Posted by: tommecrow | November 27, 2010

Surfing Bangladesh

It’s 444km from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to Cox Bazar. So, with a 5 day holiday for Eid I thought it would be a good idea to attempt to do it by Bicycle. I managed to convince someone equally as stupid as me, a fellow expat, but American,  to come with me. A few weeks before the trip we went into the super busy streets of Old Dhaka and picked up a couple of old bikes. I managed to hunt down an old 1940’s style Indian bike, and Garrett found an old racer hidden amongst a pile of junk in a shop. They were lacking a few minor components, including brakes, but we were convinced we would find the time and the bits to fix them back together.

Alas, we were too lazy, and struggled to find the parts we needed. So on Eid eve morning we set off at 5am with two quality bikes ready to make the 110km journey to our first check-point, Comilla. Despite the early start the traffic in Dhaka was very heavy; the day before Eid is the most busy day on the roads. I noticed Garrett wasn’t keeping up so wellwhen we first got into centre the city. His total lack of brakes usually meant he was up in front, but this day he was lagging behind. Eventually we hit the main bus station in the centre of the city – on our route out of the city. The number of people and busses was unimaginable. The fumes were intollerable. Our bikes were crushed between hundreds of busses and we had to inch ourselves forward millimetres at a time. Despite all this people kept asking the usual questions:

“What your country? What your name?”

At this point Garrett lost total control and vomited all over the place. But still the people kept asking us questions. He continued to vomit for the next couple of hours as we tried to get out of the city into the countryside, but after a only a few kilometers (it tool us nearly 3 hours to cross the centre of Dhaka) we pulled over and called it a day. With Garrett nearly passing out, and time running out due to the traffic there was no way we were going to make it 110km before sundown. So, we headed back home.

Garrett slept most of the day whilst I continued to plan an escape from Dhaka. I biked to the train station and found an overnight sleeper train that left at 11pm and arrived at 6am into Chittagong – from there it’s a 3 1/2 hour bus journey to Cox Bazar. I booked a couple of tickets in the hope that Garrett would stay alive long enough to make the trip.

Garrett did survive, and we made it to Cox Baxar. The train ride was incredible. We had an Air Conditioned sleeper cabin and 1.5l of Scotch Whisky; it was like a hotel on wheels, squeeky clean (except the toilet) and very confortable. When we got on the bus there was an Australian girl in front of us. A couple of hours into the journey she turned round and started chatting to us. Turned out she was going to Cox Bazar to surf with some friends at an Eco-Lodge just outside town. Given that we had no plans (having only booked the train ticket a few hours before we left) and nowhere to stay she invited us to come with her. And we, luckily, said ok…

When we arrived we met up with her friends and went to the house of the head of the Bangladesh Surf Club. The guy was something of a local legend. His house was full of boards donated to him over the years. Long boards, short boards, you name it, there must have been at least 50. There was also a guy there who had walked to Cox Bazar from Germany!!! It had taken him 3 years. Amazing. Actually, it kind of made me glad we didn’t bike. I thought people would be impressed by our effort, but to arrive and find someone had walked there.. from Germany… would have been something of a kick in the balls!

So, after picking up some surf boards we made our way out of town to the ‘Eco-Lodge’. It was a nice place right on the beach, with NO PEOPLE (something you don’t get often in Bangladesh). Coxs Bazar is the longest beach in the world! We surfed all day for the next four days before heading back to Dhaka. Perfect!

Having been stuck in the bustling traffic and fumes of Dhaka for nearly two months it was such a relief to find out I could get away from everything so easily, sit out in the sea in total silence. I remember when I was in London I used to have to get out every few weeks to stop me going crazy. This has made living and working in Bangladesh so so much easier.


Responses

  1. I’ve enjoyed reading your bd thoughts. Thanx!


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