Few of my younger brothers and my travel mates decided to go for a camping trip at the Southern part of Bangladesh. The location was the Sonar chor of Patuakhali (সোনার চর, পটুয়াখালী), and Kukri-mukri of Bhola (কুকরী-মুকরী, ভোলা). They have invited me to join with them for this camping trip. I have accepted their invitation and bought a cheap quality tent (with a discount) and joined with them. It was initially a two day's trip but later I have convinced them to make it a three day's trip. We were total seven person and booked two cabins for this trip on the ferry Farhan-4 (ফারহান-৪) that would drop us at the Betua of Chorfasson of Bhola (বেতুয়া, চর ফ্যাশন, ভোলা), which was also the last stoppage for this water vehicle.
Our launch supposed to start at 6:00pm at the evening and I started for that early to avoid any kind of risks. I have reached there early and thought I was the first person to reach. But found few of my other mates have already arrived before me and with them I was waiting for them. The departure time for such launches are very odd. It is very common for the travelers to miss their launch for this odd timing. Probably our launch was an hour late and started at 7:00pm. One thing I always like is the colorful view of the Sadarghat (সদর ঘাট) platform from the ship when it starts for the destination.
I always like to travel with a launch. It makes me feel like sitting inside the home and at morning I found myself at my destination. Very few countries from the world has such relaxing traveling facility through the water. This can be a lucrative attraction for the foreigners who comes to visit our Bangladesh. During such trips we always play card game inside our cabins. We have done that similar activities. I am not a regular card player and every time in such situation I need to learn the game from the scratch! I don't feel any shame for learning this game again again. After all everything is fun.
We have done our dinner with the menus of the ferry. They always prepare the good dish for the passengers. We have ordered the Poa fish (পোয়া মাছ) for our dinner. It was a tasty and mouthwatering menu that we have selected. This dinner is another thing that I love to do during my traveling with the ferries. After the dinner we have played the card game for several hours and then went to the bed for a short sleep.
We got up from the bed when the launch had reached at the Betua (বেতুয়া) that was the last stoppage for this journey. It was inside the Chorfasson Upazela (চরফ্যাশন উপজেলা) of the Bhola district (ভোলা জেলা). We have found lot of people have already left the ship and we were only few remaining out there. After refreshing ourselves with the help of the facility with the launch we have gotten down from that. We have hired a motor vehicle and reached at the Chorfasson (চরফ্যাশন) town.
We have finished our breakfast from a local restaurant at town. After that we have finished our shopping that covers mainly the grocery items along with few cooking ingredients. We have also bought beef so that we could prepare the delicious Kachchi (কাচ্চি) during the night. It was still very early in the morning, around 8:30am. We have hired a zip like vehicle to drop us at Kochchopia (কচ্ছপিয়া). We have reserved the vehicle and I forgot the actual cost. That dropped us to our destination within an hour and the road condition was good.
My travel mates have already hired a boat over the phone from Dhaka. And the elderly boatman was waiting for us on the Ghat (ঘাট) with a helping hand of him. It was a normal sized engine boat and bigger enough for our team. After boarding on to the boat we have finished the last moment of shopping. Because we were heading for a remote island and on there no human houses are available. Only the fishermen use to spend the nights on their boat. So it was mandatory to make ourselves sufficient things to live on hat remote island.
It was probably 11:00am or 12:00pm of the day when we have started our boat for our destination. The boat was rowing throw a canal with the help of its engine. Later it falls into a river. Though I really doubt whether that is a river or the ocean itself. Because these places are basically the island. And in between the island we are having river like things. And our boat was going through those things. Should I call those as a channel?
Our Bangladesh is versatile with the beauties. Every corner is unique with its own beauty. For example the beauty of the Southern Bangladesh is the rivers and the boats. During our boat riding we have enjoyed that sort of things a lot. Kids were playing at the bank of the river (or channel). Cowboys were active with their herd. Farmers were working on the fields. And many more daily life activities. By the way, despite of winter the weather was getting warmer. We were traveling under a bright and sunny sky.
It was probably less than 30 minutes when we have reached at the edge of the Kukri-mukri (কুকরী-মুকরী) island. We have taken a canal as a path to move at the other side of the island as a shortcut. It was a wide canal with full of mangroves plants at the both banks. It was a busy channel that was having frequent boats moving at the both directions. Boats like use, and the boats of the inhabitants from this Kukri-mukri (কুকরী-মুকরী) island use to use this channel for quick transportation.
It was the harvesting season there in Kukri-mukri (কুকরী-মুকরী). I have seen mile after mile filled with golden ripe paddy at the bank of the canal. Farmers were busy with collecting their harvest from the fields. It was a beautiful sight to see. Just imagine a canal is going through a golden field and having forest at the border of the fields. I have seen women were also working with the men.
At one moment our boat has crossed the island and now entering into the open sea. During that canal drive we were all busy with observing the nature (and additionally I was keeping eyes on the birds too). The canal bank was rich with lot of wader and plover type of birds. I have seen plenty of those. But couldn't take any snap of those birds clearly as the boat was moving slightly faster. Also after a long time I have seen the boat with a colorful sail. Last time I saw that was at Nijhum Dwip (নিঝুম দ্বীপ).
When our boat was moving through the open ocean, it was really a boring and tedious journey. We were surrounded by the water and only a glimpse of the islands were visible at the far. We got tired quickly with the same scene and few of us fall in sleep on the boat. Rest of the four of us were started playing card and it helped us. The journey was probably nearly 90 minutes or more. During this course of the journey we have passed the islands Chor Montaz (চর মন্তাজ) and Chor Andar (আন্দার চর). Our boatman lost the direction for a while during this course. I wasn't feeling any nervousness. Because I knew I could rescue him with my GPS.
Our boring journey got an end when we have reached at the bay of the Sonar Chor island (সোনার চর). It was a classic remote island having white sandy border at the edge with packed with forest at the whole island. After reaching near the boat we were moving slowly to find a location. But we were confused to make a suitable location for the camping. Do you know the proverbs 'Many men many minds'? That was happening to us.
There was a place beside the bay that was having a nice forest and the sand was pure white in color. It was spacious and an ideal location for the camping. But unfortunately we have found a picnic party were there. It was a large sized group and doing lot of picnic activities including playing football. We didn't want to ruin the serenity of the island with the presence of that picnic party. So we didn't want to pitch our tents on there. And that's why we have been searching for suitable location.
Finally we have anchored our boat at one corner of the island and that was near a forest having lot of dead trees. Those trees were looking violet in color from the far sight. We have thought those were a different kind of trees so decided to stay near those. But later we came to know that those were actually dead trees. Apart from this crestfallen incident, we have found the area was uneven and not good or the tenting.
Later we found a boatman was walking near the area and informed us about the wild buffalo. They use to visit the shoreline during the night and we were afraid of those wild animals. Because during the night the wild herd could easily trample over our campsite and any mishap could happen. So we started to walk alongside the shoreline. We were still searching for a suitable location.
Probably we have walked more than 40 minutes and we have came to the initial place at where we have seen the picnic party were playing football. By that time they were gone and it was empty, and the beach was quiet and calm. Those picnic party came from the Rangabali Upozela (রাঙ্গাবালি উপজেলা) of Patuakhali district (পটুয়াখালী জেলা). We came here through the Bhola (ভোলা জেলা), but from Rangabali (রাঙ্গাবালি) it is nearer. But as we are from Dhaka, considering this our route was most feasible for us.
The day during the winter is very short. Though it was only 2:45pm of the day, but still we were running out of time. We have pitched our tents quickly beside the forest (also at the shoreline). After that everyone was busy with collecting dead branches of the trees or anything similar that could burn at campfire. Few were helping with preparing the cooking ingredients. I have a severe back pain, so I could only help them by collecting few branches of trees from the woods.
Since we were beside a forest, the sun goes at the other side of the forest quickly. And it was getting darker quickly. We have found few foxes were paying a visit at our campsite. Probably they didn't expect a guest like us at their island. So we started the campfire quickly to show the foxes a signal that we are also prepare for them. It won't be easy fight for them! Our boat was anchoring near us at bay. We could have stayed on the boat for night-staying as well. But that would cause our camping in vain.
My travel mates then started cooking Kachchi (কাচ্চি) for our dinner. Their ebullience was really something that you could watch. I was enjoying their every moment's activities. They really did a hard work to start the cooking. First they needed to prepare a shape on which they could place the pot for boiling. It took only few hours to finish the cooking. The helping hand from the boat also helped us on this matter. That lad was a real expert on this sort of thing. Probably he own this expertise by cooking on the boat on a regular basis. By the way, at the end, somehow their Kachchi (কাচ্চি) has turned into a Khichuri (খিচুড়ি). Somehow they have managed to make such transformation. It was funny though.
Not sure when we have started our dinner, but probably around 9:00pm of the night. The diner was tasty to me. I liked the cooking. Except me, everyone found the Khichuri (খিচুড়ি) was too much hot and spicy. None of us couldn't even take enough of that meal. But fortunately enough I was swallowing every bit of my meal happily. In fact I have asked for more on my plate. They were amazed on my behavior, in fact I was amazed too. I didn't find anything spicy and hot on the food that could make anybody hishing.
Though we have done most of the travels by boat and launch, but still were feeling tired after the dinner. So I went to the bed after having a refreshment from the nearby forest at night. Few of my friends were gossiping beside the campfire. But I couldn't help but entering inside the tent. It was the winter and I was having my sleeping bag with me. But inside the tent it was worm, and the sleeping bag was too much warm for me. In fact I started sweating quickly.
During the high tide the water of the sea came very near to our tents. In fact we could hear the murmaring sound of the water clearly. As my ears were on the ground, the sound was feeling in fact much nearer than the actual. I was in fact feeling skittish several times to get washed away by the water. But later on the morning I found that the water in fact was 5-10 feet away from my tent.
I couldn't have a sound sleep during the night. I have waken up several times during the night. Most of the times because of my back pain. Also the space inside the tent wasn't enough for me because of my height (though I was alone inside the tent). I was tossing and turning inside my tent. Several times I was in fact sitting on my tent and praying for the night to over quickly.
At the middle of the night, when everyone were asleep, I heard a sound from the people near our tent. It was probably 3/4 people who were talking beside our tents. In fact they were inspecting around the tenets withe the help of their torch light. But I was in sleep, and I couldn't recognize what they were talking. In fact I thought it was a dream, and also I though it could be my mates who were gossiping outside. So I kept silent about this issue and in fact have forgotten.
But later at one part of the day one of my mates was talking about this issue. He also thought it could be us. But later we have confirmed that none of us went outside the tent during the night. So the things got clearer that some outsiders were sneaking around our campsite during the night. We assumed that they might have seen the campfire from the far and that just made them interested to pay a visit here. We were lucky that they were not pirates. For your information, this is a fearful area (specially during rainy season) due to the pirates.
Overall the day was adventurous for us. The night was the most thrilling portion of our Day-1. We were the only outsiders along with few fishing boats scattered around. The foxes were calling frequently. Sometimes the foxes were paying a visit to our campsite (single or in a group). The sound of the ocean was the best of everything. I have never been so close to the ocean while sleeping at night.
If you are interested in next part then please read it from the day-2.
It was a three days trip at the most Southern part of our Bangladesh. At day-1 we have done some camping at Sonar chor (সোনার চর) of Patuakhali (পটুয়াখালী). At day-2 we have returned back to Kukrimukri (কুকুরি-মুকরি) and stayed there at Union Parishad (ইউনিয়ন পরিষদ) facility. At day-3 we have explored some part of Kukrimukri (কুকুরি-মুকরি) island and return back to the ferry for Dhaka by afternoon.
Towards the island Sonar Chor (সোনার চরের পথে),
Village: Shonar chor (সোনার চর),
Upazela: Rangabali (রাঙ্গাবালি উপজেলা),
District: Patuakhali (পটুয়াখালী জেলা),
Country: Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশ),
GPS coordinate (21°49'30.82"N, 90°30'44.70"E)
This article has written by Lonely Traveler,
for the blog http://icwow.blogspot.com/