Bangladesh - Jan 2009
Trip Highlights:


Dhaka is more than just a city; it’s a giant whirlpool that sucks in
anything and anyone foolish enough to come within its furious
grasp. Around and around it sends them, like some wildly spinning
fairground ride bursting with energy. Millions of individual pursuits
constantly churn together into a frenzy of collective activity – it is an
urban melting pot bubbling over. Nothing seems to stand still. Even
the art moves, paraded on the back of the city's sea of 600,000 -
plus rickshaws, which throb with colour and restlessness even
when grid locked.

It doesn't matter how many times you experience this city, the
sensation of being utterly overwhelmed is always the same. Sights
and experiences come at you so thick and fast that it would take a
lifetime to know this mega-city's every mood. A day spent
alternating between the filthy riverbanks of Old Dhaka and the
swish restaurants of Gulshan is a day spent seeing the haves and
have-nots of the world in crystal clarity. There’s no guarantee that
you'll fall for Dhaka's many charms, but sooner or later you will start
to move to its beat and when that happens Dhaka stops being a
terrifying ride and starts becoming a cauldron of art and intellect,
passion and poverty, love and hate. Whatever happens, this is one
fair- ground ride you'll never forget.


Unesco-protected Bagerhat, with its treasure trove of historical
monuments, will send a shiver of excitement down the spines of
archaeology buffs. Hidden among the green folds of the
surrounding countryside are more ancient mosques and
mausoleums than anywhere else in Bangladesh (except Dhaka),
but the crowning jewel of this fabulous little-known collection is the
Shait Gumad Mosque a multi-domed medieval masterpiece.

St. Martin’s Island

Idyllic St. Martin’s Island is everything that brash Cox’s Bazar is
not! It’s the country’s only coral island, and home to a friendly,
tomorrow-never-comes population. The majority of the island’s
inhabitants are Muslim, and live primarily off fishing. St Martin’s
Island is a special place with beaches that really do match the
hype. For the moment it really does remain a place for the more
discerning Bangladeshi tourist therefore most foreign visitors find it
a far more relaxing beach hangout than its big brother up the coast.


Put simply there is no better place in which to experience the magic
of the Hill Tracts than in the small town of Bandarban, which lies on
the Sangu River, 92km from Chittagong. The river is the centre of
local life: bamboo rafts up to 500m long, steered by a single solitary
boatman, drift leisurely downstream, while country boats make slow
trips to neighbouring villages. Most inhabitants belong to the
Buddhist Marma tribe. The surrounding countryside is some of the
finest in Bangladesh and offers one of the few opportunities to
really escape the masses. Instead of the honking of horns and awe-
struck stares of the masses you'll have nothing much to listen to
but birdsong and the fluttering about you will be bright, floppy
winged butterflies.

© Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd 2008
    "The people here have been
    absolutely amazing ... I am constantly
    surprised by their friendliness,
    politeness, enthusiastic curiousity,
    etc ... some of the warmest people I
    have ever met .. and genuine in their
    sentiments." Mercedes Perez
    January 2009