East to West Bicycle Trip in Bangladesh

By Sudipta Chowdhury

Background

It was a plan from last April that I want to go for a long bicycle trip. I want to be someone exceptional like: one among thousands! I mean not many people would go for a long cycle trip without knowing the road and knowing that the road you are planning to travel there will be no hotels. Second, we are often afraid of trying something new that we are not used to! I wanted to see what it is after the fear. So I took the challenge of cycling from the north-east to north-west of Bangladesh (Jaintapur, Sylhet to Tetuliya, Panchagar) by myself all alone. Before I started this trip I couldn’t sleep for few nights thinking of where I am gona sleep? What I am gona eating? What if I lost in some forest? What will happen with my parents if any accident occurs in the way? What if I get smaged?  But as I said one of the objectives of this trip was to see what it is after the fear? I like that Indian add “Dar ke agey jit hay” and it really worked in my trip as well!

My Bicycle

My Bicycle

Preparations

Three months ago I bout a China Phoenix cycle (the most commonly used one in Bangladesh) for the trip but some friends were saying its gona be really hard to travel with a town bike like this. But what to do, anyone can hardly get a mountain bike in Bangladesh unless some foreigners are selling before they leave the country! So I was mentally prepared with this bike. But I was lucky to meet a friends brother who has a 13 years old mountain bike and not been used in last 3/4 years. He said if I want I can fix and use it for a while! So I took the cycle, changed some parts and reassembled.

During the trip I was carrying; a pair of T-shirt and pant, one worm cloth, a pair of shows, camera, cell phone, iPod, sleeping bag, some biscuits and drinks.  Even I haven’t had much money with me. My mom and sister give me 4000/- for the entire trip.

Before I go to the trip I spent some time in the internet to have an idea of how the road would be and which road I should take. Unfortunately I couldn’t find much. Last year I made a cycle trip of about 200kms (from Sunamganj to Sirpur) and I learned that mostly there will be a road along with the India-Bangladesh border, so I can take that. But I was confused where I should exactly cross the Brahmmaputra River? Still I made a ruff plan that I will start from Jaintapur then following Sylhet, Sunamganj, Netrokona, Mymansing, Sirpur, Jamalpur I will cross the river in Bahadurabad ghat then I will cross Gaibandha, Rangpur, Nilphamari and finally Panchagar.

The Beginning

On 27 November 2009 the day before Eid finally I started from Sharigat, Jaintapur at 9.00am. The journey wasn’t 100% accordingly my pre plan and I had to adjust a little bit. At about 5.00pm I arrived in Dhuliya in Sunamganj and took shelter in a school veranda. The school was a bit far from the village and the market. I ate biscuits for dinner and was writing my diary; a group of people came and insisted me to stay in a shop. But the shop owner wasn’t too happy to have me as a guest. Also I was too tired of waiting until 11.00pm for the guy to close his shop so I left that shop and came back to my previous place in the school veranda. In the middle of the night I felt like something or someone is walking around me, I jumped and sow a group of fox was standing. As I jumped and turned my flash light on and kept flashing my camera they left but rest of the night I was afraid that they might come back, so I couldn’t sleep.

Second Refreshing Morning

Second Refreshing Morning

Medill of the trip

In Sunamganj and Netrokona I stayed with some friends and celebrated Eid as well. On 30 November 2009 I arrived in Jinaygati, Sirpur. There is a forest in Gozni, Jinaigati and last year during my cycle trip I had to sleep in that forest. This time I didn’t take the risk of sleeping in the forest and planned to stay in the Christian Mission’s veranda. But a tribal guy came and insisted me to stay in his house. In the night I joined a celebration of harvesting with rice wine and good foods. During the entire trip sometime I had really good foods and sometime I had to go to sleep with empty stomach. Every day as the noon begins the tension of accommodation arises in my head. From Jamalpur people suggested me to take the Rowmari, Kurigram instead of Bahadurabad ghat.

Last few days

As I was getting closer to my distension I was feeling so happy and thinking a few more KMs and I will make another record in my life which means lot more things to shear with people. But I was feelings like the number of KMs was increasing then previous days! The highest KM I drove in a day was about 110, from Lalmonihat to Debiganj. I spent one night in Kortimari and one night in Lalmonihat in two different guesthouses. In Debiganj I couldn’t find any guesthouse but last 10KMs before Debiganj I was riding with a guy who is a worker in a workshop. He allowed me to stay the night in his house. In the way from Sylhet to Panchagar I crossed several rivers, among them Surma, Shumessari, Brahmmaputra, Tista and Korotoya are the biggest rivers. As soon as I crossed Brahmmaputra; every morning was fuggy. It was hard to see on the road. I enjoyed several local celebrations like, “Orus”, “Waz mafil” and “Kirton”.

The Van Pullers in North Bangle

The Van Pullers in North Bangle

On 04 December 2009, the last day, I started from Debiganj at 9.00am and reached at my destination which was Banglabandha, Tetuliya, Panchagar at about 4.30pm. All the way down to Banglabandha I took mostly the India-Bangladesh border way and in total I drove approximately 560KMs. It took me 8 days including the wasting of half a day to crass the Brahmmaputra River as I missed the last boat. One thing I noticed, the India-Bangladesh border has been recently clearly marked with putting a huge fence all along the border. Not a dog can even cross this line!!

Conclusion

It was an amusing feelings when I got to Tetuliya and I sow the mile stone “Banglabandha 17KM”. I was like wow; that is it! I was expecting Banglabandha will be something like a deep jangle and mountains surrounding. But when I got there I was disappointed to see Banglabangha is no exception than any other normal land of Bangladesh. I don’t know who was behind this geographical boundaries but India took all the mountains in their side and not left us anything!!

The Trive (Garo) in Netrokona

The Trive (Garo) in Netrokona

My expectations of learning to cope with the fear and make a record were successful. Now I know that anything anyone can possible believe can be achieved if they really need it. The feelings of winning a fear is not expressible but can only be feel. Now I have more dreams of even longer cycle trips. My next plan would be Tatuliya to Taknaf (north to south of Bangladesh) if I have a vacation! I would also like to do one from Nepal to Bangladesh through India.

I am thank full to thouse who have helped me to complet this trip.

To see the full album (Pictures): Click here.

I will get back to you soon again with more experiences to share.

Thanka,

Sudipta.

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75 Responses to “East to West Bicycle Trip in Bangladesh”

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  2. Imon says:

    That is totally cool. Traveling for eight days without knowing about the road really a incredible work. I wish good luck for your next trip Tatuliya to Taknaf.

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  8. sudipta says:

    thats really nice of you!! i am glad that you like my blog and that will encourage me even more. sure i will write more as soon as i make some more trips. but you know this is monsoon in my country so quit a bad season for travelling. hey, if you have time you can visit my website http://www.rideforbangladesh.webs.com

    thanks,
    Sudipta.

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