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Vacation in ´own´ country

Written by Antje on September 16th 2015 22:09

Since I’m going to be in Greece next spring for a conference, and because it felt like I’d only just returned from my months in the Netherlands, I decided to have my holiday in Bangladesh. I went to Malumghat for two weeks with Joanne, who heads up administration where we work. Malumghat, where there has been a mission hospital since the 1960’s, lies between Chittagong and Cox’s Bazaar right down in the south eastern part of Bangladesh.

The reason we went there was because they have a guest house where, being far from traffic and crowds, did basically nothing. There’s a swimming pool on site where we swam for about an hour most days, and we read and chatted a lot.

We were also treated to an extensive tour of the hospital by the surgeon who has been worked there for the last 20 years. In contrast to our work at the LAMB hospital, which specialises in caring for mothers and children, Malumghat focuses on orthopaedic surgery. It was interesting to observe the differences and to talk with a fellow surgeon about particular aspects of working in Bangladesh.

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One of the remarkable trips we went on during our holiday was to a steelworks, which is delivering steel joists for the concrete construction of a new building going up at LAMB. Joanne had received an invitation to visit there and because we were staying only a short 115km from Chittagong, we thought that it would make a nice day trip. What we hadn’t reckoned on was that it would take us 4 hours to get to Chittagong! The road was full of holes and it rained quite a bit, making the traffic conditions even worse. In the end we were more than 11 hours on the road for a lunch appointment and visit to the steelworks planned for less than an hour. Even so, I must say how fascinating it was to see how huge, long steel beams are heated and then transformed into thinner joists. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside. Here is a photo of me, Joanne and the representative of the steelworks who showed us around. Notice the passing workers and their (lack of) safety equipment.

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Another trip we made was by bus to Cox’s Bazaar. Bangladeshi people are proud of this place because it has the longest uninterrupted beach in the world. Not exactly like the Dutch idea of a trip to the beach: no undressing more than down to your shalwar kamees (photo), and swimming also only fully clothed. So we stayed pretty much out of the water.. The photos show the sun beds and inner tubes you can cheaply rent. It was amazing that there was by chance a Dutch friend of mine at a conference in Cox’s Bazaar and that we were able to have lunch together. My store of cheese, stroopwafels and chocolate is now topped up!

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The area around the hospital is a beautiful, flat landscape which even though it lies more than 10 km from the coast, has tidal streams in and out. On one of the days we had a walk there – pretty tricky going as it was the rainy season with plenty of mud around.

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These young girls came up to us and walked along with us for a while. They were keen to be photographed. What’s nice about digital is that you can show the photo immediately it’s been taken. They thought it was amazing...

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We’ve already been back now two weeks at LAMB. Back into normal busy life. Holidays seem ages ago. As soon as I got back, my theatre lists were planned completely full with people who felt they had had to wait far too long. But now I’ve caught up with the backlog on the waiting list and it’s OK now. The rainy season is mostly behind us and it’s now mainly hot and very humid. This photo I took at about 7 in the morning. Not a cool morning either – it was 29ËšC at the time! Only a month to go and the cool season starts...

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