Photos: Friendly Life of Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

These two cute Bangladeshi boys approached me while I was wandering around Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.  They loved having their photo taken.

“These two cute Bangladeshi boys approached me while I was wandering around Old Dhaka, Bangladesh. They loved having their photo taken.”

Mark’s Note: I first met Sam and Audrey in Seoul, South Korea, last year. We found a traditional Korean restaurant and indulged in their set menu of the day – a huge spread of about 15 different dishes and countless banchan sides (small Korean side dishes like kim chi). It was a fantastic time and the feast was so huge we could hardly move afterwards. Anyway, Sam’s a great guy, a wonderful photographer, and he has an awesome blog, so if you haven’t already checked out Nomadic Samuel, be sure to do so now!

Now over to Sam… 

I have to admit when I crossed the India-Bangladesh boarder, via Kolkata en route to Dhaka, I had very little preconceived expectations of Bangladesh.

I had never met any other travelers who had been to Bangladesh; nor had I read many travel publications or guidebooks related to travel in this particular region.

One of the true joys of travel is that ‘pleasant surprises’ await those with an open mind.

Bangladesh certainly was one of the most rewarding countries I’ve ever visited.

I’ve never been to a country with such little tourist infrastructure.

It was literally an adventure trying to find an internet cafe or merely just a roll of toilet paper.

On the other hand, I’ve never encountered such genuinely friendly and inquisitive locals.

A visit to many countries may often be more about the attractions, food and/or culture; however, in Bangladesh it was about the people.

Although I just had several days to roam the streets of Old Dhaka before I had to catch a flight to Kuala Lumpur, I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many street photos in my entire life.

From strangers inviting me into their homes for tea to friendly locals following me around wherever I went, it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to being a movie/rock star.

I’ll never forget the generosity and hospitality I received during my brief stay and it’s one of the main reasons I plan to return again very soon.

The following photo essay attempts to capture the spirit of my journey in the form of distinct faces from Bangladesh:

This Bangladeshi man holds up two birds as motion blur from a vehicle carrying large bags whizzes on by.

“This Bangladeshi man holds up two birds as motion blur from a vehicle carrying large bags whizzes on by.”

I don't think I ever encountered as much 'blue collar' type of work/street activity anywhere else in all of my travels.

“I don’t think I ever encountered as much ‘blue collar’ type of work/street activity anywhere else in all of my travels.”

I was invited into the backyard of Bangladeshi family where children were engaging in some fun and interactive games.
“I was invited into the backyard of Bangladeshi family where children were engaging in some fun and interactive games.”

This man has a distinct 'red/orange beard that is quite commonly visible in Old Dhaka.  I asked a family friend who has lived in Dhaka for nearly four years and he mentioned it's purely done for fashion.

“This man has a distinct ‘red/orange beard that is quite commonly visible in Old Dhaka. I asked a family friend who

has lived in Dhaka†for nearly four years and he mentioned it’s purely done for fashion.”

These two men were smiling with huge toothy grins prior to me snapping this photo at which time they appeared more serious :)

“These two men were smiling with huge toothy grins prior to me snapping this photo at which time they appeared more serious :)”

While wandering the streets of Old Dhaka I often had a small following of curious children and adults.

“While wandering the streets of Old Dhaka I often had a small following of curious children and adults.”

This girl poses with her cute baby sister.

“This girl poses with her cute baby sister.”

This Bangladeshi man was seriously thrilled to have his photo taken.

“This Bangladeshi man was seriously thrilled to have his photo taken.”

In this black and white photo, I had just boarded a small vessel to cruise down the Buriganga river when I encountered this oarsman with a distinct face.

“In this black and white photo, I had just boarded a small vessel to cruise down

the Buriganga river when I encountered this oarsman with a distinct face.”

This is just one of the many friendly faces I encountered during my Buriganga river cruise.

“This is just one of the many friendly faces I encountered during my Buriganga river cruise.

This curious bunch was following me around for quite a while.

“This curious bunch was following me around for quite a while.”

This oarsman wearing longyi was one of many small vessel operators nearby the Sadarghat.

“This oarsman wearing longyi was one of many small vessel operators nearby the Sadarghat.”

These three amigos flashed authentic grins my way.

“These three amigos flashed authentic grins my way.”

This is a candid portrait I took while walking around Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.

“This is a candid portrait I took while walking around Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.”

A smiling oarsman transports passengers along the ever chaotic Buriganga River.

“A smiling oarsman transports passengers along the ever chaotic Buriganga River.”

This highly animated boy loved hamming it up for the camera.

“This highly animated boy loved hamming it up for the camera.”

This Bangladeshi man sits down to enjoy a refreshing sugarcane snack.

“This Bangladeshi man sits down to enjoy a refreshing sugarcane snack.”

Unlike India, the streets of Old Dhaka are dominated by male dominated activity.  It's rare that you'll see women.

“Unlike India, the streets of Old Dhaka are dominated by male dominated activity. It’s rare that you’ll see women.”

This is a telephoto shot from the Buriganga river where a group of boys and young men enjoy a boat ride.

“This is a telephoto shot from the Buriganga river where a group of boys and young men enjoy a boat ride.”

This Bangladeshi boy rests in a rickshaw.

“This Bangladeshi boy rests in a rickshaw.”

About the Author: Samuel Jeffery is the wizard behind the curtain pulling the strings of NomadicSamuel.com, a cultural travel blog and the lesser half of Backpacking-Travel-Blog.com which he runs with his girlfriend Audrey Bergner of ThatBackpacker.com.

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Comments

  1. says

    hi.
    totally agree with your article, we´ve been there last year and intend to return soon, … the friendliest people you can imagine. your pics are really great.thanks for sharing

    • says

      Hey Voo!

      At the time I used a Sony dSLR Alpha A500 but I’m now using a Sony Alpha A77. I don’t have any particular attachment to Sony cameras but since all of my lenses are Sony I’m kind of stuck using their bodies. To be perfectly honest any dSLR with a decent telephoto lens is great for capturing candid street portraits.

  2. Zubair Adam says

    Hi Mark.

    Really great pictures. However I must admit the narration is even better. You have quite nicely put why people should visit Bangladesh and what to expect from this country.

    I hope you do return again to Bangladesh. The true beauty of Bangladesh lies outside Dhaka!

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