Travel in Bangladesh – An Interview with Travel Blogger Noraly
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This interview series features interviews with travel bloggers and writers. If you are a travel blogger and a writer and have something to share with your readers, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!
In this interview, let us meet a travel blogger, Noraly. She is a 31-year old, Dutch, solo-female traveler who is currently on a mission to travel the world, preferably on a motorbike. She is passionate about motorbikes, photography, food, and crazy adventures. Her goal is to show you how to travel by yourself and what to see, do, and eat at the world’s best destinations through her blog Itchy Boots Travel.
Welcome Noraly! Please tell us about yourself, your blog, and your adventures.
My name is Noraly and I’m currently traveling the world full-time. I quit my job, sold my house, and the road is now my home! My favourite mode of transport is by motorbike – that feeling of freedom is just magical.
After riding around on a rental bike, I’ve just bought a motorbike in India! I’m currently preparing the bike and the paperwork to ride all over Asia.
On my blog, I write about the best destinations to go to, food to try – and (funny) anecdotes of the crazy things that have happened to me along the way.
Such a unique way to travel around the world! You have worked in gold mining. Would you like to share your experience there?
After I graduated from univeristy, I wanted to travel for a few months. But when those three months came to an end, I didn’t want to go back to my home country yet! With only 20 dollars left in my pocket, I flew to Perth, Australia.
Very quickly, I landed a job in gold mining – as my degree is in geology. I started working as a field exploration geologist, which was probably the best job I have ever had! The company set me on a two-weeks-on, one-week-off schedule. They’d fly me to the outback, where I got two drill trucks, a crew, and a field assistant and all the freedom in the world!
It was my job to find the gold (or silver, nickel, lead, zinc – any mineral in large quantities really), by drilling holes and examining the rock that we drilled.
The days were long and hard as we would work for seven days a week, 12 hours per day. But after two weeks on that routine, I would have one week off. I surely partied hard each week I got off in Perth!
The money was so incredibly good, that after six months of doing this work (and finding lots of gold by the way), I quit the job, and traveled 2 years around the world without working.
Those travels ended in 2012 and I’m super happy that now, in 2018, I’m again traveling full-time. It’s what I love most in the world (besides riding motorbikes…)!
You have written several interesting posts on Bangladesh. What made you decide to visit there?
Bangladesh was a bit of a spontaneous decision. I was traveling in Kashmir, India and was planning to fly to Malaysia after that. I got invited to a real Kashmiri wedding though. It was an invitation I couldn’t turn down.
To bridge the gap until that wedding, and to renew my visa for India, I was looking for a neighbouring country where I could spend a few weeks.
Bangladesh seemed like the most logical choice for me as I hadn’t been there before!
What is your strangest experience in Bangladesh?
Without a doubt: spending a night on a Bangladeshi train.
The first-class tickets were sold out, so I went for second class. No worries, I thought. It turned out to be a crazy ride, one that I will never forget.
It started by me getting escorted into the train by an armed policeman who was kicking and screaming at everyone who was standing in my way. So embarrassing!
When I finally got to my seat and the train took off – strange characters started entering the train carriage. I practically got mugged by a transgender woman, shouted at by a holy man, and stared at by pretty much everybody else in the carriage.
Needless to say that I didn’t sleep a wink that night!
What a train ride! What are three things someone needs to pack for their trip to Bangladesh?
- Bring some good mosquito spray (DEET) as you’ll have plenty of those little buggers that will try to eat you.
- If you are roughing it on a low budget – it’s wise to bring a liner with you to sleep in. The sheets/bedding in the cheaper accommodation often come with unexplainable stains…
- For the girls out here: a head-scarf. Bangladesh is mostly Muslim and you’ll gain more respect and attract less attention when your hair is covered. For the guys out here – dressing conservatively also counts for you. So, no shorts and sleeveless shirts in Bangladesh!
Great tips about the dressing code. What are your favorite places in Bangladesh?
One of my favourite places in Bangladesh was the Chittagong area. I stayed in a place called Banbardan, about two hours driving from Chittagong. This area counts a dozen different tribes, each with their own language, religion, physical appearance, and customs.
The people here are not used to seeing foreigners so wandering around here was amazing. Everybody came to have a curious look at me, smiling their widest smiles. Most of the tribal villages are only accessible by river. Floating down the river on a bamboo boat to these villages was such a peaceful experience!
Another place that I absolutely loved was a tiny village called Puthia. Like in the Chittagong area, I was met with lovely people who all came out of their small huts to meet me. Nobody spoke English but they tried their absolute hardest to communicate with me. It was a truly humbling experience.
How has your Bangladesh trip changed you and your outlook on life and the world?
Traveling around Bangladesh made one thing incredibly clear to me. I need to be able to communicate with the people. To really understand a country, a culture and its people, you need to converse with them.
Unfortunately, a large part of the people there cannot speak English. They will all ask you “Which country,”, “How are you?” and some of them can say “Are you married?” – but that’s about it.
I couldn’t have any meaningful conversation and learn more about the people. The country was stunning and definitely worth the visit but, in the end, it’s the people that make the country. Getting to know them and understanding their way of living is essential for that.
Do you have any tips to offer for someone who wants to travel to Bangladesh?
Bangladesh is the least visited country in Asia so be prepared to not meet a single foreigner while you are there. Moreover, the locals are not used to seeing a foreign face. Everybody will be looking at you. Staring at you. Shouting at you (“HOW ARE YOU??”).
It is never malicious, but the people are incredibly curious about you. Don’t expect to be left alone in this country!
What is your next dream destination?
My ultimate dream destination is Antarctica. It’s a place I’ve been wanting to go to for a long time, and I actually almost made it there one time! So, for now, it remains on the top of my list of places I love to see…
Antarctic is one of my dream places too. I was so close to it one time but did not make it there. I saw you have a photography page and have some amazing pictures. Do you have a favorite one?
It’s so hard to pick just one photograph! But this is one I absolutely love.
I trekked for hours through dense and slippery jungle in Rwanda before finding a family of 38 mountain gorillas! The group included three silverback males and lots of tiny babies. Having a silverback brushing past you is an absolutely hair-raising experience.
I felt like I was re-living Dian Fossey’s “Gorillas in the mist” – it was amazing!
Thanks Noraly for this wonderful interview. Have a good time traveling around the world!