We had come all of the way to Khulna for two reasons: one, to be closer to the border with India, and two, to tour the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to the largest tiger population. Our plan was to book a tour of the region, and then head off to India.
Sadly, today turned out to be a day where nothing seemed possible. We started our day by visiting tour offices in an attempt to book a tour. We were not able to book anything: boats had either all left this very morning or were way too expensive. Tours at a decent price were all meant to depart in two weeks from now, and there was no way that we’d spend that much longer in the country. We left, frustrated and disappointed. There would be no tigers for us.
This also meant that there was nothing left keeping us in Bangladesh: today would be our final day here.
Next we tried to change Taka into Rupees – this was not possible. Even though the two countries border each other, banks only exchange currency the other way around. We would just have to hope for money exchange places at the border, or even better, an ATM.
Lastly we tried to pay our departure tax (everyone leaving the country must pay it, even overland, which seems weird to me!) at the bank – the bank was closed! We would just have to hope that we’d find another branch on our way towards the border.
We walked down the street towards our hotel, frustrated. The Prime Minister was about to drive through town, and as such the roads were blocked and filled with security. There were major traffic jams and large crowds of people, making walking not the most fun activity. People were pushing and not moving out of the way. A man kicked me. It was by accident, yes, but he didn’t even try to apologize. The whole walk back had me wanting to scream “I’m a person too!”.
Back at the hotel, things started to look up. I was able to use my laptop at the business centre and plug it in directly to the internet, so that I could upload a few photos. It was slow, and I could only do so much, but it was really nice. I was able to stay in the business center after hours, so it was lovely to have a little quiet time too.
While I was working away, an employee from reception came to talk to me about a new tour option, leaving in two days from now for 3 days (it was still too expensive). He then surprised me by asking if we wanted beers – hells ya! Bangladesh is a Muslim country, and alcohol is prohibited. I knew that you could still get some, but we hadn’t been offered anything up to now.
We got 4 beers to celebrate our last day in Bangladesh. We ordered fantastic room service (beef shish kabobs and mutton curry with naans) and said goodbye to Bangladesh in style. After our feast we are so full it hurts.
Tomorrow we are up early for a long journey into Kolkata. My feelings are all over the place: nervous, slightly scared (but feeling prepared after being here) but mostly worried about the day going smoothly.
Tomorrow, country #9!
In other news, Travis gave me his cold. He sounds as though he is going to cough up a lung, while I’m all stuffed up yet have a runny nose. Burk.