Today was a bit of a failure, again. Though an interesting one.
I left around 10am – way too late. The plan was to reach Alikadam or even Thanchi today. They are both located deep inside the so-called Chittagong Hill Tracts, a tribal area at the border with Myanmar/Burma. A special permit is required for visits to the area – which I organized back in Chittagong. It has expired by now but Aaron, who was there while I cycled down to Teknaf, said that the checkpoints didn’t seem to pay much attention to the details.
After leaving the highway I was in badly mapped area. The maps I have either show no roads at all in the area or the roads they have don’t exist in reality. So I relied on the local people, and after managing pronounciation of the place names (Alikadam can be Alikodom or Alikom, depending on who you ask?) it worked quite well. Or so I thought. Late in the afternoon I arrived in a village and people pointed me in the direction where I had just come from.
The village’s name was Idgar, and it was on the map again. Unfortunately, I had apparently moved in the wrong direction, away from Alikadam, and people now pointed back to were I had come from. I was too tired of it all and too far away to get anywhere in daylight, so I hopped on a bus that happened to be about to leave. It had a flat tyre soon after the next village and the car jack broke after the wheel was removed, but eventually I made it back to Cox’s Bazar.
I have just brushed the Hill Tracts today, though there were some serious hills there (ffs!). Some of the ones I had to ride down I wouldn’t manage to pedal up, nor would I want to try.
The ‘roads’ in the hills where unpaved, of course, and mostly just tracks or even single-file paths. Some were bricked roads. The latter look very nice, but can be annoyingly bumpy to ride.
I remembered one of the last conversations with Aaron.
“This may be a stupid questions, but are the Hill Tracts very hilly?”
“Nah, I don’t recall the roads being very hilly.”
Hehe, oh well. In his defense, he’d been in a different area and traveled by bus.