Friday, April 22, 2011

Off the Tourist Trail-Bangladesh

Can you imagine a beautiful place, not only in the natural landscape but in the people, where it is virtually untouched by tourism? Bangladesh is such a place. The Sundarbans in the South of Bangladesh is the largest Mangrove forest in the world, one of the many unspoiled gems to discover in this lovely country.  Bangladesh is approximately the size of Florida. In the last three weeks, having traveled the length and width of the country, it has been a delight to meet some of the friendliest people you'll ever encounter who are curious and welcoming. They have had little experience with tourists and almost every person will want to invite you to cha(tea) snacks and smiles. Another Shangri La we discovered is a visionary eco resort.
Panigram(water village) is slated to open in 2012. That the only Westerners that have come here have been mostly from NGO's or for business interests  is soon to change and that is all for the good. The general consensus in the world media is that Bangladesh is an incredibly poor country and by extension holds nothing of interest for the foreign traveler. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, Bangladesh does have poverty, but the wretchedness that often accompanies it, we have not seen.    It is one of the remaining countries where the agrarian villages still remain in tact. Tamarind pods are collected off the street by villagers, every branch, leaf and pile of cow dung is used(cow dung is dried and used as fuel).  There are many places of incredible beauty in the world and Bangladesh is among them. How it differentiates itself  is in the fact that few have discovered it.
In the Sundarban
This is one of the last "best kept" secrets, but it will not remain so for long.

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