On Dhaka

“And from there, I’ll be headed to Bangladesh for the month of April.”

That’s right about when people start really paying attention to my trip plans.

“Bangladesh?”

“Yeah, I’ve got family living there that I’ll get to visit!”

“In Bangladesh?”

Geographically, my trip doesn’t make a lot of sense. From the U.K. to Spain to Sweden to Bangladesh (then to France and the Netherlands). And for most people, Dhaka especially isn’t really the first place that comes to mind for month-long travel destinations. But while already traveling around the world, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit my Aunt Heidi, Uncle Mark, and their three kids in Bangladesh, since I rarely get to see them.

I certainly knew it would be a dramatic change from what the trip had been up until that point. Dhaka is one of the world’s most densely populated cities in the world, and out of the countries I’m traveling to, its culture is the most different than my own. I figured that would be the largest adjustment.

I expected it to be a bit of whiplash, but it’s been a different kind of whiplash than anticipated. I got so used to being largely independent and mostly alone. Traveling around Europe, I found my rhythm in navigating new places and packing up my things every few days. Adjusting to a new place became a rhythm in itself. Here in Dhaka with my family, I am largely dependent and mostly surrounded by people (and young kids filled with energy). An entire month in one place feels like a wild concept, and I am figuring out new rhythms as I settle in while also learning how to fit into another family’s routines.

In the week or so that I’ve been here, it’s already been so good. There’s so much to take in, and the first few days I felt like I was mostly just absorbing information about what the city is like and what my family’s day to day life looks like. I’m finding my place in the midst of their busy life, and I am so thankful that it has felt like such a natural transition of me feeling at home and at ease.

A few exciting highlights thus far include getting to fly with Mark on the float plane to the south of Bangladesh, riding on rickshaws around the city, getting a tour of Old Dhaka, and experiencing loud thunderstorms during monsoon season. But also equally exciting, and even more life-giving, have been the chats with Heidi, the dance parties with my cousins, and getting to read Harry Potter to the kids as they discover one of my favorite worlds.

It’s already/only been a week. Time is weird. But what I do know is how stoked I am to be here and how thankful I am for the time I get to spend with some of the best people.

Here are some pictures, starting with Sweden! I was there just before Dhaka, and that was also incredible. The Swedes are just… better, and Gothenburg is a beautiful city.

Haga, Gothenburg
Gothenburg Archipelago
On an island somewhere on the Gothenburg Archipelago
Flying with Mark to the Sunderbans in Bangladesh
Riding a rickshaw in Dhaka
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh
Old Dhaka, Bangladesh
Ashan Manzil (aka the Pink Palace) in Old Dhaka

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