We’ve failed lamentably at posting about our travels as most years we take several weeks out to travel. In the winter of 2017 we travelled to Bangladesh.
Flying into Dakha we travelled by ancient paddle steamer, car, plane motorbike and trains to (amongst other places) Barisal, Khulna, the Sunderbans, Sylet, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazaar and St Martin’s Island.
For us, other than the terrible traffic congestion in Dhakha, Bangladesh turned out to be revelation so much so that we immediately returned in February 2018 to visit many places we had missed the first time, particularly in the north west and the Chittagong Hill Tracts (the UK Government advise against travel here).
I really cannot recommend this impoverished country too much as a tourist destination. In the first place hardly anyone goes there so you will only see a handful of tourists. Secondly the people are amazingly friendly and with genuine Muslim hospitality you are received graciously everywhere. If you live in the UK you can also get a 28 day visa on arrival (a letter of invitation helps – but we didn’t have one for our first visit). We stayed, where we could, with local families in villages. It is a photographers dream (and you will find youself the centre of attention everywhere being asked to pose for selfies) with everyone more than happy to be photographed. You can see a few photos on the gallery here
It’s strange how most people would probably give Bangladesh a wide berth, claiming amongst other things it is poor, dirty, dangerous and Muslim. Well to people who think like that your loss is our gain becuse we have spent over 6 or 7 weeks in this vibrant, culturally rich country (their annual outside book fair in February occupies the space of several football fields and lasts for a month). We have travelled on overnight paddle steamers, gone fishing with the otter fisherman, travelled on boats up rivers and through the mangrovees in the Sunderbans, spent days with the bonded labourers in brick kilns, visited the ship breaking yards in Chittagon, ridden motorbikes on the beach, shared village houses with the occupants and had some great food. Everywhere we have been met with huge smiles.
Even the poorest families will offer you tea and find some biscuits for you to eat with true Muslim hospitality; it really makes me mad to see some of the Islamaphobia in the west (particularly the western press). But then most who think that way have never actually met a Muslim family and interacted with them let alone gone to somewhere like Bangladesh (or Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan etc.). Travel is indeed one of the best educations you can have.
Obviously it’s not the easiest of countries to travel in, but a local guide is not expensive and will smooth the path for you (message us if you want some contact details).
We may even return in 2019, although Bangladesh does have elections coming up at the end of 2018 and this may bring about some unrest – so we’ll keep an eye on the situation.