Day 9 (October 25, 2014)   Kolkata and arrival at Sundarbans


   We’ll leave Kolkata early in the morning to go to Sundarbans, where we’ll live in nature the rest of the day. Before, I expect taking advantage of the hotel’s location to see the British buildings around, which are main monuments of this city, formerly known as Calcutta.

   The garden area where these buildings are opens at 5:30 AM.

Kolkata city center

   The spots marked at map are:

 0- Hotel New Kenilworth
 1- Victoria Memorial
 2- Saint Paul's Cathedral
 3- Birla Planetarium


   We go to the street at 6:30 AM for the walk we’ve chosen the location of this hotel instead of sleeping close to the airport, which had been better for yesterday and for being picked up this morning.

   There is a lot of live in the streets at these early hours and we see again the typical yellow taxis of this city. We pass by the statue to Indira Gandhi and reach the big park area, full of people doing sports or Tai Chi.

Typical taxis in KolkataEstatue of Indira Ghandi

   The military man at Victoria Memorial’s entrance points us to the ticket box, where we get two tickets by 20 Rs. I think it is even cheaper, but we’re not going to complain for a few cents.

   It is quiet inside. The monuments are clean, but lonely. They’re coming from the British colonialism, when Calcutta was the capital city.

Victoria MemorialVictoria Memorial

   We’ve seen the building and the Queen Victoria statues but we cannot find the way to the church. When I ask I’m pointed to the exit at the side of this area, so we take it, but now we’re at the road side and still cannot see it. Some pedestrians point across the road, but I can only see part of its tower through the trees and cannot see a way to get in there.

Estatue of Queen VictoriaSt. Paul's tower over vegetation

   Anyway, our time is over. We come back to the hotel to enjoy our buffet breakfast just before checking out and being picked up ten minutes later than scheduled: 8 AM.

   Once we leave the city behind we take a road between lines of trees which is addressing directly to the gateway to Sundarbans, as our driver tells.

   But it’s a three hours’ drive through Bengala’s rural areas. The time is not due to the long distance but to the speed average for this sort of roads, which it’s in good tarmac conditions, but it’s full of people and animals to avoid.

Road to Sundarbans

   I ask about the chimneys we can see in lots above the rice plantations and we’re explained they’re coming from the brick factories.

Chimneys from brick factories

   We have a bag with breakfast we’ve been given when get in the car, but we haven’t opened yet as we’re coming from the hotel buffet. Even with this, we stop by a hut in a small village introduced as Tea House. We take one tea, which milk is coming from the two small cows we have at our side. It’s all natural here!

Tea House in a village in BengalaArrival at Sundarbans

   The end of the road is marked by a lot of vehicles, stopped and moving. We’re delivered at this point and, while waiting, we take our delayed breakfast. Then someone comes to take us to the quay to meet the boat where we’re going to spend the most of today and tomorrow.

Here starts SundarbansOur boat

   We take our seat in a table with a man and his son and wait for the rest of the tour group in a chat with them and looking the continuous movement of boats and people around this place. We leave around 12 PM.

Sundarbans view
Sundarbans view

   We’re sailing through river islands which all of them are looking inhabited. Our cameras keep getting beautiful and peculiar images of the local live.

Sundarbans life viewSundarbans life view

   When the boat stops in one of these islands for goodies we have our first sight of mudskippers, a peculiar animal looking as a small fish with front legs, which are plentiful in this area. As the tide is going down the mud surface grows.

   At 2PM the lunch appears. It is cooked in the boat, in the lower floor for the staff. There are big portions of delicious food which we served in a buffet style.

Mudskipper in SundarbansLunch on boat

   The boat approaches to the shore every time there is an option of animal sightseeing. We can see a monkey and a pack of deer through the brush.

Rhesus macaque in Sundarbans

   It’s around 3 PM when we stop in the island where the staff lives which is going to be our home for tonight.

   We’re assigned a bungalow. It’s quite basic, but a lot better than I expected in so remote place.

Our bungalow in SundarbansInterior of our bungalow in Sundarbans

   After leaving our baggage and resting for a few minutes we go out as they’re going to show us the village and the local live. Then we sail to watch the sunset in Sundarbans.

   But before, the boat stops by a dessert island where we can go down and get a better look of the mangrove enjoying and playing with the mud at our feet. I can see two crabs in the trunk of a thin tree which are trying to avoid being seen by following my moves to always be behind the trunk. It is fun. I can see big mudskippers here too.

Mud walk in SundarbansCrabs in Sundarbans

   The floor is always looking unfriendly here as it has what looks like spikes, but they’re really green and soft sprouts covered by mud, which give way easily to our bare feet.

   It’s been a different and funny experience and, with it, the dark comes. We take our dinner back to the village.

Sunset in Sundarbans

   We only are out of our bungalow one more time to watch a performance form the local people about the myth of tiger with Goddess Durga. The performance has a surprisingly good quality for so isolated place. We cannot understand a word but, as in the opera, the feelings are easily understandable.
Durga myth performanceDurga myth performance