Tuesday, October 18, 2016

China President Xi Jinping given statement about Bangladesh

“China-Bangladesh Cooperation Will Bear Golden Fruits”


 Date: 14.10.2016

        H.E. XI JINPING  
Presidentof the People's Republic of China

“At the kind invitation of President Abdul Hamid,       I will pay a state visit to the beautiful country of Bangladesh in this golden harvest season of autumn…

Bangladesh is a fascinating and promising land. It is where the Padma, Jamuna and Meghna rivers flow into the sea. It’s vast expanse of fertile fields which normally have the color of emerald green become a sea of golden yellow at the time of harvest. Endowed with rich natural resources, this land is home to a hard-working and talented nation and a time-honored and splendid culture. In fact, famous poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote many of his most notable works in Bengali.

Bangladesh is a land filled with hope. Since its independence, Bangladesh has come a long way. With strenuous efforts, it has started from scratch and successfully met the livelihood needs of its 160 million population, contributing significantly to global poverty reduction. In recent years, by seizing the opportunities of economic globalization and focusing on reform and development, Bangladesh has kept its economy growing at above 6% and made steady progress in industrialization and urbanization. Bangladesh is well on track to achieve Vision 2021 and become a middle-income country.

The people of China and Bangladesh have been good neighbors and friends since ancient times. Stories of our friendship and exchange witnessed by the Southern Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road throughout the millennia are still being told today. Eminent Chinese monks Faxian and Xuanzang travelled west for Buddhist scriptures. Ati┼Ťa Dipankara Shrijnana, a Bengali religious master, spread Buddhism in China. They were the pioneers of our cultural exchange.
Famous navigator Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty visited Bengal twice. According to his description, “This is a richly endowed and teeming land with lovely people and fertile fields.” Believed by the Chinese then to be a qilin (an auspicious mythical animal), the giraffe that the Bengali king gave to the Ming emperor brought much excitement to the court and general public in China.”

Shared from Dhaka Tribune.
Link: http://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/china-bangladesh-cooperation-will-bear-golden-fruits-1298536

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Travelling 101: The kind of travel partner you need

Nusrat Noshin

Your expectations = their Expectations If you want to take a trip, travel with someone who has similar interests and...

Your expectations = their Expectations

If you want to take a trip, travel with someone who has similar interests and mindset as you do, because you don’t want the trip to turn into a source of constant tension. Frankly, it’s no fun. A perfect vacation with a friend is very simple; you plan together, you party together. Most importantly, make sure you both have similar expectations and interests from the expedition. That way, you will have a companion in almost every part of the trip. If you want to gape at the Great Canyon and be awed by it, try finding someone who wishes the same.

The pro bono entertainer

I believe that people who can turn a frown upside down are hidden gems that everybody needs during a trip. Flight got delayed? Missed your cab? Poor weather hits during the tour? Yes, they all sound tragic, but it would be worse if you have a mate who incessantly complains about the downsides of your trip. At times like these a giggling feat is all you need to make the sun shines even in the dullest rainfall; a lip-curling fuss just will not do. Understanding the compromises and behaving accordingly while retaining a smile is one of the best traits a travel companion can have.

The partner who values money

Planning with your partner and deciding how much you both are willing to spend is a good idea, pre-vacation. In addition, both of you should have similar generosity when spending; it is a lot more fun when you do not have to count every dime to split the bill equally. However, it is also a bummer when your companion does not pay their share of expenses, or drags you into overpriced shopping. You may also feel awkward if he/she does not want to spend as much as you do. Talk it through and make sure you both are on the same page, so that you can enjoy the trip without any financial bumps.

The curious explorer

Traveling is all about making memories worth cherishing and experiencing new things. Hence, you will want someone who likes exploring, or has enthusiasm towards everything. Taking pleasure in every small moment is contagious and it helps you get some relief from your normal life.

When flexibility is key

Try finding a companion who is flexible and willing to change in order to gain the fullest experience out of the expedition. If you go with someone who sticks to his/her own ways, it will heavily influence the authenticity of the trip. Compromise is key, starting from palette, to attire, behavior and even habits.

To cling or not to cling, that is the question

You may want the perfect travel partner, but you really do not want someone who’ll be attached to you, hip-to-hip, throughout the entire trip. Vacations also involve finding a sanctuary. A clingy friend will not help you achieve. Hence you need a partner who understands the concept of “alone time”. Sometimes finding peace may simply mean to behold the beauty of a tourist site or to reflect on an eventful day right before going to bed at night. Whatever it is, a good companion will know when to be quiet and to give you space; knowing when to be silent makes everything better, period.

Motivator and memory maker

When on a trip, the best moments occur during the most spontaneous moments of the trip. To clarify my point, I am not leaning on any illegal or very dangerous activities! Vacations are all about saying “yes”. You make the best memories from the most impromptu plans; the ultimate fun happens when you do something that is unprecedented to you. It gives you something intriguing to talk about when you return home. Sometimes all you need is approval from just one person when you are in doubt and your companion should be there next to you, ready to give sanction. Moreover, he/she should also encourage you to do things that you normally would not do.

Life saving skills

It may sound like a buzz-kill, but accidents happen. Emergencies may arise and they are inevitable sometimes. An ideal friend could, if they had to, talk to the police, or know how to do a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or even relay your medical history. Whatever it is, a sincere and useful partner like this is indispensable whether on vacation or in regular life.

Social butterfly

One of the main purpose of any trip is to meet new people, especially the locals. If your companion does not have the ability to blend in with newly met people, or shows any sort of repulsive behavior, chances are those people will be unwilling to interact with you too. It is compulsory for your comrade to uphold an affable attitude and an outgoing personality.

Cultural sensitivity

You will most likely come across some culture which will seem alien to you while travelling and in cases like these, it is extra important for you and your companion to be respectful to foreign traditions. A friend who ridicules or criticizes the hosting culture will probably not be well received. Travelling with someone who takes interest in the local custom has its own perks. You will not only have a good time, you will be also treated hospitably and you can even get the opportunity to learn a great deal about a foreign culture and/or language. For instance, if you meet an Indian host, greet them with the famous “Namaste”.

Being street smart

Do you want to wander helplessly on your first ever trip to, for instance, an exotic island? Surely, no one would like that. However, you may encounter this misfortune if neither you, nor your mate have a good sense of direction. A great navigator, with good map reading skills is a crucial trait for a smooth trip. When wandering the streets of an unfamiliar city, “street smart” is the way to go.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cox’s Bazar ready to welcome tourists

Abdul Aziz

The local law enforcement agencies have stepped up security measures to ensure the tourists' safety

The picturesque district of Cox’s Bazar, sitting in the backdrop of lush hills in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, boasts everything — from the world’s longest sea beach to tropical weather – that makes it a holidaymaker’s paradise.

Local tourism businesses in the district have taken all preparation to ensure hassle-free vacation for people visiting the area in the Eid season.

A long Eid vacation and favourable weather means thousands of local tourists will throng the area to bask in the sun at sea beaches, explore the famed Saint Martin’s Island, the rocky Inani beach, Ramu’s Buddhist pagodas, Maheshkhali’s Adinath temple, Dulahazra’s Bangabandhu Safari Park, and the Himchhari waterfall, among others.

The local law enforcement agencies have stepped up security measures to ensure the tourists’ safety. The Tourist Police, who have garnered praise for their activities, have launched a mobile application to allow people to contact them in case of emergency.

But the recent spate of militant attacks on minorities, secular writers, rights activists and foreigners have somewhat dented Bangladesh’s image in the global arena. It has been two months since the country had its worst terror attack when terrorists killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, at an upmarket Dhaka cafe on July 1.

The recent attacks seem to have had little impact on foreign tourists.

Tourists at the Kalatali beach

Long Beach Hotel’s head of operations Mohammed Tarek said 80% rooms in his hotel had already been booked. “We got huge response from foreign and local tourists alike.”

Businesses dependent on tourism have gone through colourful renovations to attract tourists.

Beach lounge chairs have been revamped for the tourist rush

Most of the hotel and motel owners have brought in new furniture while the restaurants have undergone makeovers. Old plastic lounge chairs rented out on the beaches have also been painted with different colours to make them appear more attractive.

Popular tourist spots were fully prepared to welcome the tourists, Kitkot Business Association President Mahbubur Rahman said.

“Every year, tourists usually come here to enjoy their Eid vacation but this time we got huge advance booking,” Vista Bay Resort Manager Kalim Ullah said. “It is a good sign. We have tried our best to attract more and more tourists.”

Tourism business suffered massive loss several years ago when political instability rocked the country.

The Burmese Market in Cox’s Bazar, a popular tourist destination

Hotel Sea Gull’s Assistant Manager Nurul Alam says he hopes to recover some of the losses this season.

With people expected to flock the area in thousands, the district’s Tourist Police have taken all out measures to ensure their safety.

“Laboni, Sugandha, Kolatoli, Kabita Chattar, Shahin Chattar, Daria Nagar, Inani beach points will remain under strict surveillance,” Cox’s Bazar Tourist Police Additional Superintendent Khandker Fazle Rabbi said.

Leaves of Tourist Police have been cancelled.

Fazle Rabbi said the district police would assist to ensure strict surveillance.

Cox’s Bazar Development Authority Chairman Lt Col (retd) Forkan Ahmed said: “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed to decorate Cox’s Bazar in new way to ensure development tourism industry here. I expect cooperation from everyone to implement her order.”

An increase in the number of tourists is good news for business and the country’s economy that’s heavily dependent on remittance. But the high number also means that Bangladesh will have to be prepared to tackle the impact tourists will have on the marine environment and make plans to clean the popular spots that will likely be littered with garbage.

Shared from: http://www.dhakatribune.com/feature/travel/2016/09/12/coxs-bazar-ready-welcome-tourists/

Hidden treasures of Bangladesh

Rainul Islam

We often hear people proclaim the richness of the natural beauty of our country but have you ever wondered why?...

We often hear people proclaim the richness of the natural beauty of our country but have you ever wondered why? Sure, you’ve visited the long shores of Cox’s Bazar, trekked to the heights of Keokradong and peaked through the lovely clean waters of Saint-Martin. But to limit ourselves to the mainstream is to grossly under-sell the natural beauty of our country. Today, we invite your attention to some of the lesser known and /or lesser travelled destinations of Bangladesh which deserve just as much love, admiration and acclaim as its more popular counterparts.

Waterfalls galore

Nafakum and Amiakhum waterfall, Bandarban
Often hailed as the “Niagra Falls” of Bangladesh, Nafakum waterfall is one of the largest and most gorgeous waterfalls in the country. Despite its jaw-dropping beauty, however, Nafakum is also among one of the lesser ventured destinations due to the relatively extreme journey that it demands from would-be travellers.

For instance, for someone travelling from Dhaka the journey would be something like this: an eight hour bus journey to Bandarban followed by another three to four hour bus journey to Thanchi where travellers would need to take permission from the BGB and enter their contact details for safety reasons. Thereafter, you would need to hire engine-boat(s) for the exploratory journey to Remarki through giant rocks dispersed in the Sangu River. At this point, travellers are well-advised to spend the night here at the hospitable local tribal houses before continuing their journey to Nafakum early next morning which will include hours of walking and trekking too.

Clearly, the journey is a major obstacle for many interested in travelling but this is also what puts Nafakum, along with Amiakhum, at the top of our list of hidden treasures of Bangladesh. The water is still clean and the nature still innocent of manly interventions, and quite frankly, the journey itself is worth it for the more hardcore travel-enthusiasts.
As a bonus for those who dare to take the aforementioned journey, you will be rewarded with the equally enticing scenery of Amiakhum which is also situated in Bandarban, near Myanmar border.

Notable mentions:
Jadipai: also situated in Bandarban; the water is transparent and on a lucky day, you may be blessed with the awe-striking view of a rainbow forming at the bottom of the fall.
Richang waterfall (often pronounced “Risang”): located in Khagrachori, Chittagong; relatively easy to get to and covered in more greenery than the other waterfalls on the list.

Forest fest

Ratargul Swamp Forest, located in Sylhet, is the only swamp forest in Bangladesh. The forest can dive as deep as 30 feet under water during monsoon and usually sits at about ten feet deep in other seasons.
It is the creation of a surreal marriage between a freshwater swamp and an almost poetic forest of Koroch trees “growing” out of the cool, clean water. Admittedly, the forest has become more famous in recent years but with its unparalleled capacity to provoke one’s senses, we felt it was too big a risk to leave it out in case the reader hasn’t visited this luscious forest yet.

Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar district, and on the banks of the Naf River, it is the only game reserve in Bangladesh and a truly bio-diverse one at that. The sanctuary comprises an area of an astounding 11,615 hectares and boasts a number of attractions, none more so than the opportunity to see wild elephants in all their magnificence and the Kudum Cave, which harbours two different species of bats and is often known as the “bat cave.” Additionally, the destination has a plentiful plant-life, a wide species of birds and activities including hiking trails varying in terms of length and difficulty.


Magical waterbodies

Boga Lake, Bandarban
Much like Nafakum waterfall above, Boga lake really is one of the must-visit places yet quite a challenge to get to as well. In fact, it is inaccessible by any means of transport. For those who take the trouble to take the uncomfortable steps to this destination, however, awaits glad tidings indeed. It is unquestionably one of the most beautiful destinations on the list with its heavenly view that’s soothing both to the eyes and the heart. The lake is bounded by lush greenery, hills, cliffs and rocks. It is a perfect place for nature or peace lovers to stay overnight, watch stars, read books or share ghost stories, especially in light of a famous legend about the very birth of the lake.

Shusong Duragpur of Birishiri, Natrokana
Also known as the China Clay Hills, its main attractions are the ceramic hills beside the water that culminate into possibly the most picturesque destination on the list. Those into water travels will also appreciate the chance to row-boat along the Someshwari river.
Unfortunately, though, all things worth having (or visiting in this case) do not come easy; this particular place is as remotely located as being near the Indian border itself.

Chittagong Naval Beach
You hear Chittagong and beach – what do you think about? Cox’s of course. While Cox’s, St Martin and Teknaf rightfully attract more tourists we feel the naval beach (dockside) in Chittagong is also worth a quick visit. The main attractions here include three distinct parts of the beach each giving quite a different feel than the others. The abundance of breeze that makes for great selfies and the thumb-sized local piyajus are enough to regularly attract a swarm of young adults every Friday.

Notable mentions
Shitalakshya River, Demra: the main attraction is the short trip from the center of Dhaka. It’s easy to rent out professional tour guides who will take you on a private cruise with delicacies including fish grilled on the boat itself. It makes for a perfect getaway or celebration of something dear with a large group.
Floating Rice Market, Barisal: technically not a tourist spot but worth a mention nonetheless.
Mysterious hideouts

Muktagacha Rajbari, Mymensingh
Reminiscent of the iconic monkey temple in Jungle Book, the famous Rajbari is one of the oldest Zamindar palaces in Mymensingh. While some may find it undesirable that a large portion of the complex is not properly maintained, it is the lack of proper maintenance that makes it a must-visit destination for anyone with a taste for unadulterated history and culture.
Sweetening the destination further, quite literally, is the renowned Gopal Pali Prosida Monda sweet shop – home to what are probably the best monda sweets in the entire country.

Alutila, Khagrachori
Shaped like a man-made underground passage, Alutila is the longest natural cave in Bangladesh stretching about a 100 metres in length. It is enclosed by deep green forests all-round and is rocky, slippery and blindingly dark inside.
Perhaps not for the faint-hearted but makes a great choice for the brave and adventurous looking for a different experience.

Link: http://www.dhakatribune.com/magazine/weekend-tribune/2016/09/02/hidden-treasures-bangladesh/ (Dhaka Tribune)

Travelling while Deshi

Tasneem Chow

A Bangladeshi woman's guide to holidaying

This Eid, many of you will have planned trips to your desher bari with your family, but the lucky few of you will have managed to ditch your duties and plan a holiday elsewhere. With quick and cheap local flights, Sylhet and Cox’s Bazaar remain some of the popular destinations at home. Some of the more adventurous of you may have even planned trips to other countries, with India, Nepal and Bhutan being the top destinations nearby, as well as Thailand (especially Bangkok), Malaysia and Indonesia for those wishing to venture out even further.

If you are a woman traveling abroad with friends or family, there are some hilarious (and some not so much) incidents that are bound to happen to you on your travels, especially while traveling in the subcontinent. Here are a list of the few best (or worst) questions/comments of which yours truly has been on the receiving end.

Are you his wife or sister?

If you happen to be traveling with male companions and come across some inquisitive aunties or uncles on your trip, you are bound to be asked this question. Because of course, is it possible for a man and woman to have any relationship outside that of matrimony and family? And surely, a young lady like yourself couldn’t possibly be here on her own, without a husband or family member to supervise her? It doesn’t matter if said companion happens to look nothing like you, the sibling question will almost always arise. If/when this does happen, look them straight in the eye and tell them you make a point to travel without someone ‘to look after you’ – it’s high time people realise that it’s okay for friends of all sexes to travel together. And in case it actually is your brother or husband, make up a wild story just for the heck of it. My favourite is claiming we’re fugitives escaped from an asylum where the government was using the latest genetic technology to turn us into mutants.

Are you a tour guide?

This tends to happen if you’re traveling with companions who are a few shades lighter than you (which is usually the case for me) or happen to not be as obviously Bangladeshi-looking as you are. Also if most of your companions are male. I actually prefer this question over the above – I assume that the inference is that I am the leader of my pack, and not some helpless creature clinging to her aforementioned fake husband or brother who looks nothing like her.

Madame you must try this whitening cream

Especially in parts of the world that are known for growing natural herbal ingredients and producing ayurvedic products that can cure cancer while helping digestion and improving your complexion, all at the same time. Bonus points if you’re traveling with a fair friend who can then be used by the engaging salesman as the ideal that you aspire to – “just use it for a few days and you will become as white as your friend madame, believe me!”

But you can do the easy one

I don’t know about you, but this has happened to me a lot when planning treks or other outdoor activities that require physical exertion. Especially on trips planned by tour companies, there is always a know-it-all guide who takes a look at a tiny deshi woman and in all good will, offers the easiest activities available. Dodging traffic and walking from Bailey Road to Shantinagar would probably be less stressful.

The truth is, most people just aren’t used to deshi women like us traveling alone or with friends. It can be frustrating to see the surprise you inspire when you order from the menu, sign the bills and call the shots, but that doesn’t mean you should ever hesitate to do just those things. If anything, you can pride yourself in breaking social taboos and setting an example of independence for others. And if you do it with confidence and a big smile, you’ll be amazed at how quickly even the most conservative people will warm up to you. At the end of the day, traveling is the best way to expand your horizons, not just for yourself, but those who surround you as well. Bon voyage!

Shared from : http://www.dhakatribune.com/magazine/weekend-tribune/2016/09/08/travelling-while-deshi/  (Dhaka Tribune)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Beacons of Bengal History

By Nusaiba Mirza

It is a sad truth that the average “world history” class contains very little information regarding the history of South Asia. We are often unaware of Bengal’s own flavor of history. Packed with wars, jealous aunts and double-crossing advisors, South Asian history is rather fascinating.
The Mughal Empire had an enormous impact on the Indian Subcontinent. It is one of the reasons why this area was able to flourish in trade and religion, and was why so many historical events took place.

Here are some rulers of the Bengal who deserve a little more credit for their historical significance:


Pratapaditya was the Hindu Maharaja of the Kingdom of Jessore. That’s right, you heard it. Jessore used to be a kingdom that was declared independent from the Mughal Empire from the late 1500s to the early 1600s.
Pratapaditya was known to be a great patron of the arts, and he would encourage musicians, artists and poets to present their skills at the palace court. It was during his rule when indigenous tribes such as Mundas and Bawalis were made to settle in the Sundarbans to increase agricultural land and food production.
During his era, the first Jesuit missionaries entered the Bengal and were free to preach their faith. The mass people were also free to convert if they liked. In fact, the first Jesuit church was established during this time, in the year 1600.

Murshid Quli Khan

Murshid Quli Khan was the first ever independent Nawab of the Bengal. He was the father of the Zamindari system that later took over the Bengal. Quli was born as a Hindu Brahmin in 1660. He was taken under the care of Haji Shafi, who named him Mohammad Hadi. After Shafi’s death, Quli worked at the revenue offices in Berar. He was a talented young man, who soon earned the respect of the Emperor Aurangzeb.
Quli was put in charge as a Diwan, the person in charge of taxation and revenue, in various places, and he brought in significant revenue to the Empire though his quality work, even in hard times. Hence, Emperor Aurangzeb gave him the title of Murshid Quli Khan and allowed him to name the city he is working in after himself, as Murshidabad. In the year 1717, several Mughal emperors later, Quli was made an independent Nawab of the Bengal, the first ever of its kind.
As a person, Quli was known to be religious and would feed all his guests twice every day. He had one wife, Nasiri Banu Begum, unlike other Nawabs and he never took any concubines. He allowed Hindu people to work in his offices, as they were fluent in Persian and good in tradesmanship. Even after his independence from the Mughal Empire, he continued to send generous amounts of money to the Empire. Historians argue that he did it so the Emperor would not set restrictions to his rule.

Shuja-ud-Din Muhammad Khan

Shuja-ud-Din was the successor of Murshid Quli Khan in 1727 and is known as one of the most successful Nawabs of Bengal. Although Qali had left him a rich land, Khan was able to make the land even richer. Historians say that this was the height of wealth in the Bengal region. Khan was known to be a realist, and followed through with his plans.
Khan was a liberal Nawab, and the general people did not live under a reign of fear during his rule. He was a strictly religious man, and was never involved in unethical scandals. However, he was not a big fan of his predecessor, which was why he decided to tear down all the public offices that Qali had built and replaced them with luxurious public buildings such as a Court of Justice, a lush palace, gardens and so on. He is also known to have re-settled Hindu Zamindars who had not received much freedom of trade earlier on.
Khan was known to be a generous soul, and spent extravagantly on his officers and workers. He used to hold meeting sessions with the commoners, where he would sit and listen patiently before giving advice. Khan was succeeded by his son Sarfaraz, who was killed by conspirers and a new lineage of Nawabs were introduced to the Bengal.


Sirajud-Daulah was a young Nawab, and his reign did not last very long. However, he is held to be an iconic character of the Bengal history as he was the last Nawab to be independent of the British rule and to attempt to uproot the increasing influence of the British on Indian lands.
Daulah was put to the throne at a young age, succeeding his grandfather Alivardi Khan in the year 1756. He was 23 years old the time. Prior to his succession, Daulah was seen to be the palace brat who practiced gambling and all the other ills. However, all of those habits soon left him as he promised his dying grandfather to do the best he could for Bengal.
Coming to power, Daulah was quick to get rid of his enemies, including his aunt Gheseti Begum, a wealthy and influential lady residing in Motijheel Palace. However, he still could not get rid of the trouble that was lurking from all corners outside his reign. The East India Company was gaining strength and other rulers from other parts of India showed their interest of conquering Bengal.
Daulah’s reign lasted only a little over a year. He died in the Battle of Plassey the next year, when he was betrayed by his general Mir Jafar. Daulah is often dismissed by many historians as someone who was too often feared. However, others argue over the fact that he was very young, and had attempted his best to protect his land. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

How green is their valley!

Faisal Mahmud

A unique annual event that brings everyone together to build a greener future

In Bibhutibhushan’s epic novel Arannak there was a character named Jugolprashad. To his surprise, the narrator of the novel found Jugolprashad planting different trees inside the forest of Lobotulia Boihar! When he was asked the reason behind that seemingly crazy exercise, Jugolprashad replied, “This forest lacks some flower trees, if I plant those, then the forest will look more beautiful.”
Lobotulia Boihar had only Jugolprashad to enhance the beauty of the forest and he did that for nothing, no material gain. The land locked country of Bhutan, however, has many Jugolprashads, and in June 2, they come out in numbers to plant trees to enhance the beauty of an already very beautiful country.

The unusual scene
As a tourist in that country, I didn’t know much about their tree plantation programme. On the morning of June 2, my second day of at Thimpu, it was business as usual for us. Our guide came early in the morning to take us sightseeing in and around Thimpu.
On our way up to Buddha Point (one of highest points of Thimpu valley, offering great view of the city), we saw a good number of people clad in white tea-shirts and doing something in the hills. I didn’t understand anything at that point.
Right after that, we were going up to another hilly area named Modithang at the northern part of Thimpu, I saw the same scene, a good number of people in white tea shirts doing something in the hills. I then asked our guide Yogesh as to what was happening there. He replied that people were planting trees.
I said why? He replied, “To enhance the beauty of the hills.”
“Also there is a world record at stake,” he added.

The world record
The Bhutanese did indeed break the world record.
With a motto of “Let’s begin a greener Bhutan”, the country had entered the Guinness Book of World Records for planting the most number of trees in an hour. The official record says 49,672 trees were planted at Kuenselphodrang, Thimphu, although 50,000 was the number attempted.
The event was organised by Bhutan Eco-Green Initiative Network (BEGIN), an environment conservation project under Peoples Initiative in Celebrating the Sixtieth Anniversary (PICSA), together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.
PICSA was formed under Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck as the royal patron to supplement the government’s initiatives for the 60th birth anniversary celebrations of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.
PICSA’s project coordinator, Karma Tshering, said a group of 100 volunteers were specially trained for breaking the world record. Those volunteers underwent rigorous training for about three weeks. The men were divided into ten groups and placed at strategic locations to carry out the plantations.
“We could have planted 50,000 saplings, but some weren’t planted properly in line with the Guinness World Record guidelines,” Karma Tshering said.
An official from Guinness World Records in London, Pravin Patel, was present to assess and verify the plantation. Two Bhutanese witnesses, police chief Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel and former minister Kinzang Dorji, and ten stewards from various organisations assisted the official in verifying and assessing the plantations.

The happy volunteers
One of the volunteers, a 20-year-old school drop-out Penden Wangchuck, said he was happy that the team’s effort paid off. “I tried planting about ten trees in a minute. It was tiring but we were confident of beating the world record right from the start,” he said, adding that, during their training, some even managed to plant about 30 trees in a minute.
About 160 volunteers registered for the event, of which 111 were selected. Eleven were kept on standby, should anything happen to the 100 volunteers on the finale.
Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck and Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck witnessed the event, along with cabinet ministers, parliament members, and other dignitaries.
Namgyen Dorji, another volunteer said, it was a great honour for him that he was chosen as a volunteer for the attempt to break the world record. “If I was not chosen, I would have still planted some trees in the hill to beautify our country. It’s a practice and tradition in our country. I have seen my father doing it.”
June 2, the World Environment Day is observed as Social Forestry Day in Bhutan. Forest plantation records date back to the late 1940s, when the first plantation was carried out in Gelephu across 3.20 acres of land.
The annual tree planting activity was re-enforced after June 2 and was declared as Social Forestry Day in 1985 to commemorate the coronation of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, a visionary environmentalist.
The nursery run by the Forestry Department provides saplings free of cost, and this has encouraged people to plant trees. “It may be near their house or school or office, but everyone will share the benefits of a greener community,” said Karma Tshering, the project coordinator of PICSA.
Shared from Dhaka Tribune
Link: http://archive.dhakatribune.com/weekend/2015/jul/02/how-green-their-valley

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Wave Riding Guavas


Ever wondered what it’s like to shop from a floating bazaar? If it sounds like something you will have to travel to some foreign lands to experience then you are mistaken. The Southern region of Bangladesh is renowned for its Guavas and there are quite a few floating guava markets in the Barisal district. Even though one might imagine these markets to be situated on floating platforms on water bodies, these are actually made up of a collection of boats belonging to local guava farmers.

Now that we know where we are going, the question of how to get there arises. The following is a detailed travel account of the Spark Adventure Club’s trip to visit the floating Guava markets of Barisal which might help you to plan out one of your own.

Reaching Barisal
The launch, “Morning Sun 5”, was set to leave the Sadarghat Launch Terminal at 6.30 PM on the 4th of August and the Spark Adventure Club team was ready for the trip with 15 of its members. The
team of travel enthusiasts included KhorshedAlam, Enamul Huq Russel, Sumala C., Chandan da, Rumman Khan, AhsanulRony, Aftab Ahmad, ArefinShohag, Jalal MdAshfaq, Nidra khan, Nishiat Al Safwana Chowdhury, Kousik Hasan, Tahrim, Saria and Sayeda Abir. The launch left the terminal at the scheduled time and the team’s maiden journey to the floating guava bazaars of Barisal started. The destination of the launch was Banaripara of Barisal. As the vessel moved ahead, cutting through the waves of the Buriganaga, the team waved goodbye to their sleep and indulged themselves in songs and hearty conversations amongst themselves. Abir treated the group with his amazing singing voice while Shupti won the crowd over with songs written by Tagore. Sumala, Kousik, Arefin and Kabita’s songs kept the team entertained, and often amazed throughout the night. The launch reached Banariparaat around 5.30 in the morning and they disembarked the Morning Sun 5. Then team traveled to the Banaripara Dak Bunglow where they freshened up.

Enter the Guavas
Afterwards, the team left for the guava bazaars by Rubel Majhi’s boat. On the way, the team spectated the beauty of the Guava and Amra gardens, and betel leaf farms. The team members were then presented with Bangladesh’s flag which is a traditional gift of the Spark Adventure Club for every event they host.

It wasn’t long before the team reached Kuriana but it was too early in the morning and the farmers had not set up the bazaar yet. So, the team moved on to see the Bhimruli Bazaar but found out that the farmers had only started arriving and the market there wasn’t set up either. The team started waiting and Russel treated everyone to some delicious coconut water. Meanwhile, the team started chatting with groups of people around to kill some time. At this point, the team was in dire need of some entertainment and so they decided to toss one of the members of the group, who didn’t know how to swim, into the shallow water which was hardly 3 feet in depth and it was hilarious! As the farmers started pouring into the market, the team moved about tasting samples of guavas from different farmers. The fact that the farmers were so enthusiastic about giving out samples to them, either from their trees or their boats whenever they asked for one, was really surprising to them.

The weather was cloudy and it was raining with short pauses every now and then. The group decided to visit the local school as the Bhimruli market became fully operational, announcing the beginning of another busy day for the guava farmers. Afterwards, Russel bought locally grown lemons for the whole group while Sumala paid for a boat full of guavas for the team to take home. The team then prepared for their return trip to Dhaka and on their way to the Banaripara ferry terminal they visited the boat markets of Atghor. At the ferry terminal, Khorshed packed the guavas they had brought along with them with a little help from Rubel Majhi.

The City

The team ate their lunch at Rumman’s sister’s house and then left to see the Guthia Masjid which was located not very far away. Having seen the marvelous architecture of the mosque, the team set out to visit their next destination, the Durga Sagar Dighi, which happens to be the largest pond in the southern region of Bangladesh covering an area of about 2500 hectares. Then, the whole group left their luggage at the Parabot launch and went to the China Town that is situated in the Barisal city. At the China Town, Sumala treated everyone to dinner and they returned to the launch as soon as everyone was done eating.

After an exhausting day of traveling and fun, a few of the group members were fast asleep as soon as they hit the bed on the launch while the rest spent their time gossiping as a storm raged on outside. The launch, having braved through the turbulent waves of the Padma, arrived at the Sadarghat Terminal safely and timely the next morning.