Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back to the Bizarre

Some places deserve a return visit. After our trip to Cox's Bazar in March, Kristel and I thought we likely wouldn't be back for another look. But the opportunity to visit some of YPSA's projects in the area, coupled with the chance to go with our friend, Carrie, who had never been to the Bazar, convinced us to make another trip to the coast. Here are some of the best pictures from our weekend there.

Our trip had a bit of a rocky start. An hour into the journey, the passenger sitting next to Carrie spontaneously erupted and vomited his breakfast all over himself and the floor around him. In order to keep to their timetable, the bus driver and attendant opted to wait until our scheduled stop an hour later to clean up the mess. To keep the smell from causing them to join in on the barf-a-rama, most people opted to cover their noses and hope that our stop was coming up soon.

So much for the welcome mat. I believe the motto for the Bangladeshi Boy Scouts is "Be Prepared.......To Be Obnoxious".

Kristel and Carrie at the beach in Cox's Bazar. Reputed to have the longest sea beach in the world, Cox's Bazar is the holiday destination of choice for many Bangladeshis.

Swimming at Cox's Bazar requires a bit of an adjustment to Western expectations regarding beach wear. In order to respect local custom (and avoid causing a stampede of Bangladeshi men), Kristel and Carrie did what all women here do when they go swimming - they took to the waves with all of their clothes on.

But even fully clothed, two bideshi women swimming in the ocean will always attract more than a little attention. Here, Carrie poses with a few of her admirers, most of whom were far more interested in looking at her than at the camera.

One of our roommates at the guesthouse where we stayed. Though the picture makes it seem rather huge, this gecko was actually smaller than my finger.

On our second day in Cox's Bazar, we set out for the island of Maheskhali, about 6 kilometres off the coast. Our plan for the day was to visit some of YPSA's projects on the island, including a training centre and some of the cyclone shelters that had been built there. To get to the island, we first had to take a somewhat leaky rowboat (whose fragrance suggested that its previous passengers had been recently deceased fish) out to a speedboat that navigated its way out of the harbour and then crashed its way through the open ocean at speeds not seen since Relic hung up his cap on the Beachcombers. While we sat in our smelly dory, we attracted the attention of these kids who were rightly mystified by what we were doing there.

Fishermen unloading their early morning catch at Kastura ghat.

A fishing boat makes its way out of the harbour at Kastura ghat.

Carrie speaking with some of the villagers next to a cyclone shelter. Because Maheskhali is an island, its residents are particularly at risk from cyclones and other severe weather that regularly strike the Bay of Bengal.

A shopkeeper proudly shows off one of his prizes - dried salmon. We decided to pass on buying it from him, fearing it might cause another vomit explosion among our fellow travellers if we took it onboard with us on the return bus to Chittagong.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A New Career?

My Law School class celebrated its 15th reunion this weekend in Halifax. Since I'm on the other side of the world, the reunion committee kindly asked me to participate by sending a video message to be shared with those who could attend. Have a look at the result. And don't worry, no one was harmed in the making of this video.