I suppose I could end my post right there, because that pretty much sums everything up - but I'm guessing you'd like a little more explanation than that.
Michael and I both arrived in Dhaka (in the middle of the night) very tired, but excited and open to whatever new experiences were to await us. We were certainly in for some surprises! We stayed with our friends, Jack and Wendy, who are friends from our church here in Bangkok. They have since moved to Dhaka, and our main purpose for going there was simply to visit them. Experiencing a new culture was a big bonus, though!
We did all sorts of things during the week, mostly including following Wendy around on various errands as well as visiting a few notable sites. (I'd call them tourist-y, but since there really isn't any tourism in Dhaka, I'd be misleading you on that point!) One morning was spent going to a school that Wendy helps to teach at; we also visited some stores and markets of various sorts throughout the week, and ate at a few of the nice restaurants that can be found in the area. Most of our time was pretty relaxed, with no particular goals or destinations.
(above) Our first and only experience riding a rickshaw - we were in the middle of nowhere, so it wasn't quite as scary as it would have been if we were in the middle of the city!
(above and below) A couple of sights at an old fort that we visited
I think the most enjoyable thing for me was simply being out and about for a while each day. No matter where we were, or where we were going, there was always something to look at out the window. In Bangkok, there's a fair amount of things that happen on the street, including traffic, motorcycles weaving in and out of cars and (occasionally) on the sidewalk, vendors making and selling food on the street, etc. All of that is nothing in comparison with what we saw on the streets of Dhaka! The traffic alone was fascinating (and scary) to watch! Various types of rickshaws coming and going through traffic, bikes, motorbikes, buses, trucks (none of which necessarily followed any particular rules of driving), people walking (often with bulls or goats, which I'll explain in a bit), beggars tapping on car windows asking for money, and above it all, car horns honking constantly. I'm pretty sure, in terms of any vehicle, that the horn is more important than the brakes in Dhaka. I thought we were going to get into an accident upon many occasions as we drove through the loud, crowded insanity that filled the streets. Fortunately, we didn't; our friends have professional drivers to take them places, so we were in very safe hands wherever we went. Below are a few of the sights that we saw while on the road to different destinations:
(above) A CNG - looks somewhat similar to a tuk-tuk in Thailand, except it's caged in
(above) Most of the buses are in pretty wretched shape - they tend to scrape against each other while on the road, and many of them don't have tail lights, which makes it a little frightening to drive at night!
(above) Rickshaw art
(above and below) At an intersection - there's just SO MANY PEOPLE!
We also had some interesting experiences with the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. Part of the celebration of the holiday includes slaughtering/sacrificing a bull or goat, and the days leading up to the sacrifice day are filled with buying, selling, and transporting the animals. We saw quite a number of bulls and goats during our stay:
Overall, we had a really fantastic time - seeing friends, experiencing a new culture, and learning a lot of things that we never knew before. Despite these things, Michael and I were both quite happy to come back to the familiarity of Bangkok and Thai culture. Vacation is great, but coming home is pretty great, too.