/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/001_Border_Petrapole-India-to-Benapole-Bangladesh.jpg From Calcutta, I woke up early and went to Sealdah station. I took the Bangaon Local train to the end of the line, then a mini-taxi to the border. Walked across the border to Benapole, Bangladesh. From there got a cycle rickshaw a few km to the bus stand, then a bus to Jessor and finally another on to Khulna. 141 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/003_Khulna.jpg My first night in Bangladesh was spent in khulna. 106 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/005_Khulna.jpg I found privacy difficult to come by in Bangladesh. I caught this girl peeking in my window, but she didn't mind. Then she just stood here in the doorway of my hotel room staring at me as I put on my shoes, packed, my bag and read my book. 97 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/006_Khulna.jpg Took small river boats all over. 113 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/007_Khulna.jpg Met a peanut Merchant named Amal Roy (see next picture). He invited me to lunch and this was the woman of the place that was cooking for us. 86 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/009_Khulna.jpg Amal Roy, the peanut Merchant is shown on the far right. He was laughing his head off, but assumed this serious look for the photo. 159 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/010_Khulna-Crowd.jpg Typical crowd of people that would gather on the streets to look at me. Exciting, claustrophobic, exhausting, ego-inflating and inescapable. 145 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/011_Khulna.jpg Bangla movies seem to be generally pretty horrible... but funny. Cardboard sets, middle-aged, overweight men in tank tops are the heroes and there is way too much melodrama and bad fight scenes (and even worse sound effects). 118 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/012_Khulna.jpg Kung-fu butterfly. 144 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/013_Khulna.jpg 127 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/014_Khulna.jpg Paan leaves. 125 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/025_Sundarbans-Boat.jpg Chartered a small boat from Mongla (not pictured here) and took a two day trip through the Sundarbans -- the largest mangrove forest in the world. 126 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/018_Sundarbans-Kali-Puja.jpg On this Island there was a Kali Puja festival in full swing amongst the Hindu minority. Really nice people including this guy who was a teach and excited to chat. 96 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/019_Sundarbans-Kali-Puja.jpg Another crowd which gathered to be part of the picture. 143 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/021_Sundarbans-Boy.jpg The 15 year old "Boat man" (assistant) and I hung out for a while. Had a really nice evening just floating along under the moonlight, eating paratha and veggies. 125 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/029_Sundarbans.jpg Some of the sadder, more depressing parts of the trip -- the glaring poverty. These women were dragging plastic nets through mud to catch sardine sized fish. Prostitution seemed to be the only other option for women in this remote river-side village. 169 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/034_Barisal.jpg From Mongla (the town closest to the Sundarbans), I took a ferry, then a couple local buses to Barisal. It was crazy, but the back alleys were pretty nice. Of course, as with every place in Bangladesh, it was full of friendly hospitable people that treated me as a guest in their country. 87 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/036_Barisal.jpg 80 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/038_Barisal.jpg 153 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/041_Barisal.jpg This older woman saw me wandering around and invited me into her home. We had tea and a dozen curious family members, friends and neighbors crowded around to see the foreigner. One of the daughters could speak a few words of English and I knew a few words of Bangla by then. 138 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/046_Barisal.jpg These two school teachers helped me to get a boat/bus connection going east and treated me to lunch and helped me negotiate an unexpected night stay in a hotel (the boat I wanted to take was completely full). Really nice guys. 99 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/049_Chittagong.jpg Chittagong is the second largest city in Bangladesh. This kid's stare was nothing unusual... I just completely confused the @!*# out of people. After I smiled, people would usually relax a little and smile back realizing I wasn't a Martian. 126 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/051_Chittagong-Salad.jpg I made a salad in my hotel room, getting together all the ingredients, filtering water so I could then wash veggies, etc was quite an undertaking. But it was worth it! 149 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/052_Chittagong.jpg Eating my veg Sabji and Baat. It was almost all men in every restaurant. Sometimes women would eat behind curtained off areas (so they could remove their veil if they were embarrassed about doing it in front of men). 70 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/054_Chittagong.jpg A waiter at one restaurant. 83 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/059_Chittagong.jpg Despite the fact that it is a heavily Muslim country, most women I saw did not wear veils, but a small proportion did. Public life was generally dominated by men. 159 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/060_Chittagong-Fruit.jpg Man selling fruit in the market. 130 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/061_Chittagong.jpg Waiters were often adamant that I drink my tea while it was still burning hot. Apparently to compensate for this, men often pour their tea into the saucer (so it cools down quickly) and drink it from there. 99 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/063_Sitakunda.jpg From Chittagong, I really wanted to escape to the countryside. So I took a bus north for a few hours to the small town of Sitakunda. 112 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/064_Sitakunda.jpg This merchant was just such a nice guy! He was so full of spirit and enthusiasm. Really had some great conversations with him as I would stop in on my way past the market. 143 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/065_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg Hotel Wildlife safari. 150 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/066_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg From there, I had the good fortune of meeting a boy from a nearby village (south-west Syedpur) who invited me to lunch the next day! 80 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/067_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg The village (south-west Syedpur) was beautiful! Like so many I had seen from bus windows, it was lush and green with tropical plants, coconut palms, creeks, ponds, etc. We walked all day in the verdant farm land and a nearby forest. 184 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/069_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg Apparently I was the first foreigner to ever come to their village. Attracted a LOT of attention. 113 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/070_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 172 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/071_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 166 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/072_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 127 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/074_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg Our long walk through the fields, forests on our way to the coast. We never reached the water because we encountered a huge mud pit, but it was a wonderful day. 146 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/077_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 108 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/079_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 199 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/082_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village-Roots.jpg Roots of these trees growing vertically out of the ground. Crazy stuff, they were super hard. 176 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/083_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village-Cow.jpg 128 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/084_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 91 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/085_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 121 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/087_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village-Portrait.jpg A man we came by in the fields. 113 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/088_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 96 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/093_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 154 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/094_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 113 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/097_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg 125 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/101_Sitakunda-Saidpur-Village.jpg There was one village television. 158 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/103_Dhaka-Rickshaw-Traffic.jpg Dhaka - The capital of Bangladesh and one of the most crowded, polluted, loud and chaotic places on earth. Although I really enjoyed wandering through much of the "old city", I did find the atmosphere a bit oppressive at times. 181 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/104_Dhaka.jpg 158 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/108_Dhaka.jpg Before coming to Bangladesh, I had met this man - Mahmud Hasan online. He insisted that I come to his home if/when I was in Dhaka. For the entire time I was in Dhaka, Mahmud treated me like an honored guest -- showing me around the city, letting me eat and sleep at his home and paying for everything! 81 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/111_Dhaka.jpg This is Mahmud's cute son. I feel so indebted to this man and his family for the hospitality they showed me -- a complete stranger. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip! 84 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/112_Dhaka.jpg There are around 600,000 cycle rickshaws in Dhaka -- more than anywhere on earth. The rickshaws are all hand painted sometimes with elaborate images of Gangsters, Divas, dream homes, peacocks, etc. Many are like mobile shrines. 167 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/115_Dhaka-Man-on-Scaffolding.jpg 114 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/116_Dhaka.jpg 109 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/120_Dhaka.jpg 190 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/121_Dhaka-Video-Games.jpg Kids playing the homemade video arcade games. They use emulators such as MAME on a PC. 106 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/122_Dhaka.jpg I think this was just cement that was drying, but it seemed to have some religious significance that I couldn't comprehend. 152 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/126_Dhaka.jpg 129 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/129_Dhaka.jpg 129 KB  
/pics/2006/2006-01-24_Bangladesh/138_Dhaka.jpg I went to the National Assembly Building -- designed by Louis I. Khan. I was trying to take pictures for my father of the most famous "modern" building in the country. But guards informed me that photography was not allowed that day! After talking to them a bit (making the most of my Bangla), they totally relaxed, let me take all the pics I wanted and even started posing for photos themselves! 101 KB