A Family vacation to Bangladesh
Trip Start Jan 06, 2007
1Trip End Jan 27, 2007
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Map of Bangladesh
Map of Sylhet
We were staying in Sylhet in the North East of the country in a town
called Moulvibazar, which is in the south east of Sylhet.
Even though we were born ad bred in the U.K, We all see Bangladesh as our motherland.
So going on this trip were, my wife and I, my parents, my sister, her
husband and their two kids. I was staying for 3 weeks with my wife and
the rest of the gang were staying for 4 weeks. We were flying by Air
India from Heathrow to Dhaka with a stop at Kolkata. Flight was at 10pm
check in at 7pm.
Because the flight was in the evening we were able to do some last
minute packing during the day, I even had time to get a hair cut! My
parents were monitoring the political situation in Bangladesh there was
strikes going on for 3 days from the day we land so we would have to
stay in the main city for 3 days before we can go to Sylhet or even
leave the hotel. What a bummer! Never the less we were just happy to go
there, but decided on getting travel insurance just in case the trip
got cancelled or interrupted. Finding a travel insurance provider for a trip to Bangladesh was tougher than I thought, but I found these companies useful: www.e-sure.com
Check in was very painless as I discovered an old mate behind the desk!
The flight took off on time as well, now that was surprising. Once
aboard the plane I fell asleep straight after they served supper, it
was continental chicken, which wasn't bad at all.
Day 2 - Arriving in Bangladesh Dhaka
I woke up eight and a half hours later when we landed at Kolkata and
saw/felt the busking sun and its heat. My dad told me it was another 40
minutes flight to Dhaka Bangladesh so I sat up in excitement while my
wife and sister hurried to the ladies to get ready.
landed at 3pm local time, the sun was out and it was hot even though it
was winter. We went through immigration and customs with no problems.
We got out the airport to find my uncles eagerly waiting. I was
surprised to recognise them, they gathered us into 3 people carriers
and off we went to the closest hotel. It was called "Aero link" and
located right next to the airport.
Good news my uncle said
we wouldn't have to stay here for 3 days, at nightfall we could avoid
the strikes and riots and make a run for our town, excellent. So we had
to kill 6 hours, I was getting very impatient as I wanted to go to my
dad's house and see the rest of the family. We ate and then eventually
set off at 10pm, it was dark very dark and foggy very very foggy I
couldn't see the front of the car; I don't know how the driver
managed. The roads don't have street lamps so it's really dark and
scary oh and how could I forget very foggy. It was going to be a long
journey as we had to travel very slowly and carefully through the fog I
think at one point we were travelling at 5mph. about 2 hours into the
journey we got a puncture, didn't take long to get the spare on but by
then I was bursting to go to the loo.
We pulled up at the
next service station where I got my first insight of Bangladesh by
visiting the loo. It wasn't dirty but very smelly and they had the low
toilets, I closed my nose and did my business. Everyone else was having
tea and light snacks I spent the time fighting flies away from my 4
year old niece who by now was in tears trying to fight them her self.
My 2 year old nephew was astonished by the ceiling fan and spent the
time staring at that.
Day 3- Almost there
about 2am now and we were parting ways from my sister and her family as
they live in Sylhet it self. We were about an hour away, but due to the
fog that became 2 hours. About 4am we entered Moulvibazar, my dad's
home town, his village is close to here. But our house is in another
smaller town about 17miles from Moulvibazar called Shamshernagar but it
has its own Military base and airport.
At 5am we got to
our house, where we were greeted by my little cousins and aunts, we got
introduced to all of them including my maternal grandmother who
couldn't stop crying. The house is on the main road with other houses
behind it, when dad built the house no other houses were around so
luckily our house was the only one with a 200 feet front yard and a 500
feet rear yard, excellent. I went for a stroll in the garden, which had
huge trees bearing all kinds of fruits. This is where I met the
care-taker's son who was about 19-20 he was to become my personal guide
and minder! So first things first I gave him some money (TAKA) and
asked him to sort some cigarettes out for me by the time I wake up. So
off to my bedroom I went. WOW massive bed, wardrobe all hand crafter in
wood. And the best thing was my own on-suite with a proper toilet and
it was clean! The wife and I liked that.
We woke the same day at 1pm, had a much needed uninterrupted few hours
of sleep. We headed of to my dad's village where he has another house
with the rest of his brothers. I have an uncle that lives there with
his kids, so I was excited about meeting them all now that we've all
The journey was short about 30 minutes, I was
amazed by the beautiful views we were driving past. Empty paddy fields
neighbouring harvested land a true mixture of brown and green.
When we entered the village it started to feel more like a 3rd world
country, the roads were small and narrow, cows trotting along the road,
half naked children playing in the empty paddy fields. We had an
enormous welcoming committee at the house, who welcomed us with flowers
I grabbed my cousin and went for a tour of the
village, continuously being interrupted by the locals who all somehow
knew who I am, scary. He took me around our house land which was
massive; normal for a village house it had 2 lakes one in the front and
one in the back. I walked through drenches where in the olden days
boats were used to travel, he showed me all of our land around the
village. He took me to our grandparent's grave where we spent a few
minutes before my uncle called for us.
My uncle took us to
a crop field where he had dug a massive ditch to trap the fish form the
local river. Wow, the ditch was full of fish big and small, my dad and
I decided we were going to jump into the ditch and grab some fish; we
did jump in but failed to grab any fish, no surprises there.
We headed back towards the house to eat, on route we jumped in the lake
and washed our selves, good thing I knew how to swim. We stayed here
for the next few days visiting relatives.
Day 6 - Fish Market
Once a year there is a huge fish market held 30 miles away from our
place, the fish market is part of a Hindu festival where they all buy
fish cook it and celebrate the end of the Bengali year. My dad and I
decided we couldn't miss this, so we woke up at 3am and started the
journey; I slept through most of it.
Once we got there I
was astonished by the amount of fish around me, wow, and these fish
were fresh the river was literally a stone throw away as I discovered
when I asked a fishmonger where he got the fish from. There were all
kinds of fish, although some did look uglier than some. Dad and I
bought 3 fishes, although we never ate any.
Day 8 - Madhabkunda Waterfall
After visiting relatives for the past 4 days we decided to do a little
sight seeing local to us, everyone recommended Madhabkunda. The water
fall is in Lawacherra Rain Forest which is one of the important and
well-reserved forests in Bangladesh.
Once your there
you'll have to be and entrance fee which is very minimal and includes
car parking. The water fall is in pretty deep so it's a bit of a trek
up and down hill. You walk along the natural stream that comes from
the waterfall, it's very peaceful, and all you can hear is the water
As you get closer to the waterfall you can
hear the sound of the water falling 200 feet, truly magical. At the
foot of the fall you can have a picnic, take a dip in the water or take
horse rides through the fall. Please be aware the water is freezing
cold in the winter season. After running around for a bit I found a
little spot on the hill where I could sit and listen to the water
topped by birds singing, no amount of money buys you this kind of
Now if you're like me and the normal site seeing
does it do for you then you can go to the top of the waterfall through
the dense trees and get a birds eye views. The fun part is going
through the forest, scared out of your wits of what you might bump
into, step on or swallow! Great fun for the adventurer in you.
Day 10 - Cattle Market
My dad's family has a proud heritage of bull raising and bull fighting,
so I wanted to follow in the footsteps, excluding the fighting part.
My uncle is an expert at raising and taming bulls. I wanted to buy a
baby bull and let him raise it for me, so dad, uncle and I headed to
the cattle market in the hunt for a baby bull.
told me it can't be any bull, it has to be of a certain build and
stature easy enough I thought looking at the amount of cattle in the
market. I was wrong nothing in this market in our local town was worth
The hunt goes on!
While we were
there though we bought 2 sheep and 4 baby chickens, I couldn't resist I
had to have something weird as pets! The sheep and chicken will go to
my grandmother who promised not to slaughter them and eat them.
Day 11 - Moulvibazar, Dikirpar Bazaar Cattle Market
The quest for our baby bull led us to yet another cattle market, this
time in my dads home town, where both my uncle and dad were confident
we would find the right breed of bull. I had no idea what they're
looking for but went along pretending anyway. We picked out 2 bulls
that I liked and my uncle inspected them closely and said both we good.
So we started bargaining with the seller of one of them, he realized I
was British and thought he can squeeze a lot of money out of us but no
he failed we moved to the other bull owner where we settles at a
slightly higher but reasonable price. I got my bull!!!! Check out the
Day 12 - The Shrine of Hazrat ShahJalal
Hazrat ShahJalal was a Muslim preacher who came from Delhi (India) to
over throw the Hindu King of then Bangladesh. You don't have to be a
Muslim to visit the shrine, if you like history you'll like this. 600
years old history is in the shrine, the holy saints Quran and robe are
still displayed here. The catfish outside in the foyer were amazing,
there's hundreds and hundreds of them in very shallow water. They all
stay on the surface waiting to be fed by visitors, who can get a pot of
food from the stall for 5 TAKA. I'd recommend everyone to visit this
You will find a lot of beggars here,
almost harassing you, it is advised not to give them money as you will
then be overwhelmed by them as my dad experienced. Instead there is a
donation office where you can give whatever amount you want to be
distributed amongst the poor.
Day 13 - Bangladesh Tea Research Institution (Srimongol)
While on a shopping trip we decided to pop in the BTRI, it's a research
institution where they research the growth of tea plantation. We didn't
get a guided tour or anything, we just walked around. They were acres
and acres of tea plantation, separated into sectors, labeled with the
experiment going on. In some sectors you can see the obvious results of
an experiment when batches of plants have died! It was very picturesque.
Day 14 - Rashidpur Tea Estate (Duncan Brothers)
One of my mum's brothers works at Rashidpur Tea Estate near Srimongol
Sylhet. The road to his house twisted and turned through hills of tea
plantation, lush green leaves with little streams of water coming from
a man made canal. Tea pickers with their baskets on their back picking
the greenest leaves.
As you walk you can smell tea, not the
most beautiful of smells but still a rare experience. All the plants
are of same height and width, just looks to perfect to believe, these
people really do look after their tea plants.
My uncle took
us on a tour of a nursery of tea plants, I never knew that tea plants
don't come from seeds, and they come from a stem. They are very picky
as to how much water they are given, it's a very fine line as my uncle
explained. He also showed us the rubber plantation, how they grow the
trees, how they are planted and how they extract rubber from the trees.
Day 15 - Rashidpur Sylhet Gas Field
A gas field amongst these beautiful landscapes how weird I thought.
The field was surrounded and covered by the green hills of the tea
estate. My uncle knew someone from the gas field so we had a full on
guided tour, unfortunately we were not allowed to film or take
pictures, oh well you'll just have take my word for it.
We started at the 10,000 feet deep reservoir where the gas is extracted
from, then we followed the massive pipes to four holding cylinders all
with a capacity of 400,000 liters, trust me they looked huge. We were
then taken to the control room, and explained how the gas is filtered,
stabilized and extracted form the source. It's a tricky process; the
gas extracted here is then piped to the North-South national grid which
supplied most of Bangladesh.
Day 17 - Madhobpur Lake
This was quite a surprise, a hidden gem, no one recommended this place
to us nor did my uncle know about it. Our driver decided to take us
their, he wasn't sure if we would like it or not. Once we got there we
were gob smacked. We climbed to the top of the hill to find the most
stunning views I have ever seen.
The water looked
refreshing with water lilies growing neatly, I asked my cousin if the
water was ok to dip in, he went in knee deep and screamed "its fine".
So in I went followed by my dad. Must admit the water was pretty cold
but not cold enough to put us off.
Standing on top of the hills looking down at the lake you can see
through the water to the bottom. Parrots flying in pairs between the
mountains, wow the images have stuck in my head. Have a look at the
pictures and see what I'm talking about.
The last few days of my trip, I spent shopping and visiting family and friends.