Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

A Weekend In Chittagong

A Weekend In Chittagong

Old May 24, 20, 11:45 pm
  #1  
Moderator: Trip Reports
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
Posts: 3,291
A Weekend In Chittagong

My trip to Chittagong, walking through the fishing boat building yards on the banks of the Karnaphuli River, getting lost in the crowds of the busy morning fish markets, being awed by the deliberate destruction at the ship breaking yards, being taken through the process of making a H&M shirt at a local garment factory and enjoying a tasty dinner at Chittagong Boat Club.

My previous trip report's can be found below:

A Trip to Afghanistan
A Journey Through Kyrgyzstan
A Trip Around The Arabian Gulf
A Trip To Yemen
A Trip To Jordan & Israel
A Southern African Adventure
Road Trip to Saudi Arabia & Qatar
Five Days In Japan
Underground In New Zealand
A Trip To Iran
A Trip Around The Mediterranean
A Long Weekend In Paris
A Trip To Ukraine, Belarus & Russia
A Trip To Kenya & Tanzania
Beautiful Thailand
To Muscat For A Travel Magazine
Everest in Full Picture
A Trip To Bali & Dili
A Trip To Northern Iraq
Winter Trip To Europe
Christmas In Mogadishu
A Trip To Sudan
A Trip To DR Congo & Rwanda
Twelve Days Across Africa
A Trip To Lebanon
A Long Weekend In Prague
A Trip To Laos, Vietnam & Hong Kong
Off Road In Kazakhstan
A Trip To Turkmenistan
Six Days In Sri Lanka
A Trip To Copenhagen & Stockholm
Sixteen Days In West Africa
A Trip To Maldives
A Trip To Armenia & Nagorno-Karabakh
To The Frontlines Against ISIS
A Weekend In Baku
Return To New Zealand Via South-East Asia
Three Days In Georgia
A Trip To Bulgaria
A Trip To Iceland & Greenland
Back To Southern Africa
A Trip To Canada
A Trip To Eritrea
A Trip To Romania
A Trip To Djibouti
A Trip To Bangladesh
Three Days In Mexico City
A Trip To Havana
New York, New York
Relaxing In Seychelles
Four Days In Namibia
Frankfurt To Bruges
Nine Days In Brazil
Sarajevo To Dubrovnik
Three Days In Libya
Four Days In Hong Kong
Six Days In Ethiopia
Baghdad To Basra
Chișinău To Odessa
A Trip To Bhutan
Karachi To Peshawar
Eight Days In Argentina
A Trip To Colombia
A Tourist In North Korea
Venice To Zagreb
Sixteen Days In Central America
Nine Days In Norway
One Night At A Desert Resort
Relaxing In Mauritius
Four Days In Tajikistan
A Weekend In Abu Dhabi
A Week In Mali
Summer Escape To Oman
One Night On The Palm Jumeirah
Three Nights In Dibba
DanielW is offline  
Old May 24, 20, 11:46 pm
  #2  
Moderator: Trip Reports
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
Posts: 3,291

Day 1.

Outside Sharjah International Airport to begin the weekend trip to Bangladesh.


And about to check in for the Air Arabia 3am flight to Chittagong. An Emirati low cost carrier based in Sharjah, it was my first time flying the airline.


The 3,700 kilometer flight to Chittagong's Shah Amanat International Airport was scheduled to take 4.5 hours.


I had visited Bangladesh for four days a few years ago but only to Dhaka and inland to Khulna.

When I spotted a weekend trip to Chittagong on a Meetup group I quickly decided it was a good opportunity to head back.

Airside with my boarding pass for aisle seat 3C.


Walking across the tarmac to board the Air Arabia A320.


And a quick selfie before departure. Despite being a LCC the seat pitch was relatively comfortable and the seats actully reclined unlike other LCC's I had been on.


After take-off I put on my eyeshades and put in some earplugs to catch a few hours sleep.

Coffee, muffin and a Snickers at dawn somewhere other eastern India.


Starting our descent to Chittagong.


And my freshly stamped Bangladeshi visa for $51. There were four others on the weekend trip and we quickly recognized each other being the only people queueing up for the visa on arrival.


Just outside where I met up with Didar, our guide for today in Chittagong.


A couple of the guys had forgotten to bring a paper copy of the hotel reservation so were a little late after trying to figure out how to send it to a Bangladeshi immigration Gmail account to print out.


Didar then took us to an awaiting minivan for the ~30 minute drive into the city.


In the lobby of the Well Park Residence Hotel.


Welcome glass of mango juice.


And our room for the one night stay.


The view from the balcony. My roomate was Maher, an internal bank auditor from the UK working in Abu Dhabi but living in Dubai.


Rickshaws out on the street. I wasn't too tired or jetlagged so decided to go for a stroll.


Oranges and banana's for sale.


A Bangladeshi girl chatting on her phone.


Crowd.


Pharmacy.


Ladies chatting on the street.


Cigarette.


A rickshaw driver pausing briefly for a quick portrait.


Bunny ears.


More banana's for sale.


A driver inside the bars surrounding his auto-rickshaw.


Waiting for the next customer.


A spiderweb of cables above O.R. Nizam Road.


Mother and daughter crossing the road.


Back at the hotel restaurant with some chicken soup and spring rolls for lunch.


And some tasty fried rice and spicy curry.


At 1:30pm we met up with Didar again and headed out in the minivan for a drive through the busy streets.


A short while late we arrived at Karnaphuli Mariners Park.


Chittagong is one of the main fishing hubs of Bangladesh due to its proximity to the Bay of Bengal.


A fisherman repairing a gillnet.


A lady walking in front of the anchored fishing boats.


Looking west with more gillnets stretched out for repair.


A row of the wooden fishing boats at low tide.


A fishing boat under construction.


Each boat costs approximately ~6 million taka ($70,000) to build including engine and nets.


Wood for the boats is sourced from neighbouring Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia as well as locally.


A boat builder pausing for a photo.


Another worker with a length of caulking cotton.


The caulking cotton is hammered in between the wooden planks to help waterproof the hull.


When the boat is out to sea one crew member has the sole job of cotton caulking to ensure the hull remains watertight.


A carpenter shaving down pieces of wood to make wooden pegs for the boat construction.


We then drove a few kilometres in the minivan again to our next stop.


Roadside snack stall.


Making our way down an alley towards the Karnaphuli River.


And boarded a waiting riverboat.


Fishing trawlers moored in the middle of the river as we head upstream.


Fishermen.


Rowing downstream.


Passing under the Shah Amanat Bridge. The Chinese-built bridge opened in 2010.


Ladder.


A riverboat along side a bulk carrier ship.


After cruising down the river for ~5 kilometers we disembarked on the southern bank of the Karnaphuli River at Shikalbaha.


In Shikalbaha we visited another boatyard.


Black tar painted on the wooden hull for waterproofing.


While the Karnaphuli boatyard we had just visited was for the construction of new boats, the Shikalbaha boatyard was for repair of existing boats.


Three carpenters.


The boatyard foreman.


Chipping away.


It was a contrast comparing the boats after they had spent many years working versus the new boats under consruction earlier in the day.


A gentleman in his tar-splattered shirt.


A drum of tar being carried to the boatyard.


We then boarded the boat for the journey back.


A fishing trawler cruising down the river. Chattogram is the official name of the city.


Towing a rowboat which was struggling with the incoming tide.


Back on the northern bank of the river.


And the sun beginning to set to the west.


Peanuts for sale.


Three wheeled transport.


We then drove into the city to the Old Railway Station.


Chittagong has two main railway stations. A busy, modern railway station and the Old Railway Station which was built by the British during the Colonial period.


Station master.


The station dates from the late 19th century when a railway line was built between Chittagong and the city of Comilla.


Passengers about to depart.


Floral headscarf.


Toki headcap.


Waiting for the next train.


Three men in thobes.


A game of cricket underway as we continue our walk into the city.


Busy Station Road.


In the minivan again behind all the tuk-tuks.


And back at the Well Park Hotel after dusk.


Some Mum brand bottled water at the hotel restaurant for dinner.


Grilled chicken and vegetables for the main.


And some sweet rice pudding for dessert at the end of day 1.

DanielW is offline  
Old May 24, 20, 11:46 pm
  #3  
Moderator: Trip Reports
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
Posts: 3,291

Day 2.

Dawn in the city on the morning of day 2.


In the hotel restaurant before 7am for breakfast.


At 7:30am we met up with our guide for today, Mustafa, and drove down to the Karnaphuli River. Fishing boats in the early morning fog.


We then went for a walk through the Chittagong fish market.


Filleting a fish.


Crates of fish fresh from the Bay of Bengal.


The market is the city's main wholesale fish market.


Each morning hundreds of tons of fish are sold in the market.


Boys selling ice.


Fish is the main source of protein in Bengali cuisine.


A man holding up an Asian sea bass while another shows off a Catfish behind him.


A truckload of fish about to leave the market.


We then made a short drive west down Strand road to the salt processing area of the city. Two businessmen with small piles of salt on the desk.


Salt being unloaded from a boat in the Karnaphuli River.


The salt being washed to further purity it.


Bangladesh produces ~1.6 million tons of salt annually.


The cleaned salt being milled.


And the final product piled high in a warehouse.


Being packed into large 50kg sacks.


And into smaller packages for retail sale.


We then headed in the minivan again for a 40 minute ride north to the infamous Chittagong Ship Breaking Yards.

Although the shipbreaking yards used to be a tourist attraction, due to their poor safety record outsiders are no longer welcome with guards were posted and multiple signs warning against photography.

They couldn't block access to the sea however and it was possible to get a glimpse of the shipbreaking via a ride in a boat along the coast.


The recently beached Nigerian flagged oil tanker, Diddi, ready for scrapping as we headed out in the wooden boat. It was quite surreal to see such a large ship completely out of the water, simply sitting stranded on the beach.


Our guide explained how the ships are first cut into larger chunks and then attached to steel cables and winched ashore to be cut up further to be easily digested as scrap.


A AHTS vessel in the process of being broken up.


The exposed internals of a ship's stern after it has been cut open.


The remains of a ferry that used to sail between the cities of Shidao in China and Gunsan in South Korea.


The shipbreaking yard is the world's largest, handling a fifth of the world's total and accounts for around a half of all steel in Bangladesh.


The Panamanian registered Uni Lucky, built in 1990 as a wood chips carrier.


The stern of the 20 year old container ship Spirit of Manila.


Workers out on deck.


The shipbreaking and associated industry in Chittagong employ over 25,000 people.


There are eighty active shipbreaking yards along the 14 kilometer stretch of coast.


A towering ship superstructure, still with it's original lifeboat. When each ship is scrapped all the machinery and fittings are stripped and sold to salvage dealers — from enormous engines, batteries, generators, and miles of copper wiring to the crew bunks, portholes, lifeboats, and electronic dials on the bridge.


The slightly apocalyptic and ominous atmosphere of the Chittagong Ship Breaking Yards also helped it serve as a very cinematic shooting location for the superhero movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. A still from the movie is shown below:


A cluster of ships waiting to be cut and sliced apart at the end of their working lives.


Looking up at the green hull of a container ship formerly owned by the Taiwanese shipping company Evergreen Marine.


The name of the ship now partially covered over with sheets of steel.


A worker looking out from a lower deck from a ship with a now open and exposed stern.


The recently arrived cargo ship Georgia K which had been beached a week prior.


The stern of a ship with cut off chunks laying down beside.


And the bent propellor, possibly when it was driven at full speed up onto the beach.


Nick then pulled out his red Mavic Air from his bag. I had decided not to bring my drone on the trip so was very jealous!


Looking down on our boat making its way through the dirty oily water. Luckily Nick kindly shared the video from his drone and I was able to grab a few stills from the footage.


The broken hulls of numerous beached ships stretching out along the coast and dwarfing our little wooden boat centre-bottom.


Looking down on the hulking remains of a trio of ships.


And a large hawk getting curious with Nick's drone.


The red hull of a ferry formerly belonging to the Chilean operator Navimag.


A long streak of black oil in the heavily polluted waters below.


Nick's drone coming in for landing.


Nick piloting the drone in while I get ready to grab it. With it's obstacle avoiding sensors it didn't want to land and when the battery got critically low it automatically tried to fly itself back to the lanuching point, which was a kilometer back over the water! Luckily Nick was able to quickly cancel it and I then snatched it from the air as it hovered over the boat.


The bright yellow hull of a small Chinese container ship.


The last remaining chunk of a once mighty vessel.


The Ostrov Beringa, originally built in 1986 as the Banyon Maru in Shimonoseki, Japan.


Another skeletal remains of a ship half-way through scrapping.


Workers shovelling foam insulation into the sea.


Making our way back along the coast.


The pier for the ferry to Sandwip Island.


A man harvesting with the breached oil tanker Diddi in the background.


And making our way back onshore after the very interesting excursion.


A quick cup of tea at a cafť in the town of Kumira.


And some lunch on the go in the van as we headed to our next stop.


On our way back to the city we stopped at some marine salvage shops.


Several ship speed control dials available for purchase. Unfortunately a little too big for my carry-on backpack!


Binoculars and lanterns.


And a flag of the UAE I managed to find in a dusty backroom.


Back in the city we went for a visit to a local clothing factory.


We were each given a fire action plan in case of evacuation. The Bangladesh garment industry has suffered numerous tragedies including fires and building collapses and it was good seeing some effort to mitigate and prevent them.


Rolls of fabric ready to be cut.


It was my first time visiting a garment factory and it was surprisingly interesting seeing all the different stages of manufacture.


The different sizes of garment sketched out on a paper template.


The textile industry is Bangladesh's largest manufacturing sector and its size is second to only China.


Clothing labels with the different sizes of garments for the companies Chaps, Macy's and H&M.


On the main sewing floor with was filled wth the buzz from countless sewing machines in seemingly perpetual motion. Each row of machines was separated into a designated team, with a set of performance charts of garments made, rate of rejects etc.


And the finishing floor where the shirts were sorted, ironed and packed.


Back in the city centre we visited a Aarong department store, a non-profit that employs thousands of rural artisans across Bangladesh.


Although they didn't have any fridge magnets I couldn't resist buying a traditional Bangladeshi outfit for my daughter Hannelie to take home.


It was almost time to start heading to the airport for our flight home so we had one last stop at the railway tracks.

A man walking along the tracks, carrying multiple sacks perched on top of his head.


And a lady more sensibly walking between the tracks. Just to the right was a slum with people living on the small strip of railway-owned land beside the tracks.


A lady feeding her 18-month old daughter in the slums.


Hitching a ride on a passing train.


After the brief stop at the railway tracks we headed south to the Chittagong Boat Club, situated next to Shah Amanat International Airport, for some dinner.


A plaque on the wall showing a list of club life members with number one being Sheikh Hasina, the current and longest serving Prime Minister of Bangladesh.


A small container ship heading down the Karnaphuli River in the background as a middle-class Bangladeshi sits down for dinner.


Sharing some naan, chicken and fried rice with Maher for a last tasty meal in Chittagong.


And a scoop of MŲvenpick ice cream for dessert for a pricey 500 taka ($6).‎


Saying farewell at the airport and thanking our guide Mustafa and driver Mohamed after a very interesting and enjoyable two days.


Looking up at the colourful mural as we queued up to check-in for our Air Arabia back to Sharjah.


Airside with my Air Arabia boarding pass.


And about to board the A320 for the flight back home after an amazing and very photogenic weekend in Chittagong!

DanielW is offline  
Old May 25, 20, 5:32 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 824
The ship breaking yard was very interesting. I further read a more generic ship breaking Wikipedia entry to learn more about the subject. Terrible about the environmental damage, although just abandoning a ship in the middle of a ocean is likely no better. A bit surprised you were allowed to take photos inside the garment factory just because of the fire safety record in so many of those factories. An enjoyable read for those of us unable to travel at the moment. Thanks!
lamphs is offline  
Old May 25, 20, 5:54 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: London, England, United Kingdom
Programs: Marriott (Lifetime Titantium), whatever other programs as benefits make sense.
Posts: 1,403
Very interesting read, great photos and looks a unique trip for a weekend. I do like a bit of industrial wasteland - makes me feel like I'm living in the movie Blade Runner.
GregWTravels is offline  
Old May 25, 20, 7:10 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 151
Thank you very much Daniel, it is indeed a great trip report. Stay safe and healthy to you and your family!
Redmax is offline  
Old May 25, 20, 9:01 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: HKG
Posts: 1,233
Quite surreal to see those dirty shipyards that we read about on the news. Must have been an interesting adventure!
hkskyline is offline  
Old May 25, 20, 10:03 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Francisco
Programs: GM on VX, UA, AA, HA, AS, SY; Budget Fastbreak
Posts: 7,268
Great TR as always. I import lcl from Asia and it was great to see closeups of the cargo ships. Amazing about these ship breaking places... the drone pictures are stellar. Glad the drone helicopter blades didn’t hurt your fingers!
amazing that the garment factory didn’t try to hide/encode the global shop brands although I assume there are still multiple layers inbetween factory and brand’s point of entry.
gaobest is offline  
Old May 25, 20, 10:09 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2019
Programs: World of Hyatt, AAdvantage
Posts: 45
I never thought about what happens to a ship when itís outlived its purpose. Thank you for this trip report!
wrldwide1 is offline  
Old May 25, 20, 10:14 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: DFW
Posts: 37
Thanks for your report, and I scrolled through some of your old ones. Are you a photographer? The photos are excellent. Loved the black & whites from Paris.
MsEllie is online now  
Old May 25, 20, 11:40 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Dallas, TX
Programs: AA Concierge Key, SPG Plat, Hyatt Diam
Posts: 381
My birthplace - it is so poor and there are so many things wrong with it. But the one redeeming quality are the common folks - the 95+% of the population that struggle every day to put food on the table. They are absolutely the kindest and nicest people!
MsEllie likes this.
canuckshark is offline  
Old May 25, 20, 1:13 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Denver CO
Programs: HHonors Gold, National Emerald Club, no airline affinity status
Posts: 2,621
You have a unique gift of capturing the everyday look of the country you are visiting. One of the best TR writers on FT for sure. Now post a picture of Hannelie in her new little outfit you got her.
lb8001 likes this.
HawaiiTrvlr is online now  
Old May 25, 20, 6:28 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Circle City
Posts: 3,565
Really enjoyed. Thank you. I wondered, though, what camera you used for day one. You have a gift.
Darren is offline  
Old May 25, 20, 10:14 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: SIN
Programs: Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
Posts: 167
Love all the portraits. Bangladeshis are indeed very friendly people.

Do you feel that there is any difference between Dhaka and Chittagong?
chongsss is offline  
Old May 26, 20, 5:30 am
  #15  
Moderator: Trip Reports
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
Posts: 3,291
Originally Posted by lamphs View Post
The ship breaking yard was very interesting. I further read a more generic ship breaking Wikipedia entry to learn more about the subject. Terrible about the environmental damage, although just abandoning a ship in the middle of a ocean is likely no better. A bit surprised you were allowed to take photos inside the garment factory just because of the fire safety record in so many of those factories. An enjoyable read for those of us unable to travel at the moment. Thanks!
Many thanks, lamphs. Yes, the shipbreaking yards were very fascinating, the big giant ships being broken up for their steel in a very low tech and not too safe manner. Technically we weren't supposed to take photos at the clothing factory but they weren't too bothered when I took a few snaps with my phone.
Originally Posted by GregWTravels View Post
Very interesting read, great photos and looks a unique trip for a weekend. I do like a bit of industrial wasteland - makes me feel like I'm living in the movie Blade Runner.
Cheers, GregWTravels. Yes, the shipyards were both apocalyptic and photogenic with the big hulking wrecks parked up on the beach and in various states of dissembly.
Originally Posted by Redmax View Post
Thank you very much Daniel, it is indeed a great trip report. Stay safe and healthy to you and your family!
Thanks, Redmax. Our travels are on hiatus at the moment but are enjoying some staycations close to home instead.
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Quite surreal to see those dirty shipyards that we read about on the news. Must have been an interesting adventure!
Yes, they have been on my bucket list for a while, great to finally see them.
Originally Posted by gaobest View Post
Great TR as always. I import lcl from Asia and it was great to see closeups of the cargo ships. Amazing about these ship breaking places... the drone pictures are stellar. Glad the drone helicopter blades didnít hurt your fingers!
amazing that the garment factory didnít try to hide/encode the global shop brands although I assume there are still multiple layers inbetween factory and brandís point of entry.
Thank you, gaobest. The clothing factory seemed quite safe and well organised. I guess the western brands are under a bit pf pressure now to make sure the workers conditions are up to par.
Originally Posted by wrldwide1 View Post
I never thought about what happens to a ship when itís outlived its purpose. Thank you for this trip report!
Many thanks, wrldwide1. I think almost all ships are scrapped in South Asia, too expensive to do in it Europe etc. where the safety and oversight is alot more strict.
Originally Posted by MsEllie View Post
Thanks for your report, and I scrolled through some of your old ones. Are you a photographer? The photos are excellent. Loved the black & whites from Paris.
Thank you, MsEllie. My day job is an Engineer but photography is one of my passions. Very complimentary hobby with travel too.
Originally Posted by canuckshark View Post
My birthplace - it is so poor and there are so many things wrong with it. But the one redeeming quality are the common folks - the 95+% of the population that struggle every day to put food on the table. They are absolutely the kindest and nicest people!
Yes, very welcoming and friendly people! I had fond memories of my Dhaka visit a few years ago and was glad to visit Bangladesh again in the city of Chittagong.
Originally Posted by HawaiiTrvlr View Post
You have a unique gift of capturing the everyday look of the country you are visiting. One of the best TR writers on FT for sure. Now post a picture of Hannelie in her new little outfit you got her.
Many thanks for the kind compliments, HawaiiTrvlr. Will have to pull the costume out of the closet. It is for a 2 year old but I think she is growing so much you will probably fit it already!
Originally Posted by Darren View Post
Really enjoyed. Thank you. I wondered, though, what camera you used for day one. You have a gift.
Thanks, Darren. My camera is just a Canon 5D4 with various lenses.
Originally Posted by chongsss View Post
Love all the portraits. Bangladeshis are indeed very friendly people.
Do you feel that there is any difference between Dhaka and Chittagong?
Thank you, chongsss. Dhaka felt a lot busier and had its historic old town. Chittagong felt a bit less hectic but more commercial with it various industries.
Redmax, Moderator2 and chongsss like this.
DanielW is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: