Meet the latest traveller in our series Interviews on Off the Radar Travel Destinations!
This week, we have with us Natasha Amar from The Boho Chica, a traveller, blogger and freelance writer from Dubai who loves to hike in jaw dropping locations and has most recently travelled to New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, Vietnam and parts of India. Today she will be talking to us about her travels in Bangladesh.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your travels
I’m a former finance professional who has transitioned to a career as a full time travel blogger and writer. I have roots in Dubai and like to travel often, especially within Asia. My travels have led me to some unbelievably valuable experiences and I enjoy how they blow my mind ever so often.
Why did you choose to travel to Bangladesh?
Bangladesh will always be a special memory because it was my first solo trip and helped stoke my wanderlust. My curiosity about the work of the Grameen Bank, a microfinance institution founded by Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus led me to apply for a voluntary internship with them for which I travelled to Dhaka. I learnt about their processes, operations and the impact that they had made to uplift the standards of living and the status of women in traditional society. The borrowers of the bank are located in villages, therefore I got to spend some time in rural areas which frankly, I enjoyed more than my time in Dhaka city.
Where did you stay?
In Dhaka, I stayed in Mirpur where the headquarters of the bank are located. I also stayed in the village of Amdala, Manikganj and enjoyed the fresh air and green landscape, both of which were a refreshing change from Dhaka.
What were your favourite and most difficult parts on this journey?
I met some amazing people on that trip; fellow interns at the Grameen Bank and I have some wonderfully crazy memories from my time there. My favourite part of the journey was the time I spent in Amdala meeting borrowers and listening to their stories of how their lives had changed with the help of the microloans provided by the bank. It was interesting to see how the bank developed several systems that have been working together very well since 1976.
Dhaka was a complete culture shock for me and getting used to the chaotic traffic was a major challenge. Whether it was crossing busy roads or accepting that a cup of cappuccino was at least an hour away, it was all very different from anything I had experienced before, having only ever lived in Dubai or Mumbai where I had studied for a few years. I also saw a lot of poverty in Dhaka and that was very saddening.
Highlights of your stay
When I think about Dhaka, there’s always this one incident that comes to mind. My friends and I had heard about a new North Korean restaurant that had opened up in Dhaka and we decided to go there one evening. What followed was a long rickshaw ride being tossed about in the back by a very enthusiastic rickshaw driver who had no idea where the place was but had made it his mission to get us there. As the rickshaw zipped through busy back alleys and lanes, it all felt like being in a movie. We finally got there thankful to have made it in one piece.
Another time we tried to get to a café for a good ol’ latte and that took a few hours of trying to communicate with the cycle rickshaw driver and people on the street and a whole lot of determination!
What were some of your favourite dishes/food there?
I travelled to Sreemangal where I tasted the famous seven-layered tea and it was incredible!
We’d also heard about this popular restaurant called Al Razzak in Old Dhaka and went there for lunch one day. Before we could order, an amazing spread of delicious meat curries, vegetable preparations breads and biryanis appeared on our table and we enjoyed one of the best meals we had had in Dhaka. The hospitality was incredible!
Would you recommend Bangladesh to other people? Families? Solo travellers? Backpackers?
I would recommend Bangladesh to everyone who wants to get off the beaten path, especially the countryside. It’s useful to know that there isn’t really a tourism infrastructure in the country and it’s important to dress appropriately to avoid unwanted attention.
What’s next on the horizon for your travels?
I’m currently in India and will be going back home to Dubai after this. I don’t know where to next, but it’s going to be somewhere in Asia. My trips are often spontaneous, often not planned much in advance or with a fixed itinerary.
To read more about Natasha’s travels, you can visit her social media links below:
Website url http://thebohochica.com/
Twitter handle @The_BohoChica
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thebohochica