My preparation for Bangladesh, both mental and physical, failed in most accounts.
I have traveled a relatively large amount of time over my College years and I was confident with my abilities to prepare for a trip. While I had never been to a non-Western or underdeveloped nation, I still assumed that my previous experiences would help me.
For weeks before our departure, my family and friends laboriously researched Bangladesh, attempting to prepare me for the trip. Many friends called me to tell me about the dangers of traveling to Bangladesh, which included Bengal tigers, cobras, and kidnappings, and asked how I had prepared for these extreme situations. To their pleasure, I had. After watching a movie about Bangladesh, I knew the best way to strike down an oncoming tiger, as well as the top sites of American kidnappings.
I also had prepared for more probable, undesirable situations. Fearful of inadequate sanitation conditions and a complete lack of showers, I packed dozens of sanitary wipes and soap-filled washcloths. Also preparing for a lack of showers, I cut off all of my hair. This preparation held a second purpose, however, and that was to stay cool. Bangladesh, the two days preceding our journeys, showed a heat index of 117 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I held a greater fear, however, and that was extreme weight loss. For this I had thought of no preparation. I simply ate a large meal in the Dubai airport before we began our final leg of the trip. Kendra, who held a similar fear, thoughtfully packed dozens of packs of trail mix, fruit leathers, and Cliff bars.
Our preparations, for both sorts of undesirable situations, were greatly unnecessary. While an occasional fruit leather is quite tasty, almost all of the other preparations were in vain. Most bathrooms have been sanitary; every housing complex has had a fully functional shower; Chittagong does not, in fact, still harbor kidnappers; and Bengal tigers will kill you no matter how you hit them. It has been hot, and a haircut helped with that; however, many of the rooms come equipped with fan or air conditioning. Finally, I will likely return to the U.S. having gained weight. It is custom for the Bengali server to stand next to the guest while they eat and offer them additional helpings no less than five times.
While our preparations may serve us well on future visits, since we have not been to all housing complexes, I am glad to report that my fears have been squelched.