Samiya blogs at The Selim Family RAASTA, where they have been travelling across Europe, Asia and North America for the past eleven years. They are now embarking on new adventures in other continents. They are passionate about wildlife conservation, nature and the outdoors. They love discovering and exploring new destinations around the world. Bangladesh is home to them no matter where they are and they want to highlight the natural beauty of this country through their blog. They prefer traveling by land and sea and are preparing for a road trip from England to Bangladesh sometime in the near future. You can read about their adventures on their blog as they experience the joys of traveling with their two children. You can connect with the Selim family via social media on Twitter , Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
1) What hidden gems of the country (s) you visited could you share with someone who has never been there?
There are many hidden gems in Bangladesh. I am discovering new ones all the time! Land of nearly a thousand river, home to the largest mangrove forest in the world, longest stretch of unbroken beach, plethora of wildlife – 460 species of birds, home to the Hoolock gibbon, Saltwater crocodile and the iconic Royal Bengal Tiger. Home to several amazing historic ruins, which unfortunately are not well maintained, including UNESCO Heritage sites such as the Buddhist Monastery in Paharpur is called Somapura Mahavihara, Sixty Dome Mosque in Bagerhat and Sonargao, the golden city.
2) Any places you would recommend that visitors may not find in a guidebook?
From the top of my head, few stand out – Dolphin and Whale Watching at the Swatch of No Ground, just 45 kilometres south of Sunderbans, snorkeling and scuba diving at the Saint Martin’s Island, visiting the isolated beaches of Kuakata and surfing in Cox’s Bazaar. Away from the coast, the Chittagong hill tracts region in Southeast Bangladesh is absolutely incredible for natural beauty and wildlife. Great for hiking and bird watching in the national parks Teknaf Game Reserve, bamboo Rafting at Mathbarakhum, enjoying the many waterfalls of Banderban. The region is very lush and green and there are some great places to stay here including Eco cottages belonging to Guide Tours.
3) What is your favorite place you have visited and why is it your favorite that’s not considered off the beaten path. For example, Paris would not be considered off the beaten path but you stumbled upon something hidden there that you weren’t expecting to find, whether it was a walking trail or place where the locals hang out?
For us visiting Sunderban National Park is our all-time favorite place in Bangladesh. Even though visiting this place is not necessarily off the beaten track within Bangladesh, thanks to Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project Shushuk and The Guide Tours Ltd, we sometimes get to do activities or visit places such as newly formed temporary islands, or go deeper in the forest with honey collectors during honey collection season, or mud bathing on the river banks!
4) Can you share some local haunts you have found in your travels that the locals themselves have shared with you?
Knowing local people in several regions of Bangladesh has made our experiences in rural areas very interesting. Being in Rajbari during Hindu festivals, fishing with local fishermen, staying in at someone’s house (which is actually a central courtyard surrounded by a few rooms with tin roofs and bathroom outside.) has been a more enjoyable and unique experience than staying in guesthouses in the local town. All the cooking is done in the courtyard, kids get to milk the cows, chase chicken and running amongst the paddy fields. Again up north in the regions of Sylhet, Bogra and Rongpur, knowing local people have allowed us to really experience the warm hospitality of Bengali people and eat delicious home cooked meals.
5) Now that you have seen some of these ‘off the beaten path’s and hidden gems, would you consider trying to find more of these places when traveling or would you stick to the usual tourist places to visit? For example, many people visit Paris to see the Eiffel Tower and Rome for the Coliseum but there is more to these places than what we have seen.
We would continue to enjoy the places we have discovered already, I don’t think we have done enough even within the off the beaten paths we have been too! But at the same time, we would continue to travel to other parts of Bangladesh where we know there is so much more to be discovered and enjoyed!