Bangladesh is also one of the least visited. The first to be surprised was the one who took our papers to process the visa in the Bangladesh High Commission of Calcutta. He says that for many months no tourists peeked by there.
Then, each of the passengers who saw us embark on the famous Maitree express that connects Dhaka and Kolkata looked at us surprised. A few asked us if we were really going as a tourist to Bangladesh or we had mistaken the platform. After crossing the Benapole border and 12 hours we arrived in Bangladesh very late at night. We arrive near the city and find a homestay. We find a pizzeria where we had dinner.
1 Day in Dhaka
Like every morning, we got up without an alarm clock. Like all the mornings of the trip, it took us ten seconds to realize where we were. Sometimes it costs more, sometimes less, but every morning we have to recognize in what country, in what city, in what house or hotel room we spend the night. The morning was better, perhaps because of the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen.
That morning I had the strange feeling that someone had left me a card with a slogan on the armchair that I used as a light table. The invisible card said something like see everything as if it were the first time . I got up thinking about that phrase and it was the conversation topic of the breakfast. Could Bangladesh surprise us? Or would it be just another extension of India in a more Islamic style?
Anxious to see one of the most chaotic capitals in the world, we left the homestay. It was enough to walk two hundred meters so that the landscape changes completely. We did not have a very clear plan where to go or how. We also did not have advice or information to see Dhaka. No traveler comes here and the last travel guide was published long back.
We knew we wanted to go to the old part of the city where are the markets, bazaars and the Buriganga river. Referring to that area as Old Dhaka was our first mistake. We had no idea on how to reach there. Some said it was better to take a green taxi that works with CNG or the colorful rickshaw. Finally, a young man seemed to understand us and told us to take the bus.
The traffic signal, which is not a traffic light but a policeman with a green cane, controlled the traffic and the buses passed again. Without stopping altogether, they signaled us to go up. But they did not know where we wanted to go! One of those at the bus stop signaled that he was going. We went up and once again, the eyes focused on us. The buses are metal cans with broken glass. This part of the world lives in another time, but still and all things work.
We had to do about ten kilometers, half an hour or so, or that was in Google Maps. It took two hours. Those who surveyed the map of Dhaka did not come to the city. Transit was impossible. It's not even that there was a lot of traffic or a traffic jam. Nothing of that. It was crashing constantly. Four times we hit the front one, and three hit us sideways.
A young man, a little younger than us sat next to us, and asked us where we were going. He said we should go down and beckoned to follow him. Following him seemed to be the only opportunity to reach the old part of the city and see the river, an arm of the Ganges.
We start to walk. Crossing the streets every time was more risky. Here was no longer the police with the green stick that regulated a bit of chaos. Closing our eyes, we crossed almost running and dodging all kinds of transportation. We see carts with rice bags, wheelbarrows for clothes and metal cages hooked to a bicycle for children who go to school.
Meanwhile, our tour guide continued to lead us through more and more alleys. He did not speak much, except asking us if we wanted to eat. We crossed a bridge under which we see a little shade of horses, goats and workers. We cross mosques and many people.
Twenty minutes passed and we continued crossing the city on foot, entering each time in narrower streets. Are we afraid? Incredibly not. A stranger was driving us through unthinkable places in a chaotic city but we were not afraid. And if we had it, we could not do much either. Run? We did not even know where. Shout? Nobody was going to listen to us or understand.
We stop for lunch. We stop to buy water and continue. The boy was increasingly in a hurry and walked faster. Finally the smell announced that we were close. There are instants of surprise that it is hard to describe. One was to climb the Great Wall of China and reach its full extent at a first glance, another was this to reach the Buriganga River in the heart of Dhaka.
The river was black, with thick and smelly waters and on it and on its shores a whole world lived. We see small rusty wooden boats carrying more than fifty standing passengers and goats. People carry fruits on their heads. Some sell chicken biryani. We see people attending the mosque call, veiled women, and all looking at us. Every free square meter soon occupied itself. There was no place to stand watching everything that happened.
The boy said goodbye and asked for our postal address. We told him that it was easier to maintain contact through Facebook or by mail but he looked at us strangely. He perhaps did not know what we were talking about. We begin to walk aimlessly. We had no idea how to return. We grab an alley, then another.
Each person we asked sent us in a different direction. We crossed a market of watermelons and one of Muslim women in black veils. We walked without senses. Finally, when we seemed to have found the path that brought us to the point where we had come down, we began to hear several whistles behind us. It was the police.
Who told us to visit Bangladesh? Why did not we do as 99.9% of the travelers who travel Asia does without entering this country? Was not a Discovery Channel documentary enough? With all that hubbub of thoughts we were still looking for the bus stop.
A man with an orange beard and no less than seventy years grabs us by the shoulder and asks us our name. He smiles, revealing the empty space between his red and rotten teeth. With an expression of joy he thanks us for visiting his country. And there we realized that yes, it is worthwhile to be that 0.01% that visits the country beyond the comfortable conditions.
We continue walking until we reach Star Mosque also called Sitara Mosque, one of the main tourist attractions. It is very nice from the outside, but we could not enter since it was closed and the caretaker never showed up.
So we went to the Pink Palace or Ahsan Manzil. To get here we had to cross much of Old Dhaka where its streets become increasingly chaotic, appreciating the butcher shops that hang their merchandise on the street leaving it exposed to the sun, smog and dust. We cannot enter with bags or cameras.
Upon entering, we see little, not because the exhibitions are scarce, but because the light was cut off, an almost daily problem in the country. Using a flashlight, we can see the different objects that belonged to the palace. It was built in 1872. A cyclone destroyed it in large part.
Five minutes from here is Hindu Street, which with its Hindu Santeria is one of the most colorful of Old Dhaka. Following this area full of attractions we visited the Armenian church. It is closed,.
From here we walk the long stretch that separates us from the Lalbagh Fort, on the other side of the city. This fort is the image of many tourist brochures, and judging by the photos, it seemed to have an air of the Taj Mahal.
Four buildings are located in the complex. There is a mausoleum with several tombs with restricted access. The two-story audience room contain a small museum of the Mughals, an old hammam (bath house) and, of course, a mosque. The gardens are very well maintained, and it seems to be the place chosen by the young Bengali couples to escape from the looks of mullahs.
At night we dined in a restaurant.
2 Days in Dhaka
We take advantage of the hours before taking the steamer to visit one of the obligatory points of the city: the Liberation War Museum. This museum shows a complete explanation about the history of Bangladesh after the separation from Pakistan. On the ground floor it starts with the Indian independence movement.
Most of the exhibition is dedicated to dealing with the historical event of the linguistic movement, in which the Bengali was asked to be recognized as an official language. It was a movement that would lead to war of the independence. Several showcases with human bones represent the genocide carried out by the Pakistani army against the Bengali people. At the end of the tour there is a souvenir shop.
Following the advice of the locals we took a bus to Shahbagh to visit the Aziz Market. It apparently has the best material to take a souvenir of the country. There are t-shirts with very good designs, mini rickshaws, books, crafts and other very good trinkets. We walk to the Bongo Bazar, a place where they supposedly sell second-hand branded clothes. The only thing in the market were crap, but we were able to take good pictures of the traffic chaos in the city from the second floor of the market.
At the end of our shopping trip we take a rickshaw from the hotel to the Sadarghat boat terminal on the banks of the Buriganga river. From there we will embark on the steamer. When we arrive they want to charge us more. In the negotiation a huge circle of people formed around us to see what happened to the tourists. Like other times, a mediator appeared from the crowd.
The platforms are a chaos of people, boats, merchandise, passengers, and vendors. They inform us that the ship will arrive in half an hour. We sit on the floor to wait and we are surrounded by a very large number of onlookers. We knew about this particularity of the people.
Finally the ship arrives and we say goodbye to our fan club. This ship was built in 1928 and since then, whole or in pieces, it continues to fulfill its vital function. As soon as we enter, an employee, without even seeing our ticket, takes us to our cabin. Upon entering we received a pleasant surprise. We assumed that there was an error since we had booked second class and this seemed first. We show him the ticket and he confirms that this is our cabin. There are comfortable beds, windows and a balcony to enjoy the beautiful sunset. The ship departs at 6:30 pm from Dhaka for Hulahat.
In the night the staff tried to open the door for us, struggling insistently to see if everything was fine after the torrential rain.
Day 3 - Khulna
We have breakfast on the starboard overlooking the river. Being a network of narrow channels it allows us to see the small rural villages on the shore. We see fishing boats that swing with the waves that form from our boat
Upon returning to the cabin a boat staff came to visit us. True to Bengali customs, he invited us to sit in our bed and stayed for a long time. He asks us if we had read read Lajja, the book by Taslima Nasrin. Everyone who passed by our cabin looked through our window, and even stayed a while.
After arriving at Hularhat we take a auto rickshaw to the terminal where we take the bus to Khulna. After around one hour we arrive at the Sonadanga station in Khulna, from where a rickshaw takes us to the hotel. The double room with bathroom is a gift, and as always, everyone is very happy to see us.
We take a walk through the lively streets of Khulna with much commercial activity divided by areas. There are not many cars. The traffic is made up of people, rickshaws and bicycles mainly. A good time of the afternoon was spent with a temporary guide. He accompany us and invite us to drink something.
After having lunch we went to the Sonadanga bus station, where we took the bus that will take us to Bagerhat.
The journey lasts 45 minutes and leaves us right at the door of the second World Heritage Site that we will visit on our trip. We are at the Shait Gumbad mosque, better known as the sixty dome mosque (although it actually has 77). Being in Bangladesh, we can say that the mosque has great architectural appeal. Inside it is almost empty, except for some carpets arranged for prayer. Luckily, it is not necessary to cover our head when entering because the heat and humidity were unbearable.
In front of this one is the Singar mosque, of the same architectural style as the previous one but with only one dome. Here there seems to be a congregation of Muslims who are very enthusiastic about our request to photograph them.
We try to look for the Bibi Begni mosque. But as it has been happening to us since we arrived in the country, every time we ask for a place people do not know where they are or they indicate us somewhere else. After much searching we found it. In itself it was the same construction as the previous mosque, but a little more hidden. This was one of the cases where the journey is better than the attraction itself. On the way we passed several rural houses where the kids came to meet us and ask us to take pictures of them.
From here we walk to the grave of Khan Jahan Ali, where supposedly there is a pond with crocodiles that we could not see. This local idol (patron saint of the area) was the founder of the city, and who ordered the construction of most of the buildings we see today. Near the tomb is also the Nine Dome Mosque. More domes, or less domes, they are all very similar.
To return to Khulna we take a bus from the main street near the tomb. On the return trip we noticed another of the classic customs of the average Bengali man. Wherever we are, but mainly in public transport, there will always be arguments and fights. The situation we always notice is the following. The bus brakes everywhere, where people come to ask, to sell cucumber, peanuts, ice cream, and the raffles in the name of Allah. Everyone gets in, gesticulates, screams, and then gets off. The trip continues as if nothing had happened, until the next stop, where the same sequence awaits us.
When arriving at Khulna, in the terminal we see several groups around some tables, all play the carrom. It is a local pastime with rules of billiards, but using plastic discs that slide by the board instead of balls.
After dinner, we take a faluda from the sweet shop.
Day 4 - Sundarbans
We managed to find us a bus for Mongla then a boat and a crew for excursion on the waters of the Sundarbans! To get on the boat, we have to borrow some kind of scaffolding. To accompany us there is a guide. We leave the industrial port of Mongla and we cross many boats, from the big ship to the frail boat. Some are so loaded that they seem to be on the verge of sinking.
The further we go in the Sundarbans, the more we borrow the narrow arms of the Ganges, we only cross canoes. We go down to earth to discover life in the Sundarbans, in villages built on the mud. The houses are built at the edge of rice fields. The border between land and water is not always obvious. I am careful not to walk in the deep puddles.
We cross the path of children playing or returning from school. We are invited to enter a dozen houses, welcomed by large families who always offer us to drink and eat. After long hours of peaceful navigation, we arrive at a reserve where we meet a ranger armed with a rifle. Our guide asks him to escort us for a small safari in the jungle.
We leave on bridges crossing the swamp forest. We descend bridges and sink into the mangrove, barefoot in the mud. Our feet are surrounded by families of tiny crabs. Around us, we find a clear trace of tiger in the mud. The ranger explains to me that we are not armed enough to get off the bridges and that it is extremely dangerous.
We leave with our feet full of mud. The guard tells me the day he had to tie a cow to a tree to attract the tiger, in order to satisfy the reporters of a big magazine who came to photograph it. We do not see the tiger but a crocodile, monkeys, deer and lush vegetation. I find sensations that remind me of my trip to Southern Africa.
During the navigation hours, we watch the scenery scroll. Back on the boat, we dine our curry of fish and shellfish with a beautiful sunset.
We return towards Mongla. We said goodbye to our crew.
Day 5 - Barisal
Again the almost deserted streets receive us, although the rickshaw drivers always get up early. The bus to Barisal leaves at 7:00. Along a 4 hours trip, we cross the northern part of the mouths of the Ganges River of the Khulna and Barisal divisions. Many rivers cross the road and even the bus climbs on a platform to reach the other shore. The good news is that when we arrive in Barisal, it leaves us in the city and not in the station that force us to take a rickshaw.
In Barisal we stayed in the hotel in a double room with private bathroom (of the most decent ones that we have stayed). Barisal does not have much to see. Although we could have looked a little more, the heat and fatigue made us only have our time to resolve the issue of tomorrow's journey.
Simply looking for rice and fish for lunch we see ourselves in the same dilemma as always. We follow imprecise indications that only lead us to walk around the city. The most complicated thing in Bangladesh is what seems simpler.
As we understood, in Barisal they specialize in red tea, a change to the ever present chai. We see a little fellow that does not stop selling, where some take what we suppose we are looking for. We take these delicious infusions with lime juice.
Day 6 - Chittagong
At 7:00 we take the boat from Moju Chowdhury Hat with the intention of reaching Chittagong. It is important to arrive early to be able to get seats on the boat. We travel in the cheapest class for 4 hours.
The boat is quite small and the journey takes place in total tranquility until we reach our destination, where everyone desperately descends and many others go up. Once we arrived at this intermediate town with a complicated name, we bought the bus ticket to Chittagong. As soon as I got off the boat, the bus was waiting a few meters away. Unforeseen events are always the order of the day and the trip ends up doubling their delay.
When we arrived in Chittagong the second largest city in the country, we took a rickshaw to the hotel. We would not stay here, since it exceeds our budget, but just by crossing the street another hotel offers us a double room with TV and private bathroom.
As in so many other opportunities, when going out to dinner, a local comes over and invites us to a restaurant. Here despite our insistence to pay the bill, there is no case that they accept this offense.
One of our favorite activities in this country is to enjoy its sweet pineapples, which are sold in traveling carts. So we bought one and we go to rest at the hotel.
Day 7 - Bandarban
In our case Chittagong was another one of the places of passage to reach the distant Bandarban. We took a rickshaw to the Bardarhat station, although the only way to make us understand was by asking for Bandarban bus station, and that will be the next destination. When arriving at the station it seems that we were in India. Only 10 minutes passed and we were already on the road. On the route, the bus uses even a ferry to cross the river Sangu.
In Bandarban searching for the hotel was a rather difficult task. It is true that the first I asked gave me a room but it was not worth what he asked for. And the owners were not friendly so I was in no hurry as I began to ask in almost every hotel I saw.
That translated into one that told me it was full and five I directly said no. Knowing there was at least one other who accepted me was not really worried but I could not (now) understand that problem was with foreigners in general or a solo traveler.
I finally settled for the hotel in Bandarban. It was the hotel had recommended on the internet but initially, It made me discard it for the price. Although as it was prices are even written in the reception. I told the manager that the price was too high for me.
Then he asked me what I was willing to pay and told him what I paid in Rangamati. As I supposed I could not get out much for the price of the room but was offered for 700 tk and I did not hesitate. They were more than 200 tk as against the first hotel but this was much better.
That day I did not do much. After food at a restaurant with an exorbitant price, I feel that I could not do anything about it. I went to make my photos from the bridge into the city to Sangu river. It was a very nice view. In addition, over the bridge, there were signs with the names and details of the different tribal groups living in the area. Marma, Khumi, Lushai, Kheyang, Bengali, Bawm, Mro, Tanchangya, Pangkhua, Tripura, and Chak.
The next day I went by bus to the Shailo Propat waterfall. As I had said, and I imagined no trace of the waterfall because it hardly rains at this time. But the area is also inhabited by the tribal group Bawm so I went also to see them. At the entrance of the waterfall in Bawm there are women selling crafts and handkerchiefs.
The way back I started to leisurely walk through the villages. They are actually a few houses on either side of the road. All or almost all were made of bamboo, wooden sticks, metal and straw. At the entrance to each village there is an information sign with its name, and the group living, how many men and women live there, altitude and what they do.
When I arrived at a checkpoint I decided to stay there to wait for a bus. I saw there were two policemen. One was very curious and was too confident for my taste. But seeing that any bus did not pass after a while, he stopped a car and asked me if they could take me back to Bandarban. And so was the last part of the journey with a friendly but rash driver. It was a relief to arrive.
From there I went for a walk to the Buddhist Buddha Dhatu Jadi temple or there also known as the Golden Temple, about 5 km from Bandarban. As I had already seen enough pagodas, I did not think it was a surprise but it was quite nice as there was a high view of the surroundings. Here also I took a free round of photos.
When I was down, came a foreigner! And there I found myself asking how he was and where he was staying. I suddenly felt like a Bangladeshi against a foreigner haha. I discovered that I really wanted to talk to another foreigner. So I met a little later to his "guide" to spend the rest of the day and the next two days.
When we got off the temple I asked them to see if I could share with them the CNG back to Bandarban and there we went all three.
On the way, I was invited to go with them to the viewpoint of Nilachol. It is located on top of a hill and there are nice views all around.
On the way back I was invited to his hotel and I finally ended up staying there until 10 pm. From the terrace of the room we saw a nice view of a pond and then lying on the big lawn there outside and along with the hotel owner, we drink beer, wine until dinner.
Then the very friendly owner of the hotel, took me to my hotel with his motorcycle. What a day it had been!
Day 8 - Cox's Bazar
This morning I catch the bus to Cox's Bazar. As I sat waiting on a sofa in the hotel, one of the staff came out with my bus ticket. Inside the bus, the staff was not so attentive and when I asked where I could leave my big backpack, they gave me no choice but to keep below my feet.
Cox's Bazar is the most spectacular attraction of the country according to its inhabitants. Nobody can leave Bangladesh without visiting Cox's Bazar, one of the natural wonders of the world. Although there is no official title that endorses it, and we do not even know much about this place in the world. What is certain is that, pretty or not, it's the longest unbroken sandy beach in the world.
Do we get to Koh Phi Phi? Gold Coast? Cancun? No, but the hotel boom is striking in Bangladesh. When we get off, luckily far from the station and near the beach, we just ask at two hotels and we have chosen where to stay.
Cheaper than we expected, the hotel room is the best we have stayed in the country, located right next to the Ziruk Market. The streets near the hotel are very quiet, but the insistent auto rickshaw remind us a little (only a little) of the days in India.
The Ziruk Market has the classic souvenirs of any beach destination, made with snails. But we do not come for the market, but the beach, and with the low sun we went for a walk.
If this is one of the natural wonders of the world, then how many beaches could be. It's long, but unless one walks it from end to end, it does not change anything. What does have to its favor is the width and the constant shade without the need of an umbrella thanks to the dense trees. Despite being on the beach, the women do not even think of showing a little more than normal, not even uncovering their face. While men walk mostly with the classic Bollywood style shirt, Texan jeans and shoes. That's right, that's the Bengali-style beach attire.
We visit the Aggameda Khyang Buddhist monastery. To get there we pass through the non-tourist area of the city, the other side of Cox's Bazar. As soon as we approach the door of the monastery, the caretaker of the place is very enthusiastic and begins to guide us. In the temple live many Burmese refugees who escaped the dictatorship of their country.
On the way back we passed through the lively market of vegetables, chicken and fish. Here once again we met with the happy reception of the people who asked us to photograph them. Another market in the city is of dry fish. It is quite smaller than the previous one, but much more smelly.
The beach closest to the hotel is not as busy as others, making the attention received is not as much as we expected.
Bangladesh has me in love! And not precisely because of its green landscape, its repetitive food or its few monuments. In reality, Bangladesh does not have much appeal in that sense, although it does not stop being worthwhile. But the real treasure of this country is its people, the one that never ceases to amaze me for how kind they can become.
Day 9 - Comilla
We said goodbye to the hotel staff, who asked us to take a picture and we go on a rickshaw to the place where the buses leave for Chittagong. We take the next one to leave for 5 hours of travel.
When we arrived in the city of Chittagong it was very difficult for us to find a rickshaw that would take us to the center. Seeing our situation, a policeman comes to talk to us. As always when we try to ask something, first we have to answer the classic questions. When he finally lets us talk we explain what was happening, asking him if he could act as an intermediary between us and a driver so that he would charge us the fair price. As his shift was over, he said that he would come with us, and on the way he invited us to have lunch at his house.
Surely in another country we would not have accepted this type of invitation, except coming from a policeman, but here we can see the good intentions of the people. After lunch he accompanied us in rickshaw to the station.
We travel by train to Comilla. The first class does not have anything special. The seats are comfortable with a shared table with another seat located opposite. After a while, the others try to speak to us and the main theme is religion, the one they like so much. But this time we did not give the answer that we usually gave so as not to cause a commotion and we tried to explain that we do not want to talk about religion. They commented among themselves. They laughed and returned on the same subject several times, believing we had misunderstood.
After assimilating the event they continued with other topics such as marriage, customs, and food. Despite not being able to believe most of our sincere answers, at no time was anyone taking it wrong. Everyone laughed and commented. And so the trip was spent.
Upon arrival in Comilla, we take the rickshaw from the station to the hotel. The rickshaws give color to the streets. We leave things and
At night, trying to sleep, an intense smell complicates our sleep. We tried to ignore it, but each time it became stronger. We turn on the light and look for the room where the smell originates. We find a mouse in a state of putrefaction under the bed. We go to the reception and explain the situation. They come to clean the room. They take out with a small stick and throw it in the corridor.
Day 10 - Sreemangal
And now, we head north to discover Sreemangal, a green area of Maulvibazar District, in Sylhet Division. To get to the green lands of the country, we take the train. As usual, we cause small gatherings on the docks because passers-by tend to stop on our way.
At the Station, we have several guardian angels. Men who come to announce that they will help us find our train, who want to carry our bag or just wish us a good trip. nd then, there are many street children who play on the rails, have fun riding on the roof of trains or other activities very suitable for their age.
I always have four or five pairs of eyes on me, on the platform or on the train. Through the window the show is hardly believable. There is life on the rails! We pass the route to respond to the smiles and questions of other passengers. Street vendors get on the train to sell hot tea and peanuts.
During the trip, there is always someone to talk to me. When I smoke a cigarette at the door, I attract all eyes and causes many reflections, astonished and amused but benevolent. And the further we go, the more we discover a green and promising landscape towards the plantations of Srimangal.
Once there, we find a tuk-tuk to take us to our cottage, booked the day before by phone. When we arrive on the scene, we are warmly welcomed by a young man. And we are delighted to see that we have a braided bamboo hut, by a stream and in the middle of a tropical garden, along a rather peaceful road. I do not I have no picture.
We ride our bicycles to cycle on the surrounding trails, after swallowing chapatis with spicy vegetables for lunch. We cross fields of tea, pineapple and banana plantations. We walk full on a postcard, rice fields and hills as far as the eye can see. We pass in front of several factories of tea and have the right to many explanations on the part of the workers.
We cross several small villages where we receive an extraordinary welcome, as always in the country. We are invited and questioned by many people and receive smiles from everyone who crosses our path. We also borrow rare desert trails. The children of the villages run behind our bike. We slow down and they eventually catch up with us. But as soon as we leave, they resume their race!
To end the day, our friend who works as a guide for our cottage, offers us a small outing on Lake Madhabpur, to observe the traditional fishermen. We board a canoe just before the sun goes down. We approach the fishermen and watch them silently install their nets. We are welcomed with open arms, literally, by the fishermen of the lake.
And then, we see the lake gradually change color with the sunset. We remain a moment to see the lake and its fishermen in a semi-darkness before wishing them good night.
Day 11 - Lawachara National Park
Our host offers a day of walks at his side. Our tuk-tuk takes us to the rainforests of Lawachara National Park. We quickly find ourselves between creepers and giant bamboos in the jungle where live many species of colorful spiders. And since I wear flip flops, my feet are quickly covered with leeches! We remove them delicately.
We walk two hours in the lush nature. We still meet spiders but also some families of monkeys and wonderful butterflies. We enter Punje, a tribal village. In the middle of banana trees, areca trees, guavas or giant pomelos, the atmosphere pleases me. The tribe living here is called Lawachara Khasia.
Life is beautiful to watch. The batik that dry in the sun and the bright paintings on the walls giving wonderful colors to the place. We meet some villagers who go about their business while others sit in the shade. We meet a woman who modestly tells me to be the first female guide of the country.
Then, we pass a house in which two women work who invite me to try their weaving machine. It's super hard. I'm so bad that women laugh at me! At night, we invite ourselves to this beautiful fish market in the Kamalganj region but I lost the exact name of the place. There is fresh fish but mostly dried. But also fruits, vegetables and condiments. Our presence intrigues sellers.
We spent only one hour walking in Srimangal. The city itself is rather small and colorful. The rickshaw explodes in the streets. The electric wires get tangled up everywhere and the sun warms the corrugated iron constructions. We eat nans and a delicious shish kebab.
Before leaving Srimangal, we take a break at a tea cabin, the presumed inventor of seven-color tea! It is a hot drink known in Bangladesh because it has the distinction of having seven layers, each with a different dose of sugar and spices. Above all it was so sweet that I had a hard time appreciating. But the atmosphere was good. At 7:00 the bus leaves via Dhaka. The trip was like in so many other occasions that we used this medium in the region. Even though we did not see the route, the heart was paralyzed more than once. The unbridled honking helps to exaggerate the situation. Added to that the speed and maneuvers at times are those of an F-1 race.
Day 12 - Paharpur
To stay with a sweet memory of Bangladesh, we give ourselves a bellyful of scrumptious shondesh and mishti doi in breakfast.
Obviously, when we arrived in Paharpur after passing Bogra we did not find the archaeological site so easily, but we would have to take a third transport. After negotiations with the cycles, we agree with one of them to take us. When we were on the way we see the ruins, but it's still long to leave us at the door of a museum. We try to explain that our intention is to visit the ruins, since later, if we have time, we would go to the museum.
Seeming to have understood leads us back to the place of departure. We tried to explain once again that we wanted to go to the ruins, making clear gestures (or at least clear to us), but there is no way to make us understand. The weather becomes tense and the driver starts to get angry. We try to calm the mood until a kid comes out of a tourist car to help us.
We explain where we want to go. He asks his driver and he shows him the way. The driver follows the indicated path, but each time we moved farther, we do not know where he wanted to take us, but surely not to the ruins. The driver refused to take us until someone could explain that the entrance to the ruins was for that museum that we had gone in the first instance. So we go back to the museum.
The entrance to the Paharpur ruins is quite expensive for Bangladesh prices. During our visit, the driver did not take off, just in case we were not in the place we wanted again.
These ruins are one of the three World Heritage Sites that Bangladesh has, but they are not of great appeal. It was the largest Buddhist monastery to the south of the Himalayas. Its main stupa, Somapuri Vihara, occupied 11 hectares, but only one 20 m dome remained standing. It is believed to contain the remains of holy monks who lived here.
In the museum there are bas-reliefs, ornaments and artifacts of daily use that were found in the excavations. At the end of the route we return to the starting point.
In the end, the ruins were not the great attraction of the day, but the whole ride in public transport, sharing the trip with the astonished looks of the locals, entering the rural Bangladesh with its durian giant trees and the tragicomic situation of the cycle, made the day an unforgettable experience.
From here we take a bus to Jaipurhat abd then to Pargram. Once in Pargram we took a cycle rickshaw from the bus station to our hotel, which as usual tried to charge us more when we arrived. It seems to be the only hotel that accepts tourists within our backpacker budget.
The long journey had consequences on our appetite. We walked down the street until we entered a place tempted by the smell. The place is full. The tempting dish is called Mughlai Paratha and it comes filled with egg and vegetables, accompanied by cucumber, a thick curry and sauce. We followed with exquisite cha and Mishti doi.
We walk through the main streets full of food stalls until we find the internet. After the session, the young man who attends takes several photos with us.
Day 13 - Burimari
We had to decide on whether to India through the border near Malda after passing through Rajshahi or the border near Siliguri after passing through Burimari. At 7:30 we left towards Siliguri by bus. We come down at Burimari Market. We then head to Changrabanda, starting to say goodbye to Bangladesh.