[Bangladesh] Dining on-board the Rocket Paddle-Wheel Steamer


(Peter) #1

One of the more interesting dining experiences I had during my recent two-week tour of Bangladesh (we wanted to cover 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country) was taking one of those antiquated colonial-era, British-built paddle-wheel steamers upriver from the Sundarbans (the world’s largest mangrove swamps) back to Dhaka, Bangladesh’s chaotic mega-capital.

There are only 4 of these century-old paddle-wheel steamers left in the whole of Bangladesh, trawling its network of waterways, and our 16-hour journey gave us a view into the life on the banks of riverine Bangladesh:

The Third Class packed in over 500 passengers.

We took First Class, which had 8 cabins with twin bunks each. Leaky air-conditioner unit notwithstanding, it was worlds apart from the cramped conditions below.

Views along the way:

Whilst passengers in Second and Third Class packed their own meals for the journey, First Class passengers can enjoy a hot Bengali meal churned out from the little kitchen on-board.

The First Class dining area:

Our dinner consisted of chicken Dopiaza (spiced, oniony chicken & potatoes - very tasty), curried eggs and “sobji baazi” (braised green papaya, with carrots & string beans), all served with “kichuri” (spiced rice cooked with yellow lentils).

Pretty tasty renditions.


#2

We have been remiss in not properly thanking you for your continued excellent reporting. “Do jeh.”


(Peter) #3

My pleasure, as always. :smile:


(Anti Everything :@)) :@)) ) #4

Thank you. Great post.

Glad you are safe (boats in Bangladesh sink all the time).


(Peter) #6

Believe me - I was reccing where the life jackets and escape routes were the moment I stepped on.


(John Hartley) #7

A very diferent experience than most of us will have. Thanks for sharing it with us, mate.


(Peter) #8

The roads seemed so much more dangerous - single-lane, bi-directional traffic with derelict heavy trucks hurtling along both ways. I thought I’d died a hundred times - the way our driver-from-Hell was driving - but I guess the Man Above was not ready to see me yet.


#9

Better brush up your swimming skills, Peter. I count 2 floaties on the first class deck! Every pole on that boat is bent, lol.

But yes, drivers in these corners of the world are dare devils. Heading 50mph directly toward each other? No problem!


#10

When we were travelling in SE Asia, H insisted that we had to bring ours life jackets (I didn’t not want)…he didn’t trust the jackets provided nor my non existent swimming skill. (I prefer taking the risk than not able to bring anything, took too much space!


#11

Food looks alright for a ship meat, glad to know that they were tasty.

Relief that you were not there in the raining season. Adventurous trip!


(Peter) #12

We missed the mango season by a month - everywhere we went, mango trees were in full bloom - just flowers which have yet to develop into fruits, but not one single mango to be seen anywhere eventhough we visited quite a few markets.
The rainy seasons are expected to hit a month or two after that.

Just sharing some scenes from the markets we visited:


(Anti Everything :@)) :@)) ) #13

Fantastic images. Just look at those vibrant aubergines! What’s a common daikon dish in Bangladeshi cuisine? (maybe you have already asked…)


(Peter) #14

The Bangladeshis like to braise root vegetables (carrots, daikon) and fruits (like green papaya, gourd),sometimes two or three types together, and lightly spice the dish. We have kind of braised vegetable dish at almost every meal, called “sobji baazi”.


(John Hartley) #15

Presumably the same linguistic derivation as the Iranian “sabzi”.


(Peter) #16

Yes, I should think so.


(Anti Everything :@)) :@)) ) #17

Thanks. Looks good. Is curry powder/spices in everything?


(Peter) #18

Yes, everything. But the vegetable dishes tend to be very lightly spiced.