Riding the Rocket
Khulna Travel Blog› entry 7 of 12 › view all entries
The Rocket, one of the four ageing paddle-steamers that travel from the Sadar ghat in Dhaka, the
capital, along the arterial waterways of southern Bangladesh to Khulna and back.
There are six departures a week by Rocket to Dhaka.
Arriving by cycle-rickshaw in the night from our hotel ($2), we realize the Rocket is 2 hours late (surprise) and we will have to wait.
As the slivers of early-morning sun peek through the curtains, it is hard to stay in bed. Out to the bow to watch he morning unfold. Ashish brings fresh coffee to waken our tastebuds. Curiousity getting the best of me, I head up to the bridge level to mee the captain. His face is as creased as a walnut and he looks as if he may have made the maiden voyage on this steamer. But, a kind man who offers us the boat to enjoy and to come visit him anytime.
Ashish lays out breakfast in the dining room with a fastidious eye to detail; he's never more than an arm's- length away to pepper eggs or top up toast.
As the sun rises, so too does our awareness of the brutal effect of the cyclone. Boats and ferries washed inland, scores of huts tattered and beat, countless trees scattered like mach sticks - We pass by helplessly.
On a more positive note..
Through the day we sit on the deck drinking cups of tea and snacking on curries as rural Bangladesh passes by. Pink river dolphins (shushuks) slip in and out of the water and the only sound is the rhythmic chug of the engine.
Dinner is served in the central dining room. The feast of mutton curry, dal, rice and hilsha, the Bangladeshi river fish, is first class
As we meander along, slick overgrown channels open up into vast flattened rivers, hundreds of metres wide in places. Makeshift games of kabaddi (the national sport of Bangladesh, a fusion of pin the tail on the donkey and Greco-Roman wrestling) take place on dusty fields in the distance, families stoop to sow rice crops in the mud and boats loaded with cargo drift past on the curving waterways.
After 30 hours we reach Dhaka. Arriving at congested Sadar ghat, we say goodbye to the Rocket, negotiate the hordes, and enter the urban jungle of Dhaka.