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Himalaya

Day 125: Mongla to the Bay of Bengal

Michael Palin - Himalaya'Michael! Crocodile! Look!'

And I do, just in time to catch sight of a grey metallic shape the size of a small submarine turn its panto-villain face towards me and slide into the river, sending out waves of repulsion and muddy brown water. I feel sorry for crocodiles. Just because God gave them teeth too big for their mouths and yellow eyes that open and shut like Porsche headlights you can't imagine them ever having a single decent thought. But for all I know, they might be quite lovable, salt-of-the-earth reptiles who, given half a chance, might well help an old lady across the road and surprise us all by not eating her.

Worn out by all this mental exercise, I go back to sleep until lunch. And what a lunch. The cooks have achieved a minor miracle. In a tiny space beside the toilet they have cooked up the crab, prawn and lobster with turmeric, quince, chilli, coriander, onions and ginger into a perfectly balanced and gorgeously fresh-tasting stew, which must rate as one of the best meals on the entire journey.

After this celebration, sober reality intrudes. Time is no longer on our side. One of the boats is not even making nine knots and, in a last hope of reaching our rendezvous, we lash the two Fenis together and use the power of the better performing engine.

From here on, it's all anxiety. Looking at watches and trying not to look at them at the same time. Watching the sky, cursing the slightest headwind, fearing the worst at every change in engine tone.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 125: Mongla to the Bay of Bengal
  • Country/sea: Bangladesh
  • Place: Mongla
  • Book page no: 283

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