Friday, June 28, 2013

America - Bangladesh Friendship Day 2013

This past weekend our friend Milky from Cox's Bazaar had a get together for those of us working on the new hospital project and called it "America - Bangladesh Friendship Day".  We each were given hats and t-shirts for this full day event.  Starting with brunch, a beach visit, pool time, late lunch, beach drive and awards. It was fun to get away for the day, although with the contractor there it was not all play, we are still working out some project details. Holly and I won a horse statue at the awards raffle that is now sitting on our mantle in our home. It was funny that a number of people that saw our group were actually asking us if "America - Bangladesh Friendship Day" was an actual thing happening that day. A unique & fun experience.

(Friendship Day group - Milky - the man in the front middle)

(Jon wearing his new hat and shirt) 

(Beach time is a bit different from back home, we go put our feet in the water and leave. This seems to be somewhat typical here. The sand was extremely hot when away from the water. Holly brought her soccer ball hoping to play some ball.)

(Pool visit at the Seagull Hotel)

(Prize draw at an outlook in Inani)


Monday, June 24, 2013

Bangladesh Critters

Bangladesh is a country of many new experiences for us.  One of these experience is the vast variety of unique critters. Even the country's name gives a hint to this as in the Bangla Language the word "Bang" is for from the word Frog and "desh" is country. So basically Bangladesh could be crudely translated to "Frog Country" or "The Country of Frogs". And now that we are started into the rainy season I see why. This place is hopping and humming with these guys. Frogs are just a start though to what we come across on a daily basis. Most encounters I believe are harmless, but occasionally I would be out working on the site and we come across a bug that the workers quickly take a brick and kill as they say else it may try to kill you. Or if I'm walking across a field at night and a guard would come running out with his flashlight to make sure I don't walk into a poisonous snake. Although the most harmless bugs are often the most annoying such as Cockroaches, Mosquitoes and Ants (when I say harmless I guess they really are not that harmless as we could contract Malaria from the mosquitoes, Cockroaches are carriers lots of bacteria and the ants can have a wicked bite). Thankfully we have a home that is well screened so with regular work we can keep the incidents of bugs comparatively low within our house.

(Every night we have one or two frogs in our front porch eating the hundreds of bugs that collect around the light - this is a fat one)

(A big spider in the shower - I believe it is a wolf spider with an egg sack. We typically leave most spiders so they can eat the cockroaches and mosquitoes)

(another large spider that is always hanging out by the pool)

(Some really large beetles around.  They really make a loud noise when they hit the windows at night.)

(Some type of scorpion? out on our front porch)

(A small snake out on the front porch - only about a foot long)

(stick bug? on a wall in our house.)

(Another large random spider on our porch) 

(We have a few families of Tik-Tikies (geckos) that roam our house keeping the bug population down. Here is a baby that is missing most of his tail. Most are roughly 5 inches long. They are fairly amazing in that they can move along basically every surface including across the ceiling)

(Holly's arch nemesis.... the cockroach... 
ever since a few tried to crawl into bed with her... successfully)

(Large snails - about the size of my fist)

Termites are another issue here. One evening we were having a nap for only 15 minutes then when we turned the light on there were hundreds of termites crawling all over our bedroom floor. Needless to say we go through a steady supply of insect sprays.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Gaye Holud (Turmeric Smearing Ceremony)

A short while ago I was able to attend a Gaye Holud ceremony, part of the activities on the evening before a wedding, for a women who lives in the tribal community on our hospital grounds.  After spending hours getting ready, including fancy dress, make-up and henna, the bride was carried to her seat at the front to sit beside her fiancĂ©.  A paste was made from turmeric spice (called holud here or “yellow”) and water following which the guests started feeding fruit and snacks to the bride and groom then smearing the turmeric on their faces and arms.  Fittingly, most people were wearing turmeric colored clothing (gold/yellow/orange). It reminded me slightly of a Canadian wedding where the bride and groom cut the cake and smear icing on each other’s noses, except that all of the guests get in on the action and a “turmeric war” ensues.  They say the turmeric results in “beautiful, glowing skin” but with my complexion I ended up with the less desired “jaundice look”.  The younger crowd continued into the evening with music, dancing and general celebrating.  


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Project Progress (Spring 2013)

The past few week we have been busy with various project activities.

The new hospital building contract with the general contractor has just been signed this week after final approvals from the legal team.  This means pile work will commence once the test pile results are returned.

(Just after signing with the contractor)

The test pile is ready for testing and is currently being setup to do the testing this week.

(The rains have started so we are starting to have issues with high water tables and )

(The sandbags will be piled on the steel frame so we can put 120 tons of force on the pile during testing)

Work on the new male dorm for the Baptist Bible College of Bangladesh (BBCB) is underway. The footings have been dug and cast.  The foundation columns are being formed up today.  We are currently replacing the male dorms, kitchen, dining room, study, storage and bathrooms.  In the future we will add some additional classroom space on the second level. This is being completed to replace their old buildings that will be removed due to the new hospital project.

(Footing Excavation)

(Concrete pouring - The site was tarped to allow casting & work during the rain)

(20 guys working all day to pour the footings - for mixing, moving & casting)

(Reinforcing steel for the footings)

(column formwork)

A new womens "VIP" (Western toilet) and two eastern toilets are being replaced so the old club house can be demolished for pile work.

A team has come in to mill the trees that were cut from the site.  The Mango tree boards are used for concrete formwork, the Mahogany & Gurjan tree boards will be used for millwork, etc.

(Lumber cutting)

(Always lots of kids around watching everything)

The new temporary road for the project is starting to show wear with the soft ground of the rainy season. The single axle trucks carry up to 22 yards of gravel/sand. We will have to add another layer of sand then a second layer of brick to allow trucks to keep coming during the monsoon season.

We are starting to stockpile materials on site. 


Sunday, June 02, 2013


A couple weeks ago I took our truck up to Chakaria to look for some bicycles. We had looked for some used bicycles, however any expat staff that have bikes and are leaving typically give them away to a national such as their household help to assist with their travel.  I was just looking for the standard bike that most people have here, which is a very basic, old school, single speed, basket, etc... After searching around the small bicycle market I purchased a bike for both Holly and I.  One made in China and One made in India - Both assembled in Bangladesh. Needless to say it is good that there is a workshop here as both bikes have needed frequent repairs. The first week both my tires popped, the pedal hit the frame on every spin, the tire was wobbly, breaks did not work, seat kept moving... For Holly the pedal fell off (thread was stripped), a tire popped and many adjustments were needed to the setup.... After doing some welding, replacing of tubs and some tweaking at the shop the bikes have been working better except for Holly's back tire popped again, both my tires are going flat and my bell stopped working. I guess we get what we pay for.

 (Holly's is similar just blue and called the Pink Lady - this is also a rarity that you see me in shorts here despite always above 30 degrees and high humidity - the AC is not working in our office so I felt like I had little choice this evening other than to wear shorts when I went back to work.)

(Holly's Ride - in the workshop being fixed)