Diary 3, and the great Sundarbans Mangrove, I'm now heading on
22/1 Breakfast in my usual joint;
roti and this time; an omelette without the chilli surprise. Like
last time; I pay 27 Taka - €0,27. The original plan was to spend the
entire day in the busses, heading straight up north. However, there are no
busses running to day, I'm told, due to one more strike. Plan B is
to find a train or a local bus to bring me to the next larger city
north of Knulna. Shahadat had something he wanted to show me, and I
head bye his office after breakfast.
Unfortunately, he is not there, and I head on to the station. I ask
around five times, and all agree; I'm on the right trail. Then some
policemen correct it, and I more or less walk back on a parallel
street. That calls for a trishaw, and I get to the station quite
There are no vacant trains to Natore before nine in the evening, and
I'm not keen on yet another night in the train. It is boring, and
I can't see the countryside we passes through. Within a hour, there
is a train for the next big town; Jessore, and I got a feeling, I
somehow can get further on the trail. None know if there will be
busses tomorrow, but it is weekend, and I'll like to move on and
get something out of my time.
I feel bad leaving without saying thanks to Shahadat, but I hope he will
except the 32 USB memory-stick he got pictures on last night, as a
compensation - I will sure miss it.
I sit a enjoy a du-tja and tell a lot
of people, I'm from Denmark and so on. I look at the railroad tracks
in Track 1, and it is a miracle it have not broken. It sure is
a bumpy ride. The train is only ten minutes delayed, and I get a
nice window seat, thanks to my new friends.
drive out through Khusna for a long time. The trail is lined with
small huts and colourful clothing. It seems like the biggest
home-industry is cows dung. Dried, it is used for the cooking fire.
Here are lots of ponds and more and more rice fields.
It is a local train, calling every station on the way. Slightly
annoying, but the motives are great. If there are more than two sets
of trails, they are used for all kind of production. Cow's dung
drying, making baskets, drying laundry, washing, drying crop,
playing cricket and much, much more.
Then we reach the true countryside. Endless rice patches, but also a
lot of other crops. Here are mace, tobacco, barley, bananas,
coconuts, sugar cane, cabbage, beans, other vegetables, cotton,
some I don't know and some I have forgotten. The rice is mainly just
prickled, and the fields are light greenish and flooded.
constantly stream of vendors passes through the train. Like last
time I drown with the train, the other travellers buy a lot! Peanuts,
spiced beans, cookies, biscuits, sliced vegetables, stuff I can't
recognise and much more.
In Jessore, I find out, I can remain in my good seat, and go all the
way to the little village Poradaha, where the trail splits up.
Several people have told me, I have to pass through the larger
Kushtia to get to Natore. My map does not agree, but it is kind of
the right way. We have driven around 60 kilometres in two and a half
hour, mainly because we only have done real short stops at each
station. From here, it is around 150 kilometres to Poradaha, and I
ought to reach it before dark.
More fields witch is a strange patchwork of all the crops mentioned
above. Flooded rice in one, tobacco next to it, then mace and some
fruit trees in the forth square, meeting in the corners. I doze off
several times, but feel safe for my self and my bag above. I even
leave it once, when I buy a bottle of water on a station. People are
so nice and treat me as a precious guest.
We reach Poradaha at dusk, and one
co-traveller leads me through the station and down a narrow street
in a busy business area. Here, he advises me to take a electrified
tuck-tuck, working in a steady route, as a bus. It is a real long
drive to Kushtia, through massive big rice engross companies and
other industry. The around 10-15 kilometres take almost an hour, but
I only have to pay 20 Taka.
It is black night, but my new friend tells me: This is the area with lots
of hotels. I find one quickly: Hotel Ratul, and get a real nice room. I had not
expected this standard in such an area - but the price is equalled:
1500 Taka. We agree on 1000.
I head out to find some supper, and get some spiced chicken, boiled
and fried vegetables, a wet cake and a cookie with dub-ta,
but it is only 130 Taka.
getting late, and I have to return to work without seeing much
of the city. It has not been the most exciting day, but I have quite
some distance up to the Indian border, and little time and sights on
I am several mugs of tea behind, and head out in the dark city to
find them. Despite all the hotels, I have a feeling of, this is not
the centre of town - the shops are way too small and the sidewalks
too destroyed. Never the less, people are friendly, and I can't be
aloud to pay for the tea myself.
The big busses are starting to be gassed, and the doors are open, but
the word on the street is; they are not going to drive tomorrow. I
might have to find a way to reach Natore by train.
23/1 I'm up early, but at eight, I have
to give in: No busses will go to Natore today. I head back to the
train station, and learn the first vacant seat will be at nine in
the evening. Not that appealing! The roomers have it, a train should
come bye around ten or eleven, heading north. The problem is that
the trail split up, both to west and to east before the northern Natore.
I walk around the station for some hours, talking to quite some
people - none in English. A few trains passes southbound, some
filled with people outside too. Some time after eleven, the train
finally arrivals, and to my big joy, it actually go all the way to
Natore (I thought, it was Rajshani).
I cheats a bit, and enter on the uppersite side of the platform.
That means I get one of the vacant seats, while the other waits for
the arriving passengers to disembark. At the next station, I get the
perfect window seat. We stop at every station until Paksey, then
only one big before Natore (I thought!)..
Around Paksey, we cross the mighty Ganges, and here, it look more
like a big fjord. Then, the landscape changes a bit, and the rice
give room for more trees, some in fruit plantations.
When we pass bus terminals next to stations, they are stuffed with
parked busses. At the station in Kushtia, and big and very loud
argument took place at the grounded busses. I have a hard time
figuring how one think you can become popular and win the next
election, fucking up the country with these strikes?
Despite it is Friday, many farmers work, and even the railroad is
being worked on, a single place.
We reach the new and huge Natore station (I
Around two, and despite we are around 1000 passengers or more, there
seems to be enough trishaws, tuck-tucks and other alternative
transport enough. Somehow, none have sold my a ticket, and I have to
cheat a bit to exit the station. Not that I won't pay the
approximately 50 Taka, I just don't have the hour or two, to get it
A few busses might work, but most are parked and empty. I walk a bit
around, but I seems to have forgotten to scan map and sights.
Anyway, here wasn't much to see, and it is a huge and modern city
The busses to the way smaller and more interesting Puthia are
at strike, but
I share a electrified tuck-tuck the first 16
kilometres, then I get a seat in a tiny lorry for the rest or the
tour. It feels weird, driving in a silence tuck-tuck, and further
more: On a almost vacant country road. It also feels strange paying
20 Taka for an hour's drive. We passes several companies, drying
different kind of crops. Some turn the seeds with bare feet, some
have dogs playing in it. I think I will start washing my rice in the
Puthia is a cosy, little city. The first man who greets me, ask for
my country, and if I'm going to see the temples. A couple of dus-tars,
and I'm ready. Here are idyllic ponds, country side cosiness and few
people, most being Hindi.
When I reach
the first temple, a well dressed man introduces him self as a
representative of the government, museum and more like that. Further
more, he is son of the person
mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide.
He is the only one with a key to the interior of the temple and so
on. I tell him, I'm only interested in the exterior. Soon after, I
get exactly the same story one more time. A bit later, a man in
police uniform try the same. They are not really persistent, but my
attitude let it clear, I know I'm being hustled. I guess they do get tourists here at
The temples and the large palace are pretty
impressive, and I spend quite some time walking around in the
historical town and the nature around it. I find a interesting
parasitic Ipomoea sp. but nothing else. The sun start
to descent, and here seems to be no hotels. I better find my way
back to the bigger Natore (I thought!). Most of the shops along the mainroad are
closed, and the village seems pretty dead this Friday.
As I reach the mainroad, a bus passes. It seems like the local have
work. I wait while I talk with many locals. After a while, I'm
picked up by a big racing bus. The speed is insane, but somehow we
reach Natore (I thought!) without killing anyone - I think.
Considering I'll be heading on to Bogra in the early morning, I find
a hotel right next to the bus terminal. Hotel Haven might not live
up to its name, but it is not the worse room I have had, especially
not the 180 Taka considered.
I head out to find some supper, and right around the corner, a
restaurant have some delirious looking filled and fried things. I
get one of each, and they are real great, but actually a bit too
much. I finish with a du-tar and have to pay 26 Taka. That
must be a fault! A few loops around the train and bus terminals
don't give much, but closed shops and a promises of; there will be
I return to work in the sound of at least five mosques. The photos
from the last days will be in
north, Puthia ruins, Rajshani.
24/1. I check the busses, but they are
all stationary this morning. On the station, a gathered group tells
me, the train for Bogra left an hour ago, and there not any other
before tomorrow. That do sound odd in my ears, but it is Bangladesh,
and other confirms it.
Alternately, I can join a electrified tuck-tuck to Natore -
and that sound even more strange, considering I thought I was in
Natore! I even came back yesterday afternoon, and found a hotel.
Perhaps it is just to the other side of town? I jump in, and we go
cross town, and then out on the countryside. Several features seems
so familiar, and I surely recognises Puthia.
It is a problem all signs only are in Bangladeshi - their own
letters. My map is in Latin letters, but I finally conclude: I spend
the night in Rajshani - a large city out west. That explains the
huge station and size of what I have noted as a village. I'm glad I
didn't spend any time finding "the right hotel"!
We drive 50 kilometres in this open and rather cold vehicle, me
squeezed in next to the driver, and a woman in the back with lots of
parcels. She is dropped at a private house, while I'm kicked off at a
bus terminal. It swarms with all kind of vehicles, capable of
carrying people, and soon after, I have a motorised tuck-tuck. Natore is a bit more as I had expected it to be - compared to
Rasshani - but not interesting enough to investigate further.
The next 80 kilometres are equally cold, but I manages to sit in the
middle in the back - slightly shielded. We drive through endless
patches of rice fields, most being worked on this spring day.
We drive through several
small villages, each having a marked. One
with potatoes and red onions, one with bananas and other with
vegetables. Each village collect a tax from our driver.
Once again, I'm kicked off in the outer corner
of Bogra town. I figure which way to walk, but not how fare. I get a
trishaw to drive me to the hotel - or one that have a similar name,
is same area. Well spend 20 Taka! He asked for 10, but I figured he
deserved 20. Bogra Boarding is simple, cheap and right in the centre
of town. My kind of hotel.
I throw my bag at the bed, and ask for directions to Mahasthangarh.
Something about ten minutes walk to the site where the shared
tuck-tucks can be found.
Somehow, I actually find them - after haven driven with another,
bringing me there. Bogra is an interesting city with loads of
traffic, plenty of people and shops, but still cosy.
In the village of Mahasthangarh, the tour ends, but the driver
offers me to go all the way out to the archaeological site for
additional 50 Taka. I got a feeling of, this is a bit steep, but I'm
not going to waste several minutes finding another transport for
half an Euro!
He drop me off right at the entrance to
Mahasthangarh. Here, four people inside the fence tells me: They
having lunch break, I can return after two. I check the fields on
one side of the site, then returns to the endless wall on the other.
Here, I find a path into the area, and check it out.
Mahasthangarh is the oldest city in Bangladesh. The ending: "-gath"
means fortress, and it sure is impressive. The at least five meter
brick wall measures 1525 metres times 1370 metres. Within it are
some nice gardens with pretty flowers and huge patches with corn,
rice, fruit, potatoes and other vegetables. The fortress dates back
to 500 BC, and have been used for many years by different rulers. I
find a single, unknown Solonaceae, and admire their watering
systems. Young couples are sitting in discrete places, cuddling, probably
I walk one of the sides, and head back to the entrance. It turns out
the entrance is merely for a small museum and a beautiful collection
of pretty flowers. Some nice founds are displayed in a museum,
looking way more worn-down than the fortress.
On the other side of the road, the Govinda Bhita temple are
found. Another entrance fee to pay, and even more of a hoax. Same
walls, nothing else to see. Well, except a Bombax ceiba tree,
which I have failed to get a proper photo of until now.
I get a cargo bike to drive me back to the
village, and share a tuck-tuck to Bogra. I have to find my
way back to the hotel, and I might not have paid attention enough to
the surroundings on the way out. The traffic is still a nightmare,
but the main part is of silence vehicles, and I take it as a
The crossing railroad trails open for a marked of some sort. The
first part is the madras makers. Coconut fibres, cotton and stripe
cloth and handy work. Then the usual fruits, vegetables and
butchers. Strangely enough, the butchers are the only ones who
refuses to be taken photos of - then again, I experiences this all
over the world. Not that I would be proud of a shop like that, but? It works
so much more easy with i.e. the black smith, selling hand tools.
I find back in the sowing-machine street and then my hotel. Here are
at least 25 shops, repairing old-school sowing machines, and several
selling new ones like Singer. Almost all are non-electric.
Empty my bag and bring it to a tailor. It have started to open at
the strips, and I better have it fixed as soon as possible. I have
only had it for around 20 years, and are not willing to give it up
this soon. While they take it apart and re-sow it, I head for the
Mohammed Ali Palace and Park. The former prime minister of
Pakistan (which Bangladesh once was part of) should have a nice
garden. He might, but it is not here! Concrete animals, a train-ride
for kids and a few dusty plants, hidden under huge trees.
I head back out in the town, looking for
interesting motives in the low sun. A river cuts through, but unless
you like trash, it offers nothing interesting - that should be the
pig with piglets living there. On my way back to the hotel, I pick
up my bag. It look like new, but I have to pay 50 Taka. I am sure I
would have to pay 100 times more in Denmark,
if I manages to find
someone to do it. Back at the hotel, I do some work in the dusk.
Then it is time to track-down supper.
I get a mix of fried filled dough, some strong, some stronger. Well,
for half an Euro, you can't be peckish. Then I make some loops in
the now black city. Black, but fare from dead. Actually, what I
thought was a little village centre turns out to be one of the major
trading areas I have seen in many years.
All the shops are open, and the streets, alleys and back alleys are
packed with people and a few vehicles. I first visit one of the
sowing machine work shops. One of the guys are working on a more
than 100 year old machine, and it is a delicate job. He make pieces
of raw iron, and everything is a perfect fit, when he is done. A
The next shop I enter
is a pharmacy. All are stocked in old, brown
bottles with ancient labels. I guess the placement is the key?
Endless shops of whatever, the cloth market, the floweriest, food,
all in-between, still vegetables on the railroad trails, and then I
enters a huge, indoor mall. Gold smiths, cloth, perfume, spices,
fishing nets, religious decorations for Hindi, tons of sweet stuff,
a fish market, chicken market, eggs, beans, rice, sugar,
flip-flops, shoos, belts, cell phones, TVs, several streets with
mainly remote controls, lamps - all imaginable and in huge numbers.
At eight, some shops start to close, and I better get home to work.
The hotel owner tells me, the busses will be on strike for
additional two days, making my life harder.
I only have one more
planned site to visit: Parhapur, then I ought to find a train
straight to India, although I might have to make a stop in Saidpur.
That reminds me; I have to pay attention to my money - else I will
have to change back! More than half the money I have spend was on
the three day Sundarbans tour. It seems like Bangladesh will cost
around €14 a day, but the missing busses have added considerable to
the expensive. €10-12 is probably more realistic for a day in
Bangladesh as a tourist.
The city is quiet this morning -
real quite! I later learn, it is a public holyday, which might
explain the frenzies last evening. I have to walk a real long way to find
anything useable for breakfast, and then only three rotis. Well for 15
Tara, what do you expect?
The town reminded me of Roskilde Festival last evening, and it is
just the same this morning. Only a few awake, dealing with endless
mounts of trash, and a hint of "after-party".
I have to walk all the way to the improvised tuck-tuck stand - where the busses
probably use to stop. The first tuck-tuck bring me by the familiar road to
Mahasthangarh, then another
tuck-tuck to Shibganj. Today, it is just as cold, but
I am prepared, and I am the least freezing on the tuck-tucks.
Out on the open country road, an elephant suddenly appears. The
first I have seen, and I don't see much of it, as we race bye. A new
walk through town to the other end, where a real old tuck-tuck is
loaded for the stint to Kalia. People are real helpful everywhere,
when someone break the English barrier. Within minutes, 20-40 people
are gathers, and most have an opinion on, how I should go on. I tend
to stick with the well-dressed and slightly English talking
In a fog of burned and un-burned petrol, we slowly reach Kalia.
Here, I'm guided to a trishaw, but ask to leave it, when some huge
petrol-tank trucks swiftly and real dangerously blocks the road around
us. It is a miracle none was hurt! Yesterday, we passed a bus down
on the side in a drench. I understood something about not being on
strike, but I now realises; It might have been forced of the road.
The trucks soon leave, and I walk to
the other end of town to catch yet another old banged-up vehicle. It
is not filled though, and apparently, I have bought most seats on
this stint. In stead of the usual 20 Taka, I have to pay 100. If I
alternately should have waited an hour, it is fine with me!
Right out of town, we turn left on a mainly gravel road, and drive
through tiny villages in a nice landscape. Tiny cows are dressed in
potato sacks and resting in the shadows.
A new transfer in Jaipurhat, and I know the drill. I had originally
planned to find a hotel in Parhapur before I continues, but the friendly driver offers to drive
me all the way out to the archeologically site - for 50 Taka. Through a smaller
village and then a tiny one.
We reach Pahapur Monastery or Somapur
Mahavihara at noon, and I walk back a bit to get some tea. The six
guys at the entrance want 200 Taka (50 for locals), and when I have
paid, they tell me it is a public holyday, and the museum is closed!
Well, then I have to do with the garden and the ruins outside.
I start with Satyapir Bhita next to the huge monastery. It is
a rather big complex with main chamber, hall, a ambulatory passage
around and 132 votive stupas. All build in the 8-12'th century AD.
Well, it is a collection of half to one meter tall brick walls in a
I head into the garden of Pahapur Monastery. Not what I had
expected, but if you like figure-cut bushes and colourful flowers,
this is a place for you. On the other side, the giant UNESCO site is
found. It is the largest known Buddhist monastery south of
Himalayas. It was build around 800 AD. The outer wall is 280 times
281 metres. The wall is made up by 177 cells for monks, and within
the square, many other buildings are found. The central temple is
massive and despite it is slightly broken down, one can imagine the
greatness of it in the present days.
I do some rounds on the massive wall, check out the heavily grassed
area within, and some of the reconstruction going on on the remaining
walls. The warnings about work going on, bear Danish flags by some
odd reason. I find some Oxalis sp. and a little white flowering
plant, I can't put a name on. Could be a terrestrial orchid for the
The inner temple was nicely decorated with figures in the bricks -
none real Buddhist, I think.
Outside the area, a restaurant with room for an entire tourist bus
and the first souvenir shops I have seen in Bangladesh, are totally
vacant. I find some dus-chai in a local place, and the owner
offers to drive me to the little village. Here, I find a shared cargo
trishaw with electric engine to Pahapur. I do some walks in the two
villages, but is seems like I have seen, what rural Bangladesh can
offer this time of year. I could book in to a hotel in Pahapur, but
I'll check the trains first.
It turns out, I can get a seat in a train for Saidpur within an hour, bringing
me half way to the Indian border. It
is a long drive, and I'll like to cut it in half. While I wait, I
talk to a young rice en-gross salesman. He also want to get me up to
speed with the political system in Bangladesh: It is ruled by a
minute over-class, and the two families fighting for power now, with strikes
and alike, are just as bad. Private interests and corruptsy is their
only interest. Can you call it a democracy, when only the extreme
rich have the money to get elected? I get a seat next to a real
pleasant post officer and his daughter.
We drive close to the Indian border - within meters actually. I
guess the railroad was made before the border? At the train-station,
I head for the ticket office to get a ticket for tomorrow. I ask for
one to the border, but the price is only 50 Taka, and I might not
make it all the way? The ticket is only in Bangladeshi - not helpful
at all, but I know the scheduled departure is at noon.
Due to the delay of the the train, we reach Saidpur after
dark, but I know my way around Bangladeshi stations cities by now. I
just can't find a hotel! Two young men walks me to the other end of
a long trading road, and here are the nice Hotel Amzadia. Pretty fancy with
own soaps, toothbrush and alike. They just don't have hot water at
all. Newer mind, I can make my own.
I head out in the rather dark Saidpur, where many shops are closed.
Either due to the publish holyday of just the time? One restaurant
is stuffed, and I rather sit alone eating here. Another look fine,
and I just ask for something to eat. The old waiter start bringing
me dishes, and I just eat. At some point, I figure he is not serving
one setting, but the entire menu card. Well, it taste great, and I
get through it. The bill on 470 Taka is real high, but I did eat
quite some. I can hear their gasp, when I head into the bakery next
Armed with some cakes, I head back to the room to work. I also have
to find passport, tourist tax receive and alike for the crossing
I'll wait with the slideshow, for the photos in the morning in
Saidpur - if any.
Apparently, the transformer to my
computer was overheated last night, despite I was not loading camera
or anything else. It works fine this morning, which is a big relief! I
hit the town way too early, but do manages to find rotis and
When the town is not ready for me, I start on working. The last
slideshow from Bogra, Mahasthangarh and Parhapur. And
The Essential Bangladesh.
Then I try the city again, just before ten, and despite fare from almost all shops are
closed, I find some motives. The
area is huge and host endless small shops, dealing with all the
things I don't need, but which is essential for the Bangladeshi.
Well, some do have dub-tar.
I find the
furniture makers along the trails, the farmers'- and
fishermen's market, some real old-school blacksmiths, and even the
butchers ask for photos! Slowly,
the town awakes, and at eleven, I head for the station, walking slow
through town to suck-up the last impressions of Bangladesh. It is by
fare the warmest day, and for once, I'm not spending it in a open
As no surprise, the train is a hour delayed. We drive through huge
rice fields and two small villages. The walls are used for drying "cow
firewood", so are all other flat areas. It is apparently a huge
It is a slightly misty - or dusty day, and I'm in the
wrong side of the train. The rice is in a long stretch exchanged
with tobacco, which still is small plants.
The platform in the villages is at least not used for drying cow's dung,
but rice. At half pass two, I finally made it to the border town.
I'm told, it is only two kilometres to the border, but the next group
I talk with tells me: The border crossing is closed! I have to get
that confirmed several times before I believe it.
The ideas about how I make it to India are numerous. Some say
"Airport", some the huge city south; Rangpur, some say tuck-tucks
from Nilphamari 60 kilometres south, but I rather try Domari, only
25 kilometres back. At least, I catch the returning train.
Outside Domari station, three trishaws are waiting. When I ask for
tuck-tucks, they make me understand; here are none. I get back in
the train, and try exactly the same in Nilphamari. Then I can't come
up with any other idea but Saidpur. Bit annoying, spending an entire
day, accomplishing nothing but finding out an essential border
crossing is closed! I do not have days to be wasted!
Despite I really can't afford it, I head back to my hotel. I ask for
help, but a combination of bad English and the eager to please, give
me no solid information. I experience it time after time. If I ask,
if the station is to the left or right, even ´pointing, then they say
"yes" with a big smile.
I walk down to the bus terminal. Within minutes, I have gathered 50
men and boys. All have their input, none seems to now anything. The
general idea at the hotel was that the busses would work tomorrow,
here they say no.
As I see it, my alternative to busses/tuck-tucks are the train
to Rangpur, two other lines and then the tiny border at Burimari.
Some say it is open, but accordantly to my map, only the railroad
and some minor roads reach on each side. And it will most likely be
three day journey. Considering my limited visa, I would like to
On the way home, I find a little restaurant
and get some great tasting small breads and sauce with mutton and a
du-tar for only 35 Taka. While I eat, two guys are eager to
become my friends. After the meal, they insist I visit them at their
office. It might be a driving school, but besides from they drive, I
can't really figure what they do in that warn-down room. They are
brothers in law, I meet an older brother in the diner, and their
mothers husband is sleeping in the room.
I also passes some groups of people,
smashing bricks to gravel. I have seen it many places, even at
bigger roadwork. In a country without proper gravel, anything is
useful. But I can't imagine a simple machine would not earn it self
in, considering I have seen 50 men and women sitting with each one
hammer, bashing away.
While I sit struggling with checking borders opening status and
roadmaps, the transformer - or computer, first refuses to load, then
it starts and stops again. Not really an issue I need by now! At
least, I got some extra days in my visa! Else, I would have to
panic, and fly to anywhere.
The best plan I can come up with, is hoping for busses tomorrow. If
that fails; tuck-tucks and other interimistic means of
transportation. I gamble and
aim for the Panchagarh-Banglandha border
near the Indian city; Siliguri. If that fails, I have to use the days mend for
India, just to get here! Or go south to the Hilli/Hili crossing, but
then I have to travel in India for days to reach my goal. While I struggle, the brothers from the
diner pops bye to drag me into town. It is a bit hard to hide, when
here is only one hotel! At least, they buy the story about I'm
working. I sneak out for tea and cookies later, hidden in the dark.
Besides from the lack of power to the computer, lack of busses in
Bangladesh, lack of working border crossings, lack of time in
general, I am bothered by a coming lack of clean socks! I have heard
nothing ever dries in that part of India I'm heading, and I will not
have time to stay in the same hotel for two days, I think.
What I feared about exit-tax from Bangladesh, expiring visa, exit
port, entering visa for India and alike, seems so distant at present
At nine, I give in, hoping for an early start in the morning -
without breakfast if necessarily.
27/1 Up 5;30 after a night mainly spend
with worries. The day turns out to be describable in one word:
In more details: I first take the long walk to the bus
well, some kilometres, then I catch a ride. The guys here discuss a
lot before they agree: I have to drive to another terminal. Here,
they apparently do not know the idea of shared tuck-tucks. At first,
they want 1500 Taka, later, they can do with 800 for the short drive
to Birgani - a fifth of the way. Considering I only have 580 Taka,
and it would be around 30 in yesterday's prices, I decline.
A truck is unloading further down the road, and I give it a shot.
I'm in so much luck; they are going to Thakurgaon, a third of the
way. We are five, sharing the drivers cabin, but considered the
pea-soup-like fog and 11C, I think it is a fantastic idea.
They do a single unloading on the way, and drop me off near the
busses. I give the driver 100 Taka in tips. I find the auto
(electrified tuck-tuck), but despite it has two passengers, we wait
forever to fill up. Somehow, they agree on paying the remaining
seats, and they get filled soon on the road. The driver agrees on
driving me all the way to Panchagarh for 250 Taka. Bit steep, but I
do not have many options.
Here, he find another auto, and he find me a real, big and
operational bus in Baruabara at noon. Here, the sun starts to chase
the fog away, and things start to look a bit more bright. I have
checked with every one; the border I'm heading for, is actually open.
I might even make it to Darjeeling late in the evening.
This area have one thing I haven't seen before: Gravel industry. The
river must have some rolling stones, and they are grinded in
machines all along the road. Here are also a few tea plantations,
but nothing big.
I have to change bus in Tetulia, but that is swift. Two kilometres
before Banglandha, I have to start walking. It is exactly 24 hours
since I was bounced at the other border. The Bangladeshi border
control refuses to let me through. There are no immigration on the
Indian site, and I will not be let through! It takes me half an hour
to let them give me a chance at the Indian site.
The no-man's land is rather busy, mainly the gravel industry, but
shops and farmers. When I reach the Indian control, they are pretty
sure: I can not enter, as they have no immigration. I try every
trick in the book, but I'm bounced by the officer in charge. Well,
he is just doing his job, and he is kind enough to change 1000 Rupee
to 1000 Taka. That way, I have money to travel back. I was down to
50 Taka, which would have been great - if I was aloud to make the
crossing. I got within three meters.
An auto is waiting, and I share it with another
guy. We have to go all the way to Tetulia, but here I find a
south-bound bus. It connects with another one in Baruabara and
somewhere along the line, I only have to wait shortly for a third,
taking me all the way to Dinajpur. Enough time to get a tea and a
packet of bisquits. It is completely dark, but I rather use I'm on a
role with working busses, and Dinajpur is a rather large city, which
should have a hotel.
The driver is a bat out of hell. He overtakes trucks, busses and
pushes everyone out of the way. It is pitch dark, slightly misty, a
narrow road and filled with dark autos, trishaws and pedestrians. He
zigzags and the bus feels like a ship in high sea. I got front row,
and spend most of the two hour drive sleeping.
I'm kicked off at a gas station outside Dinajpur - I hope. A fellow
passenger give me a ride to a nice hotel: Hotel Park, and I find a pair of rotis
I am now 28 kilometre from where I started this morning, after have
been driving 300 kilometres. Only accomplice one thing: I know of
yet another closed border. On the positive side: While I was looking for
my gloves, I find two pair of clean socks. I have to settle for
Hilli border crossing is around 50 kilometres south-east, but then I
have to drive all the way up north again, and in a rather big circle
around Bangladesh - 440 kilometre at least. I sincerely doubt I will be able to make it to
Darjeeling tomorrow, despite India ought to have working busses. I
have to face it: I have lost yet another national park.
28/1 No reason to get up too early;
none else are. An old fart with a trishaw apparently know where the
terminal for the Phubari busses is. Newer the less, we end up in
front of some big gates. The guard get the idea, and guide the old
fart to the bus terminal. All the busses are here, but none else. I find some roti and a dy-thai
The entire crew guesses, and I'm advised to take an auto to somewhere
else. Here, all the autos are gathered, and I get a seat in the one
for Birampur. It take half a hour to get the last three seats
occupied, and then we are off for two hours real cold tour. In
Birampur, I don't even get time to pull up my hat from the bag. In
Hili, it is just a short walk through town to the border. Today, I
have seen the first two normal, private cars in Bangladesh.
I get a last cup of dus-tja to calm the nerves. The border on
the Bangladeshi side is in several small huts, scatted around the
area. I get to fill out several forms, all with exactly the usual
information. Mean while, some officers do exactly the same, based on
Unfortunately, they are not used to tourists, and none
have ever seen a Visa On Arrival. The expect a big sticker in the
pass, not a smutch stamp. After half an hour, I get them convinced,
and cross the railroads, hoping India will let me in! I can't go
back, as I only had a one entry visa, and it is cancelled by now. And I even got
160 Taka left!
The photos from the three desperate days I tried to escape
Bangladesh is in its own
The best photos from Bangladesh are in
The huge number of smiling faces, the perfect
climate and the endless green landscape is priceless - and cheap.
Taken in mind, I did have insurance, and I just flow in from Bhutan,
but the lack of busses and especially Sundarbans on the other hand,
I still find the tour real cheap: 5250 DKK - €600. The Sundarbans do
count for a lot!
BUT! I will advise people to wait with a visit, till the great people
of Bangladesh have made a revolution. With the current government,
tourism is so much a hazard, it is not worth it. And a fluid
Bangladeshi languish would come in handy!
It is now high time to leave Bangladesh and seek in
to India's Western Bengal, way up