Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – II)

Dec 12th, 2013: Dhaka

Leaving UK via Dubai arriving Dec 12th – 6.5 hours to Dubai, 04 hours stop over is OK, and onward 4.5 hours to Dhaka. Nothing can prepare you for this city, though we have a nice roomy apartment in a nice area. There are a few political problems and the government have hanged a war criminal today! To bed – after ordering breakfast of course.

Dec 13th, 2013: Dhaka

Breakfast – well its local parathas and vegetable curry which is quite hot so mind the green chilies. It comes in a plastic bag, and omelets which is wrapped in newspaper. Its OK. There are no trains today as main signal box was set on fire – so things are looking up for this trip. Warm and overcast. Noisy dusty traffic fumes, awful traffic jams – rickshaws, some electrified drive so fast, but its quick at times to walk all the same.

Star Masque in Old Dhaka

Richard head off with his new rail friend, we do city tour. Earthquakes and cyclones have destroyed over the years a lot of the important places which are in old Dhaka. You really need to experience this place, especially the smells. The drains are awful and at the end of our sightseeing we take an hour trip on the river. It is amazing and interesting, but OMG the smell – its foul-black inky and just awful.

We head back to Apartment – meet with Richard and walk to a local recommended eatery. Its OK with a Chinese influenced and its good food which we enjoy. Mock-tails are a 03 layers – Fanta orange – Coke and Sprite – how do they do this?

A narrow street in Old Dhaka

Dec 14th, 2013: Sonargaon

Richard goes off. We have trip to Sonargaron the old capital – a really delightful day out. Guide is great and very helpful. We also visit a gorgeous 15th century old brick mosque, Goaldi Mosque. Then an abandoned Hindu city – Panam Nagar. It has a romantic air about it. We are popular with the local school children practicing on the main playing field. Try some lovely round samosas like pastries.

A building on abandoned merchant city Panam Nagar

We take a break at the apartment – meeting up with Richard. He seems to have had quite a way with the local rails fans in town, and are apparently a nightmare and next to useless – get in the way and have been duly reprimanded and sent home!

If you’ve missed the first part of my diary, you can read it here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – I). Also can read the next part here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – III). Consider sharing the story in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – I)

On a long haul flight to Asia seated at a window seat, I saw a strange odd area of land. The on-board map showed it as was on the India-Bangladesh border. When I got home I had to learn more. An area called the Sunderbans with tigers unknown to me. The following year in India I read a book I picked up in a hotel called “The Hungry Tide”. Coincidence? I was hooked!

Research showed it easy to visit from the Indian side. But the more I read the more there was to do in this flat low lying country of Bangladesh next door. I knew it as a place of flood disaster, but it has so much to offer. And a trip was born.

When you travel a little off the beaten track, you need a knowledgeable enthusiastic agent, and Nijhoom gave me confidence to visit. Tons of information and hundreds of ideas. It was hard to try and fit them all in but with Hasan’s help we did. He quickly and constantly answered a million questions and queries immediately. I do ask too many! He has amazing patience.

Trip one: 21 days – simply amazing!

A daily discovery of friendly people.

Great food.

The longest beach in the world.

Tea regions.

So much more!

Helen trying to drive a rickshaw while brother Richard giving instructions

This trip came at a time of Hartals – basically transport strikes, and he worked around them and it wasn’t always easy. There were cancellations. All the locals were sorry for inconvenience and quick to help out and most accommodating. We loved the trip but missed a few things along the way and well some things were so good we had to do them again.

The rocket steamer oh………how I love that boat!

Which is how we got to Trip 2 – another three weeks just 2 years later!

If you’ve enjoyed my diary, you can read the next part of it here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – II). Consider sharing the story in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – IV)

Thu, Dec 19, 2013: Srimangal

06.40 Parabat Express – but there is a delay and about 1,000 folk waiting for train. We are exhibit a here, so we make use of a waiting room. A few street kinds, amputees, and beggars – we are sitting ducks for them. Getting on is well a really bun fight, especially with our luggage and the need to haul yourself up 3 large steps to get on board. Its every woman for herself, and we didn’t get 1st class seats. Poor Julie lags behind and is dragged onto train by Richard like she is a puppy pulled from her neck – bless her!

Once we find seats and put luggage up and once all the pushing and shoving is done, it’s not too bad and an interesting albeit slow journey – a new speed restriction is in place, given the derailments recently. So we arrive late into Srimongal, heart of the tea region. Verdant green small hills 100 meter high maximum. Its run down one horse kind of town. We are staying outside in an Eco-lodge. Hmm more like garden sheds on legs. A lot of mossies too. We are close to the Indian border here.

We visit late afternoon a tribal village and head of to try a famous 7 layer tea. It does have 7 layers and 7 flavors. The secret to its making is a secret needless to say. The layering is in the sugar I feel sure. Dinner average chicken curry, nice aubergine fritters, rice, daal, usual fayer.

Inside a Bangladeshi train

Fri, Dec 20, Srimangal – Dhaka

Breakfast is good. Richard goes to station while we head to national park. Really nice place and we have it all to ourselves with a good local guide. We are also very lucky to find Hoolock Gibbons quite quickly – only 200 left in the world. We also see golden cap languor’s and leaf monkey. Some nice birds. We enjoy this. We visit other tribal villages too. They are well laid out, bordering on smart, and have a really good agriculture infrastructure, and are quite well-off. Betel leaf and nut production earn them a lot.

Tea plantations of Srimangal

We visit a tea plantation, collect Richard at Station, visit pineapple farm, take more 7 layer tea as the boys likes it so much. I love the ginger myself. Itinerary seem to change over the next few hours as train is cancelled. There are different ideas on getting us back to Dhaka. We need to connect for a steamer tomorrow evening, so it’s a quick pack and hasty check out. 26 hours here only – not enough, but we have to work around blockades. We take supper at the soon to be opened “Grande Sultan Resort”, meeting GM Toni Khan, a world famous chef in his day. It’s a lovely place and meal is OK. A real treat! Such a luxury place they have. Some way to go with service and open Xmas day.

Everyone else is heading back under cover of darkness. Its slow going, and bad driving – we dodge or seem to dodge anything from huge Lorries to pedestrians in the darkness. Arrive at apartment after midnight – Made it!

The creator of 7 layer tea at Srimangal

Sat, Dec 21, 2013: Rocket Steamer

A lay in. It rained heavily last night, so there is a lot of fog about. A day to crash really. So catch up on paperwork, luggage, laundry etc. Shop for picnic stuff etc. Head to famous Sadarghat for our boat at 4pm – takes almost an hour in traffic to get there.

It’s hard to describe the chaos. I feel Like Michael Palin. Lots of boats moored up and YES, the rusty one at the end is ours! It’s a bun fight to get on. Folks are getting off as well up to flights of stairs to 1st class! 08 cabins, a 1st class deck crew including toilet attendant. All on the smelly Buringanga river. Food is amazing – soup-fish and chips for dinner, roast chicken, and creme caramel – all agree best fish and chips ever! Cabins are basic and small to say the least. Ian and I do go to bed and wake into the night to the fog horn blowing and find us tied for safety alongside another boat. The fog lifts and we head on our way again.

Toilets well………any port in a storm!

Century old paddle steamer still on service in Bangladesh

If you’ve missed the previous parts of my diary, you can start reading it from here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – I). Consider sharing the story in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – III)

Sun, Dec 15, 2013: Cox’s Bazar

Richard heads for Chittagong. Its officially off limits, so he is sorting himself out and he arrives on time – lucky him! We are off the Cox’s Bazar and our flight is delayed. So we arrive late in the dark and a tuk-tuk takes us down the coast about 25 mins. Well for Julie and I – ours is electric. Ian is latter 45 mins as his is diesel. Getting sorted late, hot water etc. is a bit of a nightmare, and we end up change rooms – a roomier shared bungalow. Dinner under the trees is OK though. They try and screen a movie on a table cloth looking out to sea!

Mon, Dec 16, 2013: Cox’s Bazar

Better in the light. Ian thinks a rat was looking at him from the roof – no Ian it’s a mongoose! Dual rooms work well for the 3 of us. We get a western style breakfast with cornflakes all rather nice. Take the hotel boat across river to beach. 125 km long, the world longest natural beach, is lovely and there are no tourists just a few local fishermen with very small insignificant catches. So we take a nice walk out and back to the small boat.

Cottages we stayed at the Eco lodge in Cox's Bazar

OMG the tide is out to reach the boat its sandals off and a walk in slimy clay like sand which I hate. It’s my worst nightmare – one because I could well slip over, and 2 because well I just don’t like it! In the mud are mud skimmers, so then I worry I am treading on them! Not nice but I manage to get back to the boat – trousers a bit wet at the bottom and I was in my new shamwaar kameez! We do meet an English guy walking the length of Bangladesh for an NGO! We get a very expensive beer back at the lodge and its 12%. Take a rest and read some. Do a spot of bird watching, then dinner under the magic tree. It is really nice, a bit chilly, so they light us a brazier. This place is really delightful!

Tue, Dec 17, 2013: Cox’s Bazar

Breakfast in the sun cooked to order is superb. Walk to beach over bridge, some new kingfishers spotted en route. Small catches of fish again today. Few folk bother you. No small birds? Lodge is lovely we are only guests today. Boys with catapults – that answer’s the bird question then. It is a lovely place. Dinner under stars, in fact showers under stars!

Not too many creepy crawlies – Oh and the mongoose is in fact a squirrel. Oh and one smuggled whiskey miniature between 3.

Small catches of the fishermen in Cox's Bazar

Wed, Dec 18, 2013: Cox’s Bazar

God the beds are hard. Breakfast in the sun again. It’s a shame we have to leave today. Cox’s Bazar was an unexpected additional due to the last minute change in itinerary, and it’s really worked well. Would have been ideal at the end of this trip. I would love to return.

Pleasant ride along coast to airport. Himchari looks a nice place to stay. Small airport has huge military presence due to ongoing political problems. Things seem to be hotting up. Richard is due back into Dhaka also tonight. Quite late. Eco lodge is perhaps the best accommodation we will get on this trip – downhill to 2014 then!

Our flight is delayed again. The 3 of us eat out as same place as before, and we wait up for Richard who get in after 11pm. Seems to have done OK, though his hotel was not very good – mice in the dining room. If he says it’s not good, well goodness it must be awful.

The reception of the Eco lodge at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh

If you’ve missed the previous parts of my diary, you can start reading it from here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – I). Also can read the next part here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – IV). Consider sharing the story in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.