Six months in Asia travel blog

Rice fields

Sifting the rice

Horseshoe crab

Monkeys

Villagers

Cock fight

The village where we stayed


The silence was astonishing. When I woke in the middle of the night, I expected to hear at least the distant chug of a train, the hoot of a car horn, the howl of a street dog. But here in a village in the Sunderbans Reserve, there was nothing, no electricity so no mechanical sounds of any kind. After three weeks in India it was almost unnerving.

The journey there was part of the adventure, a three hour ride south of Calcutta to the delta which also spreads across into nearby Bangladesh. I was in a group of other travellers and some local Indian tourists. We got a ferry to Gosaba and then a type of cycle rickshaw for a forty-minute ride across the island passing rice fields and mud houses. Then we took another boat across to our village on Satjelia.

We had a wonderful walk in the late afternoon through the village and saw rice being sifted and noticed the dugout water tanks in front of each house that provide all the water until the next monsoon arrives. After a delicious home-cooked meal and a performance by local musicians we were in for a surprise. It was a special day to honour the god Shiva and so the locals were in festive mood and making offerings at a lingam shrine including one mixture of milk and bhang (cannabis). One manifestation of Shiva is the Destroyer and the offerings are made to appease him.

The following day we took a boat trip through the Tiger Reserve navigating tranquil rivers lined with mangroves. Unfortunately, we weren't lucky enough to see a tiger, but we did spot a crocodile, a spotted deer, a monitor lizard, monkeys and a strange creature called a horseshoe crab (see picture). When we returned to the village, we were surprised by another unscheduled event. A cock fight was taking place in the village and we were invited. None of us were that keen to see animals being hurt, but on the other hand we weren't there to judge and it was an opportunity to see another side of village life. Unlike another cock fight I saw in Bali which was very male-dominated, the atmosphere here was much more friendly, and there were women and children present.

I spent the night on board the boat. I'm now waiting for the Darjeeling Mail night train to whisk me up into the Himalayas. I'm really looking forward to seeing the mountains, but less keen on the prospect of freezing temperatures.



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