01.04.2014 - 04.04.2014
We stayed at the City Inn in Khulna, quite possibly the grandest hotel we have stayed in so far... We were both blown away. Our room was huge and there was even a bath in the bathroom! We spend the first afternoon enjoying the luxuriousness of the hotel. The food there was to die for and Jane was soon salivating over the extensive menu. It was great to have more on offer than mixed vegetable curry, dhal and rice for a change. The staff were great too and they quickly sorted us out with train tickets to Rajshahi (something we had struggled with for several days) as well as a tour the next day to visit the last few surviving fishermen who use trained otters to help them fish.
The journey to the fishermen’s village the next morning took about three hours and we both appreciated the AC in the car. After a couple of wrong turns we found the fishermen and were taken through their village, past a fascinating ceremony, by the village kids. The fishing boats were lined up along the banks with the otters kept in cages. It was funny to see each separate family of otters fight and snarl at each other over their lunch. We set off down the river with our guide translating to us what the fishermen were saying about the dying art of fishing with otters. It is sad to think that in ten years this amazing method will probably be lost forever. Finding some shade along the river bank the three chosen otters, out of a family of about seven, were tethered to long rods and dived in. The otters swim up and down the banks scaring the fish, hopefully into the fishing net the men were rocking back and forth along the bank. The otters seemed to be ecstatic at being in the water and it was great to see them diving and calling out to one another whilst hunting down the fish. We also got a chance to feed them after all their hard work. They sure can eat a lot of fish!
The following day we set off early to Bagerhat in the hope that we would avoid the midday humidity. Bagerhat was founded in the mid 15th Century by Ulugh Khan Jahan, a muslim warrior saint. There are several old Mosques there and the bus dropped us at the first and most impressive one - the Shait Gumbad Mosque (60 domed mosque) . There are actually 77 domes in total and some very intricate stone carving details surrounding the doors and an interesting sloping arch to the roofs that gave the building an odd sense of perspective. There wasn't much to the museum so we set off in search of more mosques. The road up to Khan Jahan's Tomb was lined with shacks selling tourist tat and we seemed to acquire a guide without even asking for help! He showed me inside the tomb (Jane wasn't allowed in) and then around to the other, less impressive mosques. It was only about 11 but already the humidity was getting unbearable so we opted to jump on the bus and head back to the hotel. This time we were dropped off in a completely different place than where we got the bus from and after a bit of confusion realized we needed to catch the local ferry across the river to get to Khulna. Spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry, admin and generally relaxing.