The thing about Bangladesh is that there are many beautiful places full of untouched, natural beauty but it’s the getting there that’s the real challenge and can even be a real put off.
Our first day trip was to Bisnakandi, which is in the north of Bangladesh on the border of India. Now the distance isn’t too far, about 40 miles or so, but the journey was painfully bumpy, long, dusty and just brutal. As soon as we were out of the city, we were on some sort of ‘road’ that was only be described as non-existent. We were driving through construction sites, between mountains of sand and stone and trying to squeeze through the tiniest of gaps between large, heavy trucks. At one point we came across an enterprising local who was taking advantage of this disastrous situation and filled up some of the major pot holes with soil to help the cars get across, all with a fee of course!
After a painful two and a half hour journey with a car full of cranky children, desperate to stretch their legs, we arrive in Bisnakandi. It’s actually hard to imagine that this is a popular tourist destination as there are no facilities what so ever, no shops, no restaurants, nothing other than a row of boats and a few men offering rides along the river. At this point I’m just glad I’ve packed lunch for the kids!
We opted for a motorised boat and what a big mistake! The sound from the engine can only be described as violent and deafening, like the sound of a tractor pressed against your eardrum. It was hard to even think let alone appreciate the spectacular mountain views and the beauty of the river. With there being so few boats, you could almost imagine the river is all yours, if it wasn’t for the horrific noise of course!
Our second day trip was to Jaflong, also on the border of India and Bangladesh. The main attraction is the boat ride and dipping your feet in the ice, cold mountain water by the collection of large stones.
Thankfully this journey was not as dreadful, there were somewhat proper roads at least, although at one point our driver did decide to bypass a traffic jam by driving through a forest.
Jaflong is far more touristy, there are rows of souvenirs shops, restaurants and people selling chopped up cucumbers and star fruit to eat on the go. The annoying thing was we couldn’t find a place to have a cup of tea as the only thing on the menu was a curry.
It wasn’t hard to choose a boat ride this time, definitely no more engines, just a good old fashioned boat and a man with a stick and thank goodness for that! The ride was serene and beautiful as we headed towards the mountains. Sitting on a low wooden boat inches above the water, Ava really enjoyed skimming the water with her hand and seeing the ripples follow.
Along the river you can see people transporting stones, loading up their boats so heavily it’s hard to believe it can still float. It’s a strange feeling when you catch the eyes of people coming out of tin homes to wash their clothes or bathe in the river. They look at you as though you’re a strange creature prying into their daily rituals but it’s hard not to look and wonder about the lives they lead.
The ride was short but wonderful. When we reach the border with India, we step into an area with a large collection of stones and the water is low enough to get out and dip your feet in. It really is beautiful. There are no clouds in the sky, the sun is beaming down and the view of the mountains is a welcome sight.