How to get inside the ship breaking yards in Chittagong?
Replies: 36 - Last Post: Mar 28, 2013 2:22 AM Last Post By: carolinenixon
Jan 26, 2013 11:16 AM
How to get inside the ship breaking yards in Chittagong?Hi
Im a photographer visiting Bangladesh next week. Im planning to go down to Chittagong after a few days in Dhaka to photograph the ship breaking yards. I read its getting harder and harder to wonder around or even get anywhere near the ships. Has anyone been there before and can give me some ideas on how to get close to the crumbling ships?
Jan 26, 2013 5:08 PM
Jan 26, 2013 10:17 PM
Jan 26, 2013 11:34 PM
3The Bangladeshi owners of ship breaking yards and Bangladeshi environmentalists, especially BELA, have been at war for quite some time hurling lawsuits and counter-suits at each other.
Having said that, ship breaking yards are not tourist attractions. There are lots of photogenic locations and tourist attractions all over Bangladesh and yet you wish to photograph ship breaking yards?
What are your true motives for visiting Bangladesh?
Jan 27, 2013 6:40 PM
4John if you read my thread properly it explains what my reasons are. Im intrigued by seeing these giant ships being dismantled piece by piece and I find it interesting. If you don't think this it is worth traveling there to see is debatable and based on each persons perception of the world.
I like to photograph desolated or surreal landscapes and I find this area very interesting. Im sorry you're disappointed I don't like take pictures of pretty flowers or trees.
I understand there is a lot of controversy regarding this issue, im not trying to stir or criticize whats being done there. I simply want to see it.
Jan 27, 2013 11:11 PM
5It is possible, we hired a guide for our week long trip to the cChittagong Hill Tracts. On the way back to C'gong our guide said that he could take us to the yards. We were tired after our long journey, it was getting late and we desperately wanted to get out of the horrendous Chittagong traffic and pollution, to get to our hotel for some peace and quiet...so we declined his offer. Apparently there are more than one and he said if one refuses, try the next and with baksheesh it will be possible...
Jan 27, 2013 11:13 PM
Jan 28, 2013 5:39 AM
7While I didn't make it there, I'd highly recommend taking a Bengali speaking guide with you as #5 did, without speaking the language just makes it harder, and the yards are kinda rough places anyhow. This is a good rule for anywhere of the beaten path in Bd btw and really doesn't cost much. If you cant get in, then accept it with good grace and move on. A place to start looking for guides would be amongst the english-speaking hotel workers. 'Baksheesh' always makes things easier with everyone involved.
Jan 28, 2013 7:11 PM
8Thanks guys!! theres hope at least :)
Nijkerk - you dont by any chance remember the tours company you used or guide's name?
This is an amazing photo I found on national geographic website, thats more or less the type of stuff Im looking to see - abstract and powerful images and try to stay away from controversial pictures of the working conditions
Its a fantastic photo but I doubt they would ever let me get that close to the ships (doesnt look safe either)
Jan 28, 2013 8:39 PM
Jan 30, 2013 8:54 PM
I posted a reply to this a few days ago, with the name and number of the guide that I used, but it hasn't appeared (maybe this counts as touting or something). It would be great to hear from the moderator on this actually!
I was there just before NYE. I asked my hotel how to get in, and they gave me the number of a guy who took me. We went to 3 places, only 1 of which took let us in. It was totally worth it for me personally. Seeing these huge ships dying on a beach was incredible; it reminded me of 'The Road'. We didn't get particularly close, and I just had a point and click camera. But it was still worthwhile. I didn't really see anybody working, and I think it would be hard to. The reason why it's so hard to get in, to my understanding, is that a few years back, some journalists took photos of people working in appalling conditions, and a whole lot of workers lost their jobs. If I did it again I would take some USD bills, and try to bribe the guards at the places that wouldn't let us in on the first try. I'm also not sure that I'd want to watch people working up close.
It does end up quite expensive, as you have to pay the guide, rent a CNG for the return trip, and maybe bribe the guards. I think the guy that took me already bribes them, but It prob wouldn't hurt to give extra if they don't let you in the first time.
I understand your motivations for going. Personally I feel that it is important to see this sort of thing. I've been to Hiroshima, the death railway in Thailand, the killing fields in Cambodia etc. None of which were enjoyable, but i think it is important to learn from our mistakes, and to realise just how lucky we are.
I'll post a separate reply with the name of my hotel. If it's not allowed under forum rules, at least I won't need to write this a third time :)
Jan 30, 2013 8:59 PM
Jan 30, 2013 9:01 PM
Jan 31, 2013 12:11 AM
Jan 31, 2013 3:05 PM
14I went to take photos in November and was not able to get in as i just wasn't organized enough. It is possible to get in with a local/guide and yes there are about 14kms of beach where the operations occur over maybe 20-30 different companies. I would think very early or right around sunset would be best bet as not so many bosses. Friday, the sabbath day in Bangladesh might be a good day also. I dont think getting in is much the problem, i was able to stand just inside in three places and shoot with a 200mm. Spending any real time inside and having time to frame and shoot properly is going to be the challenge. It gets different fast when you pull out a long lens!
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