The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Bangladesh pollution, air, land, and hygienic, still daunting to visitors

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 09•13

Brick factories are huge and noticeable polluters in bangladesh

You first notice it from the air, about 100 miles out from the capital of Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. The air below you has suddenly turned yellow, created by plumes of smoke coming from industrial chimneys that you later learn are from brick factories. In Dhaka city, despite the fact that many vehicles now run on CNG (compressed natural gas), the air smells nasty and there’s no blue sky. The developing nation of Bangladesh is wrestling with how to solve its pollution, garbage, and health and hygiene issues. It’s slowly moving in the right direction, but its plodding, small successes can frustrate the visitor. To wit: 

1)      Dhaka’s air is so polluted that it’s a pleasure leaving the city for the country.
2)      Plastic bags, empty cigarette packs, cans, bottles, you name it, they’re all thrown out of vehicle windows constantly. Garbage is everywhere, and public trash cans —in every locality — are pretty much non-existent.
3)      Western-style pedestal toilets are not the norm in public areas, leading to a hygienic nightmare. Let’s forget about the general filth of railway car and station restrooms for a second. In the departure area of Dhaka’s international airport, someone had taken a dump on the toilet seat. This is in the departure area! Everyone’s gone through security check and customs! Goodness knows how long it had been there, but what was obvious was that the last user had just climbed up on the seat and let it fly. Given the price of international air fares, this had to be done by a person with money. All restrooms in the international airport are filthy. How often are they cleaned? 

So here’s what we at WoWasis suggest when traveling to Bangladesh. Forget about western ideas of cleanliness. Bring baby wipes from your own country if you have to. Consider strongly that you may want to consider confining certain bathroom tasks to your hotel room bathroom only. You can’t do anything about air pollution, but the sooner you leave Dhaka, the happier you’ll be. 

For the Bangladeshi government, we’d say this: your international airport is what creates the first and last impressions many people have and take away from your country. The world isn’t going to be impressed that you’ve outlawed the sale of beer in your country. But it will be impressed when you’ve learned how to clean a restroom in your capital’s international airport departure area.

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