Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Looking for Land - Again
February 13, 2008

My local agent, Koli, told me that he found a couple of more possible sites in Jessore for me to see. Since I was leaving the next day for a tour of southeastern Bangladesh, however, I only had one day to fly in. Unfortunately GMG cancelled their evening flight, so I had to take the bus back. I am quite happy that three new airlines have been created in Bangladesh this past year. One of them, United, now has daily morning flights to Jessore. Another upstart, Royal Bengal, is supposed to start evening flights to and from Jessore in April. Not only is this good news for me (since GMG has become increasingly unreliable lately), but good news for my future clients as well!

Koli picked me up at the airport on his motorcycle. Before going to the sites, we stopped by his popsicle stick factory. I took a few photos of Koli making popsicle sticks and then we went on to see the potential development sites.

Site 1
The first site had a lot of trees and was close to the river, but the layout was kind of strange and it had a large pit in the middle of the property where people had been extracting mud, perhaps for building purposes. The river was also completely overgrown with plants so you couldn't see the water.

Site 2
The second site was close to the first. The river still had the same problem, but the trees and the layout of the site were much nicer. There were some very large, old fruit trees on the property which were terrific. That site also had three mud houses on it and a pond that separated it from the neighboring property. Unfortunately, the owner wasn't willing to sell the houses, just the land, so that made the site unfeasible; I can't have a bunch of houses in the middle of my property. Also the price was quite a bit higher than in the other areas. It was unfortunate, because I did actually like the land in the second location quite a bit.

Site 3
The third site was also next to a river. It was about 7 acres of land that was predominantly used for paan and banana farming. Unfortunately this meant that there were not nearly as many trees on the site as I was looking for. The river was also overgrown, but a little ways down the water was running. I spoke with someone (the owner's broker actually) who was a city council member; he told me that the plants in the water could be removed in just a few days for a couple of hundred dollars.

This site was located off of a paved road that went right up to the river. The villagers had constructed a small bamboo "bridge" across to the other side where their village is. There was also a Hindu temple on the other side of the river. If the bridge were to stay a small bamboo bridge I wouldn't have minded so much because the guests could cross the river and visit the village, but the counsel man told me that they were going to build a proper bridge across the water, which would significantly increase traffic at my site. I also didn't want to be located too close to a village because the cooking fires at night make the air very smoky. Also, because the site was right next to the bridge, the villagers would easily be able to see into the property. Since my guests would like some privacy, this also was not ideal.

I haven't completely ruled the third property out, but I want to come back to Jessore after I visit the Hill Tracts to see some more land...

This is Koli in his factory, working the popsicle machine.

Site 1
This is the river that was overgrown.

Site 2 - River
You can just see the river beyond the trees.

Site 2 - Trees
I liked this site because it was densely wooded and had several nice older trees on it.

Site 2 - Houses
These are the houses that are located on the site. If the owner were willing to sell the houses I probably would have bought this property. Unfortunately, he wasn't willing to sell and the houses are located in the middle of the site, so that won't work.

Site 3 - River
This is the river at site three. Apparently it is not hard to remove the plants in the middle of the river. There are rice paddies that line the river in the dry season (now) that we can't remove, however.

Site 3 - River View
This is the view of the river from the property.

Site 3 - Bridge
This is the bamboo "bridge" that crosses the river. These types of bridges are very common in Bangladesh.

Site 3 - Bridge
The bridge was fun to cross, but people standing on it would be able to look directly into the site.

Site 3 - Land
Most of the land was planted with paan and banana trees. You can see the paan planted behind the banana trees in this picture. The paan plants are protected from the sun by dried palm leaves which are placed over a support structure.

Site 3 - Paan Plants
This is what it looks like inside the leaf structure; paan leaves grow on poles. The leaves are used for making paan, a traditional Bengali "snack" (for lack of a better word). Betel nut, lime, and sometimes spices or sugars are wrapped together in a paan leaf where they are then chewed. If lime is used when making the paan, people spit out the juices like chewing tobacco (instead of swallowing it). The lime both enhances the intoxicating effects of the betel nut and turns everything red. You often see Bangladeshis with red, paan-stained teeth here.

Site 3 - Banana Trees
The banana trees on the site were very nice. They were only a year old too!

Site 3 - Trees
There was a section at the back of the property that was young trees instead of fields.

Village Home
This is a home in the little village across the river from my site. This device is used to make flour from rice.

Village Woman
This woman was one of the people that I met in the village. The villagers were all extremely nice. They gave me fruits directly from their trees and gave me green coconut water (which I am actually not terribly fond of, but drank anyway to be polite) directly from the coconut.


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