Comilla, the eastern border between
Bangladesh and India
Comilla is the border town with Tripura, one of the Seven Sisters
States of India on the Bangladeshi east border. After 3 days of 24 hours
rain I decided I had to continue, rain or no rain.
Pouring monsoon rains over the rice fields, and it seemed it would
never stop. Here on the way from Agartala to the Bangladeshi border
The land was flooded, and the border still about 15 km or so.
I was glad I had left my bicycle elsewhere. Cycling in the rain is not
a big problem but days in a row is no longer fun. So I took a motor rickshaw.
The driver put a raincoat over the vehicle and drove me to the border.
I was no longer visible for the locals on the road and was able to see a little
of the surrounding. It was all flat lands and wherever I looked, there was water.
A arrived at the border. There was hardly any activity. At the Bangladeshi
consulate I already heard few visitors ever came here (not in the last place
because Agartala was only open for a few years).
I had to register at the border
and saw that the last foreigner who has passed here had done that more then a
month earlier. Then I had to cross to the Bangladesh border over not more then a
dirt path. After the border I took a rickshaw to the first town BB Bazar. "a
place with 17 houses, a teashop and a small market", as I noted in my diary. From
here I had a rickshaw to Comilla.
Bangladesh is an amazingly green country
But a few days later, when I left Comilla it was all dry, as if the rains
hadn't happen at all.
Comilla turned out to be a small town where (like in other Bangladeshi town)
the rickshaws still rule the traffic. There were hundreds, if not thousands.
As Bangladesh is a Muslim country, I was not surprised to find many Mosques
all over the town while many of the men were wearing white clothes while the
women covered hair and sometimes the face too. x
View from my hotel room in Comilla
In Comilla I found a little hotel. It was very basic but clean. The main
problem was to be inside my room ALONE.
The hotel manager went with me up to
check the room. It was apparently so rare a foreigner visiting that another 15
people followed the owner. He opened the room and immediately, before I even
could get in, these people were also in the room.
And no, they didn't do anything, didn't say anything too. They were just
there gazing. It took me a while to get them out. It was quite a big room and
for about $5 I couldn't complain. Or that was what I thought.
What the manager had not told me was that the loudspeaker of the nearby
Mosque was connected to the wall of the hotel, just outside my room.
Obviously the believers had to hear the call for prayer but unfortunately no one had
bothered to smooth the sound. It was loud and distorted. I didn't realize this
until the morning prayer when I was woken up by the prayer call and was hanging
a meter above my bed!
I had expected a poor country with little food available. I was wrong, at
least partly. Bangladesh is without a doubt a very poor country. But when
walking around I saw hawkers selling all kinds of things including plenty of
fruits and vegetable. The fruits here were amazing. Never in my life I have had
better and sweeter pineapples and mangoes. Not even in Thailand, Malaysia or
Indonesia, or even in other parts of India, the pineapples and mangoes are that
I had a meal in one small restaurant. While I was eating a man came and
sat in front of me. He wasn't eating. He just sat there with his mouth open
He didn't do anything else, just staring. After a while I got
tired of this staring, so I picked up my plate and changed table. And to my
astonishment, the man followed.
Then the owner came and took the man out: "he's not educated, so
don't blame him". Welcome in Bangladesh, I thought, but I had to
After the man was gone, I got my diary and started writing. This was
something of interest for everybody.
One by one they walked along, as if it was just by accident, to see what
I was doing. Then I heard them talking how many words there were on the paper.
I doubted some of the can even read or write but being one of the few
tourists ever visiting, such behavior is expected.
As I was sitting and writing another man came. He offered me tea and within
seconds another 25 men were sitting with us. "Can I ask you a few questions?
Sure, fire away, even though I knew the questions already.
- Where are you from?
- What is your name?
- Are you married?
- Do you have children?
- What is your age?
It was a lot of fun to sit here and have a little discussion with these
people. Usually it is that after answering these questions people just walk
away. This maybe because of their lack of understanding English, but
must have been such a great and unusual sight, that when I walked in the town,
I usually had some children, sometimes adults too following me.
When I stopped,
they stopped, when I walked, they walked, when I looked at them, they quickly
looked the other way. And of course, in no time everyone in town knew there
was foreigner walking around.
In Comilla I had another funny experience. I went to a barber shop. After
having traveled in colder countries I had grown a beard and I wanted to have it
This could be done together with the hair on my head. Obviously this
was another great thing for the locals. The barber did an excellent job and the
50 or so people watching the spectacle are probably still talking about this
crazy big white man who wanted to shave his hair.
The heart of Comilla is nothing special, just a couple of busy streets known
as Kandirpar. Around the town there are some fairly interesting Buddhist temple
ruins dating back to the 8th century.
Getting there and away
Comilla is 97 km east of Dhaka and connected with a good highway. There
are plenty of buses and trains to Dhaka and other destinations in
Bangladesh, like Chittagong and Cox Bazar available.
Places to stay
There are several basic hotel in the city center available. Shop around but
check carefully if you don't want to have surprises like I had.
Other places I visited in Bangladesh:
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