank the water which is loaded with electrolytes!  We also got to see a coconut opened up and ate some of the meat! 

stabbing the coconut with a machete

 

being fanned while we drink our coconut water!

 

the machete and the coconut!!

 

Reluctantly we left the village, and headed back to Chittagong.  Many sights along the way: 

along the road (more like a narrow path) on the way to the village

 

along the roadside...

 

On the return trip to Chittagong we stopped at an antique store in the shipbreaking area.   

 Spread along the shore of the Bay of Bengal, just a few miles north of Bangladesh’s second largest city, Chittagong, lies a stretch of beach (more accurately described as tidal mud) occupied by seven different companies. For the past 35 years this has been the world’s primary site for the dismantling of large ocean-going vessels, including oil tankers. 

The metal from the hulls and superstructures of the ships are re-processed, and form a major part of the country’s source of steel. Also, every fitting, from doorknobs to toilets is removed and resold though the dozens of store-fronts that line the highway near the yards. Nothing goes to waste. Even the last drops of oil from the tanker’s holds are drained and resold.  THe dismantling of the ships is all done by hand. 

THe shop we visited had marine antiques, supposedly (hopefully since I bought something!) from these ships: 

Inside the marine antique store, ShipBreaking Yards, Chittagong, Bangladesh

 

Strip Mall, Chittagong style!

 

We returned from our journey to the village with so many images and memories and feel so fortunate to be able to experience and observe life at the village level on the opposite side of the earth from us! 

Thursday we worked (are working pretty much 8 am to 10 pm every day with a couple of hours off for lunch and rest.  Thursday afternoon Reaz took us to Foy’s lake for a boat ride.  Foy’s Lake is a man-made lake. It was dug in 1924. It has a small zoo and an amusement park, managed by the Concord group, is located here. The lake is next to Batali Hill, the highest hill in Chittagong Metropolitan area.  In some small (very small) way the scenery on the lake was ever so slightly reminiscent of Sleepy Bear Dune lakeshore! 

Is this Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore or is it Foy's Lake, Chittagong, Bangladesh?

 

 Last night we were invited to our host’s apartment in the guest house and we got to meet his wife, his sons, his daughter-in-law and his adorable grandsons!  I need to get knitting a couple tiny teddy bears for those boys! 

And here is the answer to question:  The fruit is Lychee!  The skin is easy to peel, the fruit is grape-like in texture and appearance (an albino grape) and is mildy sweet and very pleasant.

Mohammed Kaisar serving lychees 5-20-2010

Til the next time…

Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 11:48 pm  Comments (4)  

More photos

Bicycle rickshaw outside the Eye Hospital Compound gate

need a translation of this!

 

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 9:55 am  Comments (1)  

Pop Quiz: What is an Organogram?

Let’s see how many who read this blog know what an organogram is?    We sure didn’t know, but now we have made a couple of them! 

THe work we are doing is going well.   We start around 8:30 – 9 am.  We typically meet with IHL key staff in the morning and work in an office/conference room in the IHL (Imperial Hospital, Limited) area–which thankfully is air-conditioned.  In fact, sometimes it is kept a little cool for us!  A mid-morning snack is provided–crackers (biscuits), water, tea, and Sunday we had great vegetable simosa. 

We return to guest house for lunch and remainder of day.  Lunch ist at 1:30-2 pm,  and then we nap (make that drugged-like sleep) and then get up at 5 pm for tea and then dinner at 8 or 9 pm.  We work pretty steadily from nap to dinner and sometimes a little after dinner.

Eagerly awaiting the arrival of our third team member today, and very anxious to hear what she learned from the Bangladesh Nursing Council in Dhaka.  Tomorrow will start some of our visits to area hospitals, universities, et.al.  Stay tuned!

Published in: on May 16, 2010 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment