Today is Pohela Falgun (the first day of the month of Falgun.) It also the first day of spring season, called Boshonto in
There are 12 months in the Bangladeshi calendar, and it’s solar. It is divided into six seasons consisting of two months each.
The year starts on my birthday actually, April 14. The seasons and their two months are listed below:
Grishsho (summer season): Boishakh and Joishtho
Borsha (monsoon season): Asharh and Shrabon
Shorot (autumn season): Bhadro and Ashshin
Hemonto (dry season): Kartik and Agrahoyon
Shit (winter season): Poush and Magh
Boshonto (spring season): Falgun and Choitro
Woke up on this festive day to bring my fridge to my home. But problems occurred. Karen had set up for us to get a motorized van to bring our stuff from Banani. Met at 8:30, except there was a communication problem and what actually came was a rickshaw van. This is fine, but only if you’re traveling at night. During the daylight hours, rickshaws can’t cross main roads or go down them. So we couldn’t go at this hour. We had to reschedule for later in the evening. I went home, glad that at least I’d be making the celebration of Falgun that Ayon had invited me too.
Upon meeting Ayon and his friends at
We hung out at the Teachers Students Center (TSC) and in front of his faculty’s building. Saw some music played. Had lunch at one of their cafeterias.
Ayon told me that this day is also considered to be the Bengali Valentine’s Day, and he says its only coincidence that the Christian Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. (pics: girls dressed in the Falgun colors, every color of the rainbow represented by Ayon and his friends, musical performance in front of Arts Faculty Building, Ayon/Ragib/myself on Pohela Falgun)
In the evening met up with Karen again. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant and waited for our rickshaw van driver to call us to say he’d arrived in Banani. We then met him at Lauren’s apartment. Loading the stuff onto the van wasn’t too hard, Lauren left it all ready for us in her apartment, and we just brought it down, and he strapped it to his rickshaw van tight. We headed to Karen’s home first following the van in another rickshaw. Scary traveling as we had to travel down main roads with big trucks passing quickly right next to us and honking loud. Got to her place around Brought her stuff up the 4 floors. Our rickshaw van driver brought the AC and other stuff up to her place on his head. I then rode with him on his rickshaw van to my place and we brought my fridge upstairs.
Bangladeshi people, mostly the young ones, seem to be pretty into Valentine’s Day. Lots of restaurants have hung lights and have Valentine dinners advertised. Girls and guys are walking every which way holding hands, and lots of girls seem to be wearing pinks and reds today. Noticing couples making plans to share meals together.
I took a Falgun bus all the way to the end of it’s line. I was going to ride it from start to end, doing a practice data collection run. At the end of the line, which is pretty far out, I grabbed the front seat of the bus after buying my ticket and prepared for the data collection. It was a Thursday night and I knew I’d get a lot of traffic, but also a lot of bus crowding. Overall it went fine. I learned a lot of things, and knew there are decisions I’ll have to be making about what I want to accomplish. Found some data hard to collect, and realized the impracticality or uselessness of collecting others. Realized I’ll want to stick to buses inside city limits that don’t go out to far, so as not to “waste” time on parts of the route far from the city where not much is happening. Should stick to routes only in the city. Scoping down and focusing on the direct issue is my task.
Megan had called last night about our flight to ask a question, and she found our flight had been delayed 3 hours. GMG, which is considered the best airline in the country, is not without its large share of late arrivals and departures, but they seem to know about them long before hand. We were able to plan for it appropriately and thus postponed our leaving time from our homes by 3 hours.
Packed light for
Haven’t been to airport since the photo shoot for Aktel, and this was my first time as an actual departing passenger. We took a CNG. The guards at the airport were giving each vehicle a fuss about entering the drop off area, but passed us through without a single question, perhaps because we are foreigners.
Lots of people hang out at the airport to watch people come and arrive. Outside the drop off area there is a row or two of people just standing and watching for their enjoyment. Also in the drop off area, there are a lot of people not flying. They do security checks at the door, and if you aren’t flying you don’t get in. Every passenger seems to have brought many friends to see them off, so that’s why it’s so crowded. Only one door into the airport, so we had to wait in a line/mass.
Inside the airport, we had to wait for our check-in to open. Check-in was very manual. No computers, they checked our name on a printed list against our paper tickets. Then manually assigned us seat numbers.
Immigration wasn’t hard either even tough I’d lost the Disembarkation Card. They simply gave me a new one to fill out. I think if I wasn’t leaving from the place I’d arrived, it would’ve been a bigger problem (e.g. leaving over land when I’d arrived by air.) Not many restaurants in the airport, very little in fact and very empty. Had a snack from a small snack bar. There are three snack bars like this, an internet usage place, and a book store. Not fun if you get stuck at the
Both the ticket counter and gate check-in said we were missing our visa to go to
Flight was right on time to leave at its delayed time. GMG’s planes are bought from other companies, so they’re all used. Decent condition, a few tears in some seats, but pretty well done. An unrecognizable foreign language was written all over the plane, from the previous company who owned the plane. Flight attendants wore GMG’s banner colors and symbols on their sarees. Gave us a sucking candy and a packaged wet towelete before take off. Dinner was Bangladeshi cuisine, including Bangladeshi sweets.
We exchanged just a little money at the airport, knowing money exchangers would be prevalent in
Hostel was nice, but far from where we’d want to be later. Went and bought a SIM card and charged it. I’d recommend that to anyone going traveling for a few days in any country. SIM cards are cheap, and you can swap them in and out of your phone and having a local SIM makes everything so much easier. Couldn’t imagine our trip to
After grabbing our first
After a lot of walking and searching for good hostel prices, turning down places which were too high, we found the Miami Hotel for 800 Baht a night (1 Baht is approx 2 Taka, and 32 Baht is 1 dollar) Bart and Steph were coming by just then too, and we met up, got some breakfast (which was more of lunch food of seafood and rice for me) and headed out to check out some sites in Bangkok.
Bart took us to Chatuchak Market, towards the north. This is a market which is open only on weekends. Sold everything and anything. Crowded aisles similar to New Market in
Next we took the skytrain back south. On the way we alighted at the
The king’s image is everywhere. Bart told me that the king is really respected by his people. That he’s a great king and does a lot for his people, using funds to build projects of different types for his countrymen. His face can be seen everywhere from the money, to buildings, to signs, to billboard. His older sister, the princess, recently died about a month and a half ago, and the country is still mourning her death. Her image is also everywhere, surrounded by flowers. Government workers are wearing black to work every day since her death. Some of Bart’s classmates interact closely with government offices, so they are also having to wear black everyday. (pics: Victory Monument with surrounding traffic and skytrain with a picture of the king in front of it, image of the king on the side of a skyscraper near Chatuchak Market, at the The Grand Palace: princess' body is available for viewing by Thais, governmet workers dressed in black mourning the princess' death)
Next up was to see some of the Buddhist Wats in the city. We went first to the Giant Swing and Wat Suthat. I’ll let websites describe what I surely can’t do. I was there and purely observed and marveled at the architectural elements I’d always heard so much about, and the Buddha images I’ve seen only in pictures. This first Wat is famous for its wall paintings, some of the most important in the country. (pics: Giant Swing, Steph standing below Giant Swing, image of the Buddha inside Wat Suthat, sample of the paintings on walls of Wat Suthat)
Next we headed over to some of the Wats near the
We grabbed some lunch/dinner from a street side stand. Have to mention how much pineapple that Bart and Steph ate from the streets. At least two full ones over the course of the day. But it was really good and sweet. The food stands in general were full restaurants with chairs and many ingredients. (pic: Thai food street side stall)
Took a boat ride down the river to take a different and cheaper way to a skytrain stop than a taxi. Neat to see the river sights by night, including the famous Wat Arun on the west side of the river. Took the skytrain into the city, and headed to
Found Thai accents quite hard to understand. English is not as prevalent here as it is in
Taxi cabs in
Met up with Bart in the morning near the station near his house. Headed to The Grand Palace which also contains Wat Phra Kaew, home to the famous Emerald Buddha (actually made of jade.) The complex was the most expensive of all places we went. If you were wearing shorts or a cut off t-shirt, they gave you thin pants and/or a long-sleeve shirt to wear to cover yourself. You had to be dressed appropriately to come into the complex. (pics: three different chedis at Wat Phra Kaew, two of the chedis closer up and Bart in the foreground, myself in at Wat Phra Kaew, Emerald Buddha from outside the temple (no pics allowed inside))
After went to Siam Paragon, the newest fanciest mall in
Bart left and Shariful, his friend, Megan and I roamed Siam Paragon some more. Ate at a McDonald’s, couldn’t resist since it was right there! (pics: Lamborghini dealer inside Siam Paragon, escalators criss cross inside Siam Paragon, Khalid/Shariful/Megan browse MBK Center, exterior of MBK)
Later changed and met up with Bart at another tower called the
There are practically no trash cans in
Took the subway to one of the regional train stations in
Megan and I were heading out to
The sites were impressive here, and it was neat to imagine what they looked like 300 years ago. Since we’d seen the modern ones just yesterday and the day before, you could visualize clearly what it’d be like long ago. One of the Wats was recently restored, and the image of the Buddha inside recently covered in gold. There were pictures inside of what it looked like mid 50s when it was a ruin. Amazing to see the change. Neat to explore the expansive sights. These ruins are apparently frequently photographed, some of the most of any places in
Saw some boy scout groups. Took some pictures of them exploring the sites like we would explore
That evening met up with Shariful and some of his university friends at
I never really liked Thai food before coming to
In the morning packed up and checked out of the hotel but left our bags there. We checked the status of our flight and had seen it had been postponed 3 hours again. So we had a bit more time in
One thing I noticed today while I was in the men’s room today at Siam Paragon was the woman who was cleaning it. I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone of the opposite sex cleaning a bathroom during operating hours. Never remember seeing a woman cleaning the men’s bathroom elsewhere. (pics: Shariful/Adib in front of the Jaguar dealer in Siam Paragon, Adib/Shariful on escalator in Siam Paragon)
Bought a few last items that we’d been searching of. Exhausted and tiring of walking here and there, we simply grabbed a taxi to the airport instead of taking the bus. Wasn’t too expensive. Got to see the sky train extension as we headed to airport, it’s almost there. Takes time to extend a system to a new important passenger supplier.
Airport was fun. Since our flight was delayed, even though we knew it and planned correctly, we got free meal tickets for the Burger King or Dairy Queen in the airport. These are given out by
Plane ride was real cold. Had to make a stop over in
We landed at
A man who we had met while leaving on our flight, was on the same flight back to