Home of the Royal Bengal Tiger and unspoilt adventure seeker’s paradise
Bangladesh is a rural wonderland, home of the Royal Bengal tiger. A country that is laden with waterways, gorgeously green with blanketed waist-high tea bushes, peppered with people and bursting with humanity, where according to Bangladesh Tourist board “happiness needs no reason” Bangladesh – a country rarely to be considered as a holiday destination, let alone a hot holiday destination like Thailand or India, who are its neighbours.
The Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel especially to the Chittagong Hill Tracks and if one does travel to make sure they are covered by fully comprehensive travel and medical insurance. The FCO further warns against tension between government (Sheik Hasina’s Awami League Party)and opposition parties (BNP and Jamaat party).
Since January 2015 there had been number of blockade of roads, rail and river transport, the so- called rolling general strikes ( hartals), which usually takes place during the working week ( Sunday to Thursday).
Recent War Crimes Tribunal has seen number of people put to death by the current government for collaborating with the Pakistani army during the Bangladesh Independence war in 1971. The most recent is of a senior Jammat leader who was executed in Dhaka on the 11 April 2015.
As a result of these tensions, ongoing protests and demonstrations are a regular occurrence. These can quickly turn violent and lead to clashes with law enforcement agencies. There are many media reports of violent attacks, arson and vandalism across the country. Innocent people are court up with theses incidents all the time, mainly in towns and cities.
There are also general threats from terrorism, since Bangladesh is predominantly a Muslim country with many who could be influence by Islamic extremism from Pakistan and the situation in the Middle East.
Other threats are natural disasters such as cyclone, flooding and monitoring the weather before traveling is strongly recommended by the FCO.
According to the Guardian – Bangladesh is “way off the south Asian traveller’s trail and rarely considered a tourists destination with floods, cyclones, political strife, tragedies in garment factories”.
However, regardless of the issues, up to 75,000 British nationals visit Bangladesh every year, according to FCO. A report by the Guardian also states that Bangladesh is about to hit the tourist radar, even though travelling to Bangladesh is not all that rosy.
As most roads and infrastructures are less than travel worthy and most drivers and their driving methods are terrifying, not to mention the regular strikes (hartals) which can bring things to a halt. It almost seems like an impossible journey for tourism pioneers though their ambitions are not groundless as The Guardian reports, “it could be on the cusp of a new era”
Despite its reputation of poverty and corruption, in Bangladesh everyone has a story and reason to smile and celebrate life.
Amidst the concrete jungle and its urban life, there is the beautiful rural life, which has strong connection with nature not to mention the tribal life with indigenous people still preserved and very vibrant in their own characteristics.
Apart from the vibrant life style of people in Bangladesh, it also holds the longest beach in the world, largest mangrove forest, and from lush tea gardens to Bengal tiger territory, there is plenty for tourists to discover in Bangladesh. As stated by the Guardian “And you’re likely to have it all to yourself”
Sylhet; Tea Drinker’s delight – carpeted tea bushes set before your eyes.
Every corner you visit in Bangladesh is blessed with beautiful fertile landscape, but more so- Sylhet. From the glistening rice fields and wetland marshes to rolling hills of lush green carpeted waist high tea bushes.
Sylhet is a major city that lies on the banks of Surma River in north-east Bangladesh. The city has a population of over 500,000 people. A city where most British Bangladeshis originate from. We call it ‘nizor desh’ meaning my country or the old county, back to our routes.
Most young British Bangladeshis will not even think of visiting Bangladesh especially Sylhet, due to its reputation of young British boys and girls being forced into marriage by family members for the purpose of gaining a UK visa.
However, I look at it positively as Bangladesh including Sylhet has more to offer for a tourist who can look at its true glory.
Sylhet is well known for its famous tea gardens. Take a direct flight from Heathrow airport to Sylhet and within nine hours, you will land at Sylhet Osmani airport. Pay two hundred taka (£2.00) to the immigration officers standing around you when you hand your passport, for the immigration checks. You will get your arrival stamp within seconds bypassing everyone else standing in various lines.
As soon as you pass the air-condition section of the airport you feel the heat thrashing at you but there is also a feeling of excitement, perhaps daunting for new comers to Bangladesh. However, you certainly feel the excitement of your arrival to this new destination, which I call an ‘adventurers paradise’ waiting to be exploited.
You push yourself through the crowds of beggars and bystanders, watching UK or American visitors coming out of the airport curiously and when opportunities allows, they gather around you to ask for the £ and $ that you have to spare. Not to mention the baggage boy, sometimes two or three at a time, just holding your one bag wanting tips in American dollars or British pounds. Despite that, it is mostly an exciting journey to Sylhet .
The first site as your drive out of the airport is the lush green tea gardens, which is immediately noticed as you
come out of the airport. The delicious irony of this indulgence the west must have for their breakfast is beautifully
grown like a carpet along the hills on both sides of the road.
A panoramic view of the tea drinkers delight set before your eyes.
However, journey to Sylhet has only started, as there is more to discover. Once you pass the panoramic view of the tea gardens and drive through the concrete jungle of Sylhet city with its high-rise buildings and shanti houses in between, you see a different world.
The rural villages, its people and their lives. You feel the crisp clear air, green open space and rice fields filed with the joys of animals, from cows, buffaloes, goats, ducks, geese, chicken, birds such as golden eagles, herons as well as many other wild animals including insects. Not to mention the joys of children playing in the fields.
Full of lush green trees and pure perfectly square or rectangular shaped green paddy fields in the cold seasons.
In the harvesting time in April, golden brown fields of rice but with sweltering heat in the afternoon, in this beautiful tropical country.
Where the sun comes out with a shining ‘bang’ of glorious golden morning heat and when the sun goes down – the golden red glow of the sunset at its prime of beauty before, going down for the night.
Truly it is such a fantastic view to see. Discover Bangladesh for yourself, visit Bangladesh
Foreign travel advice: Bangladesh – file:///Users/aklimabibi/Desktop/journalism%20useful%20ino%20/Bangladesh%20- travel%20advice%20-%20GOV.UK.webarchive – cited April 2015
The Guardian – file:///Volumes/ADATA%20UFD/journalism%20useful%20ino%20/Bangladesh’s %20main%20attractions%20–%20in%20pictures%20%7C%20Travel%20%7C%20The%20- Guardian.webarchive – cited 23 April 2015
Guardian travel – Bangladesh’s main attractions – in pictures; file:///Users/aklimabibi/Desktop/journalism%20useful%20ino%20/How%20tourism%20is%20tak-
ing%20off%20in%20Bangladesh%20%7C%20Travel%20%7C%20The%20Guardian.webarchive cited 25th April 2015
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/bangladesh/sylhet-division/sylhet – cited 23 April 2015
Bangladesh on alert after execution, applauded by many – https://uk.news.yahoo.com/bangladesh-alert- execution-applauded-many-065922514.html#vTT2EFf – cited April 2015
Bangladesh tourist board – https://visitbangladesh.gov.bd cited 23 April 2015.