Travelogue | The Daily Star
  • Football Fever - Watching the World Cup in Latin America

    Travelling through South America during the World Cup, SAMAI HAIDER succumbs to football fever and finds herself trying to explain to locals Bangladesh's blind obsession with Brazilian and Argentinian football.

  • Vibrant Valparaíso

    One of the things that struck me most about Chile is their love for dogs. If they hadn't already adopted a canine family member, then they are out on the streets showering their affections on the roadside strays. Bowls of doggie treats and water are left out on street corners and in front of shops; parks host kennel colonies

  • How to travel back in time with a grandfather

    For my grandfather, home lies across August 15, 1948 in a two-storey post office building in the district of Murshidabad—which just so happens to not be in Bangladesh. Large insignias of Trinamool Congress's Jora Ghas Phool line its walls in faded orange, green and white. Probably the last and only fresh coat of paint the house has seen in years.

  • How to get yourself to Antarctica

    Many people think of Antarctica as this far away, impossible-to-reach place, accessible only virtually via repeat viewings of Happy Feet and Happy Feet 2, but that's not true. Trust me, if I can get myself there, you totally can too (but hopefully with less vomiting).

  • Taking the waters - Soaking in Hot Springs around the World

    It was perhaps Jane Austen that first introduced me to the therapeutic benefits of bathing in thermal waters—a concept which my teenaged self found archaic and strange. As I grew older (and travelled wider), I realised bathing in hot springs is fairly common the world over. The instant I stepped into my first hot spring, I understood why. The almost unbearably warm waters cocooned my body and I felt my muscles unwind. I closed my eyes. It was sublime.

  • 7 tips on travelling

    As a solo female Bangladeshi traveller, the reaction I most commonly elicit while I am travelling is along the lines of people saying: “Wow! I have never met a Bangladeshi traveller before”. This makes me sad, because I know many Bangladeshis are keen on travelling, but for many, the expense of foreign trips can be a deterrence. And, well, it doesn't help either that we have a pretty badly-ranked passport.

  • The Island of 'Temptations'

    I often murmur this overused idiom as I pack my bags for a trip to any place. Be it in the country or abroad. The budget woes take hold of me from the conception to execution and to the absolute end of any trip. There have been times, of course, when my soirees out into the wild have been fully paid affairs and I can say without a trace of doubt that if you somehow negate the money worries, travel takes on a

  • Starry nights and ice-covered peaks in Langtang

    The houses looked like they were made of Lego; the people, like ants. My head was dizzy and I was breathing fast. It was precisely then that I realised that my goal of reaching the 4,200-metre high (13,500 feet) Kyangin Ri peak in the Langtang valley of Nepal—one that I had shamelessly and prematurely boasted about to all my family members and friends prior to leaving Dhaka—was not going to be fulfilled.

  • Ogling vintage cars and food at Rot Fai Market, Bangkok

    Rot Fai Market means Train Market because it is situated near the train tracks behind the famous and massive Chatuchak Market. Consider it like a museum where you get to take food and drinks inside.

  • Jewel of the Indian Ocean

    Whenever we go to any country, we tend to take our preconceived notions of that place with us. I had this idea that Sri Lanka would be like Bangladesh and the people would resemble South Indians with the accompanying Tamil accent. I could not have been more wrong. In fact, this trip has left me wondering exactly how I got such ideas in the first place. The soft-spoken eloquence and refined attitude of the Sri

  • Country by City

    I spent a lot of time in my twenties travelling through Europe and North Africa. I did the typical weekend tourist one-two step: touched down in one city, did a whirlwind tour of the most Instagrammable spots, indulged in some good meals, and if I wasn't too jet-lagged, checked out the nightlife. In and out, another country on the books. At the rate I was going, I would have made it to my goal of 30 countries, but by then my approach to travelling had changed.

  • To you, Marrakech

    I can't quite remember who picked us up—probably someone from the villa—but they played 'No Scrubs' by TLC in the car and it reminded me of my childhood. Secret hip hop aspirations stormed through my senses, and at once, I felt at ease. Like I knew you Marrakech, and you knew me.

  • Half of my heart is in Havana

    When I told my bosses I was taking off to travel to Cuba, their first response was “Tell us if you're stuck in Guantanamo”. All jokes aside, when people think of Cuba, they think of Frank Sinatra, they think of classic cars and flamenco dancers, and now, they probably think of the “Havana” song. And, of course, they think of socialism.

  • Local woman goes to England and spends her time looking at paintings by dead dudes and relics stolen from colonies

    People don't usually visit the UK for the sole purpose of tourism. They either go there to study, work or visit family. Last year I had the chance to spend three weeks in London, and it was the best vacation of my life. The only reason many, at least from Bangladesh, don't consider the UK as a holiday destination is because of the high price tag. But if you're savvy, there are many ways to cut down on your expenses. Once you figure out food and shelter, your UK trip should be a breeze.

  • Through Santal villages, midnight walks and ghost stories

    Smells evoke emotionally charged memories. Like the smell of freshly picked green mangoes after the season's first Kalbaishakhi or the smell of clothes washed with Chaka Ball soap and laid out to dry on the wires running along the village front yard. However, Beautiful Bangladesh—our tagline for tourism—has its inimitable share of horrible smells that also manage to etch themselves into our memories.

  • The Time I Was Arrested in Japan and the Police Served Me Green Tea

    In 2007, I was working in Nagasaki, Japan, during my college summer break. My team traveled around the prefecture, teaching English to adorable Japanese school children of various ages. In between, we got to enjoy breaks, and stay with host families so we could live like the locals.

  • Auschwitz: Reflections and Realisations

    Neat rows of red-brick buildings, bathed in brilliant sunlight, stretched out under an azure sky. The carefully manicured grounds, and the forest beyond, were a lush green. One could be forgiven for mistaking it for a well-run summer camp. It certainly did not look anything like what had been portrayed in Schindler's List or the myriad of Holocaust literature. Even the wrought-iron sign above the gates reading

  • Thoughts from Chitwan - Where the wild ones roam free

    A massive rhino rustled through the tall elephant grass and charged at us. Ears cocked, nostrils flared wide open and tail held high, the animal seemed to take up the entirety of the unique Chitwan landscape. Its distinctive one horn cut through the thick humid air of the Terai, its muscles rippled in tension under the thick armour like skin.

  • The Time I Took A 19-hour Bus Ride Across East Africa, Because Why Not

    My work visa in Tanzania was about to expire, and I needed to do a quick trip out of the country in order to renew it. I couldn't be gone for too long, so it made sense to go somewhere nearby—to one of the neighbouring countries, like… Kenya. Plus, I had a friend in Nairobi whom I hadn't seen in years, which also meant free accommodation...

  • Love in Tokyo

    When I first stepped in Tokyo streets, getting out of the Aoyama Itchome subway station, it was late evening, and it was raining, as it would rain casually in any season in Dhaka. The modernist styled buildings reminded me of a Motijheel, the sound of light water drops on the pitch black roads reminded me of Dhaka's soundscape in any

  • Ambling through the City of Victory

    Travel back to the bygone days of the Vijayanagara dynasty. The ruin of the ancient city of Hampi today stands amidst gargantuan boulders. Climb up the 575 steps to the Anjaneya temple to view the sunset and hike atop the Matanga hill for a sublime sunrise, or take a coracle ride across the Tungabhadra river during the wee hours, the only sound breaking the silence being the swish-swash of the oar dipping in the water.

  • Dancing with the Arctic Sky

    Huddled inside a lavvu, a Sami tent, around a blazing pinewood fire, we binged on coffee and “almost homemade cake”—almost because Knut, our guide for the night, bought the chocolate cake with coconut and sugar dusted on top from a store and sliced it in the kitchen at his home! We learnt from him about the Sami. Historically known as Laps or Laplanders, they are the natives inhabiting, primarily...

  • Brunei Darussalam - Paradise on earth

    On November 26 last year, my wife and I decided to visit Brunei on a long-pending invitation from our son, Shahriar Shams Rony, who works as a teacher at the Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB).

  • Why you should go mountain climbing

    I know, I know, mountain climbing isn't on everyone's agenda. Being a dedicated couch potato who can barely run two kilometres without dying, it was the furthest thing on my mind.

  • Welcome to surreal Pakistan

    When after a long journey through mountains, valleys, villages and hills; I saw Deosai for the first time, it struck me as if Wordsworth wrote the poem for Deosai.

  • Ice camping with penguins in Antarctica

    When you've paid a large chunk of your savings to go on the trip of a lifetime, you would probably be smart about it and not do anything stupid that will make you miss the trip.

  • The Great Bengal romance with the Sundarbans

    She is a friend and a foe. She is all encompassing and she can take away all. The mighty Sundarbans, the enchanted forest, the recipient of my modern-day love letters.

  • Love in Florence

    On a bright sunny August afternoon, the view from the Camping Michelangelo—a camp site set on a hill above the city of Florence—is spectacularly exhilarating.

  • Rafting in the Grand Canyon

    My first visit to the Grand Canyon was with my wife, as a newly wedded couple several decades ago. I was so fascinated by the majesty and beauty of the vast expanse of red rock and by what must have been the immense power of the meandering river, that I told myself I had to experience this canyon and that river at closer proximity. I questioned myself over the years why I felt that way so compulsively.

  • In search of Heidi, eating my way through bits of Bhutan

    The Proustian punch of eating food that stirs a nerve is something I have always been on a quest for.

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