Pestered by a net-busting mossie and then incessant itching, I didnt wake until 12 and lept out of bed to find Ken gone and Khulna humming with bustle. My priority for the day was information gathering with step number one being a hot traipse around the tour agencies offering trips out to the Sunderbans. These forest wetlands are deemed a UNESCO site and constitute 62 per cent of the worlds mangrove systems, Bangla people everywhere had already prompted me that it was imperative I should see their countries star attraction. In short though I had just missed one tour departing that morning, and besides being pricey the next tour operating was too long and too late, too bad. Next I checked out the schedule for the "Rocket", another national icon, the paddle boat service which runs between Khulna and Dhaka. It turned out to be equally inconvenient, I could either leave immediately that night or wait 2 days, no good. Then onto GMG Airlines whose routes I was able to check but they didnt know their own summer timetable starting in 12 days time. It was all good information but it was all bad! It had proved a decent introduction to sizeable Khulna though, during which I struck upon an ATM and an air-con supermarket, starkly contrasting beacons of civilisation. For good measure I also discovered a surprisingly smart Shenyang J-6 mounted in a small park, my first in Bangladeshi markings. All along the way guys went out of their way to meet me and have their photo taken, with countless smiles and waves being proferred wherever I roamed. 2 women bearing heavy loads seemed to forget them as I took a pit stop for a cold one. As I sat on the pavement supping my Sprite they just stared at me relentlessly only feet in front of me, amazed. At the picturesque wharf, bare chested teenagers crewing a dhow again wanted photos. A scavenging woman sifted through rubbish she had trawled inside her makeshift house of palm fonds. A poor excuse for humanity skulked by, a bare chested woman in a desperate state. A shortcut through a chandlers bazaar along the riverside proved to be very traditional and atmospheric. On the way a once beautiful building with a large pleasing crest of 2 angels now lay neglected and marooned amid a textile market.
Meeting up with Ken back at the hotel we very soon had more unexpected company, a Canadian and a Spanish guy fresh off the Rocket from Dhaka. Ken had done a day trip out to the town of Bagerhat in my absence and I kicked myself that I hadnt managed to tag along. It was a must see place and so I would just have to go hell for leather even faster than before!