Finally! A Train Ride Out Of Dhaka!!

4th time is the charm, right? After 3 attempts at getting out of Dhaka and visiting the tea gardens of Srimangal, it finally became a reality. And the best part of all, I FINALLY GOT TO RIDE A TRAIN!!!!!!! (I’ve only been wanting to do that since January 6, so this is kind of a big deal.)

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YES!!! Stereotypical Train Picture!!!

I almost didn’t believe all the stories and descriptions from Bangladeshi classmates of how beautiful Bangladesh is outside of Dhaka. Living in the perpetual traffic, noise, air pollution, and political hubbub, you tend to forget that nice things exist. But, low and behold, the rumors are true. It appears that all you have to do is get about 20 km outside of Dhaka and suddenly, it’s like you’re in a whole other world. The cars disappear, the rice fields are the brightest green I’ve ever seen, I can breathe and my lungs are happy about it, and best of all, the pace of life slows down and it’s possible to see and experience the real Bangladesh.

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We lived in these bamboo huts for the weekend, which were surrounded by a lime grove.

After so many cancellations (and the safety issues going on with the political situation), we decided it would be best (and safest) to go as part of a guided tour with Community Ecotourism. First of all, the tour company was awesome. We had a blast with our guide, Russel, the prices were reasonable, we were able to do and see a lot of things, and the communication with the staff was really open and easy-going. If you ever find yourself in Bangladesh, send Pasha or Russel an email and they will set up a tour for you for any amount of days and seeing any combination of cities and sites. You won’t be disappointed!

So, some highlights from our trip, in picture form!

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View from the train. Finally seeing the farming and fishing livelihood we’ve heard so much about.

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Visiting a pineapple grove. We got to eat fresh baby pineapples like a popsicle!

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This is a jackfruit – the national fruit of Bangladesh. They are huge and spiky and grow on trees inside the pineapple grove. You peel off the spiky skin and then you have to dig in the guts for a big seed (about the size of a mango seed) covered in yellow fleshy stuff. Then you eat the yellow part and spit out the seed. Very sweet, kinda stringy, very sticky. Yum!

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Pineapple grove. The big trees are jackfruits.

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Tea gardens! It’s not yet time for tea picking, otherwise, there would be women all over this hill with baskets full of leaves on their back.

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Monkeys hanging out in the tea garden shade trees.

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Madhobpur Lake. (I swam here too… I’m a terrible public health person, I know. But, it was just so refreshing!!)

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The famous 7-Layer Tea from Nilkantha village tea house. My favorite layer was the third from the bottom – kind of gingery!

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Giant spiders (well, not as big as the ones in Australia) in Lawachara National Park / Rainforest. We also saw the famous and rare Hillock Gibbons!

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Lawachara Forest was full of giant bamboo! Here’s the group of us. Top: Me, Cove, Sophie. Bottom: Beaudin, Marguerite, Randi, Vishnu. The others are from Canada (except Vishnu from India).

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We then visited a traditional pottery village and watched the process of making various pieces of pottery…

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… Meanwhile, the village kids were watching us (no surprises there!)

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No problem, though. We ended up playing cricket with them and had a great time!

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Then we headed to Monipuri Village.

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Where they are quite famous for their weaving and textiles!

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Young Monipuri girls. Each village we visited spoke a different dialect or language and were ethnically a bit different. A very interesting side of Bangladesh!

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Then we visited Khasia Village, who are famous for their betel leaves and betel seeds (grown on these tall palm-like trees). Betel leaves are a type of drug that many people here chew on.

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Their village was quite modern and they were Christians, which was something we haven’t really seen here in Bangladesh.

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The kids didn’t really like pictures much, but we had a great time chasing each other around and making faces at each other!

Good thing the 4th time really is the charm. If I were to base my opinion of this country solely on Dhaka, I was ready to leave in May and dismiss any possibility of returning. But now that I’ve seen a bit more, well… maybe coming back to explore some more might not be too bad… in fact, I think I’m looking forward to it!

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