<%-- Page Title--%> Travel <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 154 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

May 14, 2004

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'Where blue of the Bay touches corals'

Shahadat Hossain Riad

Are you becoming weary from performing regular duties? Tired of working on a mountain of files on your desk? Do you want to go where you can take it easy and relax? Be it a change of weather and the shift of horizon to a venue where the sky meets the limpid, blue water of the sea, it is tough to find a really enjoyable place that may match your description of a hear only site. The offshore island of Saint Martin's is not a bad place.

St. Martin's, the island in the Bay of Bengal, teeming with the footsteps of both home grown and foreign tourists, is in peak season during winter.

It also serve as a retreat during the season before the monsoon. Once you are all packed, don't forget to take the camera. And it will be wise to take some first aid materials too. If you come to the island you may hear the hue and cry along the shore.

Most of the tourists move indiscriminately. The scene is pretty common. A few youths wearing shorts are playing cricket. Some children are trying to swim in the Bay. Some giant ships are in the Bay looking indistinct, anchored away from the shore. Some couples, may be newly married, and are passing their times under the shade of large umbrellas. Sea birds are twittering and flying just at the shore level.

The beauty of the "coral" will obviously pull you. The retreat of the small oysters into their respective shell may touch your heart with an emotional bang. The saluting attitude of thousand of coconut trees will give you a majestic mood. There is no polluting here. Sounds are heard with a clarity from amazing distance. The air is very fresh. The silence of the island always beckons the tourist to enjoy a different world.

The 3.37 square kilometre of land of the offshore island is surrounded by the blue waters of the Bay. The island-situated 22km away from the south mainland of Cox's Bazar, is plagued by communication problems, making it difficult for the tourists to travel over the island smoothly. For many of the tourists, the wooden trawler, seems a vulnerable vehicle

Therefore it is a good thing that there are sea trucks services and recently ship services has been launched. KEARI Sindbad - a SOLAS (safety of live at sea) SHIP of KEARI Limited, has recently been inaugurated here recently. KEARI Tours and Services (KTS) - a front organization of KEARI Limited, introduced the ship to operate between Teknaf and the coral island of Saint Martin's.

The vessel can move at a maximum speed of 12 Knots and able to operate 37 kms into the sea even in the maritime cautionary signal no 7 to 8 and carry 246 passengers excluding its crew. The vessel leaves Teknaf at 9.30AM and 2.30PM to start return journeys at 11AM and 5PM respectively every day and ticket prices is TK. 300 for lower class and TK. 350 for upper class (each including the return journey).

Besides, the sea truck regularly leaves the Teknaf land port to the island at 10am and again returns from the island at 3pm. The return ticket is TK 200. If you want to stay there one or two days, there is accommodation too. Tourist company "Prasad Paradise" build a two storied hotel where you can get a room easily. The rent of the room is TK 1200 per night and there is a restaurant to take your meal. Besides, you can visit the island and can make it back before sun set.

You have to go to Cox's Bazar first. Later, two hours will be needed to go to Teknaf by bus. Then you can easily take a trip with the sea truck, or the wooden trawler and return before nightfall. There are a few shops on the island. They sell cast-off shells of oyster, snail and other marine mementor. You can make your tour memorable by buying some of them!

Escape from daily hubbub of the city life to dilute your heart with the overwhelming beauty that the island has to offer. Taking a bath in the crystal clear water among the corals, salty water and enjoying the sweet water of a coconut, and savouring the freshly fried Rupchanda fish with oysters will revive your sprits. Feelings of despair, of frustrating will be as if they never bothered you.

At the time when you say goodbye, the island, the blue water of the Bay and the corals will remain forever etched in your memory. A trip to St Martin's is an adventure worth talking again.



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