Being a Muslim country everyone was modestly dressed. There's no chance of cracking a bikini out or catching some rays that's for sure. Alcohol is also more or less illegal and is only available in a few of the bigger upmarket hotels - at a price. If you're caught drinking in public you could be arrested.
There's nowhere to buy alcohol from shops, the only place you can buy from are diplomatic warehouses. These have a limited selection of beer, wine and spirits which you can be purchased legally if you're a non-Bangladeshi passport holder. Our Saturday beer hunt had proved fruitless so far, so we admitted defeat for now and returned to our room to get ready for the evening.
Dinnertime and a Beer
That evening we went for a meal in the Seagull Hotel, reputedly one of livelier places in the evening and which sells beer. There was a huge big screen outside in the hotel grounds showing the cricket. Neither of us like cricket though so we headed inside to find the bar and restaurant. Both were dead which was disappointing as we'd been hoping for a bit of life. We settled for a few hands of long-tail rummy instead whilst we waited for our food.
I had a local dish, Korola Chingri Bhorta, which was shrimp mashed with bitter gourd and potato. It's the ultimate Bangladeshi comfort food, and served with rice was delicious. Andy had Vegetable Kofte Curry (cutlets in gravy) and Paratha, again really tasty. We also had two local Hunters beers each, which weren't so good. Brewed in Bangladesh, it was clear there was no quality control, we estimated they varied from 3% to 7%.
We were back in our room by 10pm that night, pretty much as soon as we'd finished eating. Andy was knackered and lack of beer or any form of nightlife left little to stay out for.
Bangledesh was a first for both Andy and I, and unlike India we'd not had time to do any research. This meant we had no idea what to expect...not one iota. So integration and assimilation over, what were our first impressions of Bangladesh?
To be completely honest at that point we weren't sure. We knew we were going off the beaten track by coming here and hadn't heard of many westerners who had. We quite liked Cox's Bazar, again like India it's rather an assault on the senses. Being the top tourist resort in Bangladesh it also had almost has a festival feel to it.
Although we seemed quite a novelty to the locals, they were generally pretty friendly and we didn't feel particularly hassled. I don't think we form any opinions of Bangladesh as a whole based on just Cox's Bazar, elsewhere may be completely . With only a week in the country we can only experience a small part, there's no chance of discovering everything it has to offer. The rest will just have to save some for another time.
This post was originally published on Can Travel Will Travel.