Unplugged in Bhimruli, a floating guava market in Bangladesh

For explorers at heart, sneaking out of Dhaka and experiencing Bangladesh’s scenic countryside is a true privilege

​​​​​​​​Kusuma Sareebunyarit
Published : 23 Oct 2022, 09:59 PM
Updated : 23 Oct 2022, 09:59 PM

Barishal has recently become a destination to unplug me from daily pushes and pulls in Dhaka. With reduced travel time thanks to the newly inaugurated Padma bridge, my maiden road trip to Barishal took about four hours.

For explorers at heart, sneaking out of Dhaka and experiencing Bangladesh’s scenic countryside is a true privilege. A welcome sight of jute growers, mostly ladies, working on cutting is special for visitors who thirst for the pure and earthly beauty of Bangladesh.

By making the most of my limited travel time, my first official stop was definitely at the famous floating guava market. Though as a Thai person who has experienced Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa floating markets, I was still amazed by the one in the Barishal version as it provided the rare acquaintance in every sense – “same same, but different!”

The 200-year-old floating guava market is located on the Kirtipasha canal at Swarupkathi in Jhalakathi district under Barishal division. Taking a boat ride is one basic option to enjoy not only the market but also the enchanting look of houses, schools, and wooden bridges along the canal. Many small boats loaded with guavas, some with bananas, and hog plums (‘Aamra’ in Bengali) move slowly, allowing me to experience the bustle of the market in the serene setting. Things truly came to life once I reached the crisscrossed canals in Bhimruli, where visitors flocked in and all boatmen waded professionally through narrow water channels like labyrinths. Of course, I did not miss a chance to hang around a picnic point in a lush green guava orchard and taste ripe, size-of-lemon guava which was mildly sweet.

So, what makes Barishal’s floating market unique? I would say its authenticity. This is not a market by the river, but truly a floating market where local fruit growers gather with no other agenda but to sell their fresh products to wholesalers. It is surely not a place for loud community conversation, but more about immersing oneself in the tranquil moment offered by a unique landscape. Actually, the market could feel pretty much like an Amazon rainforest since it is surrounded by innumerable guava orchards and rich greenery.

​I continued my worry-free day at Korapur Mia Bari mosque, about 13 km away from the floating market. A route to one of Bangladesh’s most ancient heritage was a bit bumpy and narrow, and at one point, only walking was possible. After a 10-minute walk, a red two-storied mosque from the 18th century could be seen from afar. There were no other tourist groups when I was there. Interestingly, the place is sparse and almost in the middle of nowhere, only one primary school was within sight. I took the stairs to the second floor of the mosque and spent some time enjoying the view of a large pond in front of it, as well as feeling peaceful vibes flowing in the Bengal breeze.

​On my way back to the city, I visited the elegant-looking Oxford Mission Church, and took a few photos before heading to one small restaurant where I tried a fish menu together with a mouthwatering “Bhorta” (mashed dishes) platter.

​Unplugging myself in the southern district of Barishal is unexpectedly memorable and meaningful to my stay in Bangladesh. Thanks to the two-century-old floating market where life looks much different from a water perspective.

It reminds me that life flows just like a river, and so does time. Living in the moment is therefore the best thing we humans could do.

[​​​​​​​​Kusuma Sareebunyarit is a Thai diplomat working as the Second Secretary at the ​​​​​​​​Royal Thai Embassy in Dhaka]

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher