Shopping in Dhaka: DIT-2

One of my favorite places to shop in Dhaka is DIT-2.  It’s a two-story strip mall that doesn’t really look like anything special, and the parking lot is a mess when it rains.  But it’s pretty great.

DIT-2 parking lot/lake

DIT-2 parking lot/lake

You can buy all kinds of interesting antiques, jewelry and pearls, and sports equipment, there’s a good grocery store, and if all that shopping makes you hungry (or you dragged your husband along and he’d rather eat than shop), you can even get a hamburger and fries or donuts.

I’m not an antiques person but they have some really interesting stuff: lots of neat wooden furniture, wooden sari stamps, random stuff from early 1900’s British ships, figurines, etc.  If you go earlier in the day (before noon, basically) some of the shop owners are more willing to bargain and they’ll give you a discount for being their first customer.

There are tons of pearl and jewelry stores, were you can buy already made necklaces, or you can tell them what you want and they’ll make it for you.  The pearls here are beautiful and crazy-cheap.  The main problem with pearl shopping in DIT-2 is that there are so many pearl shops, it’s hard to know which ones are the best.  So I guess that means I need to just check each one out!

I really like the grocery store on the first floor, Dhali.  They have an incredible range of products; last time I was there I saw Newman’s Own salsa, queso and bean dip!  And Tostitos!  There’s a guy that sells cheese outside the Dhali entrance and his paneer is amazing.  We get the semi-salty, and it’s really good in salads with tomatoes and cucumbers, served with bread and butter, or on sandwiches (both hot or cold since it melts really nicely).

There’s a burger stand, Naga Burger, that sells fast-food style burgers and fries with spicy sauces. I haven’t eaten there yet, but Nate says it’s really good.  If you’re not looking for the burger stand, you won’t see it because it’s pretty nondescript.  They use high quality beef and cook the burgers to order, so it takes some time.  But that means you can walk across the parking lot to Glazed, the donut place, while you wait!  The donuts are 135 taka (about $1.75), and I was surprised by how good they were.

It’s an easy place to spend several hours, and if you come to visit, we’ll definitely stop by!

Trip to Beximco

Over the weekend we went on a CLO-organized trip to Beximco industrial park, one of Bangladesh’s biggest private sector manufacturing companies.

Sounds riveting, huh? (That was Nate’s general impression, too.)

Basically, Beximco makes clothes for several American and European clothing lines, including American Eagle, Topshop, Zara and H&M.

Beximco also houses Shinepukur Ceramics, which makes fine china and porcelain, and this was the main reason for our visit. Wedgewood, Royal Doulton, and other fancy brands?  All made in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

So, the drive to Beximco.  It was terrible.  Thank god we had an air conditioned van to sit in while we weren’t going anywhere.  Prime Minister Moti was flying into Dhaka that day so they closed off a bunch of roads, which meant that in an hour, at least, we moved maybe a quarter of a mile. It was supposed to take 2 hours, and instead it took 3.  Luckily we got there eventually.

At least there were some interesting sights along the way.

"Scaffolding", or bamboo rods tied together with rope by barefoot unsecured men at least 10 stories off the ground

“Scaffolding”, or bamboo rods tied together with rope by barefoot unsecured men at least 10 stories off the ground

Cows!

Cows!

There are almost always men riding on top of trucks and buses.  Or sometimes there are goats.

There are almost always men riding on top of trucks and buses. Or sometimes goats.

The tour of Beximco was actually pretty interesting, and the CEO was more entertaining that you’d usually expect.  The Ambassador came to Beximco with us, and she was scheduled to have dinner with Moti later that night.  Completely seriously, the CEO offered her his helicopter for the return trip.  No biggie.

Due to our delayed arrival, we didn’t get a tour of the clothing factory, but we got to see the fashion design studio and the ceramics factory.  I only lasted through about 5 minutes of the ceramics factory tour because it was so hot.  The minute I stepped outside of the factory, a rush of cool air hit me…. and that “cool air” was at least 90 degrees.

The Beximco grounds are really nice, much more scenic than you'd expect from an industrial park.

The Beximco grounds are really nice, much more scenic than you’d expect from an industrial park.

There’s also a little zoo, with deer, black and white swans, parrots, and peacocks, near the area where we had lunch.

The trip to Beximco was capped off with a visit to the ceramics showroom, where loads of brands and patterns were on display, filled with employees eager to take your order.  Porcelain and bone china place settings and serving ware are available at stupidly low prices, and then they knock off another 20%.

Quick!  Buy some china!

Quick! Buy some china!

After two hours in the ceramics showroom (we did some serious damage, which I’ll talk more about in a few weeks when we get our order), we finally headed home.  Beximco gave us a police escort back to avoid further problems with the traffic, and the ride only took about an hour.  While traveling with a police escort is certainly not a regular occurrence, it sure was nice! At one point we even passed an ambulance with its lights on, which isn’t a big deal because apparently they are more frequently used as expensive taxis than as vehicles transporting people seeking urgent medical care.  They also double as hearses.

If you ever had the opportunity to visit Beximco, I’d highly recommend it.  Especially if you’re in the market for some bone china.