I woke up quite early and left the hotel around 8:30am, taking the bike and heading for the city. There were only a few things I definitely wanted to see: the National Museum and Sadarghat, Dhaka’s main ferry terminal.
Dhaka’s traffic can be called ‘heavy’ at best. There are millions of bicycles, cycle rickshaws, motorbikes, CNGs (three-wheeled autorickshaws), cars, and busses in the streets, plus pedestrians and three-wheeled cargo bicycles. The streets are almost always busy and traffic jams are a common thing. The driving is … colourful and unpredictable. Brake lights usually don’t work, and neither do indicator lights. Everyone can, and will, stop (almost anywhere on the road) at any time. But cycling here is actually fun, provided one has had their morning coffee and is fully awake.
I had just been strolling around Sadarghat for like 5 minutes when I was found by Jiewell (pronounced like Joel). He suggested a boat tour on the river. I was hesitant at first, as I suspected a scam of sorts. Eventually I agreed, though, not without haggling the price down a little bit. He revealed that he owned 5 of the boats used by people to cross the river between Old Dhaka and South Dhaka. We were in one of his boats. The boats are made of wood, maybe 4 or 5 meters long and 1.5 meters wide.
On the river, Jiewell revealed that he was also a tourist guide and offered to show me around. South Dhaka first, to see “real local life”, and then the most important sights of Dhaka. The look into South Dhaka’s life and work was indeed amazing. People were amazingly friendly and happy to show what they were working on. I also liked the ‘life on the river’ and the ferries at Sadarghat. They are massive. The other sights, e.g. the National Museum, a mosque, the national Hindu temple, were not so impressive.
Needless to say I got ripped of in the end and (voluntarily – sigh) paid him more than what would have been appropriate.