Monday, May 30, 2011

পুকুর পারার পুকুরে: Exploring the proximity of Raikhong(Day-3)

Continuation from Day-2

Friday, 29 April 2011

At our five days of Pukur Para(পুকুর পারা) trekking, today is like an "Eid day" for us. No long hard trekking is available. Our main objective is to observe the PukurPara(পুকুর পারা) Waterfall, some people say this is Raikhong(রাইখং) Waterfall. It's just an hour distance from our hut. After enjoying the beauty of the waterfall, we will come back to the base, and stay for another night.

So most of us waked up at around 7:00 at morning. Me and some lazy fellows stayed on the bed for another hour more. There was nothing to hurry. From my bed, I was hearing our mates were processing fish for our breakfast. They have bought those Telapia(তেলাপিয়া) fish from the lake, it was 125 Taka for 4 kg. They have already prepared our breakfast using those fishes before we refreshed ourselves at morning.

After everything, we were taking preparation for the exploration. We didn't need to carry any bags on our back, which was another good news. Only problem was, Hassan(হাসান). He had a severe cramp during the trekking of last day. He was confused to make his decision about today's task. But finally he made his mind to join us. It would have been unwise to stay at hut after coming so near to the beauty.

After starting our mini trekking, we have reached the Raikhong(রাইখং) Lake within few minutes. The lake was an amazing one under the bright sun on sky, and bunch of buoyant clouds at the sky. Crackling sound of the forest creeps were making their natural music without their own lyrics. These were such an atmosphere that I can not express at my blog with my poor writing.

There was another Tripura(ত্রিপুরা) village at the Eastern side of the lake, on our way. This side was a bit lower than other side. Lots of curious eyes through the small window were observing the different looking people like us. Unleashed dogs were barking from the yard of their owners. Women were sitting on their yard relaxingly, didn't expect strangers like us on such a warm day. I must say, we have embarrassed them with our presence.

There was a small mango tree on our way. Green mangoes were hanging on that. One of our trekker, Milon(মিলন) made a hideous thing by plucking mangoes from that tree without those tribal's permission, and in front of them. I was feeling like a plunder just happened. I didn't like that attitude at all.

After that village, our path was beside the lake. From the pinnacle of that small mountain, left side was the Raikhong(রাইখং) Lake, and right side was tiny Raikhong(রাইখং) Canal that was looking like a small snake. You can see this from Google Earth(Position 22'01"43.85N, 92'33"16.88). Also the lake was beautiful at those portion of the mountain.

At the end of that lake, there was a small Jhiri(ঝিরি) generated from the lake(or people just cut that one to balance the lake water). Few of us took a rest there for drinking water. Hassan(হাসান) took a pain killer tablet from me, I used to keep those with me for my back-pain.

So far the path was smooth. From now it will be a bit rough one. Too narrow and covered with dry leafs from trees. Having enormous slope, sometimes hard to stand over the slope using my poor sandals. Hassan(হাসান) was having problem to vanquish those slopes. So he invented a method from the situation. He was going down on reverse way, facing towards us. According to him, his body will think he is actually climbing upwards, so his cramp will not get any signal to bother him. From the attached video, you can see those actions.

After an hour of our starting, we have reached at the Raikhong Khal(রাইখং খাল). It was having the large boulders and fresh water flowing between those stones. All of us took a rest there and started drinking water from there. One thing always amazed me, it was the cold water around the stones. No matter how hot the day is and the sun, but those water around the stones used to be cold always. Just like a natural refrigerator. I have heard that the stone used to keep the heat. It used to be cold or hot too quickly. Anyway, that's another topic.

From this point, our target is to reach at the bottom of the Raikhong(রাইখং) Waterfall, and from the there, we will start to climb the waterfall and will reach at the top of that. We will do this slowly so that we can be around the waterfall for longer period. Remember once again, we are not in a hurry.

Once again, we are heading forward together. Some of us were jumping from one stone to another to skip the water. I didn't have that problem for using sandal. Both side of the canal was having 90 degree wall like bank. It was an amazing beauty. I was enjoying those beauties, and in the meantime was making my steps very carefully.

I was walking slowly compare to my other mates. At one place, I didn't see anyone in front of me. But on the path, it was large boulders of stones, and the canal was having a bit deeper at that portion. Another option was to walk at the edge of the canal, that was covered with millions of dead leafs. So I have picked that one.

Unfortunately, after few steps of walking I found a deadly snake just left his place for me, which was camouflaged around the leafs. But that was too much for me to handle. No matter who scared first, the snake or me. I just jumped down from that place and instantly positioned myself 10 ft back. I was sitting over a large stone, and waiting for the two fellow who were behind me. Lucky escape, thanks to the all mighty.

After 15 minutes we have reached at the bottom of the Waterfall stream. It was like a pond at that place. All the water from the waterfall gathered there. Not sure about the depth, but 6-10 ft possibly. At the left side of the canal had a tiny cave. It was filled with water, so initially you have to swim to enter, after that the water level is 4-5 ft. No one from us didn't show any interest to enter that cave, because that was the house of leeches and snakes!

We have passed that small pond like lake portion carefully. We have used the edge of the pond, so it was 2-3 ft of water around. After that it was a tough slope(looks like, but not hard), and we have to climb that one. I was walking over the slope with the help of others while my camera was capturing the video.

At that portion, it was a valley of stones. Massive streams of water was coming down from the uphill. You might have visited the Saila Propat(শৈল প্রপাত) from Bandarban town. This place is hundred times longer than that Saila Propat(শৈল প্রপাত), and the beauty was unlimited times. White fresh water was slipping down, and passing beside us with the speed of a tracer bullet.

After walking 20/30 minutes beside this mysterious place we have reached at a flatland. I thought that it just finished, and it was time to get back to hut. But surprisingly, after 2/3 minutes of walking, another similar kind of stream was visible. Everyone of us got excited by that one. We didn't expect to get this one.

Hassan(হাসান) was really exuberant to pose for the camera. He was sitting over the heavy flow of one stream, and during the photo session, unfortunately he just slided over the slope. But luckily he somehow managed to catch a stone to stop him, otherwise he would have killed himself that day. Again thanks to the all mighty.

We were moving upwards very slowly and observing the pristine water from the waterfall stream. The shapes, turns, speed, and thickness were varying over the streams. After those beauties, we have finally reached to the main waterfall. It was possibly 60-70 meter wide, but 4-5 ft tall. At Bangladesh, this is the widest waterfall available. It was such a beauty that is ineffable to write here. Go yourself there please.

We were sitting under the waterfall for relaxation and a shower. It was too cold even at that summer. You won't believe it. I have captured few clips of our refreshing under the waterfall. You can check that from the attached video clip, it was at the end of the video.

I don't know what happened to three of our trekkers, Hasnat(হাসনাত), Muntasir(মুনতাসির), and Milon(মিলন). They have left the place, and was standing at far side, under a tree. They were always in a hurry to leave the place, and wanted to reach at the hut ASAP. It must be an imprudent decision by them. Cause it is not a place like TSC or something that you can come whenever you wish. So why don't you get the maximum when you have chances?

Now we were only six of us around the water fall(those three left). After the shower, we were wearing only underwear and gamchha(গামছা), cause we have set our dresses over the stone to dry up. By that period we were lying over the stone, and enjoying the beauty of the waterfall along with it's lyrical(murmuring) sound of water dropping. It was prolonged for an hour I think, and non of us wanted to get back from there.

We didn't have any watch with us, but possibly it was 3:00 at afternoon. So we decided to return back to the hut. This time we are at the top of the waterfall, and we will use another path to return back. Most of the travelers use this path to come at the waterfall's top, and after enjoying the beauty, used to return back using the same path. So they used to miss the beauty of the waterfall's stream over the slopes.

After 40 minutes of climbing, we have reached at the bank of the Raikhong(রাইখং) Lake once again. Now it's time to swim at the lake. But it was only me who was excited about swimming, others were not. Tushar(তুষার) and Mithu(মিঠু) don't know swimming. But my team decided to stay at there for me until I finish my swimming. So I have jumped inside the water, and started to floating over the water without any body movement. Hassan(হাসান) was excited by my activities, and later he has joined with me.

After 20-30 minutes of swimming, I have decided it was enough, and decided to get back. This time, three of us were moving faster, and three of us were moving slowly. When I have reached at the other side of the lake, it was only few of the daylights were available. So we were doing hurry to reach at the hut. We didn't have any torch, so didn't want to take risk. But trust me, I didn't want to leave the lake, cause I know tomorrow we will leave the Pukur Para(পুকুর পারা), and not going to come back here to see for the last time.

Since we didn't have any lunch today, we have prepared Muri(মুড়ি) for us with Chanachur(চানাচুর) after the sunset. The night was too dark as it was around the Null Moon. But the sky was having myriad number of stars instead. That was another beauty. Under a star full of sky and having crackling sound from the night creeps was really something.

After dinner, we went to the bed so early, forcefully. Why we did that is at Day-4 trekking.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Raikhong Lake(রাইখং লেক)

Bangladesh has very few lakes enlisted under populous tourist spot. Apart from the list, there are few lakes available around the country those can be a supreme destination for any traveler. Raikhong(রাইখং) lake is the most prominent from that promising list. I didn't take any GPS device, but from Google Earth, I found the elevation of the lake has around 1165 ft.

This lake is situated at the Rangamati district, not at Bandarban. But, for its location, you have to go there through the Bandarban. I believe that will be the easiest way among all other available, because Rangamati offers communication throw water path only, and also the lake is at the last corner of Rangamati district. No matter how you are going, I'll recommend you to pick an expert or guide with you.

Around the lake, you'll find two villages, one is at the eastern bank of the lake, and other one is at western bank. Those villages are known as Pukur Para(পুকুর পারা). May be its because of having around the lake. Both the village denizens are Tripura, but religiously Christian. People from West side of the lake used to do uphill and downhill task to come at the lake, but at eastern side's villagers can access the lake easily being so close of it, and having almost at flatland.

People also call this lake as PukurPara(পুকুর পারা) lake. Also from few local people I have heard them pronouncing the lake's name as Raichong(রাইচং). Not sure which one will be the correct one. No matter what they are saying, or what we are, the beauty of the lake is not going to decrease by that.

Local people used to catch fish from the lake. There is no prohibition about catching fish from that giant lake. Tilapia(তেলাপিয়া) is the first choice from those fishes to stuck over the net of the fishermen. We have bought 4 kg of those fishes by 125 taka at one morning.

At the eastern corner of the lake, there is a tiny Jhiri(ঝিরি) generated from the lake water. probably that was created to keep the level of the lake water under control. During the rainy season the abundant water from the lake used to pass through that channel and used to join with the Raikhong Canal.

Being many hills around the lake, and the mysterious behavior from the sky, you'll find different colorful scene at the lake water. Remember, half of the lake water is being untouched by the human. People don't used to go those portions normally. So you'll find that area of the lake more beautiful than the proximity of the locality.

There is a helipad available at the Pukurpara Army Camp. From that high land, you'll probably get an picturesque aerial view of the lake. Due to lack of time I didn't manage to go there to observe the lake from point. But you can give a try, just ask those armies, and they will allow you to use your camera to capture the beauties.

Swimming at this exquisite lake will be another charm. So don't miss that opportunity. After a day long hard working, you can easily be refreshed and replete your energy within few minutes. The water of the lake is very clear, and unlike the Boga Lake, there are no marsh under the water, so you can swim freely. But before swim, make sure there are no nets on the water, otherwise you can be in danger.

High level government personnel used to visit the lake with their family. The used to come here using the helicopters! and stay at the army camp for a pleasing weekend. They are really lucky I must say.

If you never visited that lake before, start planning right now, and make your dream come true. Below a short video over the Raikhong Lake. Enjoy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Blue Waterlily(নীল শাপলা) - Nymphaea capensis

Bengali Name : নীল কমল, কুমুদিনী, নীল শাপলা.
Common Name : Blue Waterlily.
Botanical Name : Nymphaea capensis
Family : Nymphaeaceae

Blue Waterlily(নীল শাপলা) at Pukurpara(পুকুর পারা) Lake, Bandarban

Probably, waterlily (Nymphaeaceae) is the most beautiful flower that grows at water. In my country, Bangladesh, there are several color of waterlilies(Shapla, শাপলা) are available. I have seen, White, Pink, and Blue. Waterlily represents as the national flower of Bangladesh. But only the white one, not the other colors.

Blue Waterlily(নীল শাপলা) at Madhabpur(মাধবপুর) Lake, Sylhet

Around the country, pink waterlily is quite common, starting from village ponds to shallow water of paddy fields. Also the size of this colored flower are a bit larger compare to others. After pink, the white one is available around the most. But its hard to find the blue waterlily from my country. Even you'll find people who have never seen such waterlily in a lifetime.

Blue Waterlily(নীল শাপলা) at Boga Lake, Bandarban

Initially I thought, blue waterlily is only available at the Lake of Madhabpur, Sylhet. But later I found this species at Bandarban(Pukur Para Lake, Boga Lake). So I started to believe this one will be found at few more other places from my beautiful motherland. The plant is almost similar to the white waterlily, glossy leaf. If there is no flower, you'll be in a difficulty to identify this waterlily plant. Except the rarity and the beauty, I didn't see any difference with Blue Waterlily with other species of Waterlily. In our country, this is also known as Neel Komol(নীল কমল), Kumudini(কুমুদিনী), etc.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

পুকুর পারার পুকুরে: Trekking from Bogalake to Pukurpara(Day-2)

This is the continuation from Day-1

Thursday, 28th April 2011

Good morning Boga Lake(বগা লেক). Another morning at this mysterious place. Today here is no noise from the affluent tourists. Very calm and peaceful environment. Only our group, local tribes, the lucid lake water, and of course the soft clouds over the small hills around the lake. It's the nature of the mountains to keep the clouds on their embracing steeps during night, i believe.

Today we will leave the Boga Lake, and before the sun set, we want to make the Pukur Para(পুকুর পারা) trail to be completed. Every one of us released their bed before 6:00 at morning. After freshen up and wandering around the lake, we have completed our breakfast quickly. Once again, I have used my tasty dry fish(শুটকি) trick with the breakfast.

Boga Lake at Morning

For your information, right now we are 11 person at our group. 9 of us came from Dhaka, and two of us joined with us from Boga Lake. Now, unfortunately Maruf(মারুফ), and Selim(সেলিম) decided to stay on Boga Lake. This is their first trekking experience, and both of them were daunted by the experience of last day's trekking, and not interested to go further.

After leaving both of them at Boga Lake, we have started our trekking by 7:00. A bit further after the place Chingri Jhiri(চিংড়ি ঝিরি) is a known path for most of us. So we were walking pretty relaxingly. Most of the bushes around the path were burnt to make zum(জুম) cultivation. Some of us didn't like this kind of activities. But in my opinion, this is their land, and they know better than us. So leave it for them.

After passing the Chingri Jhiri(চিংড়ি ঝিরি), around 10-15 minutes later we have moved from the Keokaradong(কেওকারাডং) trail, and started over a new one, specially for me. There were two options for us to reach at Pukur Para(পুকুর পারা). One was through the Saikat Para(সৈকত পারা). But you know Saikat Para(সৈকত পারা) is one of the highest altitude village from Bangladesh. So we wanted to skip climbing that one for today, as we have plenty of time on hand.

Mountain View around Harmon Para

Second option that we have picked was using the bypass of Harmon Para(হারমন পারা). This one will be much lengthier compare to the first one. But it will have less hard climbing. So we were walking in a line over the path of Zum(জুম). Right now it was continually downwards trekking. Hardly any flatland around to relax the muscle of the legs(those had to take too much pressure for downhill).

Amid of the trail, under a tree, we have arranged a small break. At that moment, I thought we have done enough downhill trekking. But this process lasted for around 30 minutes before we have reached a forsaken village(Probably Nayjong Para), where no sign of life were available. Not a bird was flying over there. After examining the village for few minutes, we have crossed a small Jhiri(ঝিরি) that has joined with Ruma Khal(রুমা খাল) at bottom.

A forsaken village on our way

After the Jhriri(ঝিরি), it was few minutes of climbing, and this was a bit harder for me. During this tour I was not feeling the actual rhythm, and was finding hard to stick with the team. Most of us were moving faster than me. If they required 2 breaks during a hard climbing, I was taking 4/5 breaks. Also I was using my camera, and combining all the situations, I was left behind the trek always.

Within half an hour, we have joined the Ruma Khal(রুমা খাল), and from now, we will meander through this canal for several hours. From our initial meeting point with the Ruma Khal(রুমা খাল), there is a Marma Para(or Murong Para) beside the canal. Most of the adults from the village went to the Zum cultivation, only the oldest and kids were left behind along with barking dogs.

This village was a bit longer and dense in population, and required several minutes to reach at the other end. At the end of the village we found a red tin shaded school which was seen from the place where we have taken a break. During the break, it seemed like half an hour of path to reach at the village. But actually it took more than two hours to come here, and by that time we were already forgotten about this village. Just remembered after finding this red school.

Almost Dry Ruma Khal

Since this is dry season, the canal was almost dried up. It was easy to walking beside the canals or over the large boulder of stones. Only problem was the scorching sun that was hitting straight from the sky. Also some places around the canal was too dense with green bushes, and I was worried about the presence of snakes. I was wearing only sandals and a shorts along with my red shirt!

After one hour, at some place over Ruma Khal(রুমা খাল), the team has divided into two groups. One was the leading, and other was trailing. I was at the second group, and all of us got tired by the extreme heat. We have managed a break for 20-30 minutes beside the canal, under a tree, and enjoyed drinking water from Jhiri(ঝিরি) with some dry foods. The mysterious crackling sound from the forest was entertaining too.

From the friction with sandal, the inner side of my toes got several blisters. I had to dressed those places with bandages. For pains, and the tiredness I wasn't interested to stand up and start walking again. Also for the rest, body got some relaxation, and it was reluctant to obey my order. Though I don't put my butt often on floor until the trekking is finished, but this time to process those blisters, I had to break my rule.

A lovely place near Ruma Khal

Next 30 minutes of walking was against my will. My body wasn't interest to walk, but I had to. Most of us were wearing shoes, so they were trying to skip the water, and walking over the stones. As I was wearing snickers, water wasn't any problem for me. Only problem was when the leaches used to stuck over my bare feet.

At one place I was slipped at the middle of the canal while crossing. Half of my body was soaked by the water, and initially I thought my camera hanging at waist might catch a damage. But it was nothing, so not to worry about. I was a bit careless that time, and didn't consider that the flow of the canal could be heavy enough even at this dry season to sway me down.

There was a lovely cool place beside(or over) Ruma Khal(রুমা খাল), where local people used to take break, and used to be refreshed amid of their climbing. We have set a bivouac at that place for the lunch break. It was a long break, possibly nearly around/over 2 hours. By that time, few of us got shower under the small waterfall around there. Interestingly I didn't join them for the first time. Possibly I was too tired, and I was having a terrible back pain.

Our lunch was Maggie Noodles that was cooked there by us. Using a polythene paper over a large stone, we have ate those. Initially few of us were trying to use spoon made from bamboo. But later it was proven inept idea. Those who were not using any spoon, were able to eat faster, so there was always a chance for less noodles at share. So we just threw our so called spoons, and joined them to recovered our loss over the period.

After lunch, another short break, and repleting the water bottles, we started once again. This time everyone was refreshed, so started with new mood. I am not sure about others, but my mood diminished after few minutes of climbing. First 10 minutes was climbing under the sun, no shades or tress over the head. It was just an empty field, and everything was burnt around for zum(জুম) cultivation.

Processing the forest for Zum cultivation

After that climbing, it was pretty dark place. Heavy shades by the dense forest, also the high mountain beside. It was hard to see any trace of the sun from that place. Right side was a straight wall and left side was straight down. So we had to circumspect before making any step.

Me and Tushar(তুষার) was walking a bit slowly, cause I was snapping around, and I wanted him to stuck with me, so that I don't get lost. And interestingly for the first time at our tour, leading trekkers passed a place where the road divided into two. For such places, we used to stop to gather all of us, and move together by making sure we all are in right path. I must believe that they didn't see that. Otherwise they would have waited for us there.

We were tracing them by the mark of their boots over the stones, dry soil. After one place, there weren't any water, so it was hard to find any trace. We decided to keep climbing under the hot sun, where no shades once again. Both sides were shaved hills where you can see at long distance and all are red soil covered with ashes. After 20 minutes of walking, we found one of our trekker climbing at the top of a mountain(10-15 minutes ahead of us). So we started to believe that we are in right trek.

At the peak of the mountain, that place was kind of interesting. People used to say this is the border of Rangamati(রাঙামাটি) and Bandarban(বান্দরবান) district. A large stone is hanging at the peak of the mountain where we were standing and taking rest. It was still warm weather, but this time we were blessed with a strong wind. From that place we could easily see the Pukurpara(পুকুর পারা) village, and the Pukur Para(পুকুর পারা) Lake(Raikhong(রাইখং) Lake). It seemed to me a 40 minutes of walking would complete the trek for today.

Pukur Para Lake view from far mountain, seems to near

But after we started moving, suddenly a heavy rain started to mess everything. It was hard to climb down over the wet red soiled path at mountain. Too much slippy, even for standing. Also the mud stuck under the shoes and made the movement further harder. Unluckily few of us didn't finish the downhill task before the rain. They had to struggle more than us.

During the rain, few of us were standing under my umbrella! and watching the beauty at the far. It was bright light from the sun, and the huge drops from the sky. Appeared like shining pearls were dropping from the sky. Those were kind of scenes which are ineffable through a poor camera. You have to watch that live from the place. So I didn't try that snapping.

Our 40 minutes of path required more than an hour to complete. Hassan(হাসান), one of our trekker got a cram at leg, and required assistance from us to complete the today's task after rain. Also few of us slipped over the plain road. I was careful, cause one slip could cause a severe damage over my back, that is my Achilles heal, i must say.

When we have reached at the village, it was around 5:30, I guess. Niru Tripura(নীরু ত্রিপুরা) was our host at Pukur Para(পুকুর পারা) village. After dumping our bags at his house, we started to wash our body. Three of us decided to swim at the Raikhong(রাইখং) Lake, others were not interested, few don't swim, few were tired.

I thought the lake would be a near place like it was at Boga Lake. But unfortunately it was a bit far from the house, 15 minutes of walking may be, or even more. To increase the misery, it was a straight downhill task(almost 90 degree). Some place of the road was using a hanging narrow log of tree with stairs inside. You have to climb down over those. I got a bit scared, cause it was slippy, and didn't face such a straight 90 trek before.

Nervously(uttering the name of God) climbed that one, and finally reached near to the lake. After removing the bandages, and other stuffs from body, I started to take a bath on the lake along with the other tribal male/females. I can float over water without moving my bodies. So I relaxed over the water for around 5 minutes without any body-movement. It feels like I am sleeping over a cold bed, when I used to do that.

Sun used to vanish from the sky very quickly at mountain area. So we hadn't any option to prolong that session. Had to reach at the house before the sun down. It was hard to climb down that slippy path, but was easy to climb. So quickly we have reached at the hut, and after changing the wet cloths, joined with others for chitchat.

Some of us were cooking at kitchen, few were gossiping about today's experience, few were sharing their regular life experiences. By the way, during gossiping, we were lying on the floor, all of us were tired. Tomorrow we will explore the proximity of Pukur Para(পুকুর পারা) village, so it will be a normal trekking with less stress, and we will have plenty of time at next day, it will be kind of "Eid" for us. Right now no hurry to sleep early after dinner.

We wanted to buy fish(of lake) from the villagers, but it wasn't available unfortunately. So our dinner was the Khichuri(খিচুরী) with Shutki Bhorta(শুটকি ভর্তা). All of us enjoyed that dinner, only Hasnat(হাসনাত). I have used too much spice and dry chili with the Shutki(শুটকি), and Hasnat(হাসনাত) has an allergy against dry chili. So he started to hiccuping, and all of us enjoyed his misery.

This was how another excellent day just ended, where we have passed by/through marvelous beauties, but due to the hard working, or tiredness, only few of those we could enjoy. I think this similar story happens for 90% of the trekkers. Other 10% used to enjoy the total beauty despite of hard trekking. I am no match for those, I must believe that.

If you want to read Day-3, Click Here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bandarban: River Shangu At Dry Season

Wednesday, 27th April 2011

Fishing is going on

Well, once again, another tour at Bandarban, and another visit with the main river from the district, river Shangu. I have visited this river at different seasons. This time dry season, but the dryness of Summer. Almost no water at the river right now. So no domination of engine boats too. By the way, people are reluctant to use the boats, they are interested to walk beside the river instead.

The dread chest of the river Shangu

This time I was lucky to have a rain at the river. It wasn't a heavy rain, just few drops from the sky. I like these kind of atmospheres mostly. I have seen several fishermen were throwing their net over the river to catch fish. Now a days, the river doesn't produce that much of fishes. But people don't let themselves away to give a shot. Something is better than nothing is their motto.

Since the water level is low right now, plenty of tobacco cultivation is going on around the bank of the river. Even sometime at the high land beside the river(not a bank). I have compiled a video comprised with multiple scenes around the river. The background song was done by one of our fellow trekker, Tushar. Hopefully you'll enjoy that.

Places of Interest, district Cox'sbazar

Cox's Bazar has the longest sea beach from the world. Also currently it is enlisted to be voted by the people around world to pick the list of seven natural wonders. This district is the main attraction from our internal tourists. It because the transportation along with the availability of hotels around there. I believe, this district has the largest accommodation facility from the country.

Mainly people used to visit there for the sea beach. But alongside the beaches, you may find the other tourist spots are interesting for you. For example the "Mohesh Khali Island", "Ramu", etc.

Popular locations for visit:

Here are the tourist attractions from the cox's bazar district as I have visited'sbazar. I have missed several places like "Shonadia Island". So at my next tour, I'll try to cover those locations.

Where to Stay:

Numerous number of hotels are all around. But before your journey at peak season, don't miss to book your hotel. Otherwise you'll have to pay twice/thrice for that mistake. During peak season, hotels used to be booked by the tourists even before 2/3 weeks of the travel. So be careful. At off season, the hotels rate are reduced to 40% to 75% to the original fee. So you can pick this chance during 01st May to 31s August of any year to reduce the cost, and skip the chaos of people.

I have stayed at different class's of hotels from the town starting from "Seagull" to "Dream Castle". But from all of those, I liked the hotel Media for the cheapness, and also it is near to the beach. So calculating on the situation and ambient, I found this hotel is suitable for me. You can use the below information to contact them

Cell: 01819-519719
Phone: 0341-62881 to 5
Hotel Motel Zone, Sea Beach Road, Cox's Bazar

How to reach:

You can use only a Bus or Plane for the traveling. I'll suggest you to use the bus. There are plenty of buses around for this district. You can pick any of those safely. "Shohag" and "Greenline" are the best quality bus services along with "Hanif", "Shayamoly", "Unique" non AC bus services. Depending upon the situation(traffic jam, rain, etc), it may take minimum 9 hours to maximum 15 hours to reach the destination.

Places of Interest, district Chittagong

Once upon a time Chittagong was the largest division from Bangladesh. Not sure what is the status right now. Just like the division, the district Chittagong is still one of the largest district from Bangladesh. As it is situated beside the Bay of Bengal, and comprises of mountains, it is one of the prominent target for the travelers. Using a minimum single day, you can easily make your tour for Chittagong.

People from Chittagong are very fond of spices, so you can taste few from there during your staying. Another interesting thing is their language. That is a bit hard to understand. But if you try, you can grasp that, nothing is invincible.

Popular locations for visit:

There are several locations available from Chittagong district. I didn't able to visit most of all. Here are the list of visiting places covered by me As I love waterfall, I'll suggest you to visit the Sitakunda waterfalls if possible.

Where to Stay:

Since Chittagong is a divisional district, and also the port city of Bangladesh, it has several quality hotels around the town. According to your financial strength, you can pick your one. Most of the high quality hotels are around the GEC of the town. Those hotels will be a bit costly for you. For example a double shared room will be around 2500-5000.

If you want a much cheaper hotel from the around, I'll suggest you the "Hotel Golden Inn"(425 taka for single bed room, 1100 for triple bed room). This is located near at Old Railway Station. 8-10 taka bus distance, Or 25-40 taka CNG distance from the main town. The room costs are pretty lower here. Only problem is, the water supply, it has iron, and the color is a bit yellowish. But that wasn't any problem for me. I liked the hotel for the cheapness.

Cell: 01711-819025
Phone: 031-611004 to 8
336, Station Road, Chittagong

If you are moving from Dhaka, you can book room from Dhaka Booking Office. Address is,
Neptune Motors Ltd.
167/4 Motijheel Circular Road, Hotel Eden Building.
(Opposite of Notordame College)

How to reach:

There are several ways to travel to Chittagong. You can pick, bus, plane, or using a train. Shohag, Greenline are the most luxurious bus services available around. Suborna, Turna, Nishita are the available train services for your travel. Pick your one accordingly, and have a safe journey.

Monday, May 16, 2011

পুকুর পারার পুকুরে: On the way of BogaLake(Day-1)

Wednesday, 27th April 2011

Many day's have passed after my last tour, and I didn't able to make another one. I was thinking about to pass the weekend somewhere, but suddenly got an offer from my fellow friends who were with me during "Expedition Rumana-2010", and just opted positively for this 5 days of tour, where our destination was "Pukur Para".

Our bus leaved the Dhaka city at 10:45 and after a safe journey we arrived at Bandarban town by 7:45 at morning. I must believe that we were late by an hour. So everyone of us rapidly walking towards the "Ruma Bazar Bus Stoppage". The first bus will leave the stoppage at 8:30. So it will be unwise if we miss that one(next one at 9:30).

Boat journey at River Shangu

It was raining with very little drops, and unfortunately to increase our misery, the bus was already packed. All the seats of the bus were sold, even it was 30 minutes to go. This actually happens during tourist season(i.e. at winter), but right now it was totally unexpected.

The roof of the bus was packed with the goods, so no space at there. And we don't want to waste one hour here. So we had only one option, that was to get inside the bus, and hanging inside. By the way, we were able to buy one seat, and illegally managed another two. We don't know who was the owner of those two! We just sat over those, and no one requested us to leave those two. So why bother man? We are 9 people right now, and easily we can 'round-robinly' rotate the seats.

The journey was terribly boring. Nothing to do, just standing, and my body required sleep. I was trying to enjoy the clouds around the bus so that I can ignore the bore feeling. But It didn't work for me. The ambient was excellent, hardly possible to see the next mountain through the thick clouds. It was still raining mildly, and clouds were flowing around the bus heavily.

People walking over Shangu

Bus reached at the "Ruma Bazar Ghat"(30 minutes after "Betchhori Police Camp") after three hours. A bridge construction was going on over there. Hopefully within 5/6 months the bridge will be done completely. Looks like they are working rapidly. For your information, the work was halted for many years there due to unknown reason. For sure that bridge will enhance the communication between "Ruma Bazar", and Bandarban town.

After dropping out from the bus, we hired a boat for 250 taka. Though local people advised us to walking at the bank of the river, and that would be faster. But we didn't listen to them. They said, it will take 50 minutes on boat, and 40 minutes on walking. The river at this period used to be the lowest depth. And I believe right now the average depth is 1-2 ft.

After few minutes of sitting inside the boat, I was feeling suffocating. So I have changed my dress into shorts, and started walking at the bank of the river. Later Hassan joined with me for strolling. At several places the boat stuck, but we didn't, so undoubtedly we have reached at "Ruma Bazar" before the boat, and it was 12:30.

Tobacco field at the bank of the river

Time to take a lunch break. So we entered inside a hotel, and started our lunch. For this tour, I have prepared "powder of dry fish(shutki)", and taken with me inside a tin cane. Mixing the sliced onion, salt, and green chili with that powder can make an easy dish quickly. So for a trial, I have prepared few for the lunch. No one from us didn't miss the chance to taste that one. It was excellent as expected. We will use this for rest of the days.

After lunch, we were forced to make some delay on our way for guide issue. Now a days, you can't move a step without a guide from Ruma. Any tourist at "Ruma Bazar" are bound/forced to take a guide with them. And the burlesque is, you have to pay the guide 400 taka per day for nothing! Since we were not interested about guide, that made us the delay. Finally we have picked "Belal" a local as our guide forcefully.

Since it rained at last night, and still raining slightly. It will be tough to trek at the "Jhiri Poth". It was already 3 at afternoon. So we can not make the "Jhiri Path" inside the day light. Also the height of the "Ruma Khal" increased for uphill streams after rain. To avoid the risk, we have decided to walk over the road to Boga Lake. It will take time, and will be harder, but will be safest at this situation.

An array of deciduous tree

The weather was very nice for walking before starting our walking. But after that it changed unbelievably. I know I am a bit slow at trekking(specially climbing uphill), so as expected, I was always at the behind of the trail. Sometimes the last person in front of me was 5-10 minutes away.

We have taken multiple breaks amid of the road. Those times, we have enjoyed green mangoes and ripen papaya. All were stolen!(without permission) from the trees around the road. When we have reached at "11 kilometer" village on our way, sunset was advent. So we have rested there for 30-40 minutes. Out water were finished on our way, and we were thirsty. So we drank to slack our thirst, and repleted our bottles for rest of the path.

After the sunset, we started to walk again. We were walking slowly, and didn't want to make any gap between us. But still I was alone on the way, this time I was at the middle of the two groups, one was faster, and another was slower.

I liked this tree!

Some of us were using their torch light. To show my bravado, I didn't use my one. But that was the problem. I got slipped on a rough patch of mud. After smashed down on the ground, I looked either side of me, and I didn't see anyone watching. I think I can take another 2/3 minutes before get up! That was a lesson for me, and I started to using my torch.

Before the Boga Lake "Army Camp" hill, you have two options, you can continue the long walking through the road, or you can climb the hill for shortcut. We have decided to climb. But trust me, it was terribly hard for me. I was taking rest after every 15-20 steps.

After climbing the first one at our tour, All of us sat on the ground to relax. From there you can easily see the Boga Lake Para. So we were almost finished. Just few minutes of walking. After completing the formalities at Army Camp, we are at Boga Lake finally. Our today's walking just finished. It was 9:15 at night.

After leaving the bags on the room, I got few of us to take a clean up at Boga Lake with me. It wasn't that much fun, cause none of us wanted to swim at night inside Boga. After the bath, we have completed the dinner quickly and went for a sound sleep.

If you want to read Day-2, click here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Boishakhi Baul Utsav-1418

Saturday, 16th April 2011

This 'pohela boishakh' brought lots of cultural program at Dhaka city. "Boishakhi Baul Utshab" is one of those. This was arranged by "Chowdhury Group" and everyone were invited there to enjoy the show at evening. It was a three days of program, started at the first day of our Bengali Calendar.

According to them, they used to arranged this program for 7 days every year. But this year due to some unavoidable bindings, they couldn't continue the program for more than three days. There were invited Bauls for every day's routine, and their talent show started at evening, and ends until all are done.

I was there during the last day of the program. A baul from Narayanganj(forgot name) did a very long performance with a single song. That song depicted the whole Narayanganj. Unfortunately I didn't able to record that song. After him, there were few low quality singers performed at stage(time wasters).

After waiting few irritating performances, Baul Alam Sarkar appeared in front of the audiences. He performed three songs, and all were very high in quality. During his last song, a wind just started pulling everything on the air. Few thunder bolts spanked over the sky too. People were started to leave the chairs. But I was waiting, hoping for nothing to happen.

But unfortunately the rain just smashed everything. The authority was forced to cancel the program due to the devastation of rain and wind over the stage. But before rain, the performance from Baul Alam Sarkar will keep remain in my heart for many years.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Celebrating Pohela Boishakh(1418) at Dhaka

Thursday, 14th April 2011

Once again like previous years, I have celebrated my "Pohela Boishakh" according to my plan. This year, I had a different intention, and a specific schedule accordingly. My main target is to cover the most of the 'Baul' and cultural concerts as much as possible(which will happen from second day). Before that, time to enjoy activities of the people, and learning from them.

My day started after 1:00. I couldn't manage myself to wake up before that time. First target was to observe the "Nouka Baich" from Dhanmondi lake. So after a hasty breakfast, reached at the Dhanmondi lake before 3:15. I had to walk all the way from my home to Dhanmondi, private vehicles were in a dearth today. Also, it wasn't pleasant to walk on such a hot day.

Chorka At Dhanmondi Mela

"Nouka Baich" didn't start by the time. Also, it wasn't that much interesting as I expected(found when finished). So after the boat race, I was wandering at the lake area. When I came to near the Dhanmondi Club field, I have discovered a "Boishakhi Mela" was going on there. No entry fees required, so entered there.

Main attraction of that Mela was a 'live concert'. It occupied a large portion of the Mela area. Still not much crowd here. Several reasons, right now people are at Ramna/TSC. Also after visiting Romna area, people get exhausted, and think resting at home is better choice. Another reason is, the day became really tough right now(but it was excellent earlier).

Throwing Balls Into Basket, Dhanmondi Mela

From the mela, I have reached the "Poribag Mor", and climbed the foot-over bridge. From there I had a nice view to watch the colorful people from my country. The roads are packed with exuberant people. I have seen few unlucky cars on the road too. Those are really bullheaded people I guess.

After passing some time at over bridge, I was heading towards the "Shahbag Mor" through the Sheraton Hotel area. As I was heading that direction, the chaos of people was increasing amazingly. Everyone caring a flute, or a mini drum, or anything that will make cacophony noise. No one shouting or warning them to stop their irritating sound. I believe everyone was enjoying the moment.

Once again, climbed another over bridge, and this time, the bridge at "Shahbag Mor". I used to see the cars on the road from the bridge on a regular day. But today, I can only see a river which is flowing the colorful human beings. Still, it will be hard to cross the road today despite of having no cars. It has a heavy traffic of humans today.

Shahbag Mor Area

At this point, people were heading towards the TSC area, so did I. Sun will be going down within half an hour. So I was moving faster, but unfortunately, this was making me slow. I had nothing to do but let me float with those buoyant ebullient people. I have found a group of people dressed themselves as "Bauls" and were dancing and singing on the road.

At TSC, it is now hard to find an inch of space empty. So each and everyone is pulling and pushing others to stand still, regardless the gender. I was forced to move by the movement of the people. Throwing the water bottle at the air and other stuffs were enjoyable. But not for all I guess.

TSC, Dhaka University

Evening started. At afternoon, here James(the Nogor Baul) did show his talent. Right now another hero from Bangladesh, the legend Aiyub Bachchu is performing, but his stage was too far from my position. Only I could hear the voice. People were dancing with his music. I think after wasting 15 minutes I was able to reach the nearest possible position from the stage.

The stage is placed between the Bangla Academy and the TSC. So if you want to go to Bangla Academy from my position, you can not go. You have to move through the Shohrawardi Uddan. But unfortunately the gates from every side of the park was locked. Right now, no one is allowed to enter, but people can exit from inside. Bullshit decision from my perspective.

So, only way to get inside is to climb the fence. These days, I am getting older, and it was hard for me to climb such a fence having no foot grip on wall and due to my back pain. Also, people were crossing by taking help from their friends. I am the "Lonely Traveler", so who will help me? But somehow I have managed to climb that wall, and when I was inside, I found I have torn my pant near the knee by the sharp edge of a rod from the wall. awww...

There were several programs were going on inside the park. Also too many stalls for people to entertain their tummy. Halted around the "Lalon Ashor" and enjoyed few songs from there. As expected, the crowd was much lesser around there. Most of the people want rock and vibe, which was hard to find here.

Now time to enter the "Bangla Academy Mela" area. It was arranged by the "BISIC", and will continue another 10 days(Later I have attended all the days of that Mela). Once again, another crowded area. Cultural program was going on there too, but it wasn't that much interesting to the visitors and me. The stalls were excellent, and you can pass lots of time there. Also the "Putul Nach"(puppet dance) was another attraction from the Mela too.

So after wandering at the Mela area, it's now time to get back home, and take some rest. I didn't able to sit for a single second today. Only walked and walked. So walking through "Doyel Chattar", "Shegun Bagicha", "Shanti Nogor", I have reached at my home, "Mouchak". The circle was just made, and it was 9:30 of night.

If you have energy, you can do something like at next year by yourself. Hope for the best :-)