The Italian traveler I met who bumped me up to first class
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Bangladesh is taking boats going down the many rivers. River boats are the way of traveling here and it has been for a long time. I was lucky enough to get tickets with an original rocket steamer Paddle Boat (PS Mashoud) made in the 1920s which makes its way between Dhaka and Mongla once weekly.
The third class where I was supposed to be sleeping
The Paddles run by a gigantic steam engine
I had originally booked a ticket in third class for 300 taka (less than 4$) which would just give me a space on the floor in the cold open space, but then when I went to the restaurant in the evening I met an Italian traveler who had a whole first class cabin to himself and offered me his spare bed.
It was a full 24 hour boat ride where most of the time was spent chatting with people in the restaurant and outside viewing deck. Food was cheap at around a dollar per meal and was served three times a day and then there was a well equipped shop at the lower deck open day and night as well.
My main goal for Mongla was to find a trip going to the Sundarbans- the largest mangrove forest in the World in the largest river delta in the World (Ganges). Its a UNESCO World Heritage site housing animal species such as the Bengali Tiger, marine turtles and salt water crocodiles, but all we managed to see from the boat and the Karamjol Wildlife Center were some monkeys, dolphins and spotted deer.
As it was getting close to dark the wildlife center forced us to pay an armed guard (5usd) to follow us through the park, which was not really necessary as we didnt see any tigers on the way. Apparently there are only about 60 ones left in Bangladesh and the chances of seing one is very small.