Feni – Chittagong

I left early, as usual. Today’s destination was Chittagong, to the south. To avoid having to ride the same stretch of highway as last night, and to avoid the highway in general, I left Feni to the east on smaller roads, then turned south. That way I also saw a tiny bit of that Bangladeshi pocket I mentioned yesterday, and came pretty close (about 500m) to the Indian-Bangladeshi border. The Bangladeshi side consists of a massive fence and is heavily guarded. I didn’t see the Indian side, but I guess it looks similar.

I crossed the Dhaka-Chittagong-Highway very close to where I had reached it yesterday, and cycled to the west, towards the Bay of Bengal. Again I crossed yesterday’s route briefly, but then disappeared in the most remote area so far. The road was only a mere track and there were no villages anymore. The countryside, still flat, consisted of fish ponds. Next to each pond there was a house, probably inhabited by the guy – I didn’t see any women – working and guarding the pond.

The track, situated on a dam, was in reasonably good shape and went west at first, then turned south, parallel to the Bay of Bengal, but still quite far away from the actual shore. I only got to see it 50km or so further south.

Later the land was used agriculturally and the track led through villages. I stopped at one of the roadside ‘bars’, where you can have a tea and a smoke and a bag of potato crackers if you have the money for luxury. I had two of those bags and a bottle of some fizzy drink there for lunch. The few people present showed the kind of curiosity I had gotten used to. Then they asked the one question I was not prepared for. “What is your salary?”

Much later, the track was merely a single-file path now, I reached Kumira and its Sandwip Ghat, the ferry terminal from where you can go to Sandwip Island. I shall be back. But most importantly, from here southwards are the shipbreaking yards, where oil and gas tankers and container frighters and all other kinds of ships are being taken apart for want of steel and other precious materials. They say that all the steel that is used elsewhere in the Bangladeshi shipbuilding industry comes from here.

I wasn’t allowed into the yards, as the owners are not proud of their health and safety measures.

I reached the highway again, unavoidable here, and pressed on, as the sun was already setting. I cycled through Chittagong’s City Gate with last light, pretty much exactly at 6pm, then had to continue through the city’s tremendously congested streets for another hour – not without getting lost and avoiding two crashes by just a few centimeters – before arriving at the hotel of choice. (Nothing spectacular, don’t worry, just one I had picked out before.)

Cycled: 137km

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