Thursday, October 23, 2014

Alea iacta est

Alea iacta est – The Die is cast.

Dates set and ticket purchased. Well for the Seattle to Bangkok part of the trip anyway. I haven't made any firm plans for the part of the trip from arriving from Seattle to returning, but I am strongly leaning to a flight from Thailand to Bangladesh. I thought Myanmar was off the tourist track until I started reading Lonely Planet's Bangladesh guide. Two hundred and eight pages in total. If you have ever looked at any of the Lonely Planet books you know that a hundred pages are generally dedicated to background and other fluff. In a book as big as their India book a hundred pages of non-essential pap isn't much of an impact. When the book is a breath over two hundred pages, this is quite a bite. I wonder if there is enough to satisfy my ADD for three weeks. If not there are other countries that are just a visa and plane ticket away.

Bangladesh is a very small country at the mouth of the Ganges river where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. In my lifetime it started out as part of India under British rule. When the British pulled out of India they chopped off a chunk to the east and a chunk to the west. These pieces of land were mostly populated by Muslims, leaving India with a Hindu majority. The new parts were one country called East and West Pakistan, with West Pakistan having the capital and of course the power.

In 1971 East Pakistan claimed independence and the fight was on. Reports of up to three million people were killed in the fighting before it was over and Bangladesh was a recognized country.

With a population of 2,800 people per square mile (USA 34 (Washington state 40)) it's gonna be crowded. Heck even India comes in under a 1000 per square mile and I had claustrophobia most of the time there. I may have to start sharpening my elbows now to get ready to get through the crowds.

Every place has the World's Something-ist. Bangladesh has the World's Longest continious sand beach at Cox's Bazzar. Since most of the country is the actual alluvial plain of the great rivers of India, it is pretty flat. Most of the country's elevation is less than 30 feet above sea level. A little flooding or a big cyclone really makes a mess of life and property.

The southwest of the country is one huge mangrove swamp called the Sundarbans. This area seems to be the biggest tourist draw. 19th century paddle wheelers wend their way from the capital south, where tourists board smaller (30 to 50 passenger) boats for three and four nights in the Sundarbans. Each and every pair of tourist eyes peeled for a glimpse of one of the rarely seen Bengal tigers that live there.

So here are my tentative plans. Arrive in Dhaka (the capital) get shoved and pushed around for a couple days. Take the Rocket (the paddle wheel) south. Float around for a couple days looking for tigers. Maybe see a fisherman using Otters to catch fish. Perhaps loll around on a beach for a day or so. There are ruins in the northwest and hills in the southeast. Sounds like enough of a plan for now.

Hmm.. that's odd. Spell check says there are no errors in this document

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