Sundarbans…….the largest Mangrove forest, the home of royal Bengal tiger.
It is one of the main tourist attractions in Bangladesh.
I have been in 2 nights 3 days Sundarbans tour operated by Bengali Tours.
So, let’s explore Sundarbans.

From Dhaka to Sundarbans, t
he gate city is Khulna.
You can fly from Dhaka to Jossore, and take bus to Khulna about 2 hours.
Or, you can take bus…….it takes....long time.
10 hours? Depends.

The tour starts in the early morning, so you have to be in Khulna the day before.
Meeting point is Rupsha ghat at 6am and vessel starts at 7am from the port.
This is the vessel Bengal Tours has. (for 46 people maximum)
Participants are Bangladeshi, Italian, Australian, Canadian, American, British and we Japanese.
Multi-national group.
But let's me introduce facility at first.

This is twin cabin.

Simple, but clean.
(Luckily, I got this room only for me, so spread things on one of beds :P)
There is fan, but it works only when generator works.
It was actually impossible to stay in cabin during the day.

You don't have to worry to find your room.
There is name plate on your door.
Though there might be mistake....."SHIORIE"!
Still possible to understand whose room it is.
Wow, "& FRIEND".......but still possible to find your room.

One thing which surprised me is that no one locks their room.
When we dropped our bag in cabin, we asked a guide to give key.
He said
"oh......we can give key, but no one would use it. It's safe on the vessel".

He was right.
No one locks their room and even keeps the door open.
We all felt safe, and it was. Impressive.

OK, let me continue.

Shared bathroom.
It was clearn....though you may sometimes find a guy getting out from female bathroom.
You don't get hot water(don't expect in jungle!), but bathroom and shower were clean and I heard no foreigner complained.
It was good.

The first floor has dining space.

Drinking water is available through the tour.

Deck is also nice.
People come to deck and go during the tour.
Especially nice to spend time at night seeing moon on the deck.
There were some mattress, but people directly sit on the floor.
All the vessels are cleaned 6 times a day.


7am, vessel started as scheduled.
heading inside of Sundarbans, I was excited.
3 Days tour started....but details of tour is from next article.


Tangail -AJIYER(5)-

I have already introduced some of activities, but let me add some new experience I had this time.
Among many activities, most of students said Indigo Dyeing was the best one.
We had brief guidance about indigo dyeing, and then tried.
White scarfs were distributed.
However, I had no idea what to do with it.
Some students had experience in Japan and they knew what to do.
To make design on scarf, we needed to roll the scarf to bamboo stick or tie with rubber.
White parts remain white when they are not exposed to Indigo and it becomes design.
Difficult to explain!
Just go there and try it.
Students trying.
Then, soak into Indigo.
If you want light color, don't soak for a long time.
After drying, open it.

 How is it?

I couldn't imagine how it would be like before opening the scarf, but there are different beautiful designs.

So, take group picture of a professor and students.
I couldn't help uploading bigger side of picture.
They are so....funny and cheerful.

We have also visited a local school.
However.....it rained in the morning.


Needed to walk into field!!
Environment of schoold is quite different from Japan.

Children are so friendly and curious about foreign country and foreigner.
They asked questions.
"What is your name?"
"What is Japanese national animal?"
"What do you eat in Japan?"

They also showed us paper works and sang a song.
If you like kids, school visit will be fun for sure.

There is a lot of activities in Tangail.
Contact them if you are interested.

Webpage: http://www.ajiyer.com/


Tangail -AJIYER(4)-

In September, a professor who studies about tourism and his students visited Bangladesh.
To know about community based tourism, they visited AJIYER in Tangail.
I have been there, but visited again with them.

I have introduced activities in AJIYER.
If you are interested in village of Tangail, please check previous articles.
Tangail -AJIYER(1)-
Tangail -AJIYER(2)-
Tangail -AJIYER(3)-

This time, I will introduce some more activities in AJIYER and their vision to promote community based tourism.

Beside activities, we had presentation session from Mr.Shamim, CEO of AJIYER.
Community Based Tourism(CBT) is to develop tourism by community people in a way which gives them benefit.
He thinks the idea should come from community people.
Not Top-Down, but Bottom Up.
Community people are expected to think by themselves how to develop tourism in their village and how they could be involved in.
Mr. Shamim shared this idea with village people and had workshop.
This understanding is very important for receiving tourists.
When I visited villages by AJIYER tour, I felt comfortable with village people.
Environment is getting ready.

One of activities in AJIYER is homestay with Bengali family.
Tourists cook together, help some house work, and have meal together with them.
It could be a very interesting experience.

I think home stay is one of the things foreigner(or let me say Japanese) enjoy because life in Japan and Bangladesh is totally different.
Especially thinking of Bangladeshi village life.
The traditional village life will not be found anywhere in Japan.
"Home stay" is one of the best way to experience Bangladeshi life.
I didn't get chance this time, but visited village where tourists stay.

Yes, village seems nothing special.
That is one of the villages which you would find all over the country.

However, village people share the idea of community based tourism and join workshop which AJIYER holds.
AJIYER supports some basic facility for tourists.

One of the rooms tourists may stay.

Do you know what this room is?

Traditional kitchen!
Tourists may help house work together, cook together....and will eat.

I would love to cook together at this kitchen.....I often think I want to help cooking, but usually Bangladeshi don't let me work.
(Once my landlord told me "you are entitled just for eating"!)

It is difficult to explain, but I felt comfortable in the village.
I personally think experiencing village is the best way to enjoy Bangladesh.
However, it is difficult to visit village for tourists.
There, you can experience village, but with basic facility and understanding of village people.
I believe this homestay has possibility.....what do you think?

Mr. Shamim showed us around and explained his vision.
I was impressed by his time-management, caring....he understands how foreigner may think and what is expected.
I expect community based tourism AJIYER leads helps tourism development in Bangladesh!


Cox's Bazar -Others-

Even though I have lived in Bangladesh for 1.5 years, I still find something new especially when I go out from Dhaka.
What did I find this time in Cox's Bazar??

1. Seafood fry
City with ocean!
From evening, stall keepers start frying sea food.....like crab, fish e.t.c.
I so wanted to try......but unfortunately, I didn't have space for fried stuff at that time.
Ummmm...next time.

2. Snack stall for breakfast
I have passed there.....around 9am, I think.
However, snacks weren't ready.......(I expected something inside the pot, but nothing)

What is impressive about this stall?
He (will) have pasteries, boiled eggs, and tea.....so your breakfast will be completed!
In Bangladesh, people often sell only one item....but here everything at a stall.
Very reasonable, isn't it?

3. Parata stand
He is preparing Parata......and when it's done, hangs it.
In Dhaka, I see  people throwing fried parata on big plate and make a pile.
In this way, parata must stay better!


By accident, I found something was fried.
In 2 kinds of shapes and sizes.
Fried bread with simple sweet taste.
Especially when it has just fried and you have it, it will melt in your mouth.
Only 5tk for a small piece!
I hope I found it in Dhaka.....!

It is always very exciting to find something new on the way of my trip :)
Thank you for reading Chittagong & Cox's Bazar trip!


Cox's Bazar(7) -Fisherman's village-

I will introduce fisherman's village in Cox's bazar.
If you ask Bangladeshi, they would say "there is nothing special to see", but it was interesting for me.
You can see processing dried fish.

The name of village is Shomoti Pala.
It takes about 20 minutes from Cox's Bazar city.
It is a short ride, but road wasn't good.....so keep it in your mind.

As I arrived, I found the villege half into water....
Let’s walk on the wall.
Oh, no wall.......
Then, take off shoes and walk into water.
Are kids going to go to school?

Passing through village, you will find natural beach.

On the beach, village people catch fishes or sit together. 
They are picking shrimp's baby and sell shrimp farm.

If you are interested in dried fish precessing, you have to go further into village.
I waited for a while and caught Auto which sometimes passes.

I came to a small beach.
There were some ships.
A fisherman told me that I could have seen many ships if I came earlier. They are now on the ocean to catch fishes.

A lot of fishes were carried...
Women prepared fished to hang.
There were fish, fish, fish and fish.

Finally found dried fish!!
Placed on table or hung.
It was worth coming to see.
A looooooot of fishes hung is very interesting scenery.
Atmosphere is quite different from Cox's Bazar city. It is really fisherman's village.
It is not easy to reach the place, but you will be able to manage somehow.
It will be interesting expereience.


Cox's Bazar(6) -Ramu Village-

Ramu is a small village 30 minutes from Cox's Bazar by bus.
Many Rakhain people lives there and there are many Buddhist temples.
I visited to see Buddhist temples and sleeping Buddha.
Bus to Ramu starts from Burmise market.
On the bus, I found people looks a little different.....more like us, Japanese.
After about 30 minutes, I got off at bazar.
OK, let's ask people the way......but then, I found.
I couldn't understand what they were telling!!
It was certainly Bengali, but different accent from Dhaka Bengali.
People understand my Bengali, but I don't understand their Bengali.
I was saying like
"sleeping Buddha!"
"Big temple!"
Then, people got me bus.
If you arrive from Cox's Bazar, turn left and take auto.
It takes about 20 minutes.(I don't really remember)
Getting off Auto, you have to walk 10 minutes to the temple.
It was nice walking with blue sky and green field.
Then, suddenly I found Buddha statue!
I was surprised because it was bigger than I expected.
It's very new temple.(built in 2002)
Woow, it's quite nice especially with blue sky!
I didn't expect much, but it was good surprise.
Later I came back to the bazar and visited 2 temples.
Those two are in walking distance.
The first one.
The second one.
Both new and beautiful.
There were not only local Buddhist people, but also tourists who seems Muslims.

If you have enough time in Cox's Bazar, make a short trip to Ramu.
Temple (especially the first one) is worth visiting.


Cox's Bazar(5) -Himchori & Inani-

30 minutes from Cox's Bazar, Himchori is the place you can see waterfall which is very rare in Bangladesh.
(Most of land in Bangladesh is flat)

Entrance fee is 150tk for foreigner.
Get ticket, and go up stairs.
Keep going......
You will find nice view on the way up.
Then, go up more!
From the top of hill, you will find a small souvenir shop and cucumber stall.
How about cucumber with view of beach? 
I met a Bangladeshi couple who traveled from Dhaka.
The guy have been to Japan for Cricket game, and we talked with eating cucumber.
(I usually don't eat at cucumber stall....but it was good after exercise which means going up stairs!)
By the way....he said he couldn't eat Japanese food so survived with only fruits and yoghurt drink for a week.
Later, Bangladeshi staff arrived and cooked curry....ummmm.

By the way......where is waterfall?

"Not here. It's near entrance."

But it was worth coming up to hill.
I went down and down, found waterfall.

It was Sma............ll, to be honest.
Bangladeshi people was having fun with waterfall, taking pictures.
Even under waterfall!
Will it be his facebook picture?

Then, I continue my way to Inani Beach where coral stones are found.
Picture is dark because of weather.....
But with sun light, beautiful.

There were boys collecting shells.
I haven't noticed, but there were a lot.
Boys collect shells to make jewelry or sell itself.
They picked up beautiful ones and gave me.
Though I know I won't use it or won't bring to Japan, I brought shells to home because smile of boys was so lovely.  
Short trip from Cox's Bazar, enjoy a little different kind of beach.