Biggest Tidal Mangrove in the World (ohhhh ahhhh!)

Trip Start May 11, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bangladesh  ,
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cruising the rivers through Bangladesh is one of the best ways to experience life.   Our journey started in Dhaka.  The massive river boats are called Rockets and are very similar to Mississippi paddle boats.   The boat is composed of first, second and third class areas.  Since the ride down was going to take two days and one night we opted for a first class cabin.  Total cost was around 15 bucks for our own private air conditioned room!  We even had a first class dining area and private deck.  The rest of the passengers basically just camped out on the bare metal boat floor.  
We lazily floated down the river taking in all the sites.   Randomly we would go out and hang out with general boarding, play backgammon, drink coffee and explore the boat.   The captain was stoked to have foreigners on his boat and invited us into the control room. He gave us a little private tour of the top deck and showed us how the boat operated.  It was a relaxing and semi posh way to check out the rivers.  We ran into one other foreigner that was a NGO worker on her way back to her post in some random village.  We had brought some vodka with us for the trip and shared it with her over dinner as we exchanged stories over dinner.  She was grateful for the drink since alcohol is very hard to come by in Bangladesh. A single female drinking alcohol with two male strangers is just not done in Bangladesh and I could feel the judgment from the onlookers... No matter!  Later on I  ended up getting 8 gigs of new music on my Itouch from her laptop while she shared stories about working a NGO in Congo. I keep meeting the coolest people!

    Our general plan besides taking the rocket down river was to get to the Sunderbands.  I had never heard of the Sunderbands before arriving in Bangladesh but they are supposedly the world's largest tidal mangrove.(World Heritage Site)  It's covered in dense vegetation and swarming with wild animals, including Bengal tigers which are know to eat a person from time to time.  The ecosystem is supposedly one of the richest in the world.  It's like the Galapagos of Bangladesh.
Our only problem was that we had no idea where the boat had dropped us off .  We wandered around a river shanty town for a couple hours (in the broiling sun) pointing  (on our map) to a city near the Sunder bands. After attracting hordes and hordes of people and pantomiming what we wanted we finally hired two blokes to drive us on their motorcycles.  It was the best ride we had in Bangladesh!. These guys took us down every back rode and short cut they knew.  They both drove like a bat out of hell regardless of the road surface.  I swear we were going to eat it due to the hair pin turns at high speed with just sand for the road.  The bike would constantly slip but both our drivers never lost control.  At one point the road was out and our drivers had to ask directions in a village.  It was at this point that the whole village decided to come stare at whitey!  I took a photo to commemorate the occasion!

    When we finally made it our destination we found out that cruising through the actual Sunder bands is super expensive!  Since everything in Bangladesh had been so cheap we were not prepared for all the ridiculous fee that accompanied entering the park.  After calculating the cost/time we deiced to check out the entrance only.  This still cost a pretty penny but it was the least we could have done after traveling this far.  We had a guide show us around for a bit until he said we could go no further due to muddy paths.   Thinking that he was just trying to get back to town we decided to push on and found out the hard way he was right!  We slogged our way through the Sunderbands knee deep in mud.  Add to that 100 percent humidity and temperature and we were in for a barrel of fun. 

    As we made our way back to Dhaka (main city in Bangladesh) we ran into some business men in our hotel.  They offered to give us ride to a nearby town.  This was a god-send because it turned a 3 hour, bumpy, hot bus ride into a one hour air condition luxury cruise.  These guys were super hospitable and even dropped us off right we wanted to go.  

Back to Dhaka to run with the HASH HOUSE HARRIERS...

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