Darjeeling/Agra Day 3

5:00am: woken up by town clock.
5:30am: woken up by drummer boy.
5:35am: got up and watched the sunrise on the mountains from the roofdeck of the hotel – another clear day.

It was another beautiful, clear morning. From the top of the hotel the view was not much different than our room. We met a woman who had gone to Tiger Hill for sunrise the day before. This seems to be what a lot of people do. They leave at 4:30 (or earlier). She said it was good views but not that much better than from the hotel. And it was very, very cold. But she did see Mt. Everest. We wanted to see Mt. Everest, especially for the kids sake but none of us were very keen on getting up so early and being freezing cold.

Later in the morning we went to Happy Valley Tea Estate. This plantation prides itself on selling all its Darjeeling tea to Harrods in London. We took a guided tour of the facility and it was very interesting. Well, there were a bunch of guys outside who asked to be our guide. So we chose one and he did a good job. He made sure to explain the working conditions of the tea pickers; how much each woman has to pick (determined by which category they fall into: young and unmarried, married, older woman, casual worker); hours of work (8-4); overtime pay etc.

We saw the drying process, the women who pick through all the tea to get rid of the “undesirable tea”, packaging and so on.

Then we were shown outside to the tea bushes and although we didn’t see anyone picking tea leaves we saw the ladies coming in to deliver the morning load.

There is a separate little building for tea tasting and a very friendly woman showed us several types of tea leaves and explained the difference between the best teas, next best etc. She made us each a cup of tea  – such a happy lady with a sing song voice.

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