Najmun Nahar is a young traveller who loves to travel with the flag of Bangladesh. She has already travelled 128 countries across the globe and has a plan to travel 200 countries by 2021 — to mark 50 years of the independence day of Bangladesh. During a session with Nasir Uz Zaman, Najmun shares her experiences
New Age Youth: Would you like to briefly introduce yourself? What inspired you to travel?
Najmun Nahar: I would love to introduce myself as a traveller. From 2000, I have travelled 128 countries across the globe with the flag of Bangladesh. My childhood was spent in Lakshmipur town. In those days, my father regularly gifted me books and told stories about different places. My grandfather was a traveller. He also used to share his travel stories with me which inspired me to travel the world. After graduating from the University of Rajshahi, I received a scholarship from the Lund University in Sweden in 2006. That opportunity helped my dream to come true.
New Age Youth: What was the starting point of your traveller’s life?
Najmun Nahar: I was a member of Bangladesh Girl Guide Association. From the organisation, when I was a university student, I started my world tour by participating in the India International Adventure Programme at Pachmarhi in India in 2000. There I held up the national flag of Bangladesh with participants of 80 other countries. This was the first time ever in my life that I travelled in a foreign country. For the first time, rock-climbing, physical exercise on hills in the morning, walking 20 kilometres with youths from different countries and living in a tent in the forest made me excited to experience the challenges of travelling.
New Age Youth: Would you like to share some challenges those you have faced while traveling?
Najmun Nahar: It is a regular routine that while traveling around the world, the clock had to be changed back and forth repeatedly. But general routines of eating, sleeping and many others become disorganised. Disruption in daily routines also led to different types of hormonal changes.
With a group, while I was travelling from Cuba’s Havana to the city of Cienfuegos, the vehicle broke down. It was a huge field, no one was there and the weather was too hot. We survived there by drinking sugarcane juice which was collected from nearby fields. After the evening, we started our journey with the help of a car that was going through that road.
To travel from Liberia to Ivory Coast I had to take 11-hour motorcycle ride. I had to cross narrow streets through forests amid stones and poisonous insects. An insect’s bite made me to take antidote. Though it took 15 days to get rid of the pain but still I am carrying the spot.
I had to survive only on potatoes for three months while travelling across the West Africa. Sometimes I had to eat raw beef for survival. Excessive heat made blood came out through my skin pores. The same happened while I was in the Atacama Desert of Chile where there is no rain for centuries. In addition, my skin was burnt down in the Egyptian desert. The list of challenges is quite never ending and I love to have thrilling experiences. What I always remember is that I am carrying my country’s flag with me and I have a dream to hold this flag wherever I visit.
New Age Youth: You are also known as the ‘Flag Girl’. Would you tell us more about it?
Najmun Nahar: I have already travelled 15 countries of Africa with my flag. People embrace me with love. From them, I have learnt the language of love and harmony which connects all the humanity, overcoming the barrier of border. I visited many schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the countries where I visited. There, I tried to introduce them to Bangladesh and its culture. The government of the Zambia has honoured me as the ‘Flag Girl’ for my initiative of carrying the flag of Bangladesh around the globe and representing my country.
New Age Youth: As a young traveller, how do you manage your travel expenses?
Najmun Nahar: Money is something that is necessary for traveling but what is more needed is to have strong will to travel and to have love for travelling. To bear my travel expenses, I work relentlessly; most of the time I do over-time. A technique I follow to minimise my expenses that I often travel at night to save hotel expenses; while travelling on land, I sometimes try to be on my foot. Moreover, I prefer youth hostels over hotels which are of cheaper rate.
New Age Youth: What are your future plans about your travelling?
Najmun Nahar: I have realised that I was born to travel. I have a plan to travel 200 countries by 2021 — 50 years of the independence day of Bangladesh. In next Ekushey book fair a book of mine might be published. I already have started the writing. In that book, I will include my travel experiences and many notable stories related to my travel. I believe, such book will inspire the next generation to explore the world.
Nasir Uz Zaman is a member of the New Age Youth team.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Icon