Bangladeshi traveller Asma Azmery close to target of visiting 100 countries

Kalerkantho Online   

28 September, 2018 10:23 AM

Bangladeshi traveller Asma Azmery close to target of visiting 100 countries

Photo/Kazi Asma Azmery

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Bangladeshi traveller Kazi Asma Azmery is set to complete her mission of visiting 100 countries around the world. She is now staying in Dagestan while her journey has been started with visiting Thailand in 2007. The enthusiastic and energetic woman from Khulna recently shared her travelling experience with Kalerkantho English version. The copy has been kept unchanged:

 It is 2018. I am finally nearing my goal of travelling to 100 countries. My journeys and love for travel began when I was just a naïve but enthusiastic teenager. With my parents, I first visited much of Bangladesh and India.  My first solo country was Thailand in 2007.

In 2009, I sold all my personal jewellery. My parents did not want to support me, so I didn't have that much money.­­­­­ It was never easy without my parent's money. You may not be aware, but most embassies require a traveller to show a healthy bank statement before they will grant a Visa.

I’m glad that my parents finally understood my struggles after a couple years of my random solo travelling. They eventually gave me emergency access to money and the use of their bank statements.

Even at this point, after 96 countries it has not always been easy. I actually got thrown into Vietnam’s immigrant jail back in 2010. At that time, I had seen only 8 countries. I had not yet been to USA, Australia, or the United Kingdom.

I had a problem in Vietnam of not having an onward destination ticket. The immigration officials wouldn’t allow me to enter Vietnam. They put me in immigration jail at the airport for 23 hours. It was the hardest time of my life! I’ll never forget that scary night in my life. A similar problem arose in Cyprus just because of my Bangladeshi Passport.

Many people say I have become a bold, confident and courageous young woman! I do usually believe in myself. Part of the reason I set out in 2007 was that of my friend’s mother pointing her finger and gossiping. Saying I was a “weak, simple and useless loser.”

Back in 2009, my goal was to marry after visiting 50 countries.  Despite tradition, it was not the right time for that important life event. Well, I did change that marriage goal to possibly come after 100 countries but I am definitely not the “weak, simple, and useless loser!”

I have learned so much from the cultures of each and every country. As a child born in Khulna where we might see the same three people on the single road between Rupsha and Fulbariget, I now keep in contact and often meet my fellow adventure seekers and travellers many times. These friendships and empowering experiences are more valuable than money. I really live in this big wonderful world that most people have only read about in a textbook, seen a TV documentary or looked at it on a map.

Unless you’ve personally seen the rich cultures, eaten and tried to cook their foods, witnessed traditions, and enjoyed the art and music you won’t know the life changing joy of travel. I have experienced both hardships and successes of World travel. You might not fully understand that those wealthy economies did not happen by accident.

Yes, I have had good fortune and help from family and friends but my much loved New Zealand has often been my “hub” from where over half of my World has been explored.  I have worked to save and pay for a lot of this by working with the Red Cross, in real estate, as a tour guide and as a waitress. I also do social work and I network world wide with Rotary international. 

I still sometimes briefly feel like I am a loser. It has not always been easy. In 2014, I might’ve ended up as a Colombian street beggar. In Bogota Colombia, I got my pocket picked and my bank courier service could not arrange a quick solution. I survived for 17 days on very little money until my card arrived.

I’ve discovered warm hearted generous people everywhere I go! People have given me rides between cities or welcomed me into their homes. For example, after my pocket was picked. I only had $180. A worried Colombian guy gave me his food. The nicest hotel owner helped me find a hostel to stay at half price.

As with most countries, part of the experience is negotiating and surviving the language barriers. I can now speak bits and pieces of Spanish tongues and English fairly fluently. This was not true, there in Bogota where only Spanish is spoken.

Because of the theft, I received a form in Spanish, which at that time, I could not understand, but it gave me a half price fare to help me reach Brazil, where the Fifa World Cup was being held. Fortunately, my Bangladeshi banker, Sazal Roy sent my Amex card with my Bangladeshi Photo journalist friend Nazmul Bappi who was covering the “Fifa world cup 2014 in Brazil.

“Weak and simple loser?”  What do you think?

I love how Spanish speaking Mexico has managed to maintain its rich and unique heritage and culture while also embracing a modern and changing world. Like almost all countries politics causes unrest and lots of complaints. Some are better off than others.

Of the 96 countries, among those local citizens, I risked discussing the delicate subject of politics and government. I found only a couple countries where these people were content with their present government: Germany, Bolivia, Chile, Samoa, Niue, Thailand and Albania. Someday I would like to be able to say that about my Bangladesh!

These kinds of dramas do not deter me.  I just returned from this year’s Fifa World cup in Moscow Russia, after a short stop in China for the Great Wall, museums, the circus with good friends. Iris lives in Beijing. She and I travelled through Latin America together.

Cody and I met up in Beijing where he and I and Iris enjoyed the famous Beijing Circus and opera. He and I first met in 2012 in Fiji.

I have since lived for a time in Chicago. The famous Niagra Falls and “The Big Apple” New York has found me experiencing the city that never sleeps and the Lady Liberty. I even made it as far south as sunny Florida in preparation for my trip to Cuba. Many Americans have not seen as much of that country as I have.

Toronto Canada is where I attended a convention of my Rotary International with my Uncle. I then rode a camel in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, trekked the mountains of Georgia and now in Azerbaijan.

Where will I go next?  When will I reach my 100-country goal? Will I find a husband? Will I be content staying home? Somebody said, “It is the journey and not the destination that really matters.” I have to say I agree.