On a boat through Sylhet’s swamp forest
As usual, I sat in the CNG, a small Bangladeshi Tuk Tuk, fortunately protected on both sides by fences, navigating through Dhaka’s extreme traffic (and I’m not exaggerating – there is a reason Bangladeshi people say that Bangladesh itself is the proof God exists; it’s a miracle that in such traffic, only about twenty people die every day). A few young children stuck their hands through the small fence and asked for money, an occurrence I witnessed every day. Once, I even saw some children left for dead on the ground. (For more about Bangladesh: see X)
But there are beautiful sides of Bangladesh, too. The CNG stopped at the bus station and I hopped on the night bus to Sylhet. I arrived at about five in the morning and continued my journey on to the swamp forests, a journey that would be almost as beautiful as the destination itself. I went through villages, small forests, and beaches. I finally found places in Bangladesh that I could call quiet and peaceful. All in all, going there independently was an extensive journey that led me through Jaflong and Gowainghat.
Because of the intensive bureaucratic process involved in obtaining a permit for the area around Rangamati, I decided not to visit this place. The reason why the authorities make it so hard is the presence of the unique tribes that still live in the vast forests surrounding Rangamati; tribes who have lived apart from society for thousands of years. Aside from protecting the tribes, it’s also about protecting the people: the tribes can get aggressive when faced with foreigners, as they often see it as an intrusion into their territory.
I was thrilled about going past the border customs illegally, especially after having spent some time in Bangladesh, a country where you certainly don’t want to end up in prison. But fortunately, all went fine, and looking back at the pictures, it was definitely worth it.