Isn’t it crazy that I only had one day in Chittagong and look how that one day turned out! I am still reeling in self guilt over my foolishness. Anyhow, the next day I was on another bus down to Cox Bazar, the world’s longest beach. Let me inform you that the world’s longest beach does not qualify it as the nicest beach. The sand is black, with millions of tiny sand crabs weaving over it creating constellation style designs in the sand. In addition to the crabs, the cows also enjoy the seaside. yep, there’s cows at the beach too. The southern peninsula of Bangladesh is a mixture of muslim, hindu and burmese refugees, since it is right on the border. And that is the third ingredient on the beach, refugee camps. And with the refugees come their hundreds of children, who run naked down the beach and delight at throwing rocks and sand at strange looking blonde women. Perhaps they meant it in fun, but under the circumstances I was not in the joking mood. Down a little ways from Cox Bazar is the tiny village of Teknaf which is on the tip of the peninsula and affords the best views of Burma you can get. So I made a day trip down there. I was looking forward to relaxing on the beach and doing a little reading. Let me inform you that there was none of that! Let me draw a clear picture for you…Pandas mating, Princess Diana raising from the dead and Martians landing in Time’s Square could not rival the crowd I received. It was absolutely one of the strangest things i’ve ever encountered. Hundreds of men, some fishermen, and boys gathered all around to stare at the strange creature that had descended upon their shore. I am NOT exaggerating! I was doing nothing more than sitting on a piece of wood and drinking from a water bottle. I kept thinking that surely they would all eventually get bored and walk away. 15 minutes later they will still in the same spot, and if anything the size had grown. Finally one boy came up and spoke to me. “which country?” “why have you come here?” what i wanted to know was why they were all just standing there staring at me. I had educated myself thru reading that the people of this country stared a lot, but NOTHING could compare me for this. His reply was that they just were not used to seeing an attractive woman come to the beach. (to which I wanted to say “Where is she?”) anyhow, i decided to get up and walk as I could no longer stand the pressure. Sure enough they followed behind and he joked that I was a mother duck. It really was the strangest thing!
So here I am the day after my horrible incident and trying to process everything that happened. I’m absolutely guttered about having my camera and money stolen…and even more guttered about losing so many precious photos that will most likely never be recovered. I’m walking down the beach in Cox Bazar, and it is a lovely sunny day and I can’t help thinking how your life can change so suddenly just like the weather. Gone are any traces of the heavy monsoon from the day before, just as my camera & money is gone. But as I’m walking along I realize that the most important thing I lost is my faith and confidence in myself. When you’re a solo traveler…especially an independent female traveler you are the only person you can really count on. You have to be aware of your surroundings and stay alert and if you can’t trust yourself you’ve really got a problem. As I go over the night’s events I can see that I did everything wrong, didn’t have my wits about me and let little signals and opportunities go by. But as I write the days events in my journal (the most painful one to record to date) I can also see that I did alot that day and was very tired. Too tired to go out alone in a strange town. SO the lesson learned is know your limits…which is why I decided I didn’t need to prove anything more, couldn’t deal with anymore staring, was too depressed and had seen enough of Bangladesh this time and did a 4 bus, 30 hour marathon ride back to India. Sometimes ya just got to know when to fold and this chicky is definitely feeling a little travel weary. so the only cure is a little R&R in Thailand!