Today we left the comfort of our bamboo hut and lovely countryside for Bangladesh’s second largest city, Chittagong. This city is the gateway to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a series of hill tribe villages dotted along mountain ranges bordering Myanmar. It has the country’s largest Buddhist population, and (apparently) some of the most rewarding locales in the country.
To get to Chittagong we opted to take the train, again. Conveniently, the train runs straight there, alongside the border of India. Unfortunately, it turned out that our seat were in the 3rd class section, but thankfully we had seats. 3rd class is what they call elsewhere in Asia as a hard seat, and this was crazy hard. Not long after sitting down I started to get shooting pains in my legs. My ass was killing me. I was hurting in places I never thought I would from sitting, like my calves and ankles. It was painful, just horrible. No way to get comfortable. It felt silly complaining though, considering…
That 3rd class also means that people can buy standing tickets. The wagon was packed solid: people in the isles, and 3 to 4 people to a double seat. It was madness. No matter how uncomfortable we were, at least we were only two on our two-seater bench, and not standing.
The train was late, so we sat on our bags and waited. As always, as soon as we stopped moving we drew a crowd. Pretty quickly, we were encircled by curious eyes, showing no shyness in blatantly staring at us, for what felt like hours. At one point Travis counted 24 people surrounding us. As soon as one would get the courage to ask us a question (such as they usual, “where from” or “what country”), everyone would hover in closer to listen to our answer. It would have been trying, except that…
I wasn’t feeling very well. Something I ate didn’t sit right with me, and I was feeling nauseous on top of having an upset stomach. Not the ideal situation considering the upcoming 9 hour train ride. Before eating lunch I decided to take 2 Dramamine anti-nausea pills, just to be safe. Ginger had brought these over for us instead of Gravol, which they apparently don’t have in the US. I had never taken Dramamine before, but as Travis warned me that it would make me drowsy, I didn’t care. I just didn’t want to be sick. Well, he wasn’t lying! The whole time that we were waiting for the train, I just couldn’t stop falling asleep, holding my head up in my hands. I couldn’t care that everyone was staring, because I was too busy slipping in and out of sleep. I think I kept slipping in and out of sleep until 4 hours into our train ride. It for sure made things a bit more bearable, because one can’t really feel pain or annoyance when they’re asleep.
There were many beggars in the train today, which is something new for us. A cripple crawling on the ground, people stepping over him. Blind people singing down the isles. And regular beggars too. Mostly everyone ignored them, as though they were not there. The singing was really beautiful though. Travis gave money to a lady with cataracts. A lot of people have those here it seems – surgery for it must be hard to get by / afford.
In other news, Canada suffered an embarrassing loss against Sri Lanka in their first game of the Cup. I don’t know anything about cricket, but after watching them play for two minutes even I could tell that they were playing poorly.