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Himalaya

Day 124: Chandpur to Mongla

Dhaka, Bangladesh 
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Farewell to the hyperactive Dhaka waterfront. Sand carriers above, riverbank laundry below.
Michael Palin - HimalayaUp at six. It's a soft, drowsy morning. The banks are shrouded in mist, from which fields and trees occasionally emerge, tinged with diffused morning sunlight. The mist and the water mingle, giving the impression that everything, on water and land, is floating.

From a map on the wall of the state room and a few enquiries of the waiters, I work out that we are west of the main river channel and south of Barisal, heading slowly through a maze of curling rivers in the rough direction of the Sundarbans National Park. Breakfast is a disappointingly routine affair, enlivened only by discovering that my bottle of 'Mum' mineral water is proudly labelled 'Official Drink For the 10th Asian Conference on Diarrhoeal Diseases'.

At half-past seven we reach a place called Jahlokati. An archetypal scene of passengers waiting beneath a spreading neem tree, a few thatched buildings and a tin-roofed warehouse, its walls stuck with political posters and daubed with slogans. The signs are only in Bangla, reminding us that we are well away from the cosmopolitan world of Dhaka. Well away from the hustle and bustle too. Though a lot of people are getting on and off here, the noise is as muted as the morning light.

As the gangplank goes down, the line of disembarking passengers begins to move, most of them balancing their possessions in bundles or cardboard boxes on their heads. Then the porters come aboard and take off the big stuff: massive, tight-strapped, white bundles that are manoeuvred slowly up the gangplank to the accompaniment of a chant.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 124: Chandpur to Mongla
  • Country/sea: Bangladesh
  • Place: Jahlokati
  • Book page no: 280

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