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In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

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  • Expedition redeploying to Southeast Asia

    Posted on October 22nd, 2010 Nicolas No comments
    This chicken will not keep its head for a long time. Chittagong Old Market.

    This chicken will not keep its head for a long time. Chittagong Old Market.

    The road from Dhaka to Chittagong is good tarmac all the way down. It is one of the major highways of the country, and there are heavy trucks and bus traffic. It is a little bit difficult to find petrol, as much of Bangladesh is running on CNG. In an effort to reduce pollution, the government banned petrol-run vehicles in Dhaka, as well as plastic bag use. I can hardly imagine how the air quality was in the past, as it is kind of bad right now. Once again, there are terrible traffic jams as I approach the city, and I barely can move for two hours.

    Fishing is huge in the many rivers of Bangladesh. Fish is a major source of food for many of the people in the Ganges Delta.

    Fishing is huge in the many rivers of Bangladesh. Fish is a major source of food for many of the people in the Ganges Delta.

    In Chittagong it is difficult to find my way as there are no signs, as always. For once, I decide to stay in a nice hotel where I will get A/C. It is somewhat warmer and stickier down there, and I will have to be around for at least a week until my truck is ready to be shipped to Malaysia.

    Rice is grown everywhere. The country is very flat and covered with water. The country would be the first nation to disappear if the sea level rose due to global warming.

    Rice is grown everywhere. The country is very flat and covered with water. The country would be the first nation to disappear if the sea level rose due to global warming.

    There’s not much to do in Chittagong, but there is a Hindu festival while I am here. I roam the city and spend time in the market to get the necessary tools to do the lashing of my truck in the container. Wood blocks, nails… Every stop in little shops is an occasion for tea and smoke cigarettes. People are exceptionally nice in Bangladesh, and it has been very nice to spend time with locals.

    The WWII Memorial cemetery, where bodies of Japanese and Allied forces that died on the Burmese front lay.

    The WWII Memorial cemetery, where bodies of Japanese and Allied forces that died on the Burmese front lay.

    As in India, the population density is high. I didn’t camp once here, as dealing with crowds and finding a suitable spot is very difficult.
    Regardless, I have the best experience ever with the shipping part. The Chinese company I chose has agents in Chittagong, and everybody is so nice and helpful, it is unbelievable. As always, travelers will find information at the end of this post.

    Boy selling bananas in a street of Chittagong.

    Boy selling bananas in a street of Chittagong.

    The few days I spend in the city are pleasant, and my nights at the top-end hotel (Grand park Hotel, US$40 per night) are very relaxing. They get the Indians TV channels here, which features a lot of American movies.
    Bangladesh is 80% Muslim if I recall correctly, and it is technically prohibited for its citizens to drink alcoholic beverage. The rest of the population is mostly Hindu. I begin to discern more Asian features in people faces. East of the country is Myanmar (Burma) which also share a border with Thailand.

    Dry fish at the Chittagong Old Market.

    Dry fish at the Chittagong Old Market.

    As mentioned previously, the Myanmar government doesn’t allow foreigners to drive through the country. There’s an application you can fill, but it is always rejected. This is why I didn’t have any other choice but to send the truck by way of sea to Malaysia. It should take a week to arrive to Port Kelang, close to Kuala Lumpur.

    Once again the truck is in the can.

    Once again the truck is in the can.

    When I am done with the truck and fed food by the shipping company, I take the night train back to Dhaka. The trip lasts eight hours but I am lucky enough to get a seat in an A/C car (US$6). Locals need to book train tickets well in advance, but the station chief always has few seats kept for emergencies or foreigners.
    It is unbelievable how well travelers are treated in the country. It is very important for the people to give a good image of their countries, and they will always go out of their way to help out. They never let you get in line anywhere, and you are giving preferential treatment always. Of course you can be overcharged like everywhere else in the world, but in the several occurrences it happened to me, people in the streets came to help me out.

    People at the train station argue with the station chief to get a ticket.

    People at the train station argue with the station chief to get a ticket.

    Once after taking a rickshaw, passersby heard how much money I was asked. Soon enough a mob was shaking the driver for trying to overcharge me. The same thing happened again few days later as I was buying cigarettes at double the usual rate. People then decide of the price I should pay.

    Chittagong train station.

    Chittagong train station.

    When I am back in Dhaka, I take care of buying the flight tickets which will allow me to reach Southeast Asia. I get a flight Dhaka – Kuala Lumpur for US$185.
    In the afternoon I go to meet people from the shipping company so we can settle the last details.
    My plan was to then go to the National Museum, a visit I pushed back several time because of the horrendous traffic. But soon enough the plan change as I meet everybody at the company. I should be on the radio they decide, and soon we are driving to the studios of Radio Foorti where an interview is promptly scheduled.

    At the radio station with Tanvir.

    At the radio station with Tanvir.

    Following this parenthesis, Tanvir – my contact at the shipping company – invites me in a nice restaurant before we go to his house to meet his family and have tea. It is late when I go back to the hotel for my last night in the country.
    The following day I go out to say good-bye to few people I met in the neighborhood, then take a cab to the airport.

    Approaching Kuala Lumpur. You can see the famous and once highest in the world Petronas Towers.

    Approaching Kuala Lumpur. You can see the famous and once highest in the world Petronas Towers.

    What I will fondly remember about Bangladesh is the kindness of its people. The culture of welcoming travelers and foreigners is deep-rooted in Muslim countries with rich histories. It is how I will also remember Yemen and Iran. Pakistan also has a similar reputation and I regret I missed that.
    I decided to go a bit out of my way before collecting my vehicle in Malaysia. You will have to wait to see in what surprising place I will be next week after the 40 hours or so I will spend in airports and planes…

    Flying to Manila. What will be my next destination?

    Flying to Manila, Philippines. What will be my next destination?

    Notes to travelers, shipping from Bangladesh:
    Of all the time I had to ship my truck, this was the best experience. Everything was well organized and no hassle. I used the Yang Ming lines, and their agent in Bangladesh is Transmarine. Super nice people really, and I can’t recommend them enough. They also let you do your own lashing which saves money.
    It is a lot less expensive to ship from here than from India. So far I paid US$700 for the shipping while it would have cost me US$ 1,350 from Chennai, India. I expect to pay $500 on the Malaysian side. I will update with definite cost later.

    Email friendly Mr. Tanvir Alam at: tanvir.alam [AT] yangmingline-bd.com
    Cell: 01713481367

    Yang Ming Line
    As Agents: Transmarine Logistics Ltd.
    Jahangir Tower (5th Floor)
    10, Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue
    Karwan Bazar, Dhaka-1215

    Be Sociable, Share!

42 Responses to “Expedition redeploying to Southeast Asia”

  1. Hi Nick,

    Hi Nick

    I followed you since Mexico. Thank you for sharing us your adventures and have us seen some parts of the world thru your eyes.

    Your next destination would seem a bit relaxing as you may experience less hassle on the road. I guess you’re to the Phils while waiting your truck to reach Malaysia? That would be good choice as you find lots of interesting places there. Enjoy, relax and welcome to Southeast Asia!

  2. Are you flying to Paris to see your family? That would be a fun surprise! As always, we love your blogs! Be safe!

  3. Oh the suspense…you said 40 hours!!! You could reach the states (including hawaii??) in that amount of time. I guess we will have to see. Have fun wherever you are!

    Dave

  4. Bon jour Nicolas!

    One thing that caught my eye in this blog is you, in the picture. I think it would be neat if you could compile a page of self portraits since the beginning of your trip to see the changes you have gone through. You have definitely aged!

    The other thing is it never seizes to amaze me how cheap you can travel. Even staying in a “Nice” hotel it is only $40.00! I have traveled extensively through Europe and on many occasions, and always at a good price. People seem to think that it would cost too much to travel out of the states, when in fact it can be just as cheap if not cheaper. Albeit you are the exception. Not saying that you have to camp in your car but you get the idea.

    And all the hoopla about your comments while in India seem justified. People are different in different countries and they treat you differently. It was only fair that you described your experiences as you lived them.

    Any and all “surprises” are welcomed.

    Soon you will close this chapter in your life, probably the most exciting of your life. What can you do to top it? Space travel?

    Hasta la pasta my friend.

    Manolo

  5. Charlie A (Santa Clara, Ca.)

    New York City? That could be done in 40 hours. Hmmm.

  6. it’s early in morning here in ohio (cold and colorful autumn) and as i drink my coffee reading your blog i find myself smiling at your newest adventure. your pictures are beautiful (why should that change now); your comments infused with gratitude and a refound peace. good for you.

    those of us who have been following you since the beginning enjoy your “suspense” tease but keep in mind that everytime we’ve logged on to your adventure, we’ve been in suspense of what the road has brought to you – and therefore to us (geez that was a long sentence, but you get what i’m saying 🙂 ).

    tip of the hat and peace
    suzanne

  7. Hi Nick,

    I’m happy to hear that this leg of your journey went smoothly and that you were able to enjoy some of the more positive aspects of a home country’s hospitality. You typically never hear anything about Bangladesh’s hospitality, culture, etc…

    40 hours huh? I’m thinking Australia…..

    Waiting for your next post.

  8. Australia is my guess as well. Can’t wait to see what’s next for our journeyman. Glad you were able to treat yourself to a nice hotel in Chittagong. Travel safe.

  9. WOW – what a wonderful post. From the information to the pictures – I love it all. You sound upbeat and very content and happy with your adventures. As others have said, I can’t wait to see your next post. thanks for allowing all of us to live vicariously through your travels

  10. My goodness can’t believe the comments people make about your appearance! You look great! Don’t worry about it!

    Love the descriptions and pictures! The Petronas Towers remind me of that movie, “Entrapment.” I know, I know–silly. But just remember them racing around at the top. 🙂

    Be safe, be blessed and enjoy the journey!

    Beth 🙂

  11. Never underestimate the power of the A/C! Oh and a smiling, helpful face to of course! 🙂 How happy your post is! It made me smile the whole time I was reading it. As always I am very excited for the next post! Have fun and keep your spirits up! What a wonderful adventure!
    Jaime

  12. Oh and one more thing…. I would love to hear the radio interview! Any idea who I might be able to find that?
    Jaime

  13. Somewhere you can fly to from Manila and visit in 40 hours? My guess would be a continent “nearby” you’ll otherwise have to miss… Australia… or “the other one,” Antarctica! :-0

    Say hi to the ‘roos or penguins for us!

  14. Ms. Marti~Nashville, TN

    Hey Nick! You sound really excited in your post! So glad that everyone has been wonderful to you. We know you needed that now and some good food too. Well, as far as where your next destination is going to be. Since you left on November 15, 2009 and intend on 1 year travel, I’m assuming your heading back to the States in order to reach your goal of 1 year. Whoo Ya you will be close to home!! Based on you wanting to surprise all of us, thats my bet! Come by Nashville, TN on your way home, the weather is great right now and fall is in full force.

    Forge on my friend, your almost home!!!!!!!!

    Ms. Marti

  15. Big follower here. You in Manila yet? Hit me up. Drinks on me!

  16. Nick,

    When is Nadia coming back. She was a nice relief from looking at your ugly mug all the time. I guess Congratulations are in order. I’m sure you are an honorary member of the paeodophile of the world club with that lovely picture of the naked Indian boy. Congrats. What’s this about airplanes? That’s going too far. You know what just forget the whole thing, you’ve done broke the rules. Just go home it’s over. Seriously when’s Nadia coming back.

  17. world boy its joe form bama, only got a sec, i will let you whats be up with me in the pass yr,, damn here they come later joe from bama

  18. Nick,

    If I read it correctly, you’ve already flown into Malaysia then took a side trip to the Philippines….then perhaps on to Taiwan or some island in the western Pacific or even like some of the other posts suggested – Australia via Indonesia. I used to hail from Kuala Lumpur, my birth town and where I had spent my teenage life. I’d supposed after you pick up your truck in Port Kelang, you’d want to head down to Singapore – a very impressive city/nation.

    You may already know that’s it’s left hand drive in most Southeast Asian countries. You’ll also have to try the local fare like Nasi Lemak, Satay, Mee Goreng, Yong Tau-Fu (Chinese), Laksa and for dessert, wash down with Chendol. Most of these dishes are available at hawker centers and smaller food stands. You can check with the locals and they’ll be glad to help.

    Thanks for the postings…it’s good travel reading!

    Dan

  19. You’re such a tease! : ) Rock on brother.

  20. I am so happy that you make efforts to let people know of the hospitality in these places. It certainly helps put minds at ease. I am about to begin a new job that will require a lot travel to many of the spots that you’ve been. I’m nervous as hell, but very excited at the same time. Looking forward to your next update.

  21. Glad to hear you have enjoyed Bangladesh. As for your picture of yourself, I think you look good, maybe a little wiser. I can’t wait to read about your surprise! Enjoy!

  22. sharat reddy (Jay)

    Nick:
    I think, I know where you are going?! Probably to Palavan in Philippines. If you are going there , it is one of the most beautiful places with nice beaches and underground river.
    I wish you the Best of Luck in your tour of east Asia.
    ps: The Mercedes that I bought from you is running well. You can have it for a few days after you return to New York.
    Good Luck and God Bless

  23. Oh yaaay! You’re in the Philippines, a place I lived for 2.5 years. Wait until you experience the amazing people there. I envy you for being there, but one day I’ll get back there.

    I wish you continued safe travels.

  24. Chicken photo is the best!

  25. Hello Nick:

    How good it is to hear from you! Great photos and captions. The tone of your photo captions seem very uplifting in spirit, which I like. I love puzzles and am anxious to read where you will be next. I too am hoping that you are taking a break and visiting family, home in NY or at least somewhere in the world where you can take a deep breath and relax a little more before the last leg of your journey. Earlier this week I revisited some of your achives, searching particularly for the blog entry in New York. This was rather exciting because it confirmed just how serious I was back then about following you around the world. I’ve never taken on such a pleasant adventure myself. It is simply wonderful and I look forward to reading all about and possibly taking part in the home celebration. Continue on and be blessed. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.
    -joyMaria

  26. Hello Nick

    I’ve been following you since you started. I’ve travel the world thru your eyes thank you.. Wish you th best of luck… Hope to see you soon back home in New York.

  27. Nick!

    Dr. Joy brings up a good point…WHEN ARE YOU GONNA BE HOME? I want to start planning a trip! I wish it could be for NYE or around some holiday. I really want to be there for it!

  28. Well done – home stretch baby !

  29. Home stretch everyone says?? Nick said in a previous post that he won’t be home until April. He said this trip is a year and 1/2.

    Right Nick? I don’t want it to end yet so I’m glad you won’t be home in a week or two. 🙂

    Enjoy the journey.
    Beth

  30. Hey Nick!

    You’re looking healthier now (with all the mustache) compared to the last time you were here in the desserts. hehe I see you made it to my country–Philippines. Would love to hear what you think of it. 🙂

    You’re nearing the end of the journey already?? 😐

  31. Nick, let me know if you ever stop by Cebu. I can hook you up with friends there. 😉

  32. Nick, I’ve been with you since you started with all anticipation and excitment. I held my breath on the dangerous roads of South America and perspired in the desert feeling the heat and hoping the car held out till you got back to what I would have called civilization until my view changed. Civilization is not really progress with advantages but the spirit of being civil and caring that all humans have deep inside to want to be connected and share and help and show hospitality. Thank you for your amazing story that inspires us not just to travel and see the beautiful earth but to see the images of men women and children smiling and saying welcome!

  33. Your a Yang Ming Lasher now- Cool do that from time to time in Port of Seattle. Poor little Stunt Chicken! ( first Picture )

  34. Hello Nick:

    Paul is guessing that you are in Bali, Indonesia. I am not a world traveler like him (or you), but I can tell you this is really really interesting, traveling the world through your eyes and blog entries. I am learning so many fine geographical details about countries I have not visited; and what do you know, I now have a very different appreciation for maps. Hope you are enjoying the white sand beaches wherever you are. Take care and have fun.
    -joyMaria

  35. As always I enjoy reading your blogs and seeing your pictures. I tell people about your travels and about the places you’ve been. My daughter and grandson asks from time to time ” Are you still stalking that guy on the internet?” and I just say “yep”. Oh by the why don’t worry, I’m old enough to be your mother and I’ve been happily married 41 years. LOL. I await your next exciting adventure.
    -Linda

  36. des bises de métropole
    😉

  37. Nick, I have been followed this web before you started your trip last year. I am currently staying in Singapore and my hometown is in Johor, South Malaysia. Feel free to email me if we have the chance to meet in South Malaysia or Singapore.

  38. Somewhere in the Pacific? Palau or Guam? Northern Marianas or Micronesia? Marshall Islands or Samoa? Or farther to Kiribati or even Hawaii?

  39. Marlon Trivino (Corona, CA)

    For 40 hours, hmmm….

    I’m thinking Nick would go to neighboring countries such as Hongkong/Macau China, Seoul South Korea, Japan, Australia, and/or the Pacific Islands Helmi mentioned.

    He more likely visit places he hasn’t been or won’t be in for the Transworld Expedition. 40 hours won’t be enough to go to U.S. and it would be way too much money to spend just to stay for a day and then go back to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Enjoy your stay in the Philippines! I have family and friends there if you need any help.
    Let me know.

    Can’t wait for your next post!

  40. I think that that it is amazing how he travles and its cheep to

  41. amazing wow

  42. its cool how this guy can do this without gettin bord lol