Riding the Rocket

Khulna Travel Blog

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The Rocket

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.

Sunrise on the Rupna - A boy and his canoe
  Just then, there is a flash, then all the lights go out!! The time goes by quite quickly and we step on to the 71-year-old paddle-steamer moored on the Rupsha River. The change is instant. Gone is the clinging, chalky smog and the endless stream of people. Ashish, our helpful steward, ushers us up the stairs and along the decks to the bow of the great wooden vessel. He is quite young and very hospitable. Ashish shows us to cabin number one in a row of eight. It is clean, quiet and airy, with a row of Western bathrooms down the hall and broad windows looking out to the mottled brown river as the paddle wheels begin to churn the water. Ashish informs us that breakfast  will be ready at eight.  

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.

Hang-Ten
 

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.

navchaa says:
hahaha, I love how the smallest things feel like incredible luxury when your travelling...such as unlimitted toast!!!

no desire to try out 2nd class for a night??? maybe on the return trip?! ;)

Keep the pics and experiences coming!! We are soaking up the sunshine through you guys, seeing as there has only been snow clouds here the last 5 days!!!
Posted on: Nov 22, 2007
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The Rocket
The Rocket
Sunrise on the Rupna - A boy and h…
Sunrise on the Rupna - A boy and …
Hang-Ten
Hang-Ten
Rush seating
Rush seating
Sunrise over the Rupsha
Sunrise over the Rupsha
Dining in first class
Dining in first class
overload...still chuggin!
overload...still chuggin!
Arriving in Dhaka
Arriving in Dhaka
Fishing (for gargage) on the shore…
Fishing (for gargage) on the shor…
Sipping tea and basking in the sun…
Sipping tea and basking in the su…
Grapling the grapefruit.
Grapling the grapefruit.
Captain and his new mates
Captain and his new mates
2nd class.. bring your own blanket.
2nd class.. bring your own blanket.
Washed up
Washed up
Busy river
Busy river
Work Vessel
Work Vessel
Khulna
photo by: tstewy