Photo Courtesy: Anwar Hossain Chowdhury
“Please come to Bangladesh,” Apon Chowdhury—a Bangladeshi friend invited me to visit Bangladesh via chat. Earlier, he had insisted me in traveling to his homeland. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it. It was sometime between Dashain and Tihar. I was free then. So, I accepted his invitation this time.
Apon was the President of Rotaract Club of Metropolitan Chittagong that time. He invited me to participate in ‘First International Rotaract Adventure Camp’, scheduled on October 18 to 21. I, including Tika Ram Paneru, Upasana Sharma decided to join on that adventure camp. We represented the Rotaract Club of Damauli
We commenced our journey on Bijaya Dashami. Since it was a vacation, and also to cut off expenses, we decided to travel by road.
We reached the Bangladeshi border after crossing India’s Panitanki, Siliguri, and Chyangrabanda. We booked the tickets for a night bus. Before boarding, I bought a local SIM card and informed Apon upon our safe arrival at Bangladesh.
The bus stopped for dinner at midnight. We entered a hotel. We went to the dining hall to have dinner. Vegetarian like me hardly survive there since meat items are common there. They mix up bits of meat in every dish they serve. So, I just had a paratha and a cup of tea.
Around 4 AM, we reached Dhaka—the Bangladeshi national capital. But our final destination was Chittagong. So we boarded another bus at around 5 AM.
Language barrier was a major difficulty we faced throughout the journey. People barely understood English and Hindi. But luckily, we found an Indian on the bus we traveled. He was well known to Bangladesh. He shared important tips and information about the place. He also guided us to our station and was with us till we met our local friends. He skipped his station for that!
Apon made us travel on Tuk Tuk—a popular tempo in Bangladesh. We reached his home. We experienced a homely environment there.
Apon then took us for a ride after getting fresh. We went to ‘Mini-Bangladesh’. As we strolled inside, it felt we were traveling across the entire length and breadth of Bangladesh. The replicas of important and famous historical heritages placed there fueled our experience. There also was view-tower where we could view the entire Chittagong city. We had lunch at Revolving Restaurant, located at the tower.
I woke up late the next morning since I was exhausted from the other day’s long travel. Our adventure began at Bandarban district. We met with local friends at the bus terminal and headed to our camp.
We barely knew each other on the bus. But since all of us were from the Rotaract, the affection only enhanced. Soon, we became close friends. In the bus, we chanted out Nepali and Bangladeshi songs loudly.
A foreign pass was mandatory for tourists to enter Bandarban. Thanks to the organizer who already had managed our passes.
The adventure camp kicked off. It was a proud moment for us when the Nepali anthem was played at a foreign land.
The 72 participants were allocated into four groups. I was elected as a leader of our group. We named the group, ‘Sagarmatha’, aimed to promote our nation.
After the end of the opening session, we reached Bandarban by crossing an uphill trail like Bandipur. We later landed up in Ruma—a sub-district of Bandarban, on a steamer boat.
We then took a jeep for our remaining journey from Ruma. The road was extremely difficult. At the same time, it was nerve-racking.
It was already dusk. But we had to reach the Boga Lake. After hiking for an hour, we finally arrived at the lake. The dark night overshadowed the beauty of the lake. Once could only rejoice the beauty of the lake in sunshine.
The night activities began with a campfire followed by dinner and cultural program. We showcased the ‘Uthyo Basyo’ dance steps which were new to Bangladeshis. They even tried doing the steps but failed to imitate it.
We headed to the lake after the first light. The tree-lined by the lake was so beautiful.
The second day of our adventure camp kicked off with trekking. Our next destination was ‘Keokradong,’ one of the highest peaks in Bangladesh.
It would be a difficult trek if local expert guide Jamal not been there. They properly managed the journey throughout the trek. Even Kaji Saurav Perwez, the president of the organizer club assisted and looked after us.
The legs weakened and the body was sweating as we reached a small village—Darjeeling Para. A clear view of Keokradong sparked our energy in continuing the journey.
Around 4 PM, we conquered the pinnacle of Keokradong, situated at an altitude 3,235 feet. We captured a moment of waving Nepali flags and also the banners of Rotaract club printed in Nepali, English and Bangladeshi language via our camera lenses.
On the third day, we enjoyed a lot in the waterfalls perched on the way. We spent about an hour there.
Bangladeshi dishes were not my cup of tea. So we plucked some leaves of pumpkin and wild bitter melon on the way. Upasana cooked it at night. We shared lit ike Prasad (Offerings) to everyone. It was scrumptious.
We again stayed at Boga. We exhibited some photos of Pokhara Tourism Board, aiming to promote tourism of Nepal. A costume competition was scheduled for the night. I and Tika were attired in our traditional apparel—Daura Suruwal. We won the competition. We then concluded the ceremony at the mid-night campfire. I bagged the ‘Best Camper’ while Tika won ‘Active Camper’.
I got to closely know many friends during the three-day-long journey. We returned to Chittagong and invited them to visit Nepal.