Friday, August 04, 2006

Srimongol Bike Ride (Photos)

Yesterday I went for a 40-mile bike ride through the tea gardens in Srimongol. With me was Stefan (a biking buddy) who planned this trip and came prepared with an older edition of Lonely Planet Bangladesh with a map of this area (the current edition does not.) We started out in Kamalganj and biked in a loop through many tea estates including Srigobindapur, Dolai, Balicchera, Husseinabad and Phulbari.

The starting point for this loop was the HEED bungalow in Kamalganj. From there we followed the main road towards Shamshernagar until reaching a large intersection, where we turned right. Then we pretty much followed this road all the way, looping through various gardens and emerging on the main road again near Srimongol.

The road varied from paved to brick to sand. We did not encounter significant mud despite the rainy season.

It was a daytrip from Dhaka. Left Dhaka by car: 6:30am; arrived at Kamalganj: 9:30am; done biking: 3:30pm; left for Dhaka by car: 4pm; arrived home: 8:30pm.

It was beautiful in a serene, peaceful kind of way. Here are some pictures. Many thanks to Stefan for taking the initiative for the trip and navigating.

We ran into some spectacular landscapes. In the distance it was raining, but we luckily managed to stay dry:

The path was pretty though the brick portions of it jarred every bone in my body!

Many people used biycles in the villages. The boy in the foreground is too small to sit on the saddle but can ride by threading his leg through the frame's triangle. Later we met two boys who had bicycled from Shamshernagar to Srimongol (19km) for fun.

Once we lost our way and ran into these kids in a village...

... and then this Mohish (water buffalo) with whom I was very careful not to get into an argument!

School was over near Srigobindopur:

This father and son pair were working in the tea field:

In the garden, women waited to weigh the tea they had collected. Life must be hard when so much of it depends on weight - be it tea-leaves, rubber-latex, fruits, firewood or fish.

Other workers got a lunch break...

...While a boy offered guavas for sale near a labor village.

On a mandap at the foot of a large tree were remains of a prayer offering:

A drying sari lit up the landscape...

... as did this group who had just finished their weighing:

Meanwhile, it was time for the Friday shave for one of the men -

...but - as usual - the children had a better idea!

Postscript: Several years ago, I photographed the tea workers extensively. You can see some of them in my photo exhibit at the Fixing Shadows online Gallery, for example, this girl


Mo said...

Wow! 40 miles on a bike? I can manage only about 5-6 miles on a mountain bike. This isn't a motorbike by any chance, is it?

Any how, this stuff is very inspiring. I will definitely have to try out these excursions next time I am in BD. I might even have to pair up with a pro like you.

BTW, great pictures. Keep writing.

Mo, MN

ulysses said...

This was on a bicycle. Sorry about the confusion. Next time, I will make sure brain is in gear before fingers start typing :-)

Because the terrain in Bd is so flat, one can go at 10 mi/hour without straining oneself too much. If you have some experience with mountain bikes, it should be that much easier for you. But I would mislead you if I said you do not need any conditioning.

Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

this is dj sy. im traveling to bangladesh in may on a cycling trip .i do freeride and xc i have been to srimonglol near were i live never had right bike so this time im taking a giant reign 3 downhill .theres a forest next to sylet airport some nice drops jumps

Saiful said...

Those are really nice pics you uploaded. Hope your enjoyed the ride in Srimongol.