Bangladesh

Signs of Bangladesh 5/5

tickets

boarding pass for flight

boarding pass for flight

Green Line office

Green Line office

Green Line ticket

Green Line ticket

train ticket

train ticket

train ticket

train ticket

traffic

Cox's Bazar town centre

Cox’s Bazar town centre

Cox's Bazar town centre

Cox’s Bazar town centre

one of the buses you could catch

one of the buses you could catch

what a petrol station looks like

what a petrol station looks like

village traffic jam en route to Chittagong

village traffic jam en route to Chittagong

village traffic jam en route to Chittagong

village traffic jam en route to Chittagong

nice bridge over the river into Chittagong

nice bridge over the river into Chittagong

road repair on a back country road

road repair on a back country road

women

girls and women often dress very colourfully

girls and women often dress very colourfully

standing on a roof

standing on a roof

I have no idea what this is

I have no idea what this is

deep in the country

deep in the country

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Signs of Bangladesh 4/5

signs and road signs

signs at the beach at Cox's Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox’s Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox's Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox’s Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox's Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox’s Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox's Bazar

signs at the beach at Cox’s Bazar

Cricket Stadium

Cricket Stadium

found the sign, but not the cafe

found the sign, but not the cafe

Radisson Blue, arriving 2014...

Radisson Blue, arriving 2014…

Railway station information board

Railway station information board

at Chittagong Station

at Chittagong Station

one of the few station signs I could read on the Chittagong to Srimangal line

one of the few station signs I could read on the Chittagong to Srimangal line

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

one of these per kilometer

the open road

the open road

near a national park

near a national park

tea

one of the tea plantations

one of the tea plantations

drying tea leaves immediately after picking

drying tea leaves immediately after picking

old English lorry model

old English lorry model

Srimangal tea region

Srimangal tea region

tea region

tea region

home of the  famous seven layer tea

home of the famous seven layer tea

the famous seven layer tea

the famous seven layer tea

Srimangal tea region

Srimangal tea region

Srimangal tea region

Srimangal tea region

Signs of Bangladesh 3/5

mud and rubbish

muddy main road

muddy main road

muddy back road

muddy back road

people just dump rubbish around them, and it builds up

people just dump rubbish around them, and it builds up

nature

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

exotic birds

industry

you see lots of timber

you see lots of timber

lots of brick factories

lots of brick factories

lots of brick factories

lots of brick factories

rickshaws, CNG,buses

rickshaw

rickshaws

rickshaw

rickshaws

riding on a rickshaw

riding on a rickshaw – almost at the beach

rickshaw used to advertise something

rickshaw used to advertise something – come to our mosque – or something political

rickshaws are used to carry all sorts of things

rickshaws are used to carry all sorts of things

rickshaw holds CNG cylinders

rickshaw holds CNG cylinders

rickshaw holds CNG cylinders

rickshaw holds CNG cylinders

CNG in Cox's Bazar - open style is common there

CNG in Cox’s Bazar – open style is common there

CNG

CNG’s in a village

CNG in Chittagong - security mesh on all the CNG's there

CNG in Chittagong – security mesh on all the CNG’s there

CNG in Dhaka - security mesh on all the CNG's there

CNG in Dhaka – security mesh on all the CNG’s there

CNG

CNG in Dhaka

only slightly unroadworthy

only slightly unroadworthy

Leyland bus in Dhaka

Leyland bus in Dhaka

so many rivers in Bangladesh - one scene with boats

so many rivers in Bangladesh – one scene with boats

Signs of Bangladesh 2/5

Housing

tea plantation workers seem to have nice housing - small semi-detached houses with a shopping village nearby

tea plantation workers seem to have nice housing – small semi-detached houses with a shopping village nearby

housing is made out of all sorts of makeshift materials - here out of plastic rubbish bags

housing is made out of all sorts of makeshift materials – here out of plastic rubbish bags

many people live amongst mud and rubbish - the rubbish is that which they just dump themselves

many people live amongst mud and rubbish – the rubbish is that which they just dump themselves

life

washing and an ad

washing and an ad

surf life saver

surf life saver at Cox’s Bazar

beach at Cox's Bazar

beach at Cox’s Bazar

beach at Cox's Bazar

beach at Cox’s Bazar

pumping water at a well  at Cox's Bazar

pumping water at a well at Cox’s Bazar

washing day

washing day

a local English newspaper in Chittagong

a local English language newspaper in Chittagong

menu and food

a popular brand of bottled water

a popular brand of bottled water

breakfast one morning - paratha, dhal  and  omelette

breakfast one morning – paratha, dhal and omelette

menu

menu

menu

menu

menu

menu

menu

menu

restaurant bill

restaurant bill

miscellaneous

comic I liked in the paper I bought at Chittagong

comic I liked in the paper I bought at Chittagong

hotel - please make up my room sign

hotel – please make up my room sign

hotel - do not disturb sign

hotel – do not disturb sign

museum that seemed always closed

museum that seemed always closed

no idea about this

no idea about this

BBQ's are common in Cox's Bazar

BBQ’s are common in Cox’s Bazar

a traffic roundabout

a traffic roundabout

Rotary meeting preparation

Rotary meeting preparation

political meeting

political meeting

is my room number 8?

is my room number 8?

or is my room number 9? It seems the Bengali for 8 when turned around looks like 9

or is my room number 9? It seems the Bengali for 8 when turned around looks like 9

Signs of Bangladesh 1/5

Ads

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

advertisement seen while on the road

Animals

the cows go home

the cows go home

food for stock - you see these structures a lot in the countryside

food for stock – you see these structures a lot in the countryside

dogs, goats etc. just sleep anywhere and people don't disturb them

dogs, goats etc. just sleep anywhere and people don’t disturb them

dogs, goats etc. just sleep anywhere and people don't disturb them

dogs, goats etc. just sleep anywhere and people don’t disturb them

dogs, goats etc. just sleep anywhere and people don't disturb them

dogs, goats etc. just sleep anywhere and people don’t disturb them

Bathing

quite a common layout - a bathing pool next to a mosque

quite a common layout – a bathing pool next to a mosque

quite a common layout - a bathing pool next to a mosque

quite a common layout – a bathing pool next to a mosque

Carrying things

many people carry their wares on their head

many people carry their wares on their head

people ride on the top of some buses

people ride on the top of some buses

so many potatoes

so many potatoes

people carry their wares also on a pole

people carry their wares also on a pole

Bangladesh transport 2015 3/3 – Planes, Trains and Automobiles – and buses, CNG’s, motorbikes, rickshaws, bicycles

Bangladesh transport 2015 1/3 – Planes, Trains and Automobiles – and buses, CNG’s, motorbikes, rickshaws, bicycles covered planes, buses, CNG’s, and rickshaws.

Bangladesh transport 2015 2/3 – Planes, Trains and Automobiles – and buses, CNG’s, motorbikes, rickshaws, bicycles covered trains.

All that is left is automobiles, motorbikes and bicycles.

As for the former, I believe you car rent a car and driver, but it is difficult just to rent a car and drive yourself.  Driving is quite difficult, and nerve-wracking, so best avoided.

A  friend took me around on a motorbike, but I would be reluctant to do any serious distances on one due to the same problems as driving. No one wears helmets.

And the only place I heard you can rent bicycles is in Srimangel area, where once out of the town it is very quiet.  Lonely Planet in 2012 said they paid Tk 200 for a day for a new bicycle.  I had to pay Tk300 for an old, poor condition bicycle, for a day or part thereof, and the price was negotiated by a local.  I wouldn’t want to ride long distance around the country due to the same dangers as driving and motorcycling.

So that’s it, really.  If I had had more time I would also have tried at least one leg of the journey by boat.

Bangladesh transport 2015 2/3 – Planes, Trains and Automobiles – and buses, CNG’s, motorbikes, rickshaws, bicycles

TRAINS

My preferred mode of transport is by train. I flew from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar in order to save two days getting there, two coach journeys instead of one, and covering the same ground twice. But once I could, I travelled by train. I knew from my research not to expect too much. I made two rail journeys. From Chittagong to Srimangal, and from Srimangal to Dhaka. (Srimangal is about two hours south from Sylhet, which you can see on this map in the north-east.) Here is a rail / road map of Bangladesh:

rail / road map of Bangladesh

rail / road map of Bangladesh

As explained in the blogs on preparation for the trip there are various train classes. Speaking two words of Bengali I wasn’t going to be too fussy. I just wanted a seat on the train I had decided on.

Chittagong Station ticket windows

Chittagong Station ticket windows

At the station the ticket window information is all in Bengali, so I chose the shortest “queue” – er scramble of people all pushing in. I more or less took my turn, not pushing in, but not letting anyone push in on me. I had written out the train and date, and handed the paper to the employee. The station employee spoke English and asked if I wanted air-con. Then he told me the fare, I paid, received the ticket and checked it. There is a computer monitor showing what he is doing, but he is quite fast and by the time you are starting to understand the display he has handed you the ticket. In fact, it had only taken five minutes and was easier than I thought. TK524 from Chittagong to Srimangal.

ticket from Chittagong to Srimangal

ticket from Chittagong to Srimangal

The train station at Chittagong has a tea room on the ground floor, and a restaurant, waiting room and toilet on the first floor.

Chittagong Station

Chittagong Station

For the trip bring something to drink and something to eat that doesn’t preferably involve using your hands.  My choice would be water and bananas.  But only drink any water if you really have to.

my supplies, plus water

my supplies, plus water – I also had hand wipes to clean my hands

Arrive at the station before the scheduled time, but then ask any employee if the train is on time and show your ticket.  I was told the train was an hour late, but in fact it was almost two hours. There is no whistle or announcement, so keep on asking (every 15 minutes or so) if the train has arrived yet, and as soon as it has, board.  Except for this caveat.  For a couple of hours before riding the train restrict liquid intake, and use the toilet at the station immediately before boarding. This is because the toilets on the train are disgusting, and dangerous.  Dangerous because the outside door is often open with someone hanging on. If not, you can close it, but if someone is hanging on to the outside rail you have almost nothing to hold onto as you attempt to unlatch the door to the toilet, and if the train happened to jolt at the wrong time you could fall out the open door.

platforms at Chittagong

platforms at Chittagong

locomotive shunting

locomotive shunting

Just show your ticket to any employee and they will show you the correct carriage. The seat allocation is on your ticket and won’t be hard to find.

carriage

carriage

air-con carriage

air-con carriage

seat signage on wall

seat signage on wall

The seats recline a little, there is adequate leg room, but no seat pockets or rubbish bin.  The windows cannot be opened and are dirty.  The overhead rack will accommodate quite reasonable size luggage.

seats

seats

And now for anyone interested:

guard compartment at end

guard compartment at end

guard compartment

guard compartment

guard compartment

guard compartment

last carriage

last carriage

hmm

inside

The next carriage was presumably a different class:

next carriage

next carriage

compartment

compartment

There are people walking through the train selling food and drinks – in most cases I would avoid it unless it is wrapped like chocolate.  And the water is dusty on the outside so you get dirty hands if you buy it.

selling food onboard

selling food onboard

selling food onboard

selling food onboard

selling food onboard

selling food onboard

selling food onboard

selling food onboard

You can buy also when the train stops in the station.

one of the train stops

one of the train stops

If you alight check how long the train will be in the station.  It is only single track, so often the train has to wait in the station where there are at least two tracks,  for an oncoming train to pass, and this could be 10 – 15 minutes. If the train starts to move you can still leap onboard if you have at least one hand free.

food stalls at the station enroute

food stalls at the station en route

food stalls at the station enroute

food stalls at the station en route

food stalls at the station enroute

food stalls at the station enroute

food stalls at the station enroute

food stalls at the station en route

Often it is hard to know where you are, although occasionally you see a station sign in English.

station sign in English

station sign in English

I used Google Maps to check progress.

20150424 (52) (Copy)

Google Maps

Google Maps

At last we arrived at Srimangal – not all that later than scheduled.

arrival in Srimangal

arrival in Srimangal

Srimangal Station

Srimangal Station

My second and final train trip was from Srimangal to Dhaka.  I am told that as the train originates in Sylhet and not Srimangal there is only a small seat allocation for tickets originating in Srimangal, and no air-con seats were available.  Price Tk225. The advantage of non-air-con is that the windows can be open, and thus it is better for photography. However, once the train I was on departed there was only one hour of light left, anyway, and I took few photos.

ticket to Dhaka

ticket to Dhaka

Srimangal Station

Srimangal Station

towards Srimangal Station and Dhaka

towards Srimangal Station and Dhaka

And the other direction:

looking north towards Sylhet

looking north towards Sylhet

train to Dhaka arriving

train to Dhaka arriving

train to Dhaka arriving

train to Dhaka arriving in Srimangal

In this carriage you can open the windows. So, another caveat. You can buy food through the window from vendors at stations. Ensure you receive the product first before paying, as sometimes they will just run off with your money if you pay first. Also, give them exact money as they may keep your change. Warnings from a local. Best to take your own food, as mentioned before.

non-air-con carriage

non-air-con carriage

My train was about 30 minutes late and every seat  was taken. Around 8PM there was an insect plague. Lots of flying insects – not mosquitos – entered the carriage and bothered everyone for at least the next half hour.  They didn’t bite, but landed all over you.  In theory this wouldn’t really happen in the air-con carriage as the windows are closed.

The train stopped at the  airport station on the way to Dhaka. 30 minutes from there to main station, approximately. All signs in Bengali at the main station.

arriving at Dhaka Station

arriving at Dhaka Station

arriving at Dhaka Station

arriving at Dhaka Station

arriving at Dhaka Station

arriving at Dhaka Station

arriving at Dhaka Station

arriving at Dhaka Station

arriving at Dhaka Station

at Dhaka Station

arriving at Dhaka Station

at Dhaka Station

Dhaka Station from outside

Dhaka Station from outside

There was traffic chaos outside the station, with rickshaws, CNG’s etc all over the place and trying to get your business. Anyway, you are now in Dhaka.