Trip to Sunderbans

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by Ray, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    We were on a One Two day Package Tour of Sunderbans.
    It was enjoyable and was energy consuming, but giving one a great appetite.
    The first day involved reaching the pickup point on one’s own and then the Tour Company took over.

    At 0900 hours, the tourists were picked up from Science City. There were two Minibuses and one car. Since we were a large group, we got a minibus of our own.

    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-f...p/DSC05894.JPG

    We were given packed breakfast of sandwich toast and chips. As luck would have it, our guide was a hero type with John Lennon spectacles with black lenses speaking in Pidgin English. His English was amusing for while the foreign tourist would pretend that they understood him out of politeness, I found it really difficult to understand what he was saying. He declined to converse in Hindi, which in any case without doubt was his mother tongue since he came from a neighbouring State. Ofcourse, conversing with him was really exasperating.
    He was so consumed in himself that he was Oxford return that while displaying his prowess over the English language (which he alone understood, since he was not even equal to Kapil Dev’s grammatical errors) that he conveniently forgot to give us the bottles of water and consumed most of them. Since we had carried our own breakfast, snacks and water, we gave him the go by. At the tea halt he vanished and we were left floundering and made the best of it on our own. The tea is within the package.
    However, in all fairness I will state that later with a nicer guide on the second day with whom I had a long chat, I was told that we should demand what we want and not leave it to the guide. In case anyone does this tour, he should remember that.
    The journey to the Riverhead at Godkhali was a nice trip. The road was what Lallu promised to Bihar of it being smooth like Hema Malini’s cheek, except the patches where the Bengal Govt was widening into a four lane Highway to Sunderbans to promote tourism. Those stretches were not good and it was one way, causing one to half if the traffic was being allowed to come in the opposite direction by those controlling the traffic at either end.

    Here is the view of the countryside as we moved along the Basanti Highway that connect Calcutta with Sunderbans
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/9K...w293-h218-p-no

    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/dZ...w292-h218-p-no

    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_1...w292-h218-p-no

    There were two halts. The first one was for 'relieving' oneself. This was at a petrol pump and those who used the 'washroom'/ 'restroom' at the pump said it was clean and neat.

    The next halt was at the small wayside tea stall.
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7h...w293-h218-p-no
    As I had said earlier, our guide vanished into thin air and so we had to fend for ourselves. In the bargain, we did not get the biscuits and other things that were in the package deal. It really did not matter, but being conned, because of a recalcitrant guide, does not leave a comfortable feeling.
    We reached the River head at Godkhali.
    We disembarked from the Minibus. Gathered our luggage and then set forth for the jetty which would take us to the country boat to cross the first river.
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/cGInC-x-QVfHdZZVCRFv2VaPCia1Fjkp3nB7E69c3nE=w292-h218-p-no
    The move from the disembarking point to the jetty was long or so it seems since one had to keep checking if the children was with us and that we were all together etc and the guide had vanished and so we were following the others. There is also the chance of getting lost since there are a whole lot of locals who are going about their business or are heading for the same jetty.
    Seeing the consternation of those who were on the tour, interestingly two British girls helped us with our luggage, as also of others. It is later I came to know that they were helping out with the Tour Company and staying in the Eco Village of the Company. One was doing research on the Adivasis and the other was learning Bengali. Both were conversant in Hindi, but with a British accent. They are very helpful to the tourists throughout the trip.
    At the jetty there was a huge confusion. Even now, I don’t know if the country boat had been hired by the Company or it was ‘business as usual’ i.e. first come, first served. We, the tourists, were on one side and locals were on another. The jetty sloped down and there was a stairway of sorts. In the centre was a concrete incline where motorcycles could be brought up or down. In the jostle of those disembarking from a country boat with a motorcycle and coming up with engine running, could in the tight pack ‘nudge’ one and that person would go straight into the river. So, should you take this trip, remember that.
    Finally, we got a boat and we started getting in. The locals also got in. There was an altercation and the locals said that there is nothing called a ‘reserved boat’ and so they cannot be denied the crossing in the same boat. And as usual, they won. Even so, we all got in. Maybe that is the reason we hear of the tragedy of ‘overloaded’ boats sinking with loss of lives. But then, this is India.
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/cGInC-x-QVfHdZZVCRFv2VaPCia1Fjkp3nB7E69c3nE=w292-h218-p-no
    Some photos of our crossing the river
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/X40uLdcS-gZs21CMObu8MYEZRlawXSr26JKomTdlM_U=w292-h218-p-no
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/f5lghKSyjH8YTT3FWygldgvK8laPVYP-6TC9ZD398-Q=w292-h218-p-no
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/PN1V8XowRBZLutn6CFm3D7SktH8PfGmcTqA2_NurK7o=w292-h218-p-no
    Here is the jetty where we got down at.
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/GcFwwaqNZutRtd8skAJRwRgdw6ZYEpgNzHFRY0Y2TcY=w293-h218-p-no
    Having got down at the Jetty, we were told to move to the cycle van stand. Before that one of the guides told all this was the end of ‘civilisation’ and that if we wanted to buy any toiletries or torches, then it was the place and after that all were left to Nature and God.
    It was a great help that the guides had hired a cycle van to carry the tourists’ luggage because the cycle van Stand was miles away involving a real long trek, again along rather poor road surface.
    Finally we reached the Cycle Van Stand. However, these cycle van had a motorcycle and we had collect our luggage and sit on the plank board that was there for sitting. An interesting experience.
    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/L7fUgFyXQo4-BhgTNuCbDodG29QjFNhwMuG8kpA1IpE=w292-h218-p-no
    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/aJUMq1oAxF_mr1xcZNoYxHOYb_TBI_WRHfDVy5nmxQA=w293-h218-p-no
    We, having got on to these ‘vans’ with great enthusiasm since it was unique, we had a horror of an experience. It was no fault of the tour organisers, but that of the WB Govt. Here is a photo of the road (the better part of it)
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/WvHQCDmRSQrcgB5G5SGLkCdxN9T-QR0yJwHK23eJybY=w292-h218-p-no
    At the end of the 30 minute ‘ride’, it reminded one of the song Ghugroo ke tarah bajta hi raha hun main. Every bone was rattling and the body felt sore. One tip – sit in front and not at the back hanging your feet. Should you do that, you have a good chance of falling down and on your face.
    The countryside enroute was like this
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/osXDs64rIDakCA8UWpxxkAoplz6SYQIKYaypIWeaa9Y=w293-h218-p-no
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/Wew6GyIHx1PcJ9BnVoMPIeitAE0OYb0WCijhm9-sivM=w292-h218-p-no
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/VYZxBuK7vC1EiE6SLiX2tajzYYHXfS7JCwdV8ZQzDqQ=w292-h218-p-no (these house looked incongruous to the surrounding. Must be private country houses of non locals)
    Then we were herded off to the next jetty for a short ride in a country boat to the Eco village that was owned by the Tour Company.
    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/ojDnwtHS6n7613sQ3y6kz_eCoPxrryR1CdoPyIMdh90=w292-h218-p-no
    The Eco Village would be an experience for those who have not ‘roughed it out’ or lived in a real village of Bengal. It was a typical village with huts having thatched roof and bamboo lattice walls. The difference being that the floor was cemented instead of being of mud. Thatch keeps the room warm in winter and cool in summer. Even though it was cold with the cold breeze blowing, the rooms were warm.
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/rwzio51EhuCQ2d8wVUxaGu21sw5exsbSJX4LEkOcbrc=w292-h218-p-no
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/pXhD9KO0-eFfFMx122fsWZHqY5qmKy66qCP73YaVGuw=w292-h218-p-no
    The rooms were cute. There was a double bed blanket, a bed made of large bamboo and mattress with two pillows. The linen did not appear clean, but then this was a backpackers tour. I was told later that if one wanted a change of linen, then they could have asked for it. Towels or toiletries are not in the package.
    The toilet had a WC and a tap with running water from a Sintex tank above the hut and a bucket, mug and there was a roll of toilet paper and a handwash bottle dispenser.
    There is no electricity. The light came on from the solar system at 1800 hours till 0600 hours the next day. It is quite dark in the room during the day.
    Here are some photos of the room.
    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-1UujIBOqwN2XTJYatYHGwCSRU42yOHYEj4ZmU16ZEw=w293-h218-p-no\
    Having settled down, lunch was served in a thatched dining hall.
    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/TtfBAlz2arILAvd1DO7fDWuv3I-0r3-o-fwD0wqeD_0=w269-h202-p-no
    Thereafter, the tourist were taken for a long tour of the surrounding village and a country boat ride through the creeks where one hugged the forest and saw crabs hanging from the mangrove.
    The trip finished at 1830 hours and the sun was sinking or had sunk.
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/auuG_FL5WTmYI-BL99fwHRkhawtXKxQbAYiSpZ7bqK8=w292-h218-p-no
    The people went to refresh and then there was a cultural show with local songs and so on.
    The tourists danced in wild abandon to the country music.
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/UnU8g2cfxTfFOIMrA49_Vn9RVgHowZ62Frn56JKm0_w=w292-h218-p-no
    Then dinner was served.
    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/cC9z40aiN2SReFLmVDSufJgNYajsQMOlZ7LEf6y14rQ=w292-h218-p-no
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/yBMK3ro1SH7cLoHLGUbxcXDVrEIHMdIPmflZZiPA0mw=w292-h218-p-no
    Regarding food, one gets basic food. Roti/ Rice (parboiled ‘Minikit’), Dal, brinjal fry, two vegetables (cabbage with potatoes), raw banana fried. Thereafter, those who are non vegetarians, they get fish (for lunch) and chicken (for dinner). The food is not spiced that might appeal to the Indian palate since possibly they cater for foreigners too. A sweet dish is also included at the end.
    Most tourists thereafter hit the bed and because of the long day went off to sleep (as I gleaned from them the next day) but still there were those who were still undertaking the revelry and were a distraction for the sleepy heads. Since the walls were of bamboo lattice, one could hear what was happening in the next room. Our neighbour was a cell phone addict and so he kept me awake till 0230 hours. This is something that one should watch out for if one takes this tour.
    Next morning, after the morning ablution, one reached the RV (the dining room) along with the luggage (not the two nights type though). The breakfast was luchi or puri, veg and tea.
    Then we set off on the tour of Sundarban’s core area by launch. There were three launches. First we had to stop at the ‘Control’ from where the permission was obtained to enter the core area. Handicams were not allowed and if one wanted to carry a handicam, it had to be declared and a fee of Rs 500 given.
    It was a leisurely trip and the Pilot of the boat was very knowledgeable and with a real sharp eye. It is because of him, though we spotted no tiger, we could get to see deer, crocodile, crabs, monkeys, wild boar and birds.
    Whenever, something was spotted on the bank, the launch would circle so that all could get a good glimpse and take photos. We also saw the junction of five rivers and the mouth of Bay of Bengal.
    The point that one should remember is not to make noise when one spotted an animal since it would run away as also not move to one side since the launch would list and it could be dangerous.
    It was an all day trip, with lunch and snacks served. The lunch was same variety, but being lunch it was with fish.
    The cooks were all locals of Sunderbans and while the food was not five star, it was tasty and good.
    We reached Godkhali after last light where we took our minibus back home. The point one should note that from the disembarking point to the area where the minivans were, it was all dark and there as no light or electricity.
    Here are some photos of the second day launch ride and animals seen.
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/FJkYRVbdyF8mHyBBAA_6wwwiAZWUl3ogyfvmu_-ux_Q=w334-h187-p-no
    Waiting for clearance to enter the core area
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/eieMgBHFQPyW-vqKX7jKr9Endml1fN8_S3OcwQSw85o=w270-h202-p-no
    Foggy weather
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/CFLGfr7OnYE6czq6-Sbd6Zn8rB_ECMj24Nd-ENiE5Kg=w390-h219-p-no
    West Bengal Tourism steamer
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/4dckmL0JWR2bR0uXTIALYYn36wu09LrEHAzRBHqBuwQ=w390-h219-p-no
    Tourists have disembarked to see animals from one of the two Watch Towers that the launch stops at during the second day tour.
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/dWBaDp8ydcsFppUih9t0v3r1TgCuthdIh9E4J8ETtaA=w391-h219-p-no
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/A-4B_oGjf5YWpfhCryFhE3DQ9OyjRglo6pwS-D3dvz0=w234-h175-p-no
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/z7xnucmVyhecKPOxAkGTocIfbV5G7cQ03bkYdBJZGek=w390-h219-p-no
    Watch tower
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/kOUmPWH3BdHu7WnEY3drb2laZ2KTNDKouBovra27TRg=w390-h219-p-no
    sweet water reservoir
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/cvdG4xG7XAS2vD3YyGfQy1mSGvCyKyEGL_BE6syVY9I=w391-h219-p-no
    Deer at the sweet water reservoir
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/dWBaDp8ydcsFppUih9t0v3r1TgCuthdIh9E4J8ETtaA=w391-h219-p-no
    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/IE02loyYMpf8Ac9lRLaZb07Drzh1jX0gAnJOPKG0kLo=w390-h219-p-no
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/F5xDYvgXBNLMUaglcgPEocOQhBcWQuZcH5FLZQ8yQAU=w359-h202-p-no
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Sorry one could not append the photos since the tab was not there on the runner on top where it is click to append.

    The package cost :inr: 4000/- per person.
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I hope that the links brings up the photos.
     
  5. ladder

    ladder Senior Member Senior Member

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    Some initial links are broken, later ones are OK. Though if photos were larger in size, we would have enjoyed more.

    Finally how much out of 5 would you rate the trip? BTW, did you start the trip on 25th Dec?
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I would it rate it as 3 out of 5.

    We started the trip on 29th at 0900hours (or 9 AM) and was on our feet till 6.30 PM. Slept the night in the huts. Woke up at 4AM left by Launch to the Core Area at 6.15 AM, moved through various channels and rivers and the launch dropped us at the Road head at about 6.30 PM where we got the transport and returned on 30th at night.
     
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  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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  8. white-pigeon

    white-pigeon New Member

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    I think you should upload your pics in some image hosting site like imgur or similar and share links with us.
     
  9. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    You can't see the photos that I have linked?
     

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