Sangu River, Bandaban
Bandaban is only about 50 miles from Burma as the crow flies but since there are no roads near the borders it’s a four day hike. And from there it’s a no mans land. The town is predominantly Muslim but there are large numbers of Hindu, Buddhist and tribal (mostly Marma) people in the region. The tribal people are more reserved and shy compared to the Bengali’s. The landscape is beautiful: rolling hills and pristine rivers with rice and fruit being cultivated.
Tanvir and I met with some of the field officers from an NGO and went by motorcycle to some of the villages close by. On the way back we stopped at the Golden Buddhist Temple perched on a hilltop. Built in 1995, it looked much older and included over a dozen very impressive standing Buddha’s donated by neighboring SE Asian countries. The next morning we went up river on a small boat and walked through some of the tribal villages. Thatched houses, woman huddled around fires to stay warm smoking pipes while pigs run freely. There is a constant sound of people clearing their throats and coughing besides those who have more serious health problems. Despite the beauty life is hard in these Hill Tracts.