Buriganga River boat ride | Dhaka, Bangladesh | Photo Essay

With sweaty palms and more than hint of trepidation I boarded a tiny vessel equipped with nothing more than an oar, a Bangladeshi man sporting a toothy grin and a tiny wooden plank for a seat.  Within moments we began our journey down the most functionally chaotic river port I had ever witnessed with my own two eyes.  Off in the distance, I could see colossal vessels that dwarfed the puny craft I had just boarded.  Like  lowly pawns on a chessboard, tiny rowboats crisscrossed and zigzagged around the larger vessels with an uncanny ability to weave in and out of the way.  The white knuckle grip I had on the side of our rowboat soon subsided as my previous reservations about the entire journey were melted by the lovely faces I encountered as we paddled along.  From Bangladeshi men dancing on the plank of gigantic freighters to oarsman with smiles plastered from ear to ear, I felt a welcome party was being thrown in my honor.

In Old Dhaka, the river Buriganga is the lifeblood of the city and a microcosm off the hectic pace of life that extends throughout Old Dhaka.  With nearly 30,000 people and what seems to be an infinite amount of vessels nearby the Sadarghat river font, visiting here is a pandemonium unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.  A never ending rindle of humanity pours into vessels where the cries of horns, voices and calls to prayer berates your ears.  A journey along the Buriganga river is an absolute must for those visiting Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.  The following is a travel photo essay where I hope to capture the intensity, chaos and friendly encounters one can expect as a passenger on a humble little craft:

A Bangladeshi man, an oarsman on a small vessel, flashes a wonderful radiant smile; one of many smiles that would make my day.

A Bangladeshi man, an oarsman on a small vessel, flashes a wonderful radiant smile; one of many smiles that would make my day.

A close-up telephoto shot of a group of young Bangladeshi boys/teenagers on a small river boat plying the waters of the Buriganga.

A close-up telephoto shot of a group of young Bangladeshi boys/teenagers on a small river boat plying the waters of the Buriganga.

Bangladeshi women splash water on their faces nearby a less crowded ghat.

Bangladeshi women splash water on their faces nearby a less crowded ghat.

A group of adorable Bangladeshi boys wave to me as I take their photo.

A group of adorable Bangladeshi boys wave to me as I take their photo.

An oarsman with a stern face and white beard glares at me as we pass his vessel.

An oarsman with a stern face and white beard glares at me as we pass his vessel.

The rowboat you see in front of us is nearly identical to the one I've just boarded.

The rowboat you see in front of us is nearly identical to the one I’ve just boarded.

This photo should give you a sense of the sheer size of the large vessels in comparison to the smaller passenger rowboats that all share space along the Buriganga.

This photo should give you a sense of the sheer size of the large vessels in comparison to the smaller passenger rowboats that all share space along the Buriganga.

These friendly Bangladeshi men greeted me with their warm smiles.

These friendly Bangladeshi men greeted me with their warm smiles.

There was dancing.  There was joy.  There was plenty of hamming it up for the camera from these three Bangladeshi men.

There was dancing. There was joy. There was plenty of hamming it up for the camera from these three Bangladeshi men.

One of the more distinct faces I encountered along the way.

One of the more distinct faces I encountered along the way.

This Bangladeshi man tends to the small fire at the ghat.

This Bangladeshi man tends to the small fire at the ghat.

I wasn't kidding when I mentioned that I felt like I was having a party thrown in my honor.  Check out all of these smiling faces!

I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned that I felt like I was having a party thrown in my honor. Check out all of these smiling faces!

I took off my sandals along the way so I could stretch out my feet.

I took off my sandals along the way so I could stretch out my feet.

Here I am relaxing on the rowboat as we pass numerous other small vessels nearby the Sadarghat.

Here I am relaxing on the rowboat as we pass numerous other small vessels nearby the Sadarghat.

The button down shit and lungi (Bangladeshi skirt for men) are typical attire for Bangladeshi men - especially the oarsmen.

The button down shit and lungi (Bangladeshi skirt for men) are typical attire for Bangladeshi men – especially the oarsmen.

Travel video capturing my experience

What a treat!  Smiles and a dance - just for me!

What a treat! Smiles and a dance – just for me!” alt=”What a treat! Smiles and a dance – just for me!

This was a typical scene along the Buriganga River near the Sadarghat with small vessels weaving in and out along the chaotic waters.

This was a typical scene along the Buriganga River near the Sadarghat with small vessels weaving in and out along the chaotic waters.


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Charli l Wanderlusters June 2, 2013 at 2:28 am

The photo of the traditional row boat set against that gargantuan container ship is so emotive. In my mind it highlights just what a huge impact our consumerism and industrial evolution has had on those swept up in its wake. As always superb shots Samuel.

Reply

Samuel June 2, 2013 at 3:28 am

Thanks Charli,

Indeed, I couldn’t believe the contrast in size and just how bold and daring these tiny vessels were next to the gargantuan sized ones.

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Maria June 2, 2013 at 3:10 am

Hands down those are the best photos I’ve seen this year!
You’re like a modern Lewis Hine

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Samuel June 2, 2013 at 3:30 am

Thanks Maria! You’re too kind ;) I think I’ve been getting lazy taking photos lately; these shots were from late 2010.

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Maria June 2, 2013 at 3:42 am

Lazy or busy having fun? There is a difference. “-)

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Samuel June 2, 2013 at 5:35 am

I think it’s a bit of both…haha

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Anisha Shah June 2, 2013 at 4:32 am

Beautiful photos. You’ve captured the essence of the place well.
I’m very keen to visit Bangladesh & have been looking into it. Is it safe for a female alone? That was my main concern…

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Samuel June 2, 2013 at 5:37 am

Hi Anisha,

That’s a really good question. While traveling there I didn’t meet any solo backpackers. In fact, it was hard to find any backpackers. Although my hunch would be to say ‘yes’ I think it would be based mostly on my experiences as a man.

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apol June 2, 2013 at 5:13 am

amazing photos! couldn’t help but smile when I saw the first picture… such an honest smile!
look at those eyes.. priceless moments these are!

one question, on the streets, could you see a lot of men in longyi too?

Haven’t really been interested in Bangladesh yet… this makes me start to get attracted to the country.

More please!!

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Samuel June 2, 2013 at 5:39 am

Thanks Apol,

I did notice longyi on the streets and even more fascinating was the way men dyed their hair red. I asked a family friend who has lived in Bangladesh for several years and he told me that it was purely for fashion. I have many more Bangladesh posts coming soon :)

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Ian Rhodes June 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Fantastic photos, you’ve really captured the essence of the Bangladeshi people.
I’ve not had the pleasure of visiting there myself, but a few years ago I was lucky enough to stay in the same hotel as the Banglesdesh cricket team in St Lucia.
The players had the same twinkle in their eyes and wide smiles that you’ve pictured here.
Thanks for the post,
Ian

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Samuel June 8, 2013 at 1:48 am

That’s a cool story Ian. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit Bangladesh someday.

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Suites In New Orleans June 19, 2013 at 1:06 pm

This is the typical Bangladeshi photo… photographer is awesome

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nicole June 25, 2013 at 7:58 pm

wow! Those are great photos! It’s like each one captures a story. =)

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packers and movers Bangalore June 27, 2013 at 10:05 am

thanks for sharing this page us , i like this photography, very nice content and article , thanks for sharing.

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packers and movers Hyderabad June 27, 2013 at 10:07 am

nice article , i like this information about Buriganga River boat ride, very nice article and content , great post.

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Nicole @ Green Global Travel July 6, 2013 at 9:17 pm

You really have a knack of getting great photos. Pretty game taking it out on that little boat though!

I also like how you made sitting back on your bum a post (does that make it working?) hehehe

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Benjami@asap July 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Hey Samuel,

Your photographs are magical, you know! I was considering a visit to Bangladesh next year, but now it seems I will plan something this year only. Though all are simply ‘wow’ in their own charm, the one with the little boys smiling and waving at you just made my day and I guess, it did yours, too!

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