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Himalaya

Day 119: Chittagong

Dhaka, Bangladesh 
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Toilets that have travelled the world. Nothing is wasted at the ship-breaking yards near Chittagong.
Michael Palin - HimalayaIt's not only ships that are on the scrap heap here.

On the main road outside, almost every shop is selling some kind of marine salvage, from taps and towel rails to crockery and capstans. One salesman stands proudly in front of a pond full of orange lifeboats.

Later, as our Biman flight from Chittagong descends into Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, I can see for the first time the full extent of the watery plain created by the great rivers. From up here I can easily believe the astonishing statistic that Bangladesh has 5000 miles (8000 km) of navigable waterways. Sometimes it's hard to see where earth and water separate, as the coiling river courses twist and turn and tangle with each other. Villages, marked out by clumps of trees, cling to raised mud banks like vessels adrift in a flat green sea.

Nearer Dhaka the riverbank is lined with brick kilns, all built on the same pattern, symmetrically laid out around a single towering chimney, looking like ancient temples.

Apparently, there are 2000 of them around the capital, and though they look rose-red and eye-catching in the evening sun, every one belches out clouds of unfiltered smoke particles that drift across what they say is already the most polluted big city on earth. Well, whatever it is, we're in it.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 119: Chittagong
  • Country/sea: Bangladesh
  • Place: Dhaka
  • Book page no: 269

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