DAY 4 – FRIDAY
Up early for the train, breakfast in the hotel was very slow to be served, but I was at the train station 30 minutes early for an 8.15 departure. But when I asked I was told it was one hour late.
I went to tea room and chatted with a guy there. He speaks 11 languages – or more. His brother works in KL as restauranter. I occasionally checked on the train with station employees, and around 9am it was there.
I got on and waited. It departed around 10am, with no whistle or announcement. It wasn’t crowded. The train picked up passengers at stops so it got fuller but never full.
Google Maps kept me informed as to progress and always had a signal – most signs were in Bengali so I would otherwise have no idea where I was.
A fellow passenger lives in London, but comes from Srimangal so I got off with him.
Walking towards the hotel some cows passed us.
He showed me the hotel – which I had found recommended in Lonely Planet and would have gone to anyway.
We had dinner together – mutton biryani and chicken jalfreezi, which were very good. The we wandered around chatting to his friends, saw a bit of the town etc.
It was quite noisy until late at the guest house – partly because of buses speeding through the street blowing their horns. Then from 5am it was noisy again.
DAY 5 – SATURDAY
Nearby potential breakfast places were closed, so I had my cake and banana emergency food. Then I met my new friend at 8.45 and we went to the bicycle hire place – they want TK300 for very old bike for a day or any part thereof. They said to come back in 10 minutes. But then it started to rain, so I gave up the idea. We had tea and a paratha. We went to his friend’s pharmacy and had tea and biscuits. Then went to his business and had tea and biscuits.
Then in his 4WD we went to his lemon, jackfruit, guava and pineapple plantation.
We ate young jackfruit and got sticky fingers and got this off with diesel.
Then we moved on to a tea plantation, saw the factory…
… and then to manager’s house for tea and cake. The house and garden were just as one would imagine on a tea plantation.
Next we went to a fish farm and had tea and fruit and cake there with the owner.
Later that night we watched some locals play karam.
Back at the hotel I asked for checkout at 1pm instead of 12 for the next day – unequivocally no – but the hotel wasn’t full.
Some details: Tea Town Guest House, Tk 1200 for a-c room. 400 for fan room. No WiFi. Hot water tap but no hot water for shower. On the Dhaka-Sylhet Road, about five minutes walk from the train station.
Noors Restaurant, Dhaka-Sylhet Road, about three minutes from Tea Town Rest House.