26.03.2014 - 28.03.2014
We checked ourselves into the Hotel Sufia, and although the room was dirty the staff were helpful and friendly telling us of their relatives in Yorkshire. Our first day in Rangamati we spent eating and trying to access the internet, which so far has always seemed to be a mission.
We had booked a boat ride for the following morning, and there seemed to be some confusion about which boat we would be getting on. The boat kept going up in size as one had engine failure and the other leaked a bit too much, finally a beast of a boat was picked out for the four of us going on the trip. As the engine sputtered into life the Bangladeshi couple with us, on holiday from Dhaka shouted for extra life jackets and it was a sobering reminder of the statistics for boat travel through Bangladesh.
Kaptai lake was beautiful, the emerald green of the water and blue haze of the distant banks. We passed fishermen pulling their hauls into small boats, boats motoring past weighed down by stacks of teak logs, and on small scraps of land there were upturned boats being repaired and cricket games where any big hit would be straight in the water.
We arrived at Chakma Islands where we walked through a small village, looking at the beautiful woven textiles and watching the carpenters making their finishing touches to hand carved bedsteads and chairs. We could have stayed much longer but the couples we were with moved us on. We continued across the lake to Shuvalong Falls, the area full of flowers although only a drip for a waterfall being the wrong season. It is easy to imagine just how beautiful it would be after the monsoon rains. We spent the time being photographed and bombarded with questions from curious locals making good use of their few days of holiday.
We stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant set high above the lake and sat down to a heavy mound of rice, dal and vegetable curry. Back on the boat and on to a Buddhist temple surrounded by cheeky monkeys and then an old site used by Chakma kings and since converted to an education centre for monks. Around the back of the building we found more beautiful textiles and couldn't resist buying a blanket for 500 taka (£3.85).
By the time the boat dropped us back to the hotel we had been out for 8 hours, nearly twice as long as we were expecting. We found a little restaurant with a boy expertly flipping parathas and the food looked so good we dived in, it was one of the tastiest meals we have eaten so far and just 90 taka (50p) for the both of us.
The next morning we waited by the side of the road for our 9am bus to Dhaka, watching people watching us. The bus rolled up half an hour late to shouts of "S. Alam" and thankful for a bus with leg room we just hoped the driver could see past the giant crack in the windscreen.