Wedding in Gopalganj

Me and some girls at 60 dome mosque

The brother of the friend of my couchsurfing host was gonna get married in a small village outside on Gopaganj and asked me to come along. It was a three hour journey from Mongla and I had asked to stop at the Bagerhat UNESCO site Mosque on the way, so we ended up arriving quite late around 10pm where the wedding was well started.

We came right into the a show where people were supposed to put food in the mouth of the groom and receive food in return, which I still havent figured what would symbolize. I instantly got the attention of the two hundred guests as I arrived, and they demanded that I would go up and be fed by the groom and guests as well. I had been puking the whole way there and was afraid to have an accident on stage, but luckily I didnt.

The following morning, all the guests go on buses (some on top) to go to Khulna where the bride was from. Here we would eat a lot again and watch as the imam blessed the marriage before we took the girl back to the village where we had been the previous night. I could see that her make up has been ruined by tears, not did I know if it was sadness for having to leave her parents house forever or the Joy of getting married.

The third day was all about celebration. We ate food the whole and danced and sang karaoke all night. They were especially fond of watching a foreigner sing and dance (especially the young girls who seemed to also want to get married) so at the end I had to hide in a shop a kilometer away until the party died down and we could go to bed. Ive been to weddings in a few countries and must say that the Bangladeshi was an interesting one!

These two girls and the two young buys were especially excited about dancing with me

Catching the Rocket Steamer from Dhaka to the Sunderbans

The Italian traveler I met who bumped me up to first class

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Bangladesh is taking boats going down the many rivers. River boats are the way of traveling here and it has been for a long time. I was lucky enough to get tickets with an original rocket steamer Paddle Boat (PS Mashoud) made in the 1920s which makes its way between Dhaka and Mongla once weekly.

The third class where I was supposed to be sleeping

The Paddles run by a gigantic steam engine

I had originally booked a ticket in third class for 300 taka (less than 4$) which would just give me a space on the floor in the cold open space, but then when I went to the restaurant in the evening I met an Italian traveler who had a whole first class cabin to himself and offered me his spare bed.

It was a full 24 hour boat ride where most of the time was spent chatting with people in the restaurant and outside viewing deck. Food was cheap at around a dollar per meal and was served three times a day and then there was a well equipped shop at the lower deck open day and night as well.

My main goal for Mongla was to find a trip going to the Sundarbans- the largest mangrove forest in the World in the largest river delta in the World (Ganges). Its a UNESCO World Heritage site housing animal species such as the Bengali Tiger, marine turtles and salt water crocodiles, but all we managed to see from the boat and the Karamjol Wildlife Center were some monkeys, dolphins and spotted deer.

As it was getting close to dark the wildlife center forced us to pay an armed guard (5usd) to follow us through the park, which was not really necessary as we didnt see any tigers on the way. Apparently there are only about 60 ones left in Bangladesh and the chances of seing one is very small.

One Week in Sal, Cape Verde

The “capital” Espargos, in the middle of the island

Sal is a small island in the Macaronesia Archipelago, part of a country called Cape Verde, around 700km West from Senegal. It has an all year warm climate and a very laid back “no stress” athmosphere, making it a popular destination for charter tourists coming from Europe.

A map of Sal Island in the “Buracona”

I was lucky enough to book a return flight from Oslo for 180€ and stayed with couchsurfing hosts in Murdeira which was a tiny village close to the airport and Santa Maria where all the tourists seemed to be. That was also where the biggest beach was, with plenty of resorts, a big casino and lots of restaurants were. The nights were danced away in the Reggae Bar, Ocean Café and the Buddy Bar where they played live music every night.

Friday night is live reggae night

The main attraction on the island, and the reason for the name of the island is a salt lake called Salinas. It is located in the North East, only accessible by private taxi, tour or hitchhiking. It is inside a volcano where you have to walk through a tunnel and is even more salty than the dead sea. They sell beers inside and a you can pay for a shower which costs 1 euro for 15 seconds.

The entrance to the salt lake

Just a short ride away was Shark Bay where wild lemonsharks, 2-3 meters long, would come close by and small baby sharks would come swim between our legs. This place we also reached by hitchhiking with one of the many pickups bringing tourists.

Lemon sharks swimming in Shark Bay

The third and last tourist attraction was a small cenote called the Blue Eye, a short drive from the more quiet and local village Palmeira. A couple of years ago the hole was open to the public, but as the land was bought by a company they started charging three euros entrance and require people to walk on paths only. We had to stand in a line to see the whole, which was not that impressive but it was nice to watch the blue colors and see water shoot up from blow holes.

The blue hole was not very impressive

We also hiked to the top of Monte Curral to get a view of the capital of the island and this is also where we would prefer to have some of our meals as the restaurants there were local and cheaper than the ones in Santa Maria.

The view from Monte Curral

It is funny that Sal Island in Cabo Verde, meaning “the green cape” was not green at all. In fact it was all desert with just a few green bushes, but I have heard that some of the other Islands are much more green with more genuine local culture and less touristy atractions. I know I will have to be back to say that I have really visited Cape Verde.

A sunset beer by the beach in Murdeira

Visiting Lisbon

Lisbon. What a great city. It has good food, good surfing waves, rich culture and lots and lots of beautiful sights.

I got to spend three nights in the city and it was not nearly enough. For people like me who like to just walk around and explore, is the perfect place where you probably could spend a couple of weeks and still discover new things.

The only thing I did not like was the amount of tourists in the city. And if it had been summer Im sure it would even have been double of what it was in January. I had originally planned to ride the famous #28 line cable car, but when I saw the huuge line of tourists waiting at Martim Moniz stop where the tram starts from I lost all interest. Instead I decided to walk the whole 7km tram line where I got to see everything in my own pace.

The view from this tower cost me 2€

Lisbon really is a nice city to walk around, but it was frustrating that they put entrance on absolutely everything. It cost almost 10€ to visit the castle, whereas the rest of the World a place like that would have been free.

The view from the Landscape Hostel

The city parks were also great. It was january and still there were 20 degrees out, which is the reason why it was possible for turtles and beobab trees to live there. Lisbon is a city I could see myself living in at some point. At least I will come back to spend some more time here.

A day trip to Ilheu Dos Rolas

I had been told that there was only one shared taxi leaving to the Southern city of Porte Alegre per day and that it would leave at 4am, so I got there at 3.30 am only to hear that the taxi had just left.

Great I though as I was sitting on the roadside tired, hungry and swarmed with mosquitos. One of the taxi drivers said that he would be going to Riviera Alfonso at 6am and that I could just sleep in his car in the meantime so I did.

Waking up at his destination around sunrise I was more rested and ready to start the day, so I started walking South with my thumb stuck out looking for a ride. It didnt take long before a police picked me up and took me to Sao Jao where I again stood only for a few minutes before some portuguese tourists picked me up.

The tourists had rented a car with a driver to explore Ilheu Dos Rolas and the Southern beaches and said that I could join them for free! We went straight down to Praia Llame where a boat was waiting for us and took us to the island.

There wasnt much to see once we were there, but the main sight was the equator monument on the top where we also got a nice view of Sao Tomé. After having seen the stuff for sale at the souvenier shops and a quick visit to the beach we headed back to the mainland.

Praia Jalé in the South West

On the way back to the capital we stopped at some of the beaches in the South and spent a couple of hours at the Santana resort where we could hang out for free around the infinity pool. Having bad luck with the taxi in the morning turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me!

Having a dip at the Santana Resort