I rode northwest out of Jhenaidah and straight into rural country. I stopped for some food mid-morning and was instantly swarmed by at least 40 people, all of whom wanted selfies. I thought I was going to have a nice experience when I was invited into a college to meet staff and students; however, this again was like stepping into a cage and becoming a zoo specimen to be ogled at. When I got sick of the staff taking photos I agreed to visit an English class in the hope of having a productive question and answer session. The first question was ‘What is your name?’ The second and third and every other question was, ‘Can I have a selfie? Look this way? Stand here for a better selfie’. I got so fed up I just walked out, grabbed my bike and rode away.

At some point in the day I picked up a police escort in the form of two uniformed officers on a motorbike. They couldn’t speak English so couldn’t explain why they were following me. I didn’t let them get to me and just did my thing, though I did get pissed off at them when they yelled at anyone who tried to talk to me. When I stopped to go to the toilet and the usual crowd began to gather, one cop pulled a plant out of the ground, stripped it of its leaves and brandished it as a whip to make people move away. Not very nice to see.

One guy on a bicycle managed to break through the police’s control and chatted to me for a minute as we rode along. He invited me into his home for lunch. The police allowed this, though one accompanied me inside and sat off to the side. Lunch was freshly cooked and superb! As I ate inside the home, a big crowd began to gather outside. Eventually, the policeman got annoyed at sitting around and encouraged my new friends to finish up and get me out the door. I took my sweet time in an effort to delay/annoy the cops so much that they might just let me be. Eventually, I reached a T-junction where the police pointed the way I should go before disappearing. Not far down the road another pair of cops joined me. One was carrying a big rifle. Like the others, they too disappeared once I’d made it to another major turn. I ended up having the impression they were just making sure I was okay and going the right way.

As I rode into Kushtia, I quickly learned it was second day of a big festival. The hotels were either full or very expensive. I picked up one incredibly generous friend who rode around the city with me enquiring into rooms on my behalf, saying I was his friend. For some strange reason, multiple hotels had issues with the fact I had a bicycle. In the end I got so frustrated I decided to ride to the next town. The problem was that it was starting to get dark. I put this out of my mind as I refit my front wheel so I could connect my headlamp, which I hadn’t need to use in a long time. I also set up a rear light system. Then I rode into the night.

Once again I realised how much I enjoy night riding. This was quite dangerous though. The road was super busy with speeding trucks and other vehicles, many of which don’t have lights. Things got interesting when I passed a couple of kilometres’ worth of trucks parked up along the road, their inhabitants milling about in the dark. I discovered why when suddenly a policemen loomed up in front of me waving a baton in my face and yelling at me to turn around. I looked past him and saw a truck on its side. There had been a big accident. It took about 20 minutes for the truck to be dragged to the side just enough for two-wheeled traffic to get through. On the other side of the truck was a passenger van with its side smashed in and covered in blood.

I rode on and turned off for Bheramara. I found a residential hotel with cheap rooms, but was told I had to wait for prayer time to finish before I could enter. I waited for thirty minutes and was then told they had no free room (a bit annoying!). As I rode on in search of another place to stay, a guy stopped me for a chat. I had spoken to him while waiting for the non-existent room at the residential hotel. He had told me that the hotel was for locals and that I might not be comfortable there. I said cheap is okay because I didn’t have much money. When we talked again after it was revealed there was no room available, he invited me to stay with him and his family. I followed him out of the busy part of town and down a lane into a quiet village. I have just had a wonderful night hanging out with Sumon and meeting (and being observed by) his extended family and other villagers. I am full of amazing food, bathed and even have my own room. A great way to end a big day!

Day 564 (pic)

What are you looking at?

Accommodation House of a friendly family
Distance ridden today 83.45km
Average cycling speed 21.3kph
Total distance ridden 32km