Thursday, December 22, 2005
A Trip to Cox's Bazar
We made a trip to Cox's Bazar over a three-day weekend: 15-17 December. The options for getting to CB are: a) bus; b) plane; c) drive. We drove. Started out at Dhaka at 7am; reached CB at 3pm. We drove straight through, did not stop anywhere.
To go south from Chittagong, you have to cross the Karnaphuli river. We got on the wrong bridge over the river. This was a really narrow, single-lane railway bridge. There was a flagman who held up traffic one way and let the traffic pass the other way. On our way back we crossed the river on a more conventional bridge.
Anyways, CB was very beautiful. Sunset on the beach was incredible. I was also very happy to see a lot of Bangladeshis enjoying this beautiful spot. Tourism has become big business in Bangladesh. Big Volvo busses ply the Dhaka-CB road, carrying many middle-class families to their vacations.
We ate at the hotel, but there is lots of places with good food in CB. There are shops selling souvenirs made from "jhinuk" - zillions of different kinds. And lots of "Burmese" shops selling unpredictable combinations of things: "Shaq" basketball shorts, a variety of knives, laser pointers, even a book-light!
Development is crazy. I counted over 20 multi-storied hotels that are open today, as well as many more under constrution. "Angel Drop", a tea shop that the Lonely Planet Guide raved about, was exceptional because of the open air design, and because no concrete was used. It looked very nice. But I was tired and wanted a cup of regular milky Bangladeshi tea only to be told they served coffee (instant) and milkless tea.
The beach sand was dark. The water was a little murky. Parts of the beach were littered with trash. Seems like we Bangladeshis like to share so much, we even share our trash with other beachgoers! Parts of the beach were covered by intricate, beautiful patterns created by tiny (1cm) crab.
There was a large patch of "Jhau" trees on the beach. I assume that they break the force of the winds of the Norwesters that hit these parts during the monsoon.
We got on a speedboat for a short ride. There are other sports such as jet skis, "bananas", as well as dune buggies on the sand.
The Dhaka-Chittagong highway had at least 8 or 10 large rest stops. We stopped at "The Off Beat" which had a diverse menu offering everything from French Fries to noodles to biriyani to Korolla Bhaji. The Fries were so-so - I think
they mixed in a little turmeric. Later I found out that another favorite is Highway Inn. Apparently the Khichuri-Gosht at Highway Inn is amazing.
Next time I go, I am definitely going to take a trip to Teknaf and St Martin's. I understand SM is more pristine, and there is no electricity.