#1 Prepare for public transport: Choose a bus which is 80-90% occupied and position yourself near the back. Arrange for about 60 friends (or preferably strangers) to rush on and join you at the last minute.

Men travelling by open topped truck through the streets of india

#2 Prepare for the frustration: Write a list of about 10 important jobs which you might hope to achieve in the average day. Include things like posting letters, buying everyday household items, arranging trains/taxis, meeting friends, paying bills &c. Pick one from the list at random. With a lot of pushing and shouting and queuing and hassle this will be the one job you get done today. Now cross off half the remaining list. However important they may seem, and no matter how hard you try,  accept they will never get done. The remaining ones will get done eventually but establish a time frame of between 5-10 times longer and more stressful than you would anticipate.

#3 Preparing for the head-bobble: This is one to try with people in trains/buses/supermarkets/at work &c. Whenever anyone asks a question give NO indication whether you have heard, understood, or know the answer. Instead wobble your head from side to side as if trying to touch your ears to your shoulders. Observe their reaction. The more frustrated they get, and the more they repeat the question, the more insouciant you should attempt to make the gesture.

#4 Prepare for the stray dogs: Run naked through a rubbish tip covered in Pedigree Chum.

Old Indian ambulance crashed and burned out by the side of the road

#5 Prepare for the laundry: Substitute your regular washing powder for a handful of dirt and one or two small rocks. Lay your clothes out on the ground to dry, preferable in a spot where cats/dogs/humans are known to defecate.

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#1 Prepare for sleeping: Get into your car (a friend’s car will do) and turn the heating up to max. Now bend your knees up to your chin so that they’re wedged firmly against the horn. Try and sleep.

#2 Prepare for public transport: Choose a bus which is 80-90% occupied and position yourself near the back. Arrange for about 60 friends (or preferably strangers) to rush on and join you at the last minute.

Cramped journey on indian public transport

Rush hour was actually way worse, but I couldn't move my arms enough to get my camera out...

#3 Prepare for Skype: Choose a friend or loved one you want to talk to. Position yourselves at either end of a long corridor, just out of earshot. As you start walking towards each other, begin your conversation, aiming to get to the interesting bit just after you have passed each other. Continue walking until you are in a mirror image of how you started. If you’ve done it right you should have caught between 40-60% of what they said. Repeat until you are too frustrated to continue.

#4 Prepare for the stomach upset: Aim to spend about 1-2 hours sat on the toiled every day for 2 weeks.  Divide this time up into 5-10 minute episodes. To get the full effect these episodes should be randomly dispersed throughout your day, preferable when you have important things to attend to, or when the nearest toilet is a 5 minute limp away.

#5 Prepare for the party (this mostly applies to the stricter, Southern States): Go out with your friends every night for a week. When ever anyone offers you booze, meat or a fag politely decline on religious grounds.

5am start to see sunrise over Sri Lankan tea plantations

Unreliable internet access has meant we’ve been unable to blog as regularly as we would have liked. Now we’re in back Colombo to watch the Royal Wedding so here’s a little update…

Last week we arrived in Ella, in the foothills, famous for it’s lush green jungles and orderly tea plantations. On the South Coast it had been scorching hot, well into the 30s and as soon as we got up to pour a drink we’d break into a cloying sweat. It was naive to think, however, that in a country as verdant as this, the weather would hold. Of course, we were wrong.

In Ella the monsoon rains came. It rained and it rained and it rained. Then there would be a small sunny window, where folks would start to put out their washing… and then it would rain again. With the rain, the mosquitoes disappeared, but in their stead came the leeches. We suffered terribly as we trekked through long grass and scrabbled over the wet rocks, and when we came home we had to burn the little blighters off one by one.

One morning, we got up early and climbed a rock the locals call “Little Adam’s Peak” – an hour’s climb from the town – from where we were rewarded with fantastic views of the sun rising over the plantations, and the famous ‘Ella Gap’.

From Ella, we headed further North, to Nuwara Eliya, the highest settlement on the island, where the early colonialists flattered the hilltop forests and planted row upon row of immaculate tea bushes in their stead. The road winds up and up through the hills, and on either side, the ramshackle tea factories vie for pride of place. We stopped for a few tastings along the way and finally reached the Grand Hotel where we were treated with our first afternoon tea in an incredible 3 weeks!

Our first tea in Sri Lanka...

We’ve arrived in Sri Lanka, and here we are on the South Coast enjoying our first tea of the trip. They make iced tea the old fashioned way with freshly brewed tea, fresh lime, ice and LOADS of sugar. The result? About the most refreshing drink you can get until the sun crosses the yard arm,

Amongst our most pleasant discoveries since arriving is that yard-arm-sun-crossing seems to happen much earlier here…

Next week, we head North to the foothills, for our tour of the tea plantations.

Noveltea travels far and wide in search of the finest tea on the planet

Join our 3 month adventure through the plantations of India, Sri Lanka and China

 

We have some fantastic news we’d like to share with you! Inspired by tea over many years we are just about to set off on an adventure of a lifetime. Next week we will fly to Colombo for a tour of the tea plantations of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), India and China. We will then return home by train, over 7000 miles via one of the so-called “Silk Routes” through Kazakhstan and Russia, which is the way tea was originally brought to these shores.

We’ll be sorry to leave, as spring bursts through the doors and windows of Tea HQ, but we can’t wait to share with you tales and photos from our trip…