Sunday, 24 May 2009

Wonderful Dhaka vehicles

Since I spent so much time on the streets getting to work over the last two weeks, I had plenty of opportunity to watch the traffic and even managed to get a few photos of typical forms of transport.

First - Here is a CNG, the Bangladesh tuktuk. Here is is loaded with fruits, no doubt on its way to market. Why are they called CNGs? Because they run on Compressed Natural Gas!

Second, here is a typical commuter bus. I've actually been wanting to photograph one for a while. Note the "decorative" scratching on the sides. What does that tell you about the traffic. At least this one appears to have all the side windows. But look carefully at the photo below - very jagged looking glass in the back window. What would Occupational Health and Safety make of that?

Thirdly, this is the back of a rickshaw bread van.

Lastly, a slightly blurry photo of the local school transport. These young children are locked in the back of a cage at the rear of a rickshaw. Every morning you see "vehicles" transporting 6 or 8 children off to primary school. At least they have air conditioning!!

Arsenic in water

The presence of arsenic in water here is one of the reasons I drink bottled water all the time, even though authorities claim that Dhaka town water is safe!! Could you trust the authorities after this :
From Al Jazeera
"They call it the devil's water.

Much of Bangladesh's water contains dangerous quantities of arsenic, a toxic element that cripples human organs and can eventually lead to death.

The country is now scrambling to reverse what the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls "the largest mass poisoning in history", but it will not be an easy task.

Arsenic was commonly used as a poison in the 19th century, but in Bangladesh, it occurs naturally in the groundwater, which is pumped up by shallow tube wells.

Millions affected

No one has the exact figures of the number of wells contaminated with arsenic. But according to Ruhul Haq, Bangladesh's health minister, more than 50 per cent of the population is affected by arsenic contamination - that is more than 80 million poisoned people. "

and so it continues . . . . .

Even though it is only tube wells that they claim have high arsenic levels. The fact that arsenic occurs naturally is scary, and even though I avoid the water I often wonder how much is in the vegetables I eat. Apparently green leaf vegetables have the highest level. Hmmm . . .

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Traffic Jams . . . . . . .

Thank goodness today was the last day of the late start trial!!!! Instead of taking 20 minutes to get to work, this morning hit the jackpot - a mere 70 minutes, that's right SEVENTY minutes. Is it any wonder I am counting down the days until I get a break from Dhaka.

The reason - traffic jams. This morning we spent more than 30 minutes to travel about 2 kilometres, most of the time stationary with the occasional slow motion advance. Here are some pictures to give you some idea. Taking photos helps pass the time.

This is the turn into the road to the school - just this one narrow road into a rapidly developing residential area with a number of schools and a large hospital. Sensible?????

And it is not just the vehicles but also masses of pedestrian traffic who just cross whenever and wherever!

This was a queue we waited and waited in!!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Central Australia

While I am at it, here are a few photographs of Central Australia. I love the outback, the desert, the space and the sometimes spectacular landscapes.
Rainbow Valley

An early morning hot air balloon flight just outside Alice Springs

The Olgas at sunrise

Kings Canyon - I love the cloud formation
A camel safari in the East MacDonnell Ranges

Sunderbans slides

On my visit back to Australia, one of the things I brought back with me was my slide scanner. Although I only brought a few slides back with me to scan, I have a lot here to do - Morocco, Mali and Eastern Europe. I only have one box of Bangladesh ones, those from my Sunderbans trip last October. Here are a few to whet your appetite!

The first one here is of the boat we travelled on into the mangroves, which was also our home for 4 days. We were a group of 13, but the boat catered for 20 passengers so we had plenty space. It was very comfortable and we had great food. We travelled with a company called "Guide Tours" based here in Dhaka and this is one of three boats they own.

I remember taking this photograph but can't remember whether it is the sun going down or the moon coming up. I have a feeling it is the latter!!

There were lots of colourful butterflies.

Some woodcutters near the river mouth where we spent most of our time.

A river sunset

This boatmen we saw on the river, through the rain, on our journey down to the Sunderbans.

Maybe on my next post I'll put up a few photographs of Australia that I have scanned;just to whet you appetitite.

Friday, 8 May 2009

An interesting statistic

Reading "The Dhaka Star", a local paper here in Bangladesh, the editorial highlighted that the per capita income for this fiscal year has increased to US$690 from US$608. That means that a person on average earns $690 per year, and considering all the wealthy people at the top then it also means that many, many people are below that. Compare this to Australia with about $50 000. That puts Bangladesh in the 20 poorest countries in the world along with mostly African countries such as the Congo, Zimbabwe, Mali, Equatorial Guinea.

But are they trying to help themselves? Here is a story from a work colleague.
Driving along one of the streets here in Dhaka, one always gets accosted by beggars whether you are walking or in a vehicle. Anyway one evening a colleague spotted a woman carrying a baby who was begging. Nothing unusual about that. However the the baby had a large and very obvious hernia. After a local colleague heard about this and happened to spot the same lady and baby, she stopped and got the lady in the car and said that she would par for and take the lady to a doctor to get the baby fixed. The begging lady was aghast, no way to she want the baby made better and so appear normal. her source of begging would be gone. Instead she insistently asked for money from the good samaritan!! What does this mean in terms of the future . . .. . . . . . I don't know.

In the same vain, I have also heard that all beggars will be off the streets in 10 years time. Mind you that might depend on whether Bangladesh still exists as a country or whether rising sea levels courtesy of the Graeenhouse Effect have inundated it.

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