Everything worked out and Aaron and I met again on the 9.30am ferry to St. Martin, Bangladesh’s only coral island.
Had some interesting conversations with Aaron. Amongst other things, we talked about our experiences with rip-offs and touts and fake sobbing stories, and he had quite a few to tell. I had to admit that I hadn’t had too many bad experiences – ok, during my travels, I was lured into buying a flask of perfume for a girlfriend I didn’t have, and a pair of sandals that I was never gonna wear, and I’ve been ripped off with entrance fees or ticket prices every now and then, but I was spared from the many aggressive touts and beggars he had to learn to evade over the years. And Aaron said something very uplifting, namely that with my way of traveling – by bike – and my itineraries away from the standard tourist tracks, I was able to see more of the unspoilt human nature. I will jump on my bike tomorrow (or the day after) more light-hearted again.
St. Martin is quite touristy, and my guide book has seriously criticised the way touristic development was enforced here. There are many Dhaka-owned hotels here and overfishing of the surrounding waters – to cater for the hordes of domestic tourists (up to 1000 per day, allegedly) – is a serious problem.
Yet the money tourists bring doesn’t seem to stay on the island. People still do subsistance farming and live in the simplest of huts.
We arranged for some diving for tomorrow morning.