"Why the hell would you want to go there?" If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me before I left for Bangladesh, I'd be a rich woman. Admittedly, it's not a country on many people's radar but I think we've been sold a lie.
Being the world's most densely populated country - 163 million people live in an area the size of the South Island - it definitely could come across as just a country of chaos, colour, car horns and poverty.
And you'd be forgiven for thinking that if you never spoke to a local. But within seconds of interacting with the Bangla people, it's clear this place is something special.
The people of Bangladesh are the country's biggest tourist attraction! Instead of being inundated by hawkers, you are flooded with smiles, offers of help, and conversations.
Everywhere we went, people would want to give us gifts, carry our bags or offer us food.
Take the villagers who brought fresh coconuts to my aid and refused payment when I started melting in the heat.
Or the locals who kindly let us use their cockroach-invested toilet and apologised for not being able to give us a parting gift or the school principal who sent us away laden with bananas.
And every house we visited, we were offered tea and biscuits. In a country where 40% of the people live under the poverty line, this is remarkable!
I must admit, it kind of shocked me. I was expecting by being blonde and travelling with a bald white cameraman (armed with a gigantic camera), we'd attract unwanted attention.
Yes, we did attract attention but not the negative kind and when such generosity comes from such poor people, you can't help but be humbled and almost embarrassed. How is it that people with so little can give so much?
Unfortunately there's a few who could spoil it for the rest, like the government officials who asked me to lie in a story. When I refused, the story wasn't allowed to be filmed. A harsh trade-off for journalistic integrity.
I guess that's the sad reality in a country without true freedom of the press.
But every population has its bad apples and it would be a shame for one bad apple to spoil the bunch.
So, with my "miss positive" hat on, I can honestly say working in Bangladesh was a delight thanks to the people.
I guess the true test of any country is - would I go there again? Never say never!
Joy Reid filmed five stories in Bangladesh which will air on TVNZ programmes over the coming weeks. The trip was made possible with the help of the Asia New Zealand foundation.