|Visitors to Bangladesh pose for a photo with students at the Bangabandhu's Mausoleum in Tungipara, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladeshis are among the world's most friendly and hospitable people. Photo courtesy of Claudio Chaques Ramon|
My first impression of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, was a huge air-polluted construction site with buildings, bridges and roads built everywhere.
Traffic jams were the second big problem I found in the city where you would never see traffic lights.
With about 22 million residents, it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, leading to overcrowding from sunrise to sunset.
However, everything became normal as I got used to it in the next days when I discovered Bangladesh's biggest attraction: the people!
Friendly and hospitable
Through my six-day trip, I believe Bangladesh is a country of great hospitality.
The people, rich or poor, were very friendly and welcoming towards foreigners.
They loved communicating with guests, invited them home and offered them delicious and mouthwatering traditional foods. That was the difference that I thought every foreigner would feel.
When I was curiously watching a woman serving breakfast for her customers on the street, a man gestured to lure my attention and talked to me.
He was glad that I was from Việt Nam and said he liked the country, which fought hard in the war to regain its independence. He said Vietnamese people were very brave to defend the country. It was the same for Bangladesh and its people.
Another young man came and offered me two pieces of vegetable dumplings.
"You are a guest to my country. It's my pleasure to buy you breakfast. Take it, you will love our delicious dish," said Abdur Razzak.
Razzak, a worker at a hospital, said if I had time, he would be happy to introduce more about varieties of Bangladesh food.
The next day, an owner of a small restaurant also wanted to give me a free breakfast after talking with a rare foreign visitor, who paused to photograph the cake-making process.
During my walk in the evening, a friendly man volunteered to be my guide to tour around the city.
The man, who also had little understanding of Việt Nam, loved to know more about my country while trying to answer all my questions about Bangladesh.
Rashid Islam did not ask anything for his assistance, although he looked poor and needy. And he was over the moon saying 'thankyou' continuously when I gave him my shoes. He said it would be a great present for his wife as these were the best shoes she would ever have.
Not only in the capital city, but visitors would also become the centre of attraction wherever you went in Bangladesh.
You rarely understood that they wanted anything more than to say 'hello' and ask a few questions.
|Bangladeshi children are photogenic and they are happy to take pictures with everyone. — Photo courtesy of Samia Boulahlib|
Everybody wanted to know where you were from, where you were going, what brought you to their country and what you thought about Bangladesh.
They were very photogenic and loved to have their photos taken for them or visitors. They were happy and cooperative in posing and smiling to have the best photos. If you were into photography, you would have a very productive time with them.
Crazy football fans
The only thing I knew about Bangladesh was their world-class cricket team, which was talked about on all local TV sports channels. That made me realise that Bangladeshi is truly massive fans of this bat-and-ball game.
However, they surprised me with their love for football, especially for Argentina and Lionel Messi, who won both the cup and the best player of the 2022 World Cup.
Argentina flags covered whole storefronts and hung high on every house's roof. Many apartment buildings were painted with the flag's colours, and countless portraits of players decorated cities across the country.
On the final night, I joined hundreds of thousands watching the match on a giant screen in Cox's Bazar beach.
One hundred per cent were on Argentina's side, giving no place to France.
|Bangladesh supporters watch the final match of the 2022 World Cup between Argentina and France in Dhaka, Bangladesh on December 18. AFP/VNA Photo|
They jumped up, clapped and shouted loudly to cheer the team's goals, and when they felt worried, they held their heads and prayed to save Damián Emiliano Martínez's net.
When Argentina finally lifted their trophy, the crowd became ecstatic and burst into wild celebrations.
The whole city people, wearing the team's sky blue and white jerseys, rushed to the streets with everything that could make big sounds. They sang, yelled, roared and waved flags all night.
Bangladesh's love for Argentina dates back to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, the first world cup to be screened in colour here. Argentina won the tournament with a historical performance by Diego Maradona.
Maradona scored two goals, including the infamous "Hand of God" and a masterpiece of dribbling, inscribing him a legend.
Bangladeshis' support has risen to a new level since the arrival of Messi, who is loved more than Maradona.
"We love Messi, we love Argentina. We will be their forever supporters, sharing their sadness and happiness," a supporter told me when I joined the celebration.
When the images of Bangladesh's Argentina victory celebration went viral, the Argentina national team twittered: "Thank you for supporting our team!! You are crazy like us!".
Yes, those people made the biggest difference on my trip to Bangladesh. They were definitely the most friendly, hospitable and crazy people in the world. VNS