Thursday, 5 March 2015

Bangladesh Trip 15th Feb 2015 - Day 2



Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Heathrow Airport
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


I had planned to sleep on the plane, but somehow I always get distracted by films and books.  This flight was no exception and I ended up being awake most of the night, which is never a good start for a trip.

Our plane stopped for an hour in Sylhet, northeast Bangladesh, where my family are from.  It felt a bit sad to be not going to see them but there just wasn't time on this trip. We did managed to catch a few common birds like House Crow here though, just to kick start our trip list.  Normally the plane is empty from Sylhet to Dhaka but today it was packed out.  The hortals (violent strikes) made travelling by road dangerous, as buses, cars and trains had been attacked with petrol bombs.  It was a real campaign of terror that kept anyone who could afford to off the highways.  This had also pushed the price of internal flights up sky high.  People were talking about this on the plane.  As usual in Bangladesh, it is the poor who bear the brunt of the violence, as they have no option but to travel by bus.


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig en route
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig


Lots of people had advised my Mum against bringing me to Bangladesh during the hortals, but in the end we decided that we would still visit but take as many precautions as we could like only travelling by plane and giving up an idea of birding outside of any town.

We arrived in Dhaka at around midday which was on time, but had the usual queues to get through immigration.  The only positive was that the people on our plane travelling within Bangladesh did not have to go through immigration.

We were met by the minibus from our hotel, The Bengal Inn, which is in Gulshan 1, where we have stayed quite a few times before.  Gulshan and the areas around it are where the wealthy Bangladeshis and foreigners live and is safer than most other areas in Dhaka.  As we left the airport, the roads were eerily quiet, giving us a feeling of unease.  These thoughts were forgotten though when we arrived at the hotel, who were very welcoming as usual.


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



The afternoon and evening was spent full of a load of errands, particularly for my talk that I was giving in Gulshan the following week.  Due to the hortals, we had decided against hiring a car and travelled by rickshaw instead.  Even baby taxis were not safe, as last year the cages were locked and people inside burnt to death.  Everything seemed normal this evening, though maybe the traffic was lighter.  We just had a few extra birds that we saw along the road thrown in on top of the few we saw at Sylhet airport.


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


There are week long hortals in Dhaka, which are forced strikes called by the opposition party with the threat of being burnt alive for anyone who does not obey.  Everyone at this end of town seemed to be braving the terrorists and still going to work.  I think what is happening is against human rights and democracy.  If people wanted the change, they would strike and would not need the threat of violence against them.  Instead, it the very poorest who are losing everything, like the dairy farmers who are having to throw their milk away because they can't transport it to Dhaka.


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



We are flying down to Cox’s Bazar in the morning and I am really looking forward to maybe doing some birding there before our trip to Sonadia Island, to do Spoon-billed Sandpiper survey one of the rarest waders in the world with only 200 left in the wild.  I have written a lot about this bird before.


Bangladesh is 6 hours ahead and so it's always hard to adjust and we were up late, after dinner at our favourite Dhaka restaurant, Dhaba in Banani.


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



About the writer


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