Thursday, 5 March 2015

Bangladesh Trip 16th February 2015 - Day 3




Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Dhaka
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig



I had a bad night’s sleep because of the change in clock times, as we were now 6 hours ahead. I actually find this time difference worse than Australia.

It had been strange getting the hotel mini bus the afternoon before from the airport to the hotel in Gulshan 1, the nice end of town where all the foreigners working in Dhaka's hundreds if NGOs live. The traffic in Dhaka is normally one of the worst in the world. But yesterday, due to the series hortals (violently enforced week long strikes) there were virtually no cars on the road and a one hour journey took 15 minutes. Opposition parties were petrol bombing civilians and trying to force them, through terror, to stay home. The highways were particularly bad and farmers in particular were losing everything. The opposition may have genuine gripes but this is breaching the human rights of the population and is the opposite of standing up for democracy. We were advised against coming to Bangladesh by lots of people, but in the end decided to not let the hortals stop us.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Dhaka
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

The plan was that we would have a camera crew with us, so that the film could be used by Bangladeshi Channel S UK and to make a short film to be used at the British Birdfair, as well as being shown in Bangladesh and on the Internet.

We were going to have a cameraman, Abu Syed Sumon, a well regarded director Amlan Bishwas, who is well known for making 120 episode Bangla "natoks" or dramas (soap operas to you and me) and the sort my Nani's (my Bangladeshi gran and her generation) are addicted to. The third person in the team was the assistant or enabler. He was to be my cousin, Rupoj Sheikh, as he could speak Sylheti (our dialect) as well as English, and would stay with us everywhere we went and would try to keep us safe.

Due to the hortals, we were all flying down to Cox's Bazar on Monday morning together and after a few calls it was agreed that we would meet at the airport.

So, Monday was our first full day. As we had booked our flights to Cox's Bazar months ago, we were ok. The week before, a family of four returning by road from a holiday in Cox's Bazar (a beautiful seaside resort with 120 miles of continuous beach) were burnt alive in their car by a petrol bomb attack on the main highway near Chittagong. Train carriages were also targeted. There is no way of travelling safely but flying is the only option. This had pushed the prices up and the camera crew had to pay a big mark up to fly but could at least get flights easily as they booked almost a week before.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Rupoj Sheikh enroute to Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


Our camera crew met at the airport and we traveled together to Cox's Bazar, where we stayed at the lovely Long Beach Hotel and they stayed close by. My cousin Shujon sorted out getting discount there through his friend Imran Khan, the marketing manager.  We were also holding my Dhaka talk in their Dhaka hotel, which looked great.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Long Beach Hotel, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig



Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Long Beach Hotel, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


The hotel picked us up from the airport and we had the afternoon to ourselves for some blogging and a rest.



Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Long Beach Hotel, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig



Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Long Beach Hotel, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


Then in the evening, Rupoj escorted us to a parlour (beauty salon) which should have been dirt cheap but ended up being ridiculously expense after they had successfully ripped us off and charged us for things they didn't do. 



Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Long Beach Hotel, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig outside Long Beach Hotel, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig outside Long Beach Hotel, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig



Black Drongo at dusk outside Long Beach Hotel, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig



Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Shelley at a parlour, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


The only interesting thing was that the girl who served me, Shelley, recognised me from my interview on Ekattor TV News two days earlier (the Channel S interview), which was really funny.  The other girl was interesting because she was from Myanmar and Buddhist.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Channel S (UK)
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


It was 9.30 pm by the time we got back to the hotel, after an unsuccessful search for somewhere with veggie food. 

Mum then phoned Mohammed Foysal from the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project to check that he had arrived in Cox's Bazar safely and to see what time we were leaving the next day for the survey work. As it was unsafe to travel by bus, the week before Mum said she would pay for his flight down. However due the pressure on flights, he hadn't managed to get a flight until the next afternoon, as he was searching last minute and only managed to book the flight that day as there was now a flight crisis due to the hortals.  He would now only be arriving the next afternoon.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Long Beach Hotel, Cox's Bazar
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


That was really disappointing, particularly as it was now too late to arrange any birding with anyone else in Cox's Bazar. We opted for a quick dinner in the hotel restaurant, as the safest option, which was deserted.  It then ended up being another late night, which was not good for my jetlag. The only up side was that I would be getting a lie in tomorrow.


About the Writer



Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


Mya-Rose Craig is a 12 year old young birder, conservationist, writer and speaker.    She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world.  She has recently been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people.  Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter














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