Cross border to Bodra (Bogra), Bangladesh via Rangpur
|Wiki Info Bogra
Our trip from Siliguri with our hired taxi was quite good, even though he spoke very little English. Agriculture dominates the entire, FLAT area with bicycle rickshaws/bicycle freight haulers and ordinary bicycles in great numbers. 3 wheeled motorized tuk tuk type vehicles were also quite numerous, but a lot of large freight trucks seem to be plying the road although I wouldn't call it heavy with traffic. It's very similar to W. Africa in that the road in W. Bengal is more potholed than pavement. It took 2&1/2 hours to go 70 km. and given the speed our driver tended to accelerate to when there were no potholes, I'd say they served as speed reducing bumps/holes and probably reduce accidents.
Crossing the border on foot we are quite the focus of interest. It's not a very heavily used crossing by the looks of it (a very narrow, tunnel-like single lane road leads to it). Lots of 'helpers' not really touts since they only offer advice/suggestions on transport options. We are able to exchange $ at a fair rate and then once in Bangladesh a fellow who had been 'making suggestions' told us (since the public bus isn't going to Bodra until 6) the hired taxi guy who'd said he'd take us to Rangpur for what amounted to $14 US now offered to take us for $10. We went for it...being noon here and need to catch a bus after Rangpur for Bodra where we will stay. Good decision as it turned out!
India should be ashamed of itself! Poor Bangladesh not only has roadways with NO potholes, smooth and litter free. The countryside is similar to what we saw across the border in India agric-wise but much tidier, smaller individual parcels of crop land, and tons more bicycles/rickshaws used for hauling every conceivable type of goods (including live cows)! Almost no freight haulers, but lots of overloaded buses. This side also has a wider range of agricultural products cultivated. Still, just like Indian side, lots of jute drying, being in various stages of production. See photos. Driver sped right along but never seemed out-of-control, using his horn frequently to warn out of the way cyclists and other vehicles. Arrived in Rangpur about 2pm...100 km in 2 hours! Take that India! Our driver was a huge help finding a bus onward driving around and finding us a big private bus which left at 2:30!
Talk about SPEEEED! This bus not only sped down the roads but using it's air horn it virtually forced other vehicles off the paved roadway! Several times I found myself sucking in air when the driver had very close calls. These big buses really own the road and many times simply plow through villages horn blasting. I mistakenly heard the conductor say we had arrived at the bus station in Bodra, so we got off 4 km short of where Bon wanted to get off. Luckily, it turned out to be near an ATM and some shelter as the rains came big time. After some let up we caught a tuk tuk to Safeway Motel where we checked in & learned we are into Eid, a major Islamic holiday which looks to throw a monkey wrench into our travel plans!
We are the ONLY ones in this hotel ( we know because they asked us if we wanted food before closing the kitchen at 7 to go home to family for Eids!), a single waiter served us and no one else is around!
Wiki Info Eid Holy Day & Holiday
Waiter fellow brought our breakfast (scrambled-geasy-eggs),toast,butter,jam, & tea) to our room. We were told yesterday that it was a complimentary breakfast but the fellow tried to charge us for food finally asking for 20 taka each to cover our eggs. Bon was adamant about it being complimentary so he left dejected - really he wanted bak sheesh which we failed to pick up on at the time since he was trying to disguise it as cost of food. Instead of coming right out and requesting it.
Street was deserted at 9 am when we went in search of transport bit by the time we reached Sat Mata (city center) mosque was letting out, throngs of people and we witnessed the carnival atmosphere of balloons, treats, etc. Went to bus station to wait for it to open...never did, so bike richshawed back. Tried to go to Mahasthangarh ruins but Bon wanted to check to see if we could buy Dhaka tickets again but office still closed. On the way back it started to pour, so once we found out it might cost as much as $10 US to hire a tuk tuk to get us there ( being Eid very few buses going anywhere) AND raining - not really into an 11 km ride in the rain - we bagged the whole idea.
Back to our 'luxury' motel and AC (man, are we spoiled) and TV movies. Looks like we'll be up and out early to see if we can catch a coach out to Dhaka tomorrow.