Chittagong Day 1 (or what day is it?)

Tuesday May 11, 2010 to Friday May 14, 2010
Jan and Chris on way to airport after great lunch at Palm Palace with takeout for the journey!  Rainy and very cold in Michigan.
Despite a little wrinkle the day prior to departure with names on documents not matching, all went well on all four of the flights from Detroit to Chittagong.  The long leg of the journey from DTW to Narita, Tokyo wasn’t too bad, even tho our seats were in the middle of the middle section!  The takeout snacks came in handy.  Slept a little, not as much as we hoped.  Amazingly, despite the 90 minute late departure from Detroit, we did make the connection in Tokyo–minutes, make that seconds to spare, but we did it!
Second leg from Tokyo to Bangkok while only 6 hours seemed to take forever–and on this leg we tried not to sleep, but of course this was the leg we got sleepiest on!  
Had a nice 10 hours in  Bangkok at the Novotel Hotel which has a great breakfast buffet, that opens at 3 am!!  The Bangkok airport is very efficient and some great artwork there as well.  We got smart and used a cart for moving our luggage around–immensely easier that way!  Finally found our way to Binman airlines, the Bangladesh government airline.  Now it starts to get interesting because very little English spoken once we are in the non-tourist sections of the airport.  We had some uneasy times wondering if we were waiting in the right place, but eventually we got where we needed to be.  Now the planes are boarded the old school way–climb up a steep set of stairs (with your carryons) right off the tarmac!
First Binman airlines flight was to Dhaka, and we had a 4 hour layover in Dhaka airport.  Even fewer (as in none) English spoken, but we did manage to get on the right plane, and made the short flight to Chittagong where customs and Immigration was uneventful and we were met by Imperial Hospital staff and had our first exposure to Bangladesh outside of airports!
The drive to where we will stay was an amazing one.  Similar certainly to other large cities in developing countries, but still humbling to see the lifestyles of such very poor people.  Bumper to bumper traffic, vehicles (cars, trucks, three wheelers, bicycle rickshaws) all jockeying for the same spaces, and all traveling centimeters apart from one another.  BUt it is like a choreographed dance in many ways–lots of close calls, but no accidents.  8 pm at night and streets as full of people and street vendors as the road is full of vehicles.  Saw the seaport, and can’t wait to see in the daylight.
Our accomodations are very nice–haven’t been inside the mosquito net yet!!  The grounds are beautiful, we had a very nice meal at 10 pm with fresh mango from a tree on the property!  This is summer here–the worst season they say–fewest flowers, but the fruits are in season.  PIcture of jackfruit below!   And to us, the flowers and fauna and beautiful and about like the peak of our summer–on a hot and humid day!
Friday May 14–our first workday so to speak!  We met with Professor Husain and toured the Chittagong Eye Institute and Training Center (CEITC).   How lucky am I to meet and spend time with such a visionary person who has had and continues to have such an impact on healthcare in this country.  For the lsat 40 years the focus has been eye care, and there is now an impressive country-wide network of eye care centers.  And now on to a large medical surgical hospital with a Nurse Training Institute.

Professor at Eye INstitute showing us modernization:

Time to rest…more later!
Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 3:53 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Big sigh of relief here! There was some concern that your (epic!) journey would have been disrupted by the flaring up of unrest in Bangkok.

    We all miss u on Thursday afternoon — not to mention all those other days — but pray tell: what r u knitting? 🙂


    • Only knitting was done inflight and prob only 10 rows of a 10″ square!!

      Miss you. Xxoo

  2. So glad your travel is going well. Thanks for the update and the photos. Can you eat Jack fruit?

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