Bangladesh Journal - 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008,
Kolkata, India - Kuhlna, Bangladesh

We rose early, got organized and packed, and met our driver at 8:30 for the drive to the Bangladesh border.  What a memorable
drive!  As we slowly worked our way out of Kolkata we never were away from the unimaginably huge throngs of people.  To
imagine that it could be like this all the way to Tokyo!  (Note: Our plan had been to cross Asia overland from Mumbai to
Tokyo.) Rickshaws, tuk tuks, cars, filthy crowded buses, and pedestrians all fought for space on the bumpy road.  The car and
driver had cost us more than the train would have – about $18, but was well worth it for the experience.

Many of the trees we passed were covered with drying cow dung patties.  Only females of the lower castes perform this duty,
leaving their hand prints as evidence of their craftsmanship.
I stopped into a chemist for some medicine for Trish.  The young man there was very polite and asked the usual question,
“Where are you from?” When I answered “America”.  He almost swooned and said “The land of opportunity!”  I agreed, but
said that now India was also a land of opportunity.  But I did have to agree with him when he said there was more opportunity
in America.  After I used his surprisingly clean – but primitive – toilet, he asked, “Can I ask you one more question?  Are you
going around the world?” "Yes." I am truly a lucky man.

In about three hours the Bangladesh border itself finally appeared. After fighting off the money changers and various touts, we
found the Indian Border office down a maze of filthy halls in an obscure building.  It was crowded and the official behind the
counter told me to sit down “... for a half hour.  We are busy.”  I told him this was impossible and continued standing right in
front of him.  Convinced I wasn't going to move, he took our passports and the completed forms, spent some time with them,
went into another room, returned, looked at them again and finally – after asking for a "souvenir", which I refused – stamped
them and gave them back to me.  We walked out and queued in several more lines, not knowing exactly when we crossed the
border, but once across found another building, filled our more forms, waited, got them stamped, and we were finally in
Bangladesh!

The road ahead was dusty and pretty empty, with no signs of onward buses in the vicinity; but we found a couple of bicycle
rickshaws that took us to the bus station about two miles down the rough road.  Fortunately, there was a bus just leaving for
our destination, the town of Kuhlna.  As we climbed into the crowded bus we saw Brian, an acquaintance from Kolkata with
his Japanese girlfriend.  They had been waiting on the bus for a couple of hours.  They had taken the train and told us the ride
was pretty straight forward and only 16 rupees.  We were still glad we spent the money for the car and driver – for the sights,
not the convenience.

The passing Bangladesh countryside was beautiful and seemingly cleaner than India.  There was still cow patties stuck onto the
trees with their little hand prints, but the countryside seemed neater and better organized.  It took about three hours to reach
Kuhlna where the bus stopped right in front of the hotel I had picked out of our guidebook.  The bad news was that they had
no rooms available.  The good news was that the nice hotel across the street did.  The bellman that showed us a double room
pointed out that we really didn’t need two beds as they were so large.  He suggested we look at a single room and save 300
taka – about three euros.  Smart man.

Our new single room – about $15 – was quite nice, especially the bathroom, which made the more expensive Fair lawn Hotel
in Kolkata seem like a dump.  After freshening up we went out at about dusk.  The first thing we noticed was the lack of cars,
or even tuk tuks.  Everyone was either walking or riding in bicycle drawn rickshaws.  The streets were dark, and crowded.  As
we walked, we were drawn to a well lit local fair, paid 10 taka, and went in.  We were told we would be stared at in
Bangladesh, and we were, but in a very friendly way.  On this, our first night, people drew us into conversations, mostly to
show off their "English" to their friends.  When we sat down for drinks – no beer in this country – we were joined by a man,
and then his wife and three year old son.  There was a huge crowd standing behind me – staring.  After a while the man invited
us to their home, the first of many such invitations during our stay in Bangladesh.  We explained we were tired from our long
trip but would be delighted to stop by the next day.  He gave us his address and we agreed on 12 noon.

Our next goal was to find the Aloka Restaurant recommended in our guide book.  We asked, were given directions, would walk
a ways around the dark streets and lanes, ask again, follow some more lanes, ask again, and finally voila! We found it.  Our
meal was great – I ate my mutton biryani the traditional way, with my right hand – and Trish got three helpings of delicious
salad along with the wonderful nan type bread.  We took a rickshaw back through the dark streets to our hotel and read for a
few hours.

Saturday, March 15, 2008
Kuhlna, Bangladesh

Our quest for the day was to book a ticket on the “Rocket”, the infamous Ferry Boat to Dhaka.
It was very pleasant and when she and Trish traded earrings, there were tears of friendship all around.  We left them as friends.

We took a rickshaw back to our hotel and found the going rate was indeed ten taka.  It was hot, so after finding some medicine for
Trish we spent a few hours in our room.

Promptly at 6 pm we walked down to the front desk and had the man call the ferry company.  No luck.  Shaheem the bell-boy
suggested he and I go there directly  - there was not room in a rickshaw for three of us. So while Trish stayed behind,  Shaheem – in
the full splendor of his bellman’s costume –  and I set off on yet another 10 taka rickshaw ride down to the port.  Shaheem
recommended covering our noses to avoid some of the pollution as we drove through the dark, dusty streets and alleys.  After
inquiring, we ended up at exactly the same grimy office we had visited in the morning, with the same man in the dirty longi who had a
long talk with Shaheem in Bengali.  It all continued to be very confusing.  Shaheem and I walked across the dark plaza where he
talked to some interesting looking men, one of whom gave him a phone number, apparently of one of my contact names from the
morning.  We then walked to a little phone store and tried our call.  It was busy.  We waited and tried again.  Success! Shaheem
talked a long time, all in Bengali.  He said the man spoke English and handed me the phone.  I gave the man my name several times.  
Finally he said “Marvin Scott!” and hung up on me!  Shaheem called him back and had yet another long conversation (All this time a
small beggar of nondescript sex kept poking at me and coughing.  He/she ignored the store owner’s motions to leave.)  Shaheem told
me that one problem was that they don’t like selling tickets in advance as the boat is often late due to fog on the river and people get
pissed off.  I told him we wouldn’t mind waiting, but wanted to be sure we had a ticket.  We agreed to try the other office in the
morning and set off in a rickshaw through the even darker streets back to the hotel. Trish was waiting in the room and I described the
whole adventure – one of the type that makes independent travel the such an experience.  

Our Lonely Planet guidebook had recommended the restaurant at a fancy hotel and we decided to splurge and try it.  I was a bit
embarrassed asking Shaheem for directions there, but he got us a rickshaw – for ten taka.  It seemed to take quite a while negotiating
people walking and riding in rickshaws - with small lanterns hanging off their rear axles. We were dropped at the hotel, but after
walking through the lobby – all doors opened for us automatically – and looking at the hotel type sterile dining room we decided “no,
this is not our style”.

Trish and I walked down the dark, crowded street and turned off into some small lanes.  Finally we spotted what looked like a
restaurant, upstairs – it is difficult to tell.  There are no signs in English, just undecipherable Sanskrit.  We walked up and found it to
be simple, but crowded.  The waiter showed us to a small table occupied by a young couple.  They moved over for us.  Everyone
seemed to be eating the same dish, so I had one.  Trish wasn’t into it as it was a bit spicy.  It was vegetarian and consisted of what
looked like beans – or corn, slices of egg, and other miscellaneous items and was quite good.  We shared a “mango” drink that was
also good, but sweet.  I had another of the dishes of the house and we shared a few simple words with our friendly table mates about
our respective families, etc.
Our rickshaw driver did not take us to the ticket office mentioned in our guidebook but another one, way down in the port area
past the railroad station.  After some searching and inquiring, we were pointed to a drab set of offices.  There didn’t seem to be
anyone in, but after yelling for a while I was able to roust a man wearing a dirty longi (a tube type skirt often worn by men in
Southeast Asia). He didn’t speak any English, but he finally made clear that he only dealt with second class tickets.  He talked to
the young rickshaw driver and told him to go to the head office – the one that was in my guidebook.  Back in town, after much
searching we found it, only to be told by the equally dirty man there that they were closed for the day.  It was 10:30 in the
morning!  I was a bit obstinate and he finally took me upstairs where a more professional looking man spent some time with me.  
It was all very confusing, but he finally gave me a note directing me back to the port between 6 pm and 7 pm with two contact
names.

We then asked the rickshaw driver back to take us back to our hotel where we described our trials and tribulations to the
understanding staff there.  They agreed that we should try again in the evening and told me we should pay the rickshaw boy 50
taka.  We showed them the directions to the home we had been invited to visit the previous evening and after unsuccessfully
trying to call the two phone numbers given to us, told the rickshaw driver where it was.  They told me 10 taka would be fair.  
We searched for some time; stopping often for directions before we found what we thought was the place.  The rickshaw boy
was pretty upset about only getting ten taka more, but everyone there said it was fair and told him to go away.  We were in a
place of business.  Everyone assured us all was ok and to wait.  So we did.  They offered us some cookies and glasses of water
-  but it is suicidal to drink the water in Bangladesh.  After waiting some time, they made a call and had us climb on the back of a
small platform bicycle used for hauling freight.  A boy that worked there then pedaled us to a different neighborhood, wandering
down lanes and asking people as we sat on the wooden platform.  Finally we found a small apartment; but it was locked up.  He
kept knocking, but as it was padlocked on the outside, obviously no one was there.  We left and asked some men on the street.  
As they were trying to help us, lo and behold, the woman we had met the previous night came up.  There must have been some
confusion about our “invitation” as her husband was out of town on business for three days; however she was delighted and
honored that we had come to visit her.

We left the driver, Trish stuffing 10 additional taka in his pocket, and walked back to the apartment.  We spent several hours
with Afroja, her young son Sabo, and Me Too, their Indian ring-necked parrot.  Her English was not that bad and she taught us
some Bangla.  She made a simple meal of soup, homemade bread, and cucumbers – Trish’s favorite.  The apartment was small,
two rooms and a primitive kitchen.  The toilet was spotless.  We looked at her many wedding pictures and the boy’s English
books and watched a little television.
We then took photos of each other. All the while everyone else in the restaurant was staring at us. As I’ve said before, once you
return a stare and smile, it inevitably becomes a smile returned.   The bill was 85 taka – about $1.

We found our way back to our hotel, walking along the dark crowded, but eerily quiet streets (I apologize for the repetitiveness of
this phrase, but it is a bit overwhelming), stopping on the way for some delicious fresh baked roti (bread) on the street.  They sort
of paste it upsiupside down in a large urn shaped oven.  
After Trish did a bit of shopping, we were surprised when we saw that we had actually found our way back to our hotel!  It was a long,
adventurous day, but wasn’t even 9 pm when we returned to our room to read for a while.

Sunday, March 16, 2008
Khulna, Bangladesh

I went down to the front desk in the morning.  The staff called the Rocket and told us they had made a reservation.  I then asked if they
would  negotiate a car and driver to take us to the nearby town of  Bagerhat.  We would have taken the bus, but there was a lot we
wanted to see and we were able to get a fairly nice car for 1,800 taka.  We felt funny driving through the streets of Khulna in a car, one
of the very few; especially with the driver honking at all the rickshaws.  We stopped at a street stand for some breakfast,  roti  and an
omelet.  The usual crowd gathered around us and stared.  When Trish asked how many, I estimated about twenty-five.  A nice young
man standing next to me kept saying something:

“Sir!”

"Yes?"

“Sir; your chain.”

“My chain?”

“Yes, your chain.”

“My chain? What about my chain?”

“It’s down.”

Finally I understood, and zipped my fly, with all twenty- five polite people watching.

We then went for a long, magic walk though the nearby countryside.
We sat tied to a mud bank full of kids for a half hour our so when a passing traditional boat loaded with bananas, somewhat reluctantly
towed us to a shop in the next town.  It didn’t take long to get it going again, something about the fuel filter – and we were on our way.

When we arrived, after settling into our very rough room, we walked out on the pier and carefully down into a small punt for our first
exploration of the Sundarbans.  There was only an inch or so of free board and both Trish and I had to constantly bail as five of us
paddled out.  It was late afternoon/early evening; a good time, except that the tide was low.  We saw several kingfishers fly over and
land close to us while monkeys bounded through the trees.  

When we returned, after tying the punt up at the dock, Faruk suggested a walk through the nearby village.  The people here are Hindu,
a rarity in Bangladesh.  They were originally imported as labor by the British.  Their thatched mud huts were crowded with people of all
ages, most of whom were waving to us as we passed.

One woman invited us down from the top of the dike we were walking on, and into their courtyard.  We were joined by an ever
growing, enthusiastic group of very friendly people; one just eight months old, with the biggest, cutest pop eyes you can imagine.
Back at the hotel we rested a bit before being called by the front desk.  We had a visitor, Afroja! She was waiting in the lobby with her
boy Sabo and two small bouquets of roses!  She had dressed and made her self up for the occasion.  Unfortunately, we were just able
to talk with her for about a half hour before a planned meeting – she had hoped to take us on a bit of a tour of Khulna.

Our meeting was delayed and to pass the time we took a walk in the dusk through the fascinating city; still shocked by the quiet and
lack of motorized traffic.  We watched men carving tombstones, cooking, making chai, books and envelopes.  We got lost a couple of
times on purpose, but were able to find our hotel.

Monday, March 17, 2008
Banlakali, Bangladesh

We had planned a trip to the Sunderban and at 8 o’clock we took off in two rickshaws for another still fascinating ride through the
quiet streets of Khulna to the port area and boarded our boat.  Faruk the owner and his crew of four greeted us.  They were at our
service for the five hour run down through the huge Ganges/Irawaddy delta to the swampy Sunderban, home to the Bengal tiger, “the
largest littoral mangrove belt in the world” stretching well into India.  The ride there was fascinating as we passed villages and rice fields
– until the boat broke down.

Once back in Kuhlna, our next challenge was to actually find and board "The Rocket" boat to Dhacca.  About 9:30 pm our rickshaws
sped us through the quiet crowds through the lanes of Khulna and across the bumpy railroad tracks to the port and the now familiar
small 2nd class office.  The electricity was off, so we waited in the lantern light while Abdul’s “uncle”, the station manager, talked with
a strange man and appeared to be processing our tickets and reserving an “English” dinner for us on board.  Then our adventure started:

I and the strange man climbed into one rickshaw and Abdul and Trish into another and we left the dock area.  As no one spoke English,
there was no explanation and we were totally mystified.  After speeding through tiny lanes and twisting and turning through the dark
market, while all the time I was wondering if Trish was still behind my rickshaw, we finally stopped.  There was no sign of the now
fabled Rocket Boat, or even of any boat facilities; just dark alleys with the usual crowd of Bangladeshis standing and staring at us.  At
this point nothing made any sense.  Abdul kept saying “no problem”, but there was as far as I was concerned!  Then, we all suddenly
jumped into two more rickshaws and sped back through the market, careening around corners and over piles of garbage.  Back at the
dock, there it was – the Rocket Boat!  Crowds were getting off even as the gang planks were being put up.  There was one white
person, who sounded Scandinavian.  As we passed he said some critical things about the food on board. When I commented, “As long
as the beer is cold.” He replied, “As cold as it is everywhere in Bangladesh!” (Note:  We did not as much as see any alcoholic beverage
during the two weeks we spent in Bangladesh.)

With no help, Trish and I managed to carry our bags across the precipitous boards and up the grimy, steep metal stairs to what was
labeled “First Class”.  A man checked our tickets, all in Sanskrit and we were directed to Room 3.

It was actually quite nice; with mahogany furnishings and paneling; there were two beds side by side, a row of windows and, in addition
to the door we had entered off the formal dining room, another leading outside to the "first class" deck as well. The steward showed us
around, all the while smoking, then after asking when we wished dinner, left us to unpack, and explore our new home.  

Dinner didn’t seem quite as bad as we had been told, dried fish and fries.  I set up the computer and we listened to classical music and
read until after eleven.  The boat moved after a while, down to the area our hairy rickshaw ride had taken us to unload some freight,
and then returned to the main dock; finally departing well after we had gone to sleep.  We slept surprisingly well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
On board “The Rocket”, Bangladesh

We woke at dawn to discover we were at the port of Mongla.  We walked out to the prow of the boat and set up a couple of chairs to
watch Bangladesh go by in the morning mist.  It was a very special moment – one that we drew out for most of the day.  When we
took a tour of the boat, we found that below and behind us the people in deck class had made themselves surprisingly comfortable,
even those sleeping next to the gigantic piston engine!

We spent the rest of the day on the front deck watching Bangladesh pass by.
Finally we arrived in our neighborhood and had him let us off in front of the restaurant we ate in the day before.  We knew it
wouldn’t be forty taka for the long ride, and ended up happily giving the now very sweaty man five hundred taka – about $8.

After lunch, we walked to our hotel and spent the remainder of the day – it was four p.m. – resting and packing for our next
journey.

Saturday, March 22, 2002
Srimangal. Bangladesh

We were awake before our alarms went off at 5:45, yada-yada-yada, showered, finished packing, retrieved our packed breakfast
and got into our waiting cab promptly at 6:30.  We left from the “airport train station”, a crowded suburban stop where the
waiting crowd all stared at us and asked the usual questions.  One young man was particularly nice and spoke fair English.  
Another escorted us to our car and helped us with our baggage (no tip asked for, or expected).  We were never able to forget that
we were “guests” in their country.

Upon strong advice we had reserved seats in the one AC car (still incredibly cheap).  It proved to be totally unnecessary, but after
moving from our assigned seats to two by a clearer window, we settled back and enjoyed the five hour ride through the beautiful
Bangladesh countryside.  Men ploughed behind teams of oxen using wooden plows, with iron tips; women carried large water
containers, everyone was busy.  Finally we started climbing, just a bit; up into the tea country and the train arrived at our
destination, Srimangal.  Trish had made it clear that she wanted to stay in the town itself, rather than the relatively plush “tea
resort” some four kilometers out of town.

It was a crowded walk down to look for the hotel we had reserved. The traffic: rickshaws, tuk tuks, buses, trucks and an
occasional car, made it a hazardous walk.  At first we walked right past the hotel – all the signs are in Sanskrit.  When we did find
it, we didn’t like it. It was dirty, located on the very busy main street which serves as the highway from Dhaka to Sylhet, and up
several flights of stairs.  When we saw the small grimy room, we knew we couldn’t stay there.  We hoped to stay in Srimangal
for four or five days and really wanted something that we could feel at home in, hopefully with a deck.  As we passed the other
hotels on the strip, we were both ready to give up on the town.  I wanted to look at one more though – one I had seen
overlooking the market back by the railway station.

As we approached the bustling, multistory market, I recognized what I had hoped was a hotel, but there was no sign in English.  
We walked though a corridor under the building filled with small shops and mounted the stairs in the back.  A small office was on
the first floor and, as no one spoke English, we were asked to wait.  It looked like more of the same and we were ready to give
up when the manager came in.  I left Trish with the luggage and followed him up three more flights of tatty stairs and down a
long hall to a room at the front of the building.  It was pretty bad; dirty and unkempt, but it was large, actually a suite, and was
adjacent to a deck overlooking the bustling market.  There was an old AC unit and a small fridge; also two noisy ceiling fans. I
was pretty skeptical, but thought Trish may want to at least look at it.  She climbed the stairs, walked in the door and said,

                                       
“This is terrific!”
We thought our ship was pretty nice – but got a different perspective when we saw our sister ship lumbering by.
There was never a time that we weren’t being stared at by the crowds, especially if we stopped for directions or accidentally walked
down a dead end lane.  We have become used to the questions, “How are you?” “I’m fine!”  “What is your country?” “America!”  
We never experienced any negative responses, except for the universal, world wide disgust and sorrow that Bush is the President.

We thought we would try and see the hotel that we had originally aimed for in Old Dhaka and negotiated – with some help from our
many friends and helpers that were always gathered around – with a bicycle rickshaw driver to take us there.  It didn’t look very far
on our map, and he only asked for “forty taka”.  Well, the same thing happed as the previous day.  He kept going, and going, and
going, until we were well past what we had hoped was our destination. In fact I finally realized he was going to take us all the way out
to Banani, our relatively wealthy neighborhood – in a rickshaw!  We had been told this was illegal, that rickshaws were all limited to
their own defined neighborhoods, but he just kept pedaling.  At least it was in the right direction.

It turned out to be a fascinating tour of Dhaka by rickshaw and took about an hour and a half; sometimes on broad boulevards,
sometimes on small lanes; past tall buildings and past houses built over water on bamboo poles; past bamboo lumberyards, through
unforgettable slums.
  Shortly after Trish joined me we spotted a river dolphin – in all that muck!

The Rocket pulled into the dock right on time, shortly after six.  Trish and I walked up the gangplank with our luggage, across the deck
of an old boat we were tied to, and then up a long ramp that led us right into a muddy market crowded with rickshaws, tuk tuks, and
people carrying huge loads – all trying to crowd us out of the way – well, we were trying to do the same thing.  We worked our way
through the crowd for some time, but rather than complain, Trish, as always, kept marveling at all the sights.

Finally I negotiated a reasonable rate with a tuk tuk driver.  We had been tempted to look at a hotel nearby; it was cheaper and in a
more interesting area, but the driver misunderstood us and, as we were white, assumed we wanted to go all the way out to the wealthy,
outer area of Banani.  After a forty-five minute put put through the famous Dhaka traffic, most of the time not having a clue as to
where we were, or where we were going, I recognized from my map that we were in the Banani neighborhood.  The driver spoke
absolutely no English and did not seem to understand the concept of a map, but I got him to stop in front of a small flower shop.  The
man there called the number I had for a hotel, and lo-and-behold, it was just around the corner! In fact just as we got to the corner, a
man from the hotel climbed into the tuk tuk and led us there.  We definitely got our money’s worth – about one and a half euros for the
ride!

The “hotel” was not as we had pictured from our guidebook, but we were there, tired and dirty, so we took the room, even though it
was definitely marginal for the relatively high price of 2700 taka, €27.

As it was still only about 8 am, they offered us breakfast, but first I needed a shower; my last one was a bucket job in the Sundarbans.  
We napped a bit, checked our email – we heard for the first time the bad news about Tibet; we may not be able to get in, and Trish
made a start at washing our filthy clothes; then we took a walk around the neighborhood and had lunch.  It was hot, and we were still
tired from the last few days, so we relaxed in our room.  This was not easy though.  The power was out, not a particularly unusual
event in Bangladesh, but the hotel’s generator wasn’t functioning.  I had visions of a long sweaty night – unacceptable at the price we
were paying.  But after complaining – with a smile on my face – they not only got the generator working, but went out and bought us a
new fan for a back up.

By then it was evening and we decided to see if we could crash the “American Club”, an exclusive place with some of the only beer or
any alcohol, in all of Bangladesh.  An assistant to the hotel manager happened to be the national representative of Hertz, and offered to
drop us at the club.  When we pulled up at the guarded gate in the new van we thought we just may pull it off, but no, the rules were
too strict.  It’s just as well, I’ve now been a week without any alcohol and it feels pretty good.  After walking in the dark for awhile we
decided it was stupid to take a chance and flagged a tuk tuk for the ride back to our hotel.

Friday, March 21, 2008
Dhaka, Bangladesh

We were not looking forward to the day.  We were in a somewhat drab, empty hotel, it had poured all night and we imagined our trip
into Old Dhaka would be hot, sweaty and that we would spend the whole time fending off beggars.  We were wrong.

We found a tuk tuk, but he misunderstood us and took us to a very fancy hotel.  We managed to get across that our destination was the
dock in the old town.  He took us there and we paid him fairly.  There we were, where we had started the previous day; but it was
Friday, the Muslim Holy Day, and relatively quiet.  Most places were closed, but there were still many people out, mostly well dressed
– especially the men and boys.  Everyone was also very friendly.  We were constantly asked where we were from, what was our name,
and crowds followed us and stared.  But they were all nice – and we encountered no beggars!  We returned to the rough market on the
quay.  Next to it was a long line of people with empty bags waiting for their government hand-out of free rice.  We wandered, and
wandered through the winding lanes with absolutely no problems.  We never saw anyone but Bangladeshis, almost all of whom smiled
at us.  Most of the shops were closed, but there was enough activity to make it interesting while not being too crowded.

Once we stopped for a minute to look at our map.  The usual crowd gathered and one man, who spoke some English offered to help
us.  After he asked us the usual questions, he asked if we would like to come to his home for some tea.  Trish really had to go to the
toilet, making it a nice option.  We wound around and through some very narrow lanes next to open sewage gutters, and then up some
dark concrete steps and entered the family's apartment.  It was very dark.  The women were squatting on the floor preparing
vegetables.  Trish and I were introduced to the extended family, sisters, children, cousins, including one nephew that works in Italy six
months a year, allowing us to use our poco Italiano.

While waiting for our tea we were served three small bowels of an indiscriminate dark matter – Trish thought it was Chutney.  One had
small pits, one had what seemed like hair, and one was relatively hot.  All were fairly good.  Our chai (hot tea with lots of sugar and hot
fresh cream) was delicious.  We chatted with everyone and took photos (too dark) before we left.  The toilet was dark, but very clean.

We continued on our fascinating walk through the narrow streets of Dhaka, visiting several mosques and enjoyed just wandering.
believe, that she was 115 years old.  She lives in turn with each of four sons for three months at a time, we met two of them – they are
all in their nineties!  As she came out to make her appearance, a descendant could be seen inside the mud and grass structure plaintively
wailing in front of a Hindu shrine.  We made our way home by the light of the filling moon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
On board “The Rocket”, Bangladesh

We woke to our alarm at 6 am.  Faruk took us on a short tour of his fish farming ponds where we saw several of the villagers we had
met the night before up and working.  Then it was off for another quiet tour of the Sundarbans.  Fisher folk were out in their skiffs and
sold us fresh fish for lunch.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Dhaka, Bangladesh

I woke early, about 5 am, and decided to go on deck to watch our early morning entry into Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. At
first it was still dark, but as we approached the center of the huge city of 14 million, I could see more and more: the people, the
many factories already polluting the morning air, all the other boats maneuvering for space on the narrow river.
There were odors wafting up from the market – and possibly from the open sewers – but it was a very interesting place – to say the
least.  After settling in, we went for a walk around the town.  As in Dhaka, we never saw anyone but Bangladeshis.  We had a bite to
eat, but as it was in the heat of the day, even up here in the hills where it’s supposed to be cooler, we returned to our room and sat on
the deck mesmerized by the market below us.

We went out again in the evening and walked among the crowds.  When crossing the dangerously busy streets we always hold hands
like a couple of small kids.
(70 Bangladeshi Taka = $1.00)
If you would like to see more of our images of Bangladesh, here is a brief slideshow:
Following are excerpts from the journal I kept during the first week of our brief to Bangladesh,
accompanied  with some photos.