Friday, May 14, 2010
I arrived in Bangladesh yesterday after spending a few nice days in Bangkok, Thailand with Pond, a friend from high school. While Thailand is definitely having serious problems right now, it is not nearly as bad as you might imagine based on the media coverage. The same was true of DR Congo when I visited in 2007 or Honduras when I visited shortly after the military coup there last summer.
It is the beginning of the rainy season in Bangladesh, which I thought might mean a break from the 100+ degree weather Nic and I encountered in Nicaragua and then Cambodia and then Thailand (in each place, we were greeted with “Wow, you chose the hottest time of the year to visit). I was wrong. Weather.com informed me that it was to be over 100 degrees today and that it would “feel like” 119 degrees. Accordingly, I didn’t leave my hostel today. And I am not sure the staff even came in to work. I have been the only person here all day and feel the hostel has been abandoned to me!
A few quick facts on Bangladesh: it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with an astonishing 160 million people crammed into a fairly small landmass. Bangladesh is also ~85% Muslim and happens to be known as a hotbed for nonprofit innovation, with BRAC and Grameen Bank both getting their start in Bangladesh and then going on to become two of the leading pioneers of microfinance.