After having a hectic 4 weeks, I get to enjoy a day full to relax and unwind. As I write this , I am siting in a cafe at hotel I am staying in, eating a nice chocolate gateau and enjoying some local tea.
My trip started with a flight from Dublin to Rome, where I had one day to meet the Global food security team and got a quick refresher training on what I was to do as part of my new role as information manager for the food security sector in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. I would be working with the influx of Rohingya refugees, helping to gather and coordinate data across all partner agencies in what WFP had just classified as a level 3 emergency.
It was really great catching up with the team again, following on from the training in June, they were as helpful as always and reassured me they could help me at any stage if I needed their support. The team gave a debrief on what was expected and what I would be required to do. I left there thinking, ok I can do this, seems grand. If I only knew ( hint, after 4 weeks I get to write this 😊)
My first experience was arriving into Dhaka got off to a funny start. I was about to go thought security and someone was waving at me and calling me over. It seems they thought I was someone else who they had come to collect, so after establishing I was not that person and had a laugh over it, they kindly help me get though security and guide me with what paper work I needed to fill in. It is one of the things I love about travel, you met so many random acts of activities that take place.
From there, I met my driver, and I got to experience my first view of Dhaka traffic, all I can say is, WOW. I thought Cairo was crazy but this is a whole new level. My driver explained it is not uncommon to be in traffic for hours, and I can well believe it 🙂 You need to be a positive strong driver, move out when you get a chance, beep a lot to let people know you coming, and try to avoid everything around you!!
Eventually arrived at hotel and was told I could buy beer at hotel, at first I was wondering why that was special did they think it was important to tell an Irish man there was beer😂😂 but then I realized, selling beer is not everywhere in Bangladesh, so that was why they made a point of telling me.
The following morning, I got picked up my driver and made my way to the WFP office in Dhaka. That was an experience, up and down between floors to fill in paperwork. And each time I had to sign in and out as I left a floor. By end of day, the security staff were laughing with me that I was back again and again. Of course, I made for the IT department who kindly set up my new SIM card, and got to have a quick tech talk with them. All of the staff in the office were friendly and helpful. Am very grateful for all of their support and help. Had my security brief, and when I told them what hotel I was staying in, they said, of very nice, you were lucky to get in there. So I figured well at least my accommodation in Cox’s Bazar must be nice.
After day in office, back to hotel, went for dinner there and as it was quiet, I got talking to local staff about sport as I waited for my food. Started off with football and then moved to a talk on kabaddi, the national sport of Bangladesh. I got to watch it on tv and the staff explained to me the rules and how is it played. Best way to describe is something to Olympic handball/basketball. Of course I then had to share our national sports so showed them hurling and GAA. The hurling they thought was a crazy sport 😊
I then went for a short walk around the hotel, trying to get an ATM, only to find that MasterCard is not commonly accepted, so it took the help of a local hotel staff to show me where there was a few other ATMs. Finally I could get out my money 😊 I was now all set for my morning trip to Cox’s Bazar and my new base of work for 2 months.