To say that I caught the travel bug fairly early would be a bit of an understatement. My first trip abroad (without my family) was in 1996, when a fifteen-year-old me when to Bangladesh.
Why, you might ask, would I visit Bangladesh at such a tender age? Quite simply: I was sitting in history class with my best friend, looking at a map and telling him about all of the places I’d visit one day (most of which, funnily enough, I still haven’t visited). He told me that he was going to visit Bangladesh soon to see family: would I like to go?
My family were obviously a bit apprehensive, but ultimately supported me. They put in a lot of groundwork for my visa and the other things that were necessary to travel during the 90s.
I thus finished my GCSEs (all passed with flying colours, FYI), and me and my mate got on a Bangladeshi Airways flight to Dhaka. To contextualise how different things were then: this was a smoking flight. 1996 really was a different era.
We duly arrived in Dhaka and transferred to a place called Sylhet before my mate’s family picked us up and drove us to Sunamgonj, my buddy’s hometown. This was where we were supposed to spend the next few weeks (and where, due to the abject fear of my parents, we actually spent the next few months).
What did we do during our months in Bangladesh? Largely what teenagers do anywhere: hung out with kids our own age, misbehaved, talked about girls, and did a bit of travelling around that part of the country.
I could go on for days about my Bangladeshi adventures, but some standout moments included wading through waist-deep rainwater to get back home (monsoon season), spending my 16th birthday swimming in floodwater, meeting a genuine Islamic fundamentalist (before it was a thing) and visiting a Bangladeshi hospital.
Another truly 1996 moment was there being only one phone in the whole town where I could ring England (and it wasn’t cheap, either). Me and my dad communicated largely by letter like I was some kind of Victorian sailor. Bottled water also wasn’t a thing yet – at least not in Bangladesh – and I largely stuck to Fanta or coke. On more than one occasion, though, I had to drink water that I couldn’t see through.
It certainly was a different time back then!
I am therefore super excited that Young Pioneer Tours will now be offering tours to Bangladesh, with our first Bangladesh tour being in 2020.
And as for me? I guess this is what started my travel adventure, which can follow on my very own blog!.