Beach life Bangladeshi style

Trip Start Mar 03, 2005
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Trip End Apr 08, 2006


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Flag of Bangladesh  , Chittagong,
Thursday, February 23, 2006

I left Dhaka on a huge air conditioned bus at around 10am, bound for Cox's Bazar. After a number of long uncomfortable bus rides in Burma I couldn't see the point in subjecting myself to more pain when there was a first class option! The drive down the coast was quite pleasant through some beautiful green countryside, and the bus steward seemed very excited to have a foreigner on board. We arrived in Cox's Bazar around 8pm, although no-one seemed to have any idea where exactly it was that I wanted to go. When the bus driver physically grabbed me I decided to try my luck with a rickshaw. I wasn't going to put up with any of that. Luckily the rickshaw driver knew where it was I wanted to go, and I checked into a cheap hotel not far from the beach. The owner of the restaurant next door was a friendly chap, and I had a good talk with him over a late dinner. His one request of me was to go home and tell people not to send relief to Bangladesh but instead to visit Cox's Bazar! He could see the tourist potential of the area, but unfortunately couldn't do much about it himself.



The following morning I made for Cox's Bazar's main attraction, the beach. It was a short walk from my hotel and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. The beach was huge! Well, after all it was supposedly the longest beach in the world. And long it was, not to mention a good 80 metres wide, and almost devoid of people. Everyone I'd met had talked the place down but I was impressed. After walking south for a while I found a lounge with an umbrella and this is where I spent the morning, reading and taking my first dip in the wonderfully warm Bay of Bengal.



I went back into the town for lunch and later went to have a look at the buddhist monastery of Addameda Kyaung. It was quite a surreal site, because for about 20 minutes I was back in Burma! Beautiful Burmese women with their faces smeared in Thanakha wandered around the teak monastery and gilded stupas. One of the local refugees showed me around the area for making a small donation. It seemed Burmese hospitality wasn't confined to Burma!



Once I stepped back into the maelstrom of Bangladesh I began the 25 minute walk back to my hotel. A young guy spotted me and started talking to me in Bangla, despite my protestations that I couldn't speak the language. This didn't seem to phase him as he continued to talk and ask me questions as I continued on my way! A friendly rickshaw driver helped me out near my hotel (not the first occassion a rickshaw driver came to my aid) and also showed me where to get a boat ticket for the ferry to St Martin's Island, my next destination.



Soon afterwards I raced down to the beach to watch the sunset, and as I was heading off I met a local named Abu who wanted to speak to me, in English luckily. We walked back into town and grabbed some cha before he showed me to his friends house. Both were keen cricketers, Abu an off spinner and his mate a left arm seamer. His friend's father, now deceased, was a very highly respected freedom fighter and former leader of Cox's Bazar's Awami League party. I felt very privileged to be in his house. After some snacks, more tea and some Hindi music DVDs, Abu offered to show me around Cox's Bazar when I returned from St Martin's Island, and his friend offered to have me around for lunch. I just couldn't believe the hospitality of these people!



I ate dinner at the same restaurant I ate at the previous evening and the owner joined me for another chat. He really was a funny guy, and obviously enjoyed the opportunity to talk with foreigners. I couldn't stay up for too long though, as I had a 6am bus to catch further south to Teknaf, where I would be getting a ferry to St Martin's Island.
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Comments

anuradha mukherjee on

Hello! Your travel experience in Bangladesh had once again prompted me to share my experience at Cox's Bazar with you. From your narration it appeared, you didnot plan your tour in advance and you derived pleasure in Bohemian style! Am I correct? Whereas we always pre-planned i.e., where to stay and the itinerary well in advance. As a result, we didnot find difficulty whatsoever, you know? We planned to stay in Hotel Saibal run by Bangladesh tourism corporation i.e., BPC and the stay was hugely comfortable. It had its own beach where one could bath in peaceful ambience. We availed flight from Dhaka to reach Cox's Bazar. We were greeted at the hotel with jumbo sized green coconut. So sweet was the water ! After lunch we headed towards the place where the Beach Festival was to be inaugurated. On the beach, huge busts of noted freedom fighters were built out of sand only. After the sunset, the place was illuminated and which added to the beauty. Thereafter we moved to a restaurant to have evening tea i.e., cha as you have rightly pointed out. The location of this restaurant was remarkable indeed! Though it was on the beach but it was hanging over the Bay of Bengal. The quiet and romantic ambience was a thing to remember. Next, we did some shopping from the market place i.e., collected mementos. We returned to the hotel, had dinner at Sagorika restaurant and the post dinner session was something I would ever remember. We actually had the opportunity to meet the Chairman of BPC who came to inaugurate the sand festival and was staying in the same premises. He was a noted freedom fighter who fought against the Pakistani forces for the birth of Bangladesh. He narrated to us his experience which was just like hearing to a thriller. A highly knowledgable and erudite person and we enjoyed his company tremendously. In fact, we were enriched.
Next morning we went to St. Martin's island via Teknuf. On return, we stayed one night at Cox's Bazar again but this time could not get accommodation at Saibal. We stayed at Upal which was reasonably good but not like Saibal. Next morning we went round the city for sight seeing. We saw the very old Buddhist monastery Aggmeda Khyang and some other noted places. In a bid to share my experience, my narrative had become too bulky! So bye!

will
will on

You are correct, I did travel bohemian style! It's my favourite way of travelling. Thank you again for sharing your experiences, I've really enjoyed reading them!

anuradha mukherjee on

Thanks for going through my narratives. Had you ever been to India? If yes, which were the places and what were your experiences? If no, please do come to our country. We do have plenty of places of interest to offer. I do have a small piece of suggestion for you. Usually, foreigners visit cities like Delhi and Mumbai in India. While first is our administrative capital but the second is considered to be the commercial capital, you see? But many of the foreigners are not aware that Kolkata where I reside is popularly known to be the cultural capital of India. Besides, the cultural side we do have many interesting and beautiful places to visit in our state i.e., West Bengal. Please do visit our country and ofcourse the place where I am born and brought up. Bye!

will
will on

I did visit India. I spent time in Kolkata, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sikkim. It was fantastic. I loved Kolkata but unfortunately got food poisoning there. You can see the entry on the travelblog. Thank you again for your comments!

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