The way to one of the wildest and most beautiful corners of West Bengal is similar to suicide. 320 km of pits and bumps. Six ferries and thousands of tea stalls. It is better not to look at the windscreen, though. Leave it for the driver, to follow at the road between savoring the flavor of “paan”.
The are endless rice fields, villages, gardens delineated with care from both sides of the bus, which is now rushing at 80 mph speed in the lack of good roads, leaving without any notice the others bus in the ditch. So green it is! And it’s even greener after the rain. Green is burning the eyes. It feels just like when you are looking at the sun for quite a long time, and then trying to get rid of red-and-violet spots, beclouding your vision.
South-western part of Bangladesh differs from the northern parts a lot. No rice fields here, but bogs with lonely coconut trees on little islands. The villages look like tiny villas: a small pond, well-groomed beds, neat paths form the accurate borders of each house and grounds. What a striking contrast with an alogical and tangled capital.
It’s the way to the sea beach, where one can meet the sunrise and se off the sunset in place. Where one can lie under the clear sky studded with fanciful clouds, which grow purple and golden in the sunset. Where the fishermen pull the boats into the sea every morning, and pull them back to the beach, using special wheels, at night. Where fishermen’s children and wives from early morning to night collect fries and shells, dragging their fish nets along the sand bank. Fifteen miles in one way, fifteen miles back. As here each of them has his private area, separated with unseen borders, known only to him.
Here nobody speaks English, and even Bangla sounds different. However the football fans, especially Argentine and Brazil supporters, are even more active than their fellows in Dhaka. Hardly any of them knows in which part of the world Argentine or Brazil are situated. Locals have their own geography, which does not demand and names, latitude or longitude, or even time deference. The sun rises and sets, the sea ebbs and flows, the wind grows and drops. Life here follows this routine.
Kuakata in Patuakhali district of Borisal division is one of the future tourist destinations in southern Bangladesh. The sea beach reach around 30 miles length and 6 miles width. The lack of adequate infrastructure, roads, hotels, restaurants, electricity, prevents this place from developing as a tourist attraction. Even Bangladeshi tourists view Kuakata with great concern. What to say about foreigners!
One can get there by direct bus from Dhaka, but mostly people get a bus to Kepupara and then change for a local bus, which is at least two times more cramped. Anyway this is probably the only difference between local and tourist buses. One also can take a ferry from Dhaka to Borisal and then again try the local bus.
It’s highly not recommended to travel alone. Especially for the girls. And definitely it’s unacceptable for foreigners. Well, a little experience in Bangla, verisimilar legend about a hard working husband left in Dhaka, plenty of courage with a touch of curiosity will be pretty enough to make this trip alone. Just remember two things: keep your belongings with you and smile. Smile as much as you can. You will get help by all means.
One of the most popular destinations in South-western Bangladesh is the Sundarbans. It is in the vast delta on the Bay of Bengal formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers across southern Bangladesh and West Bengal in India. The world’s largest mangrove forest covers 10,000 sq.km. of which about 6,000 are in Bangladesh. The Sundarbans is listed in the UNESCO world heritage list. The area is known for the largest population of Royal Bengal Tiger. The population is growing extremely short day by day, thanks to local hunters.
The Sundarbans can be seen from the west point of Kuakata beach. The seaside around Kuakata is also dotted with mangrove trees. What an amazing view! As if trees keep their balance on the sea surface, holding themselves with roots, slender but thick as mop of hair. It seems as one sees just a top of the giant tree. And it is so, according to encyclopedic knowledge.
Mangrove trees have long and tenacious roots. They go deep into the ground, up to two meters depth, when half of the tree rises above the surface. These upper roots play the role of peculiar respiratory system of the trees. It helps mangroves surviving in hard environment – the heat, strong ebbs, salty ocean water, diluted by sweet river water. The sea by the way is not attractive at all. The water seems hardly salty but dark and dirty because of dissolved sand. It is almost impossible to make out anything in it, even your own body.
Surrounded by mangroves, half savage cows and goats pasture standing knee-deep in water. It is not clear what do they eat. One can’t find anything like grass – only sand, covered with salty water, reflecting the sky, and trees’ roots. Seems like the animals come here to lapse into daydreams of their animal lives, contemplating the water lapping against the shore.
Then what about the sun? One can hardly enjoy the sunrise during monsoon season. In the morning the sky is misty, when the evening brings expected satisfaction. The glass of the seawater, covering the sandy beach, reflects soft blue-and-pink clouds, glistening like silver, without a single movement, spilling out the metal bluish light.
It is the best atmosphere for admiring one’s loneliness. Don’t bee to hopeful if your skin is white, though. The magic of the sunset is nothing as against curiosity. One has to stand the attack of locals, majority of which may see the white skin human for the first time. And keep smiling, don’t nurse a grudge. They are afraid of you as much as you are afraid of them. They admire you very honestly and innocently. So be indulgent. All the more, the questions are known and their sequence has not changed.
” Russia thaki. aat mash. Ksenia. haa, ami bibahita. Bengali. Bangladesh onek sundor!”