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Up into Assam we go

The last couple of weeks I have been very thankful to have lived in North Carolina for a few years from 2000-2006. There are lots of reasons, but at this point in time, I am thankful for the experience of humidity like I had never experienced before. I remember getting out of the air conditioned car in the grocery store parking lot in mid summer and wondering if I would make it into the store before melting! The humidity of the Assam district will not be a total stranger!

Our first stop is the Dikom Tea Estate in Dibrugarh, the City of Tea. Its tippy, bright and malty teas are famous the world over. This estate dates to medieval times. It is home to the native tea of India, Camellia Assamica, and was named by the Bodo-Kacharies tribe. They found the water of Dikom uniquely sweet. In the Bodo language Di means water. This vast garden of 1,517 hectares (3,749 acres) in the far eastern reaches of Assam is one of the oldest in India. Already, I am overwhelmed with the wealth of tea education I will have after visiting this place!

[caption id="attachment_2194" align="aligncenter" width="297"]Workers prepare the soil for planting tea saplings. They plant 10,258 bushes per hectare, more than 5,000 per acre. The plants will begin producing tea in quantity after three years. Workers prepare the soil for planting tea saplings. They plant 10,258 bushes per hectare, more than 5,000 per acre. The plants will begin producing tea in quantity after three years.[/caption]

In addition to pure and plentiful water, good soil and bright sun, Dikom sits atop millions of cubic feet of natural gas and oil. The Dikom fields contain 30 wells and produce 6,000 barrels of oil per day. When the oil was discovered the garden cut a deal to pipe the natural gas directly to the factory to fire its furnaces. The Dikom factory is 104,000 sq. ft. and employs about 70 workers with eight supervisors. There is no bought-leaf, only estate grown teas. This will be no short tour as the day begins and ends here.


[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400"] ...after[/caption]


We have 3 overnight 'halts' in Dibrugarh with 3 free evenings. I am delighted my brother and sis-in-law, Peter and Deb, will be joining me and the others on this trip. Will we have any problems trying to figure out what to do in this city of under 200,000? Will the Jokai Gardens be open? What about shopping? Apparently evenings are enjoyed much the same as here in Canada. There are Cinema Houses, clubs, pubs and bars. I am not usually much of a night-lifer, so I am hoping my fellow travellers will accompany me as I explore the nightlife! I want to make the most of every minute! I would also love to pick up some different wardrobe items if I have the chance to fit in some shopping. I am hoping to be able to find a unique silk garment to bring back home with me, and also some little tokens of my trip to share with friends and family back in Canada.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="228"] Mekhla Chadar - the traditional silk dress[/caption]

We will continue with two more days in Assam at the Margharita Estate established in 1884 and the Amgoorie Estate where we will 'halt' overnight. Stay tuned for my next blog post, which will be even closer to my departure!
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