It was late noon of mid October. I was working in my office room. Wahid vai, Suhan vai and others were also in the room. I was tiered of long work. Suddenly I stopped what I was doing and shouted “damn it! I don’t like the works anymore. Need to have a break”. There are times when I get bored with my routine life and I become desperate to go out of the town. This was something like that. I knew there is a 3 day holiday coming up in next week. I didn’t want to waste this vacation sitting idle in my home. I asked Wahid “what’s your plan for upcoming holidays?” in return Wahid asked ‘What’s your plan?” I replied ” I want to get out of town. Let’s go somewhere.”
Few day back, Wahid shared a Facebook post regarding how to go to Bogalake and Tindu areas from Bandarban district. I recalled that post and replied to wahid vai ” lets go to Bandadban!”. I have visited bandarban once but Wahid have visited several times except boga lake. He has become an expert on Bandarban. For next 10 to 15 minutes Wahid described how beautiful Boga lake is and how wonderful it will be to stay night by the side of the Lake. His description raised my interest even higher.
Wahid, Manik and I were planning to go to Bhutan couple of times but each time we had to think of something else due to schedule conflicts. This time it was no exception. So to get somewhat feeling of mountains and clouds, we have chosen Bandarban as a proxy.
We have spent next two days for making an cost estimation, journey schedule, obtaining confirmation from Manik, Suhan vai, Talha & Roki. It was hard to get a bus ticket. Suhan van and Manik was not sure whether we will be able to pull it off. But at the end with Wahid vai and my endless effort, we managed bus ticket to Chittagong just before the night of journey. It was fastest tour plan and arrangement with my colleagues. Even though the it was raining heavily for last couple of days, it didn’t bother anyone.
Beginning of Journey:
Our initial plan was to start at evening and reach Chittagong by early morning. From Chittagong we will go to Bandarban and without any journey break we will reach to Roma Bazar by noon. After having lunch at roma bazar and shopping for BBQ, we will take a jeep and reach to boga lage by late afternoon. We will enjoy the evening by the side of boga lake and have BBQ. We will enjoy the moonlight night from the cottage and stay there for the night. Next day morning, we will go to Keokaradong mountain and return to Boga lake at the evening. We will head back to Roma bazar next morning and by noon we will start for Bandarban. We will reach Bandarban by evening and start for Dhaka if any bus is available. If there is no bus is available, we will stay the night on Bandarban and start to Dhaka next day. If the bus is scheduled for the evening, we will take go to Nilgiri and see around the Bandarban district.
But things do not always go with your plan. We purchased our bus ticket from busbd.com which allows to buy any long distance bus ticket. Our transport provider was AK Travels. Busbd.com charged us around 650 per person. Our bus was scheduled to start at 11:30 PM from Gabtoli bus stand. But at the day of journey, someone from AK Travel called me around 4:30 pm saying that they will not be taking us to our destination. When I asked the reason they replied that fare was not much enough during this busy time. After that he hanged up the phone. I was shocked and informed Wahid vai. We both decided to call the help line of busbd.com. After couple of call, they picked up the phone. I informed them about the situation and they said they will have a look.
After 10/15 minutes they called me back informing that AK Travel demands around BDT 1000/ per person and if we want to go we have to pay additional 350 taka per person. I instantly refused as their demand was too much higher. I told the customer care from busbd to reconsider this or else we will publicly disclose the issue. After conversation with them, I talked with several transport services and found out that there was no vacant sit for the day.
After hearing the issue with bus, Manik voted for cancel the tour while Wahid was in hesitation. Both of them was worried about the outcome of the tour as the beginning was not smooth. Meanwhile, Roki, Talha and Suhan vai laid back to their sits and informed us that they are with us in whatever decision we take. I was pissed of with the situation but I was determined to go for the tour. I wasn’t ready to quit at the very last moment. But finally everyone agreed to go for the tour.
At the evening, people from busbd.com called me and informed me that AK travel has agreed to settle on BDT 800. We can ride on the bus if we agree to pay additional BDT 150. Or else we have to manage our own ride. In that case busbd will refund our money within a week. I didn’t have any other option available so I agreed to pay additional money and confirmed our travel later in the night.
After settling the issue with AK travel and busbd, our journey has been confirmed. We were suppoed to get on the bus on 11:30pm. So I instructed everyone to be at the Gabtoli bus stand by 11:00pm. I was sure that rest of the tour will go smoothly according to our plan. But I didn’t know that luck was not in our favor with this tour and lots of troubles were waiting for us.
(to be continued in Episode 2)