Bangladesh – Land of Smiles

Cox’s Bazar Fish Market

Bangladesh is situated in the fertile plains of the Gange river delta of the Bay of Bengal, hence its name meaning “Country of Bengal”.

It is famous for being home to the world largest river delta formed by the Brahmaputra and the Ganges rivers; for the Bengali tigers in the Sundarbans (a mangrove and swampland in the delta); for the longest natural sea beach located in Cox’s Bazar (150 km. long); for the Malnicherra Tea Estate, the oldest tea garden in the subcontinent; and last, but not least, for the ancient historical city of Panam Nagar.

Bangladesh is far from being a volatile or dangerous country and Bangladeshi citizens are some of the most hospitable and friendly people you’ll ever meet.

DHAKA is the Capital and largest city of Bangladesh. It’s the 6th most populated city in the world with a population of approximately 9 Million residents within the city limits and 21 Million residents in Greater Dhaka area. Dhaka emerged as a cosmopolitan city during the Moghul Empire. It’s a hub for trade and culture. Once upon a time called the City of Mosques and the Venice of the East and nowadays also known as the Rickshaw Capital of the world, as there are over 500,000 cycle rickshaws running on its roads. Dhaka streets and rivers are filled with colorful chaos. Being part of the Bengal plain, the city is bounded by 4 rivers. The origin of name Dhaka is uncertain. Probably the name comes from the Dhak trees which are very common in the area, but it could also have origin from an instrument the “Dhak”, or from a Hindu goodness Dhakeshwari whose temple is located in the south western part of the city.

DHAKA GARMENT WORKERS: the Readymade Garment Industry —

Special mention goes to Garment industry: the Garment and textile business is the number one industry in Bangladesh, accounting for 80% of the country’s export. Bangladesh is second only to China. Most of the nation 4500 garment factories are concentrated around the capital Dhaka and attract thousands of rural residents in search of jobs and better life for their families. Many global brands have contracts with garment factories in Bangladesh for their clothing production at very low production prices compared to western manufacturers. Garment industry worker works for an average of 12 hours a day for a monthly salary which varies from 35 to 90 US dollars. According to an international study, only the 2% of the price of an article purchased in the western world goes to the Bangla worker who made it.

Workers at Garment Factory

PANAM City is famous for its unique and fine architectures. Once a small village, known as the Capital of Isa Khan (a ruler of Bengal) it existed during the 15th century and a few memories are still remaining nowadays.

THE SUNDARBANS: UNESCO World Heritage Site

My Tour Operator in Bangladesh

This mangrove forest is one of the largest forests in the world and lies on the delta of 2 rivers: Ganges, Brahmaputra , in the bay of Bengala. The area is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species, lizards, mudskippers, dolphins, for the Bengal tiger and other threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile and Indian python.

With its variety of trees and wildlife the forest is a showplace of natural history. But it is also a centre of economic activities such as extraction of timber, fishing and honey collection. The forest consists of about 200 islands, separated by about 400 interconnected tidal rivers, creeks and canals.

Sailing in the Sundarbans is pleasant and relaxing. You can enjoy your boat sailing through backwaters canals while admiring the astonishing nature around you.

Honey Collectors

Sundarbans is famous also for its honey.

The most famous is the one obtained from the Kalisha flower, found in the deep interiors of the forest. The peak season of honey collection begins in March and ends beginning of June. The Mawalis (honey collectors) as they are called, often risk their lives to collect honey, victims of tigers, venomous snakes and crocodiles in the muddy waters, all this for an average earning of about 80 Us Dollars for the whole season. Honey picking sounds like a normal rural occupation but here it is perhaps the most dangerous occupation in the world. Honey collectors need to properly cover their face with cloths, otherwise bees could attack. Beehive has to be approached cautiously, using torches made up of leaves to create smoke. The smoke produced forces the bees to fly away and allow the collectors to climb the tree to reach the honey. In the past few years honey collection has fallen so much and the Mawalis are no longer motivated to enter the forest and put their lives at high risk.

COX’S BAZAR

The name Cox’s Bazar derives from Captain Hiram Cox, an officer of the British East Indian Company who was appointed as the superintendent of Palonki (former name) outpost.

A fishing port and tourist destination located along 75 mile stretch of beach. Its beach is considered Cox’s main attraction with an unbroken length of 150 km, also called “the longest natural unbroken sea beach in the world”. A destination for the richest Bangladeshis but recently it has become a hub for foreign humanitarian staff who work here to help in the Rohingya refugee camps.

The Rohingya issue

The Rohingya (Bengalis) are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar. Before the displacement, an estimated 1.4 million Rohingya lived in the country. The 2017 exodus, due to the Myanmar violence, brought more than 800 to seek refugee in neighboring Bangladesh. They risked everything to escape a military offensive of local Burma and buddhist mobs, which was described as an “ethnic cleansing”. Cox’s Bazar is the city hosting the main camps for the refugees living in poor conditions but assisted by many w/w Ngos who are helping the community trying to improve their living and health conditions. Refugees are not allowed to work in Bangladesh and cannot leave the camps without the permission of the Government. Other important aspect regards the Rohingya children who have a bleak future with little freedom of movement, inadequate access to education, poverty, serious protection risks and abuse, including child marriage.

SONADIA Island

Located about 7 km from Cox’s, it’s a worthwhile excursion. The western side of the island is sandy; on the northers side there are beds of windowpane oysters (placuna placenta).

During winter time fishermen set up temporary camps on the island and dry their catches of sea fish to sell at the market.

Chittagong Hill Tracks

It’s located in the south eastern part of Bangladesh and includes 3 Hill Districts: Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban. It’s one of the most diverse regions in the country and home to eleven indigenous ethnic groups of Mongolian ancestry which differ from the majority of Bengali people as regards race, language, culture, heritage, religion, political history and economy, and these differences are the cause of permanent conflicts in the region.

To conclude: Bangladesh is a country of luxuriant nature and a thousand smiles: these are the first two impressions you have from a trip in Bangladesh. A unique experience, strong and humanly fascinating, a country with astonishing culture and people.!

“THE WORLD IS A BOOK: THOSE WHO DO NOT TRAVEL IT READ ONLY ONE PAGE”

November 2019

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