We woke up at 5 AM this morning in order to catch our train to Srimangal, the best place to go for all things tea.
The train ride itself was pretty uneventful, and somewhat comfortable. I even managed to catch a few winks! As we got closer into town though, sceneries started to change. Our train went through lemon orchards, rubber plantations, tea estates and pineapple fields. A whole new world!
And some iPod photos:
Our first impression of Srimangal isn’t a good one though, as the town isn’t pretty. The market sells shrimps, and it smells as though they are putrid.
We ran into two white tourists, who were walking around with a guide. The guide, Taposh, offered to help us find accommodation. He dropped us off at a quaint restaurant so that I could look after the bags, and left with Travis to look for a room.
By this point, it was past noon and I was starving. I was sitting at a table, with a menu, but because the staff had seen me with my husband, they promptly proceeded to ignore me. I became invisible, and no amount of staring, arm waving, calling out could get anyone to come by and take my order. I was livid at the situation: being “invisible” can be infuriating. I don’t care how “proper” you want to be, money is money and you should be trying to get to mine.
Over an hour later Travis came back. He sat down at the table, and within 30 seconds a waiter was there to take our drink order. Of course!
After explaining my little misadventure with the restaurant staff, Travis explained that the hotels in town were either all full or had unacceptable rooms. Instead, we were to be staying in Taposh’s brother’s room. It was a bit weird of an idea, but it was positioned as a room that was hardly ever used and was sometimes rented out to tourists, so I went along with it.
As it turned out, it wasn’t just a plain room. It was someone’s room, full of their personal belongings. Stuffed teddy bears. Pictures of Krishna and Kali. A poster of Titanic. Pictures of Quebec City (!!!). Overall it looked like a normal kid’s room, full of stuff – but Taposh’s brother was definitively not a kid. It’s was all a bit strange to me… but I think this is what they meant about Bengali hospitality.
We decided to go for a walk to use the internet and check out a little bit more of the city. This area of town was a lot quieter, and more charming than where we had arrived. We walked by almost deserted streets, friendly rickshaw drivers, kids playing soccer and even fenced-off tombstones.
We returned “home” just before heavy rain, punctuated by thunder. We were brought a light during the power outage.
In the evening, it was the opening ceremony of the Cricket World Cup, happening in Dhaka. Taposh’s brother came to our room (his room) to watch it. We had been watching a movie, but turned it off to watch the ceremony with him over delightful cha (tea) and cookies. He explained who everyone was, while we also discussed everything from religion to matrimony. It was a bit awkward of a situation, but it seemed to make him happy to spend time with us.