Fishing for Sand in Sylhet

Bangladeshi men fish for sand from India.
Bangladeshi men fish for sand from India.

If Jaflong provides rocks, then the rivers in the nearby areas provide the next best thing — cement. The sand comes down from India and is considered of the finest quality. It is very fine in size and seeped in my canvas shoes through the canvas.

The sand being moved down river.
The sand being moved down river.

The process of sand fishing involves getting pails of sand from the river bottom, hauling them up into the boat, letting the sand drain a little, and then letting your colleagues push the drying sand into the center of the boat. At the back of the boat is a bilge pump or a guy bailing the boat. The sand is ferried down to waiting trucks and then the trucks move the sand to hand cranked cement makers.

More boats of sand.
More boats of sand.

 

 

Restaurants in Dhaka – Part Four

Where the beautiful hang?
Crepe-au-Lait. Where the beautiful hang?

I’ve tried 49 different restaurants in Dhaka. I did a first, second, and third roundup. This is my fourth:

Diner 360 (10/13): Continental. Good high end diner food. Steak sandwiches and a filet mignon dinner for 850 Taka. ($10.25)

Margharita Pizza (3/13): Pizza and fast food. It’s a small local place. Very flat and small pizza. Very local.

Samdado (6/13): Japanese/Sushi/Korean. Old established place to take business clients at lunch. Note: saw a rodent skitter across the floor during our incessant wait for the bill.

Crepe-au-Lait (7/13): Crepes, savory and sweet. Hip new place filled with hipsters. Note: Savory crepes were not bad. Service is slow.

Kozmo (6/13): Cafe. Hip place in Banani. Various Indonesian and other cuisines on small menu. Note: Mini chicken kebabs are cute.

Bella Italia (7/13): Pizza and pasta. The Penne a l’Arabiatta (spicy pasta) was the best dish. Note: It’s in the building with Royal Thai and the sign for Roy Rogers Roasters.

Dhansiri (9/13): Bangladeshi. Next to the Westin. Acceptable local food when you have people who want to eat Bangladeshi food.

Suraon BBQ (8/13): Korean BBQ, same owners as Sura. Across from Soi 71. Note: It has LA style kalbi (beef rib slices). Most of the food had something missing from the flavor. Too bad. The raw fish was bad.

Do Mi Ok (8/13): Korean BBQ. Try: the cubed daikon radish kimchi was crunchy and acceptable. There was no traditional napa cabbage kimchi served. Rest of the food was uninteresting.

Shwarma (3/13): Shawarma and mini pizzas. This place is so popular but I can’t really figure out why. The “meat” was chewy and not in a good way.

Cheng Chong (10/13)): Cantonese. Fried rice was good. Corn soup was good. Will try more stuff later.

Spices (3/13): It’s the airport restaurant. They serve fresh juice and all kinds of other items.

The children's play area at Diner 360 in Gulshan 2.
The children’s play area at Diner 360 in Gulshan 2.

Fishing for Rocks in Jaflong

Medieval misery in Jaflong's rock fisheries.
Medieval misery in Jaflong’s rock fisheries.

As an alluvial delta, Bangladesh has few rocks. In Jaflong, in the northeast corner of Bangladesh, they fish for rocks. The rocks are fished from the river, broken, loaded onto trucks and taken off to be turned into cement. Jaflong sits on the invisible border with India and was once considered a beautiful place. Even now, amidst the horrors of backbreaking labor and touristy traps, you can still see the faded glory in the bridge and the hills.

Moving rocks from river to boat to truck.
Moving rocks from river to boat to truck.

It’s hard to see the beauty through the lifeless eyes and the maelstrom of medieval tableaux.

Sun sets on Jaflong.
Sun sets on Jaflong.
India is on the far side of the crowd.
India is on the far side of the crowd.

 

Want A Frown With That Noodle?

If the noodle soup is good, then I don’t mind a frown. After all, sometimes a noodle is too serious to smile about. In Kuala Lumpur, this lady had no patience for my inability to order properly.

Unfriendly noodle soup stall.
Unfriendly noodle soup stall.

This cracked me up.

Noodle soup with crumbled sausage and chicken.
Noodle soup with crumbled sausage and chicken.

Airport Reality

A real bed-like bench in Copenhagen airport.
A real bed-like bench in Copenhagen airport.

Having been to a fair number of airports, I wish many things of them. One is a flat padded surface for sleeping. Copenhagen Airport is actually one of the ones that is beginning to address the realities of travel. Kudos to Copenhagen for providing padded leather benches the size of a bed. Plus, they have good shops. Singapore airport is another great airport and not just because of its free foot massage machines. Sometimes, a completely bed-like bench is all I need. That, and free WIFI. Please, my deep veins beg you.

Best Vineyard Food – New Zealand

Eggplant/aubergine salad. So much better than it sounds.
Eggplant/aubergine salad. So much better than it sounds.

We were whizzing past the views of paradise on Waiheke Island off Auckland’s coast. The bus driver/guide had suggested places in his well rehearsed voice but after all the other tourists got off at the beachfront restaurant, I asked him again. Where would you eat? He mentioned a vineyard that had won some award last year. He said it was a bit of a walk at almost a kilometer.

The view from our table... vineyard to ocean...
The view from our table… vineyard to ocean…

We got lost. We asked a local for directions. He heartily endorsed Casita Miro. When we found it, we went in through the kitchen. Like everything else in New Zealand, it was both casual, elegant, and ridiculously fresh. The restaurant bakes all their own bread and their food is tapas style. They make good coffee as well so you can enjoy a latte as well (in New Zealand, they have another drink called a “flat white” which is a latte with no foam hence flat. The best one we had was made by an Italian guy down at the harbor in Auckland).

Tagine style lamb shank.
Tagine style lamb shank.

Casita Miro is only open for lunch so plan for it. Enjoy some of the vineyard’s wines… make this a destination.

Deep-fried mozzarella.
Deep-fried mozzarella.
The large windows of the restaurant.
The large windows of the restaurant.