By Sabrina F Ahmad
Who doesn't love winter here? Lazy mornings, huddled under the blanket, license to bring out the wacky woollies, swirling veils of mist obscuring all that is familiar and lending a touch of mystery to the mundane...and general awesome that makes yours truly break out into bad poetry.
One thing that this season does afford is the opportunity to hang out and have fun. Other than the holiday break after exams (not applicable to GCE candidates, sorry), the weather is just perfect for some outdoorsy fun.
The lazy bum's guide to the perfect hangout:
So you couldn't be bothered with something really elaborate? Head upstairs and have yourself a rooftop party. A few bricks, sticks, newspaper and matches could make for a mini bonfire, and entertainment options include barbecue, live music (if you can find someone handy with a guitar), stargazing, cards, and great conversation.
If you're blessed with a lawn or a courtyard, you could take your picnic there. Pack a basket of goodies, spread out a cloth on the ground, and you're set. While a rooftop party rocks at night, the garden picnic is better at daytime. From Scrabble to Ludo, to cards to chase games like Rescue, the options for fun are pretty varied.
For both types of picnics, make sure you carry a lot of insect repellent, because otherwise you'll end up being picnic fodder for the mosquitoes.
Step on the gas
Another option is to load up the car with some gas, take some munchies and a guitar and just head out of Dhaka. Ashulia is a good direction to aim for; aside from a scenic ride past the river, you'll come across quite a number of fantastic phuchka-mobiles.
There's also the option of boat-rides (around Tk 100 for an hour's ride) and if our sources are correct, there are also jet-skis or something very like it.
The basic appeal of this option is that it's hassle-free, can be arranged in a moment's notice, and being able to drive without running into a traffic jam is just so refreshing.
Another scenic destination is Kapashia, which is around 10-12kms beyond Gazipur.
Please note that it's better to travel in groups for outings like this, for security's sake.
If you're willing to splurge a little, and aren't afraid of getting wet in this weather, travelling down Ashulia will bring you to the tremendous trio of Concord Entertainment: Water Kingdom, Fantasy Kingdom and Heritage Park. Depending on your budget and preferences, you can choose from a wide variety of thrilling rides, slides, and miniatures of historical monuments and more. Fantasy Kingdom also has its own rest house and restaurant facilities for those who want to make an entire day's program out of it.
A little further down the road is the Nandan Park, which also offers a variety of wet and dry rides and plenty of chills.
Here's something a bunch of us tried recently. We hopped on an intercity bus from Saidabad early in the morning, arrived at Comilla in around three hours, toured around the area, visiting the Buddhist monastery, and checking out the other sights. Lunch was some really tasty biriyani at a roadside restaurant, and after a Tk100 rickshaw ride around the villages, we hopped back on the bus at around 5pm and were back in Dhaka by dusk. The total expenditure amounted to some Tk 300 per head (you could cut down by carrying your own food and skipping the rickshaw ride), but left us with some fabulous memories. Trips like this aren't hard to organize, but it's important to travel with someone who knows the place, and the more the merrier in terms of group size.
You could also drive up to Sonargaon, the old capital city, located near Narayanganj. Attractions include the museum, and the handicraft village right behind it, where seasonal fairs are a regular occurence.
If you're looking for something closer to home, you can always head up to Savar and visit the Smriti Shoudho.
The last resort…a resort!
If you're looking for some family fun, you can make a day trip to any of the numerous resorts/picnic spots available near Dhaka. Gazipur is a popular site, being located nearby, with plenty of scenic spots,like Shalbon, which is in the village of Nanduyan, Shyamoli in Monipur, and the Utshob Picnic Spot in Jaydebpur.
If you want to do a little more than just picnicking, you could try for the riverside resorts like the Elenga Resort in Kalihati, Tangail, which allows you to rent one of their independent cottages. On offer are activities such as badminton, lawn tennis, table tennis as well as the popular horse ride.
In the end, the idea is to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, chill with friends and have a good time. You want to go for something that won't require elaborate planning and preparations, and can be put into action at a moment's notice, for that spontaneous kick. Ignore all those whiny complaints that "there's nothing to do". There's a wealth of opportunities for fun just waiting to be explored, so just get up and get going!