844 days, 20,256 hours, 1,215,360 minutes, or 72,921,600 seconds. That is the approximate duration of my world tour. I never wanted it to end and now, in a manner of speaking, I suppose it never has to. If you wish to go by country do so by clicking on one above. They are numbered in the order I visited them, more or less. If you enjoy reading about it even a tenth as much as I enjoyed living it then you will not have wasted your time. Grab a refreshing beverage, settle in a comfortable chair, and make a journey across the world, experiencing it as I did. Then get off your ass and check it out for yourself. You're not getting any younger.

Authorization Smauthorizan (Bandarban Region, Bangladesh)

Jan 25th, 2010 - Tonight I head to the small town of Bandarban in eastern Bangladesh, the Chittagong Hill Tracts region to be precise. This is a unique area and often described as feeling like a different country entirely. No pancake flat horizon there. In the Chittagong area there are actual hills where even hiking is possible. Are you tingling also? Don't get too excited. I am forced to quell my enthusiasm for two reasons. Firstly, even at its highest point (Mt. Keokradang) the elevation tops out at 1230 m (4059 ft). Not exactly the Himalayas.

However, I have been told that area is beautiful and that there may be opportunities to interact with some of the indigenous tribal communities. This brings me to my second reason for curbing my enthusiasm. Like the Sundarbans foreigners need permission to enter the area. Theoretically, I have that (courtesy of Guide Tours) and I am confident that I will at least get to Bandarban. Beyond that who knows. The area is under supervision of the military and I have rising doubts about getting through some of the checkpoints. Although I technically have permission to enter the Boga Lake and Keokradang regions beyond Bandarban there is no guarantee that Johnny Guard Post Officer will let me pass. Cross your fingers.

Why all the restrictions? The area has been a hotbed of contention for many years. It is the all too familiar clash between an indigenous minority and a government accused of cultural insensitivity. Under the British the area enjoyed special status but Pakistan abolished this after partition. In 1960 Kaptai Lake was created for hydroelectricity, submerging 40% of the land used by the Adivasis people and displacing 100,000 of them. This did nothing to improve relations. During the Liberation War the king of the Chakma tribe sided with Pakistan, an alliance that was not forgotten when Bangladesh won its independence from Pakistan in 1971. In the '70s and '80s there was a concerted effort to resettle ethnic Bengalis into the area, to the tune of roughly 400,000 people (about the same number of all ethnic peoples combined). Enter insurrection, guerrilla warfare, and all the staple human rights abuses. For almost twenty five years a guerrilla war was fought against the Bangladeshi army. In 1997 an accord was reached but the full implementation of its provisions appears to still be an issue. Politically motivated violence and kidnappings have been a problem in the past but the situation is supposedly much improved. However, I have the distinct feeling that my progress into the area will be greatly impeded if even a remote possibility of danger exists. I can appreciate the 'better safe than sorry' approach. It is the whimsical nature of the permission granting process that leads to frustration and violent hair removal.

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'Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference.' -- Libbie Fudim