Sunday, September 26, 2010


With seasonally shifting sandbanks to protect and filter the crystal clear, ‘Carribean’ waters of this lovely tropical  island just off the coast from Cox’s Bazar, the small gem makes for one of the finest days out I know anywhere in the world.

Turtle tracks betray the nocturnal activities of the increasingly endangered attractions; sadly, empty shells bear rather too common testimony to the risk of fishing nets to their survival. Notices along the beach, in English, announce that collection of turtle eggs is illegal; it seems the greatest risk to turtles is from English speakers! Seems unlikely. Probably more a reflection of the need of the NGO who obtained funds for turtle protection to be seen by their funders to be doing something, rather than achieving results. That, at least, is familiar enough in Bangladesh!

Porpoises have been seen cavorting in the clear waters of the lagoons formed by the sandbanks, and flocks of seas birds regularly populate the banks at low tide.

Seasonally, fish drying becomes a local industry, creating an aroma that reaches the nose even before the low lying profile of the island reaches the eye, but the hordes of children helping at the drying racks somehow, as so often in youthful Bangladesh, enrich the environment with their cheerful welcome.

It all makes for a  few great hours away from the beaches  on the mainland, wandering across the desert- like sand hills and ridges topped by straggling growth of shrubs, above the small fields from which the few inhabitants squeeze some kind of an existence beyond the sea.

How long this tropical paradise will be allowed to remain so is, however, questionable. It is now identified as a potential location for the badly needed new deep water port to service, not only Bangladesh, but also the landlocked parts of India and China.

Now, therefore, is very much the time to enjoy the potentially transient beauty of Sonadia Island, a visit to which is always a seasonal pleasure. The waters of summer make such visits uncomfortable at best, and potentially dangerous!

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