Back to Basics in the Hill Tracts
Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
230Trip End Dec 16, 2012
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Sometimes us arrogant people in the Western world think that we have life so hard. Yes, we have all been there, we definitely know we have. But on our recent visit to the tribal villages of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in south eastern Bangladesh, we really had to take a good look in the mirror
Do you ever sit in peak hour traffic and get annoyed that your twenty minute journey home has turned into 50 minutes because of the rain. You start cursing the rain and the traffic and just wish you could get home sooner so that you can relax in the comfort of your warm home. Well, when we headed to the tribal villages near Bandarban in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, we soon realised that traffic jams at home are a blessing compared to the ourney that nearly took us two full days. From Dhaka we left in an overnight bus, then arrived in the Bandarban district where we were faced with our first checkpoint. We then had to get a tuk tuk to Bandarban town, then a 2 hour bus to Ruma Bazaar bus station, then waited around for at least an hour, until we could get on the back of a motorbike which took us to Ruma Bazaar town. After a couple more checkpoints, we then took an hour long jeep drive up steep tracks to a little village. From there, we hiked for about 45 minutes up a steep walking track, which brought us to a beautiful village on the shores of Boga Lake, where we had to spend the night. Then next morning, we hiked up and down some more steep tracks, passed small waterfalls and amazing scenery, to finally reach our destination at the small tribal village of Passing Para. After this adventure, we would bring on a twenty minute delay in traffic anytime.
Have you ever checked into a hotel and realised that the bed is rock hard, the pillows aren’t comfortable enough, and you just wish you were in your own comfortable bed at home
As the days rolled on and we spent more time in this simple tribal village, we began to realise that these people were living with basics, but it seemed that it is all that they needed. Every day we would see the children running around with massive smiles on their faces, as they played for hours with a simple piece of wood. We admired the local ladies as they went about their daily chores without hesitation, while breast feeding their babies at the same time. And as the end of the day would draw closer, we saw a young girl helping grandpa to get a fire going for warmth and light, as this place was basic and had no electricity, but it seemed, creature comforts weren’t really required. These tribal people were living the happy, simple life; working hard, but always had their family around them.
Think back to the time you have just been grocery shopping and you are trying to cart all the bags into the house on your own, but they seem too heavy and you fear you fingers might break off, so you yell to the closest male to help you out
During our stay in Passing Para, we woke each day to the sun rising over the magnificent jungle scenery all around. It was breathtaking. Each day we set out on a trek from the village to explore the local waterfalls. This area of the Hill Tracts may have only been around 1000m high, but the trekking was tough, as the hiking trails went up and down, and steep, steep, steep. At one point, Karen had to slide down on her bottom to reach a waterfall below. But once we reached these isolated waterfalls, it was so worth it. Taking our daily bath in the waterfall, washing our clothes, and admiring the sheer beauty of this secluded location made this tough trekking so worth it.
Back to the village and we had to take another reality check. At home, we so often hear about mothers who complain that they can’t get anything done when they baby is young
In the western world, we have a lot of materialistic items. Yes, one would say we are lucky to have the latest technology, the best cars, and the best tools. When sitting around in Passing Para village, a local man was amazed when Shaun showed him how our Leatherman tool worked. You should have seen his facial expressions of excitement when Shaun showed him each individual gadget. This man was astonished, he had never seen anything like it. Well, of course he hadn’t, he lived a simple life in the simple tribal village of Passing Para. In this village, we really began to appreciate that we were forced to get back to the basics in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
The morning we went to leave the amazing tribal village of Passing Para, the local family all came out together to give us a send-off. Putting on their Sunday best, which for most of them wasn’t flash, but of course it was simple and basic. We got a group photo and thanked them for their hospitality. As we trekked down the hills, to begin our long journey out of the Chittagong Hill Tracts we began to reflect on our time here. The scenery was amazing, the people were shy, but very hospitable all the same. Above all, creature comforts weren’t to be found, and we were forced to get back to basics. This was a great experience to really appreciate the important things. A simple life with love and happiness surely is better than a complicated life with all the bells and whistles. We got back to basics in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, it was such an amazing adventure.
So next time we think about how hard off we are, or how we don’t have the best of everything. We really need to take a hard look at ourselves and remember the simple life of the tribal people of Passing Para, and overall be happy with our life.