I started the day early and left Dhaka’s colorful chaos to the southeast on the country’s main highway, the Dhaka-Chittagong-Highway. Traffic was heavy, but that didn’t affect me much except for the dust all the busses and trucks and CNGs stirred up.
My first stop was in Sonargoan, which is a guide book-recommended sight, a kind of mansion from the Mughal era. It was a tad disappointing as not much was there to see. The (seemingly) one old building was still being restored, yet I had to pay the full entrance fee. By the way, just like in Dhaka, the official fee for foreigners is ten times that of locals, which I find ok (it’s still very cheap). I met Fahad and a bunch of his collegues there, who spoke some English.
A little while later I turned off the highway to find a way through somewhat uncharted rural areas to Chandpur, a port city at the Meghna river. The Meghna and the Brahmaputra rivers join in Chandpur district, kind of. Bangladeshi rivers usually are made up of many tributaries and split up in many distributaries. So what joins with the Meghna in Chandpur district is the Jamuna river, the main distributary of the Brahmaputra.
Before reaching Chandpur, though, I cycled through lovely villages. People were very friendly and helpful, and pointed me in the right direction. I sometimes found it difficult to make myself understood, however. I have to work on my pronounciation of Bengali words (place names in this case), which is not always straight forward.
The countryside is generally flat. That is, there are no hills at all (with the exception of the eastern border areas with India and Burma/Myanmar, but that’s a different story). Villages span across a large area and consist of many reservoir ponds and rice paddies interspersed with houses and yards. The roads are more track-like and – not surprisingly – not always paved. Traffic is refreshingly low and cycling through these rural areas is very pleasant.
I had to cycle on dams between flooded rice fields, and cross rivers on narrow bamboo bridges and with row boats. Great stuff.