Part 1 of a series from the Cycle Tour Sylhet-Cox’s Bazar 2010
Labony Beach in Cox’s Bazar was as we dreamed it would be like, clean and beautiful sand, clear blue water and clear blue skies, still untouched by the tourists. The cyclists from the UK and Bangladesh crossed the finishing line, which was set up near the beach with beaming smiles and some tears after cycling for 7 days and covering 608 km over some of the most beautiful landscapes and greenery you could ever imagine in the world. Everyone. rejoiced, hugged chanted the name of the sponsor Clemon, sang the theme song, I’d like to be under the sea, with a clemon in my hand. After hearing that song all week being played along the route from the vehicle carrying the sound system, it was automatically playing inside everyone. After all this everyone left their bikes on the beach and ran for the water, what a feeling the warm waters of Cox’s Bazar. I was then thrown into the water by some of the UK and Bangladesh cyclists.
This was followed by checking into the Seagull Hotel a very impressive 5 star hotel. Early evening on this day we attended the closing ceremony with the Upazilla Chairman of Cox’s Bazar, Sk Jamil Uddin Director of AFBL, Professor Eric Franks from Bath on Labony beach. The closing ceremony was also attended by all the 60 cyclists who joined the original 10 from xperime adventures uk and 10 from Kewkradong bd as well as some local dignitories and lots of local people. After the customary speeches the cyclists were presented with garlands, a crest and certificate on behalf of Clemon, it was then followed by a presentation from Jelina Rahman on behalf of the Uk group to Sk Jamil (Clemon). The closing ceremony was followed by the group moving onto the neighbouring beach to the barbecue. Now, I was always under the impression that a barbecue – what’s so special about it? But when we arrived I was surprised to see that Clemon had organised a marquee made for lights with a camp fire and the band inside ready to play. What a night this turns out to be with lots music, good food and dancing, everyone signing the t-shirts. we finished here with another presentation for the back up marketing and events team from AKij FBL.
The following day we went to Inani beach to play beach cricket and beach football followed by more swimming and sightseeing of the natural beauty. Inani beach is totally untouched by developments and is a real oasis a peaceful sanctuary where we could stayed for days.
After Inani beach we came back to Labony beach to take part in quad biking, jet ski-ing, surfing all thanks to Clemon our sponsors, this was followed by dinner at hotel media and the evening get together at the angel drop pier. whislts all this enjoyment is going Dr Hussain and I had to nip to the Biman office to get our tickets organised for our marathon flight the next day from Cox’s Bazar to Dhaka and dhaka to Sylhet.
We originally left Oldham on Saturday 23 October at 9am heading towards Heathrow for our flight to Dhaka the same day. At Heathrow we met up with our fellow tour participants from Scotland and High Barnet and we flew togther on the start of this epic journey.
We landed on Dhaka the following morning around 8am prompt and were received by Rakesh from Clemon at the airport. Having already driven for over 2 hours to get to Dhaka Club Guest House, but before we could check in already tired and hungry we had to immediately attend a press conference with the social welfare minister Mostofa Shaheed and Mrs Geetara Chowhdury an ex-government advisor and one of the most powerful women in Bangladesh. The press conference went well with quite of lot of press and TV media crew in attendance. We then had to check in to the guest house and some of the group went straight for the swimming pool. That evening we went to eat Nandos in Dhanmondi followed by a stroll in Bashundara City the biggest shopping mall in Dhaka.
The next day (26/10/10) was the Dhaka rally where the group, alongside the cyclists from Kewkradong cycled through the hectic traffic of Dhaka going past the Central Shaheed Minar, the Iconic Parliament Building and other famous Dhaka city sites navigating the busy roads to finish at Wonderland park enjoying biryani for lunch and many rides in the park. After this we went to meet Sir Fazle Hasan Abed the founder of BRAC the world largest NGO and we learnt so much about social business it was one of the best education sessions ever and I am sure Omari and I will be trying out some of the methods with the voluntary and community sector here in the UK.
The next article in this series will talk about the start of the cycle tour from Sylhet.