Friday, March 21, 2008

Cox's Bazar
February 16, 2008

I traveled to Cox's Bazar on February 14. Since the direct flights there were cancelled that day (of course!), I flew to Chittagong and took the bus the rest of the way to Cox's Bazar. (I didn't really fancy the 12 hour bus ride there from Dhaka. Plus, because I had to take the bus back from Jessore the night before, I would not have arrived on time to take the night bus...)

I met up with Fatema (my attorney) and some of her law students at the hotel. I arrived in the afternoon just as everyone was getting back from the beach. A bit jealous that everyone had been playing at the beach while I was stuck on the bus, I went up to my room to rest while they showered and changed.

When everyone was ready, we went to a little bazar that sold jewelry and household items made from shells. I found a few shell lamps that I actually really liked. (I am envisioning them in my Cox's Bazar resort...) Fatema bought me a bracelet and a little box made out of shells.

Just after dark we went to the beach. It was ENORMOUS! I couldn't even see the water the beach was so deep. It was almost a full moon that night, so the beach was drenched in moonlight. Some of the women on the beach were dressed up in their best, sparkly saris. Fatema thought that they were mad, but I thought they looked like pretty, shimmering mermaids in the moonlight.

That evening we all went to dinner at a nice restaurant called Angel Drop Cafe. It was an open air restaurant built on stilts on the beach. The restaurant was nicely designed and the food was good. The only problem was that it was extremely cold that night and we were all shivering waiting for our food (which took about an hour and a half to come.) I finally figured out that it would be warmer if we sat upstairs, because that part was located over the kitchen and had a roof, so the heat would be trapped in (a little at any rate...) The upstairs area was very small, but we moved some tables around and managed to squeeze in.

The next day we all drove to Inani Beach which is located a couple of hours south of Cox's Bazar. It is actually all the same beach - this is the longest beach in the world at 120 km - but just a different section of it. The beach sand was perfect: soft, fine grains that are hard packed so they are easy to walk on. The water was nice and warm (though not clear) which was great because it was still pretty cold and windy on land.

In Bangladesh people swim in their clothes (a swimsuit would be MUCH too immodest for a Muslim). I put on a sari (over my bikini! hee hee...) because I was afraid the salt water might ruin my salwar kameez. You really can't swim in a sari (or shalwar kameez for that matter), so we basically just waded in the water.

On the way back we stopped at a lookout point which had a little waterfall and good views of the beach below. That evening we watched the sunset on the beach.

The next day Fatema and her students left. Cox's Bazar is the largest tourist destination for Bangladeshis and probably the second largest Bangladesh tourist destination for foreigners (after the Sundarban Forest), so I decided to stay on for a few more hours to do some competitor research.

After that, I headed off to Banderban...

The Beach!
The beach is absolutely ENORMOUS! You can barely see the water when you enter the beach.


High Tide/ Low Tide
There is a very large difference in the size of the beach between high and low tide. We went at a time closer to low tide. The water comes all the way up to the dark sand area at high tide.


Beach Sand
The beach sand is perfect for walking on - soft and firm.


Chairs
You can rent chairs and umbrellas on the beach.


Fatema and Me
Fatema and me on the beach.


My Bangladeshi Bathing Suit
Me in my swimming sari! :)


Bathers
As you can see, I am not the only one wearing clothes in the water.


Lookout
View from the lookout point.


Fruit Vendor
Fruit vendor at the lookout point. We bought some tamarinds for a snack. They are very yummy, but difficult to eat.


Sunset Crowd
We were not the only people who had the idea of watching the sunset on the beach.


Sunset
The sunset was gorgeous!


Sunset
The colors reflected on the water.



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