Saturday, 14 September 2013

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to touch base with all of you, I'm still in Bangladesh and doing well! :) it's been a really busy year so far, so I apologize for not writing a post in so long!

So, my current update is that I am scheduled to be in my company's fall posting, yay, so it's finally the end of my assignment! You can tell I miss America, after close to 2.5 years, ahh! I did apply for Houston jobs, so I am planning to move back there, and taking back my town house!! Exactly when I will be moving back, TBD, depending on the new job and my current project completion date, I am estimating the end of fall / early winter- probably December. Will keep you all in the loop!

Also, I have a work trip next month back to the states, so I will be seeing some of you soon!

Ok, what should I talk about? How about some random experiences I have from out here? Sure.

* One time, driving towards the field on the highway, we see an elephant up ahead. that's right, an elephant! Just blocking the lane and the cars are slowly lining up. A 10 year bangladeshi boy was sitting on top, demanding cash from each driver before he allows his elephant to let us pass through. what a punk! haha. this boy, ladies and gentlemen, will probably grow up to be a businessman ;)

* Our gas plant & wellpads are surrounded by rice paddies. So, one day i see this man with like 50 ducks. All you see is this guy walking around a rice paddy and the entire flock of ducks follow him, maybe from listening from his whistling. Well, our construction team decided that if this guy can make a pack of wild ducks to follow him, we should hire this guy ;) because our contractors don't listen to us!

* In the first few months here, my Bangladeshi coworker asked me-"When will you be doubled?" I was so confused. That's when I realize he was talking about arranged marriages, which is the culture here, so he wanted to know when I decide to get arranged as well! not a bad idea, i should start collecting resumes! hah!

* When I went to Malaysia with my buddy Candace, we went to a temple that was surrounded by wild monkeys. Well, I was hungry and took out a granola bar, opening the wrapper. Looking over, a monkey swings by, watching me. Hmm, i put it back into my bag, kept walking. The monkey grabbed my bag and would not let go! So, imagine this asian girl pulling on the bag against a monkey! Hah, pretty funny actually. He reached in and grabbed that granola bar alright. Sigh, I decided I didn't like monkeys anymore :)

* One time I traveled outside Dhaka called Mymensingh. I guess there wasn't a lot of foreigners that go there because I got a lot of stares. Anyway, I was dressed down for sure, in my sweats and t-shirt, walking through a park when this university student girl came up to me with a dozen roses! :) she kept thanking me for visiting her country! super sweet and over the top! The rest of the students came out and they took a ton of pictures! I felt like a super star, hah, in sweats!

Ok, story time is over. I'll post again when I hear more about my move!

Bye! lil.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

What's 'normal' to me now.

Hello everyone!

Guess what! Next month (May 1st!) will be my 2 year mark living in Bangladesh! How time flies. I still remember the day I arrived, jet lagged, waiting for just the first week to pass. Then, waiting for my sea shipment to arrive after 3 months of living in a hotel, and then waiting for my first year to pass just so I can say, "I'm halfway there!". Ideally, I should be done with my assignment next month and taking a one-way plane ticket out of here, BUT, that's not how the project life works, blahness! Yes, the project is delayed. Just to update everyone, I agreed to extend my assignment to the fall. Ok fine, 2.5 years! ;)

Story Time.

So, after 2 years living in a 3rd world country, let me tell you what's 'normal' to me now...

  • Power Outages. With poor power generating and electricity distribution across the country, I experience power outages about every few hours every day! Only the major companies and high end homes have diesel generators that kick on when the power is out, usually about an hour long each time. During meetings, the power will go out all the time, but we're all so use to it that presenters usually keep talking.. in the dark! ;)
  • Last May, I was doing last minute packing the night of my flight back to the US. Hah, with my luck, there was a power outage and our generator was out of service, so I was packing in the dark, with a flashlight! I remember saying out loud, 'Ugh! Only in Bangladesh!'. When I got to Houston, the first thing I bought were a few camping lanterns to bring back with me! =)
  • Hartals. These are countrywide strikes held by different political parties. There's a lot to it, but I will just get to the point. What's 'normal' to me is that they happen all the time now, almost daily, due to the upcoming election. These strikes occur right outside of the city limits, so the expats are safe and go to work like any other day. However, the nationals all live outside the city limits and they can't get to work due to the violence. So, imagine 85% of your office empty due to hartals. Since this January, we've had 27 hartal days. To the Nationals, those are 27 'free days of vacation'! Most Nationals don't have laptops or internet at home, so that means... No work! It gets frustrating when no work gets done... all the time now!
  • 'Dhaka Belly'.  Haha, within the expat community, this is what we call food poisoning. Dhaka is capital of Bangladesh and where the Chevron office is. Some of my coworkers get the 'Dhaka Belly' about bi-monthly, its pretty often here, especially for the new folks. The full deal guys, coming out... both ends! Gross, I know! Remember, proper hygiene is not really important in this country. Me? I usually get a mild-medium case about every quarter. It sucks. 
  • Bleach + Veggies. So this is how we don't fall sick here, we clean all our raw vegetables and fruits with water/bleach mix. Yes, Clorox Bleach people! It so sad, but so true. Just a tablespoon of bleach with every liter of water, so it's not too bad. And no, my salad doesn't taste like bleach either! Just a little getting use to the idea when you take a bite of your apple. ;) 
Ok, story time is over boys and girls. Scare you enough? ;) Till next time.. work tomorrow, good night!

Miss everyone back at home. Hope all is well!  

love, lil. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Hi everyone!

Things got super busy and I didn't make this post before Christmas or New Years, so just wanted to tell everyone that I'm alive & well ! =) Happy 2013 & hope everyone is doing well! I failed to post in the last 4-5 months, so my 2013 new years resolution is to try to post every other month! hehe..

Still living in wonderful Bangladesh... ;) Pix below of fishermen in a local village in Bhaupur. 

If you want to see my 2012 travels, pix albums are all on my facebook page:

Till the next post, this is my maid's 3 1/2 yr old daughter Sreya! Isn't she adorable?!

To 2013! love, lil!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Ramadan Time!

Hi Everyone! I feel like talking about Ramadan this time =)

To be honest, being American, I had no idea what Ramadan was. It really opened my eyes once I was surrounded by it here. Just a funny feeling knowing now that this whole new world exists outside my American life... 

Anyway! So, Bangladesh is populated with 90% Muslims. Ramadan is the month of fasting! This year, this holiday started in mid-July. If you want the full details behind this religious holiday, I'm really the last person to tell you, so maybe you'll find yourself wikipedia-ing this later! ;) But for now, I want to share with y'all my observations so far:

1. Why are they fasting? Ramadan teaches 'Muslims self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice and empathy towards the less fortunate'. My coworker explained to me that it's the time of the year when they feel what the poor feels, which I think is also a good reminder of appreciating your life a bit more! 

2. Let's define fasting now. This means no food & drinks, including water from sunrise (like 5am) till 6:42pm. that's a long time not to eat or drink anything, don't you think? Sadly, I couldn't do it.  

3. Now remember, its like 110 degrees with 110% of humidity in Bangladesh. So, this no water policy applies to all the hard working construction workers out here too! you try it. 

4. For respect, all the restaurants cover their front window with a cloth so the public is not tempted by the food being served to the non-fasting folks.  

5. To break the fast, they have 'Iftar' every night at sunset. Families get together, it's a grand feast! I went to my first Iftar last year and the food is good, but really spicy! =X

6. During Ramadan, they have 2 meals a day- one at 3:30AM before fasting and one at 6:40PM. As you can see, they don't sleep very well and most of them are tired and weak. Remember, you got to do this every day for a month! 

7. During Ramadan, it's also common for the wealthy to give a fixed percentage of their savings to charity. My coworker said 5% of your savings is pretty common. 

8. Finally, after a month of fasting, they celebrate 'Eid-Ul-Fitr' holiday! Celebrate! this 3 day holiday is as big as our Christmas people! Big feasts, family gatherings, presents, greeting cards, bonuses! they wait ALL year for this, again, like our Christmas! =)

ok, that's all folks! Hope everyone is doing well! 


Saturday, 30 June 2012

Trip Advisor.

Hello, I am back! Ok, I owe some of you a summary of all my adventures so far in South Asia. Sadly, i'm 1/2 way through my assignment and still have a long list of countries i need to hit up before i move back next year. Asia anyone? =) But, I get to act as 'trip advisor' now and give you the real deal on these places if you ever plan to go! yay. 

1. Phuket, Thailand: The pictures pretty much says it all, hah. Highly Recommended. Everything is cheap, tons of activities, and for all ages! i sound like a stupid commercial, hah. I had a lot of fun in Patong Beach! They had Connect Four and some Number Box game in every bar while you drink. Men, watch out for Thailand's lady boys. you know,  just watch Hang Over 2! ;)  

2. Bangkok, Thailand: Love it. I think it's because it's a mega city but still has their cultural roots mixed in. Traditional noodle shops everywhere, buddhist temples and street markets. Highly Recommended. Best sushi i've ever had is when i am in Bangkok. Thai food is super spicy, and Pad Thai does exist there! Still on my list to see: Floating Markets next.

Royal Grand Palace

Siam SkyTrain Station: Street Markets

3. Ho Chi Min (or Old Saigon), Vietnam: The city was okay. Not a foreign friendly place and not many folks spoke basic english either. This is the country where everyone wears the teepee looking bamboo hats! What i do recommend is going out of the city, taking a tour out to Mekong Delta River and Cu Chi Tunnels. To be honest, I think it's better to visit up north to Hanoi, Vietnam. That's where Halong Bay is located, just beautiful. Well, it's still on my list for 2013.  

Mekong Delta
Vietnamese Homer. D'oh.

4. Singapore: Not recommended. Sorry! The country is like the size of Manhattan and it's just like any mega city. Cool thing is although they're all asian, they all speak english and everything is written in english. It's the most westernized Asian country i've been to so far. I am impressed by how clean and crime-free this country is. littering is like a $1000 fine. makes you think twice about that gum wrapper now! also, everything is expensive there! Anyway, if you go, one long weekend is enough, can see it all.

View from Marina Bay Sands Hotel
Marina Bay Ground View

5. Jaipur & Jodhpur, India: Recommended. There's a lot of history in India, with beautiful palaces. I thought it was going to look like Bangladesh, but it was nothing like it. For one, they don't have ricksaws. Anyway, thanks to my buddy Ashish, i was able to go to a Royal wedding! it was awesome. the prince ride a horse, then a camel, finally on an elephant to go get married to the bride! the wedding was about 6 days long, crazy. trip highlight- i got to ride a camel! 

Can you see me? Waving?
I named him Bob.

6. Hong Kong: Highly recommended. Well, my family is Cantonese and from HK, so if i don't say it, it's sorta wrong too. ha, just kidding! i heart HK. prob been here a few times growing up. Big Buddha, rice & noodle shops, shopping everywhere. Next on my list- trying to make it to HK during Chinese New Year. There, they celebrate it for 1 week, and offices are closed! US should practice that too for their new year. ;)

7. Pattaya Beach, Thailand: Recommended. My buddy Aubrey lives there now and we had a grand time. Elephants! gotta love them, we went elephant riding there and got to feed them bananas. It's cool,  they have this area called Walking Street, which is the asian version of Bourbon Street, New Orleans! bars everywhere and they even closed down the streets at nights because of the drunk people. 

I wanted to name him Bob 2.
Walking Street

Ok, hope you enjoyed it. That's all my travels so far. The rest of my pictures are in my Facebook if you want to see more. Will post up my next upcoming travels, and hopefully, not a year later! Night. 


Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Expat Life.

Ok, whats next? Continuation of the basics, everyone always asks me if i like my assignment, and what do i miss, so i will sum it all up here:

Things i miss (from living in America):

1. Driving & my car! Expats are NOT allowed to drive. they drive on the wrong side of the road here (right side) and the bangladeshis do not follow traffic lights, lanes, signs, you name it. So it's too risky for expats to drive here.

2. Sandwiches! i'm pretty simple as a person, so my whole life, a sandwich with a side of chips for lunch every day made me really happy. not having this available here... has killed me. 

3. American movies and TV shows. you watch, i will feel like some alien when i move back to america. right now, i am surviving with satellite from India. they have 5 american TV channels with HBO. believe it or not, The Simpsons made it to india! =)

4. Walking around freely without everyone staring at you. depending where in bdesh you are, foreigners are rare and when they see one, they are just so amazed. sometimes they stop you and ask to take a picture with you. Once, I was with my friend who's a red-head, oh man, she brought in a huge crowd.

Things i will miss (from this expat assignment):

1. Having a driver. i know, i am a hypocrite. i have 2 drivers, one for day and one for night shift. Nur Alam and Alam Hossain. just my luck, they are both called 'Alam' for short. it's sorta nice to just sit back and relax. oh and of course, i will def miss my drivers. they are awesome. they like to teach me bengali whenever we sit in traffic.  

2. Having a full time maid. i am just going to admit it up front, having a maid has just spoiled me. now don't hate! it's super cheap to have one here and it's a cultural thing here for everyone to have one. even my maid has her own maid! anyway, she cleans, cooks and does all my grocery shopping. Her name is Gitila and she's really sweet.  

3. The expat vacation package. back in the US, i only had 2 weeks of vacation. now, i get 3x the vacation, plus all the week long holidays, it's 4x the amount! so, what comes with this is also missing all the traveling i get to do out here. how can anyone go back to 'normal' after this! ;)

4. their Masala Chai tea. black tea with milk and sugar and it's so good! this coming from a girl that didnt really drink tea back in america.

5. Bangladesh pineapples and mangos! i cant go back to kroger's pineapples after this. it's so different from the states. 

Obviously, there's a lot more to my lists, but those are the key ones i think. i'll save the rest for another blog post! 

miss you all. lil. 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

My First Post! Finally.

Hello everyone! i can't believe it took me about 1 year to finally post, hah! thanks to Heidi for introducing this site to me.

First off, yes, i am still alive out here! i am really sorry if i've been MIA and haven't responded to your email in forever. i am super behind on life. bare with me, as this blogger is suppose to help with updating all of you on what's going on in my side of the world.  =)

i don't even know where to start. okay, let's start off with the basics...

Do you know where Bangladesh is? like did you know it's a country? Because to be honest, i thought it was a city in India when i APPLIED for the job. ha! nope, it is a country just west of India. It use to be 'West Pakistan' until when it won it's independence.

This is a third world country and it is very, very poor :( i mean, it's really sad when you see people bare foot on the street cuz they can't afford shoes and people beg for money everywhere. However, it does makes you appreciate your life more and not worry about the shallow things.

On the flip side, everything is dirt cheap here. i mean like, going back to the states, i will feel ripped off. you can get 25lbs of veggies for $4-5 bucks here, which would be $35 bucks back at Kroger. Manicures and pedicures are $5 each, at a nice salon too! you give a picture of a nice table from Crate and Barrel and the carpenter will charge you less than 50 bucks to imitate the same darn thing. china dishes is made in bdesh and 1 full dinner set (6 piece) is 60 bucks. i dont need china, but i'm gonna get it cuz how can you not? ;)

Next, this country is 95% Muslim. So, they don't sell alcohol or pork here. yup, it's a dry country. But, that doesn't stop the expats here, as my coworkers are stocked with tons of liquor from their sea shipment! but, i do miss pork. i was never a bacon fan, but when you don't have it available anymore, i suddenly am a huge fan.

i live in Dhaka, which is the capital, a city! so, dont worry, i am not living in rice paddies where the local villages are. However, that's why my gas facility is, in a town called Sylhet. just think of beautiful green fields and then ... boom... right in the middle of beauty is our darn gas plant & wellpads. oh chevron!

now, you're probably wondering what the heck i am doing out here. :) well, why not? hah. if you got a chance to take a break from your routine life, wouldn't you?? i am learning so much out here about asia and loving it! ok, i am asian, yes. but i didn't realize how american i was until i lived out here and find myself craving a cheeseburger! anyway...

ok, i supposedly got 1 more year left in this assignment so i will try to post as much as possible, about bangladesh, the people, culture, my travels, everything! so, hope it's entertaining!

miss everyone back in the states!