Wood Market & Guava Plantations In Swarupkati

February 16, 2015 Bangladesh 4 Comments 12,712 Views

At The Wood Market & Guava Plantations In Swarupkati.

Swarupkati’s guava plantations and the large wood market was the reason we took the overnight launch from Sadarghat Port. We only came across this info through the local media, otherwise this town would have never gotten our attention. We’re glad it did though.

Swarupkati is definitely not a regular tourist destination. Here you have to be prepared to get as much attention – if not even more – as Lady Di got during her Australia tour. No, I’m really not exaggerating! The last time we got this much attention was during our accidental visit to Tilamuta in Indonesia (the captain of our boat got lost on the way from Togean Islands to the mainland).

What To Expect In Swarupkati.

Getting off the launch in Swarupkati was not an easy process, simply because we were surrounded by people who just stared at us. This is when it dawned on us that not many westerners have travelled to this part of the country…

A nice rickshaw puller brought us to the main street, winding parallel along the river. It was a nice ride. After approximately 15 minutes, we got to pretty much the one and only accommodation, yet it was still full with dreaming guests. The sleepy hotel manager promised us his best room around midday – at this point we’d like to thank our local friend Sabuj, who came along with us for this trip. In some cases a local translator really eases up things. Sabuj knew people in the area, and since it was breakfast-time, we went to the best restaurant in town - a real shack, with lots of people. Our arrival made quite a stir. The gossip just flew through the village the second we set foot onto the premises: “Western tourists have arrived“.

After finishing our meal, it was truly an amusing experience to walk to the jetty where a boat was ready to navigate us to the guava plantations: Around 200 people watched every step of our way and hoped to join us on our excursion. It was Hello Miss here, Hello Mister there. Screaming kids, waving people and a VIP from town who came along with us (we didn’t manage to find out his position, but everybody did as he said, so his VIP status was reasonable).

Arriving in Swarupkati immediately meant that the unloading process started. Several smaller boats approached our launch even before we got to the jetty.
Sabuj had his hands full trying to keep all the kids in Swarupkati under control.

Off To The Guava Plantations.

The boat was quite large and comfortable to sit in. We crossed the river on which we had come on with the launch from Dhaka and the slowly floated into the jungle on one of the rivers side arms. The area was so different to the otherwise busy life in Bangladesh. There were absolutely no roads, therefore it was quiet and the atmosphere truly special. We could only hear the sound of the jungle and flowing water. Everything comes in and out of the region through small channels by boat, and if you’re not familiar with the area, one will get lost after the first bend. It’s like a maze on water; almost a bit like Venice.

Of course our boatman knew every corner of the way and we stopped several times to admire the scenery. It was so green, lush and uninhabited (apart from few families living in farmhouses). As said before, westerners are definitely not a common sight here. Every single person we came across got excited, wanted to talk to us or, in most cases, wanted to take a photo.

After floating through these jungle plantations for several hours, we couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to do such a trip with a canoe and camp in the area for a few days

Now this was quite a lovely farewell: Pretty much the entire village came to see us…
The VIP from town (left) & Sabuj (centre) were a real help during our trip to Swarupkati. Can’t help it, but somehow Sabuj kept reminding us of John F. Kennedy…
We were a real attraction in Swarupkati… and if you’re not down to earth, the attention you get here can really get to your head.
Very often boats are the only means of transportation for lowland dwellers in Swarupkati.
A local farmer brings some tasty guavas to the next market. But the prices, now as low as 80-120 Taka for 40 kg, are frustrating for the growers.

Checking Into The Best Place In Town.

When we got back to Swarupkati, our room – which was supposed to be the best room of the hotel – was ready for us. To make the story short: we decided to get out our hammocks and rather sleep in those. Sometimes, like in this particular case, it’s a waste of time to complain about the room. We knew that the hotel management really tried everything in their power to make our stay pleasant, yet the room was not all that nice – especially the sheets. On the bright side, we had a balcony and could watch ships go by the river all day long. Luckily there were two windows with iron bars, so setting up the hammocks was not an issue.

Pure Muscle At The Wood Market.

After settling in, Sabuj organised a visit to the local wood market. Again, someone from the community joined us and therefore we got a really good insight on why this markets has developed here. Most people own boats instead of cars, and therefore even of huge trunks of wood are transported on water. The trunks are tied together like a raft and the boat is sitting on top of the stems. With patience, the timber can then be navigated to its final destination.

The tree trunks are put onto the boat, as well as attached on the side and also underneath it.
Tree trunks are brought to the city centre of Swarupkati for further usage.
Once the tree trunks arrive in Swarupkati, further processing takes its course.
No machinery of any kind can be found at the wood market in Swarupkati. Here it’s all about pure man-power.
Before the wood is put onto the larger boats for further transport, it has to be weighted.
The work at the wood market in Swarupkati is tough and should not be underestimated. These guys definitely get their fitness done each day…
The men working at the wood market in Swarupkati are as fit as you could be.
Many wood trunk are also directly processed in Swarupkati and then shipped to cities all over Bangladesh.
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“At The Wood Market & Guava Plantations In Swarupkati.”

  1. Sizar Sizan

    Very nice to see your story about Bangladesh, a beautiful country in the South Asia. Feeling proud to be a Bangladesh. Thanks my dear friend Ulli Maier. You are always welcome to Bangladesh.

  2. Thank you Sizar!
    I hope to return to Bangladesh again soon. Maybe not this summer, but next year again :) Take care!

  3. Really great photos and story! Glad I could learn a little something about a place so rural.

  4. Thanks Marina! This is what I also love about visiting “unknown” places: there’s always something new to learn and explore. Every place has a story and something to tell…

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