Map of 99 Expat Places

Finding places can be tricky in Dhaka. As much as I’d like to show you all where things are… I thought I’d make a map of the 99 expat places instead! These places are current as of September 9, 2013. I put an extra huge marker on Goong, the Castle, because that is the number one place people ask for directions to — Road 50, House 12B — and I made it number 12 on the map! Look for the large wooden gate. Go in and enjoy.

99 Expat Places Map of Gulshan
99 Expat Places Map of Gulshan

In Dhaka, businesses rise and fall like eddies on the delta, and they often change location. So, most importantly, on my map(s), I have put the ACTUAL location, not what the address indicates. Because floor numbering varies in different parts of the world, I have only listed it if the place is not on the first/ground floor. Otherwise, I’ve called it “level” using the ground floor as the first level. As the Westin’s sign is like a lighthouse beacon in the night, I started with the Westin Hotel as number one as it is often used as the North Star. Then I divided Gulshan into four sections divided by Gulshan 2 circle. For those counting, there are not 99 numbers on the maps because many of the locations are in the same building or on the same block. Also, I have not included all 100 restaurants at which I’ve eaten. Only places people ask about.

99 Expat Places in Dhaka
99 Expat Places in Dhaka

I have tried to make sure that the addresses are correct, though not always written the way that the locals would write it, and I cannot vouch for the phone numbers except for those who do house calls, like Tailor Johny, because I did not call all the numbers! Bangladesh’s country code is 88 and for some numbers you will need to drop the zero/zed and/or the two or add them or something… it’s confusing. But that’s a whole different topic. If you cannot find the location, check back on my blog as I may have posted a photo of the actual location. Again, the official address may be different; the location is for real. Happy hunting!

99 Expat Places Map Guide, page 1.
99 Expat Places Map Guide, page 1.
99 Expat Places Guide, page 2.
99 Expat Places Guide, page 2.

Deep and Superficial in Cambodia

One of the many visual delights of Angkor Wat.
One of the many visual delights of Angkor Wat.

Cambodia may well be the next Asian tiger with its combination of world heritage sites, tragic history, burgeoning business recovery (everything in dollars and riel), and hands on service industry. I recommend visiting the killing fields, not so much for the site itself (there are many all over Cambodia) but because the audio tour is well informed and one of the most humane. The narrator makes you aware of the past plus kindly asks you to contemplate humanity and how to be humane to it.

The depressions of the killing the fields with the stupa in the distance.
The depressions of the killing the fields with the stupa in the distance.

Then go to Angkor Wat and think about the wonders of what people can build in the jungle. The place is worth seeing at dawn or sunset. It will be hot at almost anytime you visit. It costs $20 to get in and that’s not bad for a world heritage site.

Stir fried instant noodles for $1. These stalls move all over town. A meal for a buck!
Stir fried instant noodles for $1. These stalls move all over town. A meal for a buck!

The town of Siem Reap (Siam Conquered) is very touristy but if that’s what you want, then go for it! There are still enjoyable things to be had. The dollar massages are still done well, the fruit with chili salt is still refreshing, noodles for a dollar (seems like it all costs a buck) are still greasy and yummy, the shopping still good (though not as cheap as to be dirt cheap). Surprisingly the prices are not as low as you might expect. A pair of “hammer pants” or ali baba pants cost $7! (I bargained down to $4). It is not expensive but not the prices expected. Everything is quoted in U.S. dollars but the locals can give you change in both dollars and riel, or a combination of both.

The night market in Siem Reap. Very geared for tourists.
The night market in Siem Reap. Very geared for tourists.

The Khmer people are graceful, sweet, and affectionate. Visit Cambodia for the people.

This little girl hacked away happily at this coconut with her machete.
This little girl hacked away happily at this coconut with her machete.

Wedding Season Again in Dhaka – The Bride’s Holud

Flowers decorate the entrance to the holud venue.
Flowers decorate the entrance to the holud venue.

It’s that time of year again when the Bangladeshis get married. I am lucky to have been invited again. A year ago, I went to a combined holud which I described in an earlier blog. At the bride’s holud this year, the bride was carried in on a palanquin. While the groom was absent, his family and guests attended, carrying gifts. I will blog more about the next part of the wedding later… right now, I need to go to dance practice!

The "mishti" or sweet pots.
The “mishti” or sweet pots.

Madventures.me – 2012 in Review

Happy New Year! Thank you to those who read my blog. If you wondered, I blog using WordPress… and they (or their monkeys) have written this post for me… The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

I will keep writing my blog as long as folks keep reading it. Enjoy more food and adventure in 2013! Love and be loved.

One Year of Madventures.me – Still Mad for Food and Adventure

Madventures.me is one year old. One year ago, I started this blog in preparation for new adventures in food and travel. One year of great food and travel in Amman, Copenhagen, Dhaka, Doha, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Krabi, Luang Prabang, Mumbai, New Delhi, New England, Singapore, and many more.

I started this blog to share some of my adventures with family and friends. As I’ve blogged, my blog has evolved into a source for providing information on restaurants in Dhaka, shopping, and how much one can do in Bangladesh. As a blogger, I’ve been enormously happy when readers from all over the world visit my blog. Thank you for stopping by… from almost the entire world:

Map of visitors to madventures.me in the first 11 months.

As my readership expands beyond people I know, I’m curious about what leads readers to my blog. So here are the top search terms people have searched for in the past year:

Top search terms on madventures.me.

Tivoli Amusement Park Open for Halloween

An otherworldly park caught in the spirit of Halloween.

Tivoli is almost open all year round. This fall they are open for Halloween. The park is great and I enjoy it in all its moods and costumes. The park fills a whole city park and is smack in the center of the city. Lots of things to do, eat, and buy. Enchanted tourism!

The gate of Tivoli. Enjoy a walk around.

See Petra with Friends

In the early morning light of the cavern called “the Siq” in Petra, we three friends were alone in our walk round the twists and turns of the 30 minute walk to that classic view of Petra — the view of the Treasury through the slim gap of the Siq.

Petra by night.

We did actually have company in the form of three other tourists who outpaced us and a local dog. Plus a few of the local Bedouin guides trying to sell us donkey rides. But mostly, we were alone, skipping along the well kept path between the rose pink sandstone. The evening before, we had traipsed in the dark to the same spot with 300 other tourists for “Petra by Night” and I’d recommend it. The night walk costs 12 Dinars ($17) and the day pass costs 50 Dinar ($71) but it was worth it. I avoided the donkey and camel rides but the 20 Dinar ($28) horse cart gallop up the walk is also worth it. The two hour up the 800 steps to the “high place” did not seem worth it to me but you can take a donkey up and then, for those who enjoy vertiginous thrills, it might be worth it. But then you could also walk up in stilettos.

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Although Petra is touristy, it is much less so than many places on anyone’s list of places to see. I recommend getting up and going at 6 a.m. when the park opens. And bring friends.

Prelude to the Monsoon

I have longed to experience the monsoon. I watch with great joy. It’s so wet that photos are hard to capture.

Monsoon.

I’m told that this is the end of the hot season. The monsoons have come early this year. The days are sunny and the temperature reaches only into the 90s F (35 Celsius). Every few days, the sky will darken, the winds whip the trees into a frenzy, and then the water descends from the sky in buckets.

Bucket list, indeed.

Wedding and Christmas Lights All Year Round

In Bangladesh there are many happy (and bittersweet) opportunities for decorating the house with lights. For a farewell party last week, professional lighting guys arrived in the morning and strung (and flung) lights on the trees, gate, and house.

Draping lights off the roof.

There is a famous company here in Dhaka called Banani Decorators who charge around 6,000 Taka per day ($80) but my friend has a friend who knows a guy who is the guy… 3,500 Taka ($45) for the first day and 2,500 Taka for the second day. This price includes labor and lights. Always be friendly and ask around. Find out who the “nodes” of the social world and “get up and go” kind of people are… they will set you up. Plus, a proactive type personality will probably also help you with the music, logistics, etc… and even be a good friend.

The magical result.
Tape and lights.
Weaving lights through the tree.

Good times here in Dhaka.

The "Dhaka Shot" of the lights...

The Mother of All Buildings

The Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofia) has survived so much history that it seems impossible for more stories to be added to her walls. But, she can support it all. One of my favorites, this is possibly the greatest building ever built.

Heavenward illumination

Come visit Istanbul and the Hagia Sophia!

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Kerosene Rickshaw

The night in Dhaka arrives around 6 pm. It is pitch dark on some streets (the potholes and dogs are only some of the obstacles). In Baridhara, the rickshaws are required to have a light on their rickshaw at night. Currently, they use open flame kerosene lanterns attached underneath the seat of the rickshaw…

Rickshaw is in the middle.

I wish that they would be retrofitted with pedal power LED lights… maybe there is an organization out there with this plan? Also, since rickshaws are extremely decorated, it would be nice to have reflective material used as part of the decoration. Just a thought.

Bangladeshi Wedding Ceremony

After the Holud on another moonlit night, another wedding ceremony takes place.

Closeup of Bride's henna...

This ceremony is much less intimate with 1,000 guests invited. They come by SUV, white car with tinted windows, black car with tinted windows, and rickshaw. The groom and his family haggle to gain entrance and to cut the red ribbon held by the bride’s family. The bargaining and trash talking is done with good cheer. Once the groom enters, the couple sit through many photos up on a decorated stage. The bride wears red. The groom and many of the male guests wear business suits. After many photos, the 1,000 guests find tables to sit at. They are fed pilau (rice), chicken curry, goat, potatoes, and salad. The drink available is “burrhanee” – a spiced yogurt drink made of cumin and other spices plus black salt (which gives the drink its sulfuric aroma).

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After a few hours, the bridal party moves to their table to eat. A cooked and decorated kid is brought to them a a special food. Then, the bridal couple return to the stage to exchange flower garlands and to do the mirror ceremony. During this, they look into a mirror and say what they see. He said, “I see a princess…” and she said, “I see my everything.”