Dhaka greeted us with chaotic traffic and ant fuss, from which we had already managed to wean ourselves, being in the province. Luckily, this was just one of the stopovers on our way to the largest mangrove forest in the world, the Sundarbans. Having reloaded from the train to a mototuktuk, we immediately went to the bus station and miraculously bought 2 tickets to Khulna on a comfortable Autoline bus. Looking at the clock, an Autoline employee tells us that our bus leaves in 25 minutes from another bus station, after which it abruptly runs out onto the road and slows down their own Autoline bus, which is just going to this point. Sit down, guys, you will be taken. We sit down and find ourselves in a dense traffic jam. There was a real opportunity to be late, but we won and 3 minutes before departure we still take our seats.
Seats went to the last row, and the side glass was decorated with a huge spider-like crack, but there were no other options. Arriving in Dhaka and leaving within 1.5 hours is great luck.
I can’t say anything about the road itself, since the crack greatly interfered with the perception of the surrounding landscapes. I remember just playing some Indian film on TV. We also met wild bees, because of which we started this whole trip.
Nests hung 3 meters from the entrance to the cafe at an intermediate bus stop.
These were the only wild bees we saw in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, no honey pickers were observed nearby.
The traffic in Bangladesh is certainly crazy, but it’s not as bad as I thought after reading other reports. I can’t say more about the trip itself. We got to Khulna after dark and immediately settled in one of the two best hotels in this city, the Western Inn International. There were several options for rooms and we settled on the average. I must say right away that this hotel is one of the best I have seen in this country. There was a great restaurant on the ground floor.
In the morning we had to carry out all the preparatory and organizational work to continue the journey. There are several ways to get to the Sundarbans.
There is a standard way to the Sundarbans – through Mongla. This is a village about 40 km from Khulna, from which all boats depart with those wishing to visit the National Reserve. So we planned to get there. The matter was complicated only by the fact that to visit the Sundarbans, again, the ill-fated permission and the mandatory police escort were required. Thus, the first option was to buy a tour at the hotel, including transport to Monglu, permission, guide, boat. We found out all the conditions and cost, and even went to Hotel Royal International, which was listed in LP as specializing in tours to the Sundarbans (in fact, the offer was similar to our hotel offer). The second option is to independently obtain a permit and travel to Mongla, followed by renting a boat with a guide.
To do this, in the morning we headed to the Divisional Forest Office. There we met a very courteous man, Zakir Hossein, and a girl with a Russian name, Tanya, who for some reason got her from Mexico.
Unexpectedly for us, a third unexplored version of the route arose. Not a word was said about these places in our preparatory notes and guide, but for some reason we decided to go there.
From Khulna on the BRTC bus (these are the busiest buses in Bangaldesh) from the station near New Market at 2 pm we had to get to a place called Shimnagar, and from there by passing car to Munrigorj. There is a Tigerpoint guesthouse owned by the voluntary environmental organization Shushilan, of which Zakir is a director. Tigerpoint guesthouse is not a hotel for tourists, but for guests of the organization. Zakir promised to call the guesthouse administrators (Khokon 01720505778, Mannan 01721428684).
We had a few hours before departure and we decided to devote ourselves to exploring the city. Somewhere in the city, there is an ancient mosque with 40 domes. Remembering the mosques of Dhaka, I decided to exclude this attraction from the program. Then, looking at the photographs of this monument in the national museum of Dhaka, I never regretted my decision. The city itself is not small, much larger than Cox’s Bazar and Rangamati. For the first time, we saw here a small supermarket in the traditional sense of the word. Lots of modern mosques.
Well, in general, the same gray and nondescript city as all the others. In the morning at the hotel, they asked to write the address of the local fish market on a piece of paper, caught a cycle rickshaw, and went there to pass the time left before the bus.
Oddly enough, the market does not work from early morning, but from 9-10 o’clock. More precisely, it opens earlier, but the fish is taken out later.