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After leaving our new adopted Bangladeshi family in Dhaka we managed to procure some ‘second-class’ tickets for the rocket steamer (gotta love boats!) down towards the Bay of Bengal, which we planned to get off in Khulna and try, from there, to make our way to Calcutta in India.

the rocket steamer boat from Dhaka to Khulna

Incidentally, I recently read a book called ‘The Lunatic Express’ and I had to giggle when I saw our old trusted rocket steamer feature as one of the most dangerous boat journeys in the world, apparently over 1000 people die each year on Bangladesh ferries – the highest ratio of deaths to journeys in the world – I’m glad I had read the book prior to our departure or our $4, two day journey mightn’t have felt quite as good value.

The ridiculous hospitality of our adopted Bangladeshi family had continued as Raul had arranged family of his to meet us in the Khulna port when we arrived which removed some of the trepidation that I was constantly flooded with throughout Bangladesh (probably partly due to the huge holes I saw in the boat we were about to disembark on). So we boarded and off we went! The three of us had our own cabin which apparently was one step down from the luxury travel but a hell of a step up from 200 people squeezed head to foot in an open room on the basement of the boat so we were happy enough.

I headed to the back of the ferry and had one long gaze back at Dhaka, it had been a hell of a start to my new backpacking life and one that would hold me in good stead in the years to come..

Dhaka Port from the Rocket Steamer

boat from dhaka to khulna,   rocket steam in bangladesh

Dhaka had been a hectic place but one worthy of a visit for sure and we felt as if we were leaving in true Bangladeshi fashion, this boat was an experience itself and I was relishing every moment. The scenery over the next 40 hours was amazing and the widespread damage from all the flooding is there for anyone to see, this country seems bereft of any hills, mountains or hump of any description! As we meandered down the river we past scores of ‘ports’ where the people were full of frantic smiles, laughs and waves..

A port in Bangladesh,   boat from Dhaka to Khulna

Another boat in Bangladesh

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To be honest the 40 hours or so flew by, we had constant visitors peering into our cabin making sure the rumours they heard about the 3 young white guys were true. Wandering around the boat kept me occupied for a long time too as did fighting off the various insects and cockroaches that were cohabiting our cabin for the evening, before too long we were approaching Khulna which would be our next and last leg of the Bangladesh adventure, praying that Azim would be waiting for us at the port :S

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One thought on “Backpacking in Bangladesh: The Boat from Dhaka to Kulna

  1. I took that trip in 1978 and again in 79. Absolutely wonderful! The sensation of being on the newest boat on the river – the mass of people, chickens and goats downstairs, the music – fantastic

  2. Hi Johnny,

    Don’t know who wrote ‘The Lunatic Express’, but it is for sure they got the wrong information. Boats drown in Bangladesh, it is true, but there is no record or sinking a rocket. It is the safest boat in Bangladesh.

    An overnight journey in a first class cabin in Rocket could be the best thing you can do in Bangladesh. You did not enjoy it much, because you couldn’t get a first class cabin. Rocket journey is recommended in the best travel sites, including Lonely Planet. So please don’t spread the wrong message!

    I’ve written a details post on everything about rocket steamer in Bangladesh. You can read that for more details on rocket.

  3. I did a journey similar to your experience when I was young travelling to shariatpur by ferry. I had the feeling it was going to sink any minutes, since it sways back and forth. Your brave to take the plunge and travel on a ferry!

  4. It is an interesting post. I am glad to read this post. I am always searching for quality posts and articles and this is what I found here, I hope you will be adding more in future. Thanks a lot.

  5. more than 1 and a half days on that boat? you’re one bad-ass backpacker. you mustve felt like a rockstar the whole time with all those people dropping by your cabin to take a peek. hehehe.

  6. Just read through your site, great adventure you’re on.

    All of India is a crazy country to travel through, enjoy.

    Good luck from Belfast…

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