After breakfast I went looking for the local rajbaris. There are two, one commonly known as Natore Rajbari, and a second, known as Uttara Gono Bhaban. The latter is said to be one of the official residences of the president of Bangladesh, and not open to the public. While seeking the former I ended up at the latter and discovered that it can now be visited. It would open at 10am (it was 9.30 when I arrived) and the entrance fee was 10 Taka – for Bangladeshis. For foreigners it was 500 Taka, 50 times as much. While that is still not extremely much (though I don’t know what exactly there is to see at that rajbari) I don’t think my income is 50 times that of a middle-class Bangladeshi who can afford coming here for leisure and visit the place. (The 10-fold increase that is customary at other places I find acceptable.) Also, I didn’t feel like idling for half an hour.
Instead I went for the other rajbari, actually 7 big buildings and a number of smaller ones as well as some Hindu temples. The fee there was 5 Taka, even for foreigners. Hm, I found that a bit low. ;)
I was looking at the first temple when I was approached by two groups of kids, boys and girls, respectively. They handed me a flower and everyone shook my hand and shouted “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
It’s Friday, Muslim holiday, and the place was being prepared for some kind of Valentine’s Day celebrations. People were brought in by the bus full. I didn’t have five minutes for myself before I was stopped again and again for a chat or a photo. I looked around for a bit and left. It was charming but a bit too much.
On the direct highway, Bogra is just 75km from Natore, in a northeastish direction. I wanted to avoid that and cycled north, parallel to the railway. Sometimes I took shortcuts through rice fields, and for a while I cycled on the railway dam right next to the rail track on a singe-file path. It was amazing.
Near the town of Naogaon I turned east. It was quite late in the day already, so I hopped on a bus to Bogra that just happened to wait for passengers at the side of the road to cover the last 30 or so kilometers before sunset. I sat on the roof of the bus with my bike.
At dinner, I experienced my first ever earth quake.