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.


Anonymous said...

I'm not dead, although at times I suspected otherwise.

Dead fish is not great advert for the beach, but then barf-o-rama is probably not featured in travel brochures. The Boy Scout welcome is the cherry on the sundae.

I'm home but in two days on the road again. This time teaching in Mississauga, then in Hull/UK for a conference.

I anticipate eating English breakfast for a week -- everything in bacon fat. Then Halloween in Amsterdam.

This will be my first trip to Amsterdam. I'm meeting friends and we have 1.5 days together. I arrive noon on Oct 30; they arrive that night. We hit the Museum District Saturday. I fly to Toronto Sunday; they take the train home. Quick.

My recent travels have been weather driven. In Ontario, it's been a cold summer that felt more like autumn. Now Autumn is here and it feels like November -- at the cottage for Thanksgiving, we had snow. But the colors were spectucular.

I arrived in Shanghai in late July to typhoon Marokat. Shanghai had not had a direct typhoon hit in 50 years. Rather than the 40 C temps I expected, we had 19 - glorious for a Canadian, winter for the Chinese. Rain fell daily, temps roller-coastered, humidity hovered between none and 300 percent, wind howled.

I left typhoon China and returned to tornado Toronto. On the Friday after recouping from jetlag, everything turned black as night --it was 3 in the afternoon. The wind grew violent, trees creeked. TV news showed videos of funnel clouds hitting all around Toronto.

Everything shut down, trees fell, houses lost roofs, cars were picked up and relocated, floods...40 minutes of havoc.

I headed to Mexico City the last week of August to speak at conferences. Before that week, I had only flown through Mexico City between flights elsewhere. I was impressed. The food was great [mole is incredible - pronouced molay to differentiate it from the animal]; the people are wonderful; the city is full of history.

I had not counted on the weather -- Mexico City is in the mountains and cool. August is rainy season. There's that ubiquitous precipitation again!

En route back from Mexico, I visited my kids in Houston. I expected incredible heat, and was not 'disappointed' -- 110 F with 800 percent humidity.

But keeping with the water theme, I arrived in Houston to a massive electrical storm. Lightning hit the airport; security systems went off. Alarms blaring, roads flooded, heat never abated even after sunset. A spectacular sight was lightning bolts in the night sky. Even if the storm never broke over you, bolts lit up the horizon and the sound rumbled through the evening. Storms arrived like clockwork each evening. Quite the treat.

Home again to the resurgence of summer. As school started, the dog days of August came in September. All those kids going back to school missed summer twice: first, during summer, and now as they traipsed off to classrooms. It was summer for about 2 weeks.

Mid September I was north of Montreal for a week. The clouds loomed heavy; it was cold -- chill seeped into your bones. But autumn hadn't arrived: the colors were muted. Disappointing, because the season was off kilter. We didn't see autumn until Thanksgiving weekend in Ontario -- brilliant but late.

Weather is no longer top of mind as I get ready for the next trips: Mississauga and UK to the end of October. Banff for a week in mid November; 8 days in Shanghai until the first week of December.

Someone said it's Christmas soon. I'm looking forward to that -- if for no other reason than to stay home.

Sorry for playing meteorologist in this blog. But the weather was so unusual that it had to be mentioned. Just observation - a record of what it was like over the past 4 months.

Talk to you soon,

Anonymous said...

I can almost smell the 'sights' as I'm sitting here reading your posts! Bangladeshi certainly is a nasal safari sometimes isn't it.

Jahid M A said...

Hello Kristel (Ms) and Carrie (Ms)
Thank you so much for visiting Bangladesh specially Cox's Bazar.
I am Jahid, a master’s student, from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), Japan. Currently I am doing research on tourism industry. My research topic is "Poverty Alleviation Through Sustainable Tourism: A Critical Analysis of 'Pro-Poor Tourism' and Implications for Sustainability in Bangladesh".
If you have any suggestions or advice about Bangladesh tourism industry please let me know. I hope i can use also in my thesis.
Thank you in advance.
Best regards