24 April 2012

Lessons Dhaka Bangladesh Taught Us

Last night, I was supposed to finish an article for posting today.  I was too tired and sleepy because of our team building yesterday.  But, that was not the reason why I decided to set aside blogging that night.  It was 7pm and I have not heard from Don since 2pm.

Last Sunday, April 22, Don left for Dhaka, Bangladesh for a business trip.  We had apprehensions about that trip because of the blogs and articles we read about the country.  However, Don assured me that there is nothing to worry about since he will stay at the hotel after work.  His return flight is scheduled on Thursday, April 26.

He was supposed to arrive Dhaka Airport at 9:50pm.  I received a text message from him at 11pm.  He and his colleagues arrived safely but their bags are missing.  Their flight to Hong Kong was delayed so they had to rush to their next flight to Dhaka.  They were told that their bags will arrive in the evening of the next day. Worse, they were informed that there is a nationwide strike due to political unrest.  With no extra clothes, they stayed at the hotel the next day, April 23, because of the travel ban that was imposed from 6am to 6pm.  Don sent me a text message at about 2pm saying that he is okay and again, reassuring me that there is nothing to be worried about.

That text message was the last I got from him.  I thought maybe he was sleeping or eating.  At around 9pm, I started calling his mobile phone.  Thirty minutes after, still no answer.  My heart was pounding like crazy.  I was praying, "Lord, keep him safe."  I must have said that a million times.  I stopped myself from imagining those abduction stories in the news (and in telenovelas!).  I was on my laptop the entire night reading current events news online.  It made me more agitated and worried.  Don finally answered my call at around 10pm and he sounded annoyed.  He said their supplier wanted them to travel that night to their plant (which was 6 hours away from the hotel) because the travel ban will still be implemented the next day.  At that time, I felt my blood pressure rise.  My head throbbed with pain.  Eighteen minutes past 10pm, Don informed me that they are trying to re-book their return flight, but nothing is final yet.  At 3:45am of April 24, I received a text message from Don.  Their bags have been found and they are on board a plane bound for Hong Kong.  I hugged Julia and whispered, "Dada will be home soon."

Don arrived in Manila today at 11:24am.  You can't imagine how happy I am to know that my husband arrived safely.  God is awesome!  Don immediately went home to take a bath!  Ha!  And of course, to give Julia a big hug.  During dinner, Don told me the entire story.  In the end, their supplier couldn't guarantee their safety so they decided, with the concurrence of their bosses, to return home.

Here are a few lessons we learned from Don's memorable trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh:
  1. Make sure that the following information are available:
    • Flight details
    • Hotel contact numbers and address
    • For business trips, provide the exact name, address and contact number of the office where you will be working.
    • Contact numbers of the person/s you will be travelling with. (Of course, this will only be used during emergency and urgent situations). 

  2. Bring a just-in-case shirt, underwear and toiletries in your hand-carried luggage.

  3. Be honest about the real situation.  Don was transparent about the situation in Dhaka.  He immediately informed me about the nationwide strike even though he knew it will make me worry.  I trusted him to decide on what is right and what will be good for his safety.

  4. Do not panic.  Despite the uncertainty of the situation, Don remained calm.  He and his colleagues assessed the safety risks and decided to do what's best for them.  Me?  Of course, I panicked!  While Don was still in Dhaka, he didn't know I was freaking out.  I had to pretend I was as calm as he was.  I cannot make him worry about me, too.   
Do you have any travel mishap stories?  What did you learn from your experience?
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