46 Cups of Tea

A statistical and image-based reflection on a week in west Bangladesh


After nine straight weeks of teaching, the question was how to fill nine days of vacation. On this occasion I decided to remain in Bangladesh and take the opportunity to explore this country a little further, and having never ventured due west before, that is where I went. The division of Khulna to be precise, which borders India and comprises a number of districts, including Jessore and Khulna.



Travelling individually has always felt a little daunting to me, so the prospect of spending the duration of the break navigating an unfamiliar area of Bangladesh alone provoked mixed emotions. Nevertheless, I survived, and I’m here to report in. I’ll spare the mundane play by play account of what happened and instead present an array of telling statistics. Prior to leaving Chittagong I decided I’d take a pad and pen with me on the trip and keep a tally of the inevitable and the unexpected in equal measure.



So, here it is, the story of my week in Jessore and Khulna in numbers, beginning with the most important and reflective of all…

46 – Cups of tea consumed

20 – Cups of tea I paid for

26 – Cups of tea bought for me by ever hospitable locals



10 – Invites to homes

4 – Invites accepted

659 – Photos taken (see a select set here – Jessore & Khulna)


Rice paddies near the India border, Benapol.


6 – Modes of transport used during the trip


37 – Times my unmarried status evoked confused frowns

21 – Times it was suggested I marry in Bangladesh

4 – Business cards received

27 – Business cards distributed

3 – Occasions in which I was asked if I came from Japan

24 – Jibes received regarding England’s woeful Cricket World Cup campaign

12 – Times I was asked to reveal my salary

6 – 15th century mosques visited


Singar Mosque, Bagerhat

7 – Hindu temples visited


Here is a list of events which occurred just once, but I deemed worthy enough to scribble down in my notepad…

  • Requested to convert to Islam for marriage purposes
  • Military border parades witnessed

Daily flag lowering ceremony, Benapole border


  • Squeezed into a body-hugging Bangladesh cricket shirt and told, “It fits perfectly boss!”
  • Asked if Iranian
  • Told to cancel my hotel booking and sleep in the home of a man I had met just 30 minutes previously
  • After briefly chatting with a man I met earlier in the day, he then text to inform me he was knocking on my hotel room door and requested I open said door…
  • ‘Adventure Parks’ visited that made me want to scream “WHY??!!” at the person who recommended it and assured me it was “very beautiful…”

IMG_5110

Yes….this is a plastic T-Rex….


  • Told I was lying about my age as I couldn’t possibly be as young as I was claiming
  • Told a man he was the least friendliest person I had ever met in Bangladesh after he spent a good five minutes ridiculing my intelligence for not carrying my passport and stating that as the British were “Kings” I am practically a disgrace to the great nation of Britain

And finally, a list of occurrences that initially I had firm intentions of meticulously tracking. Yet, as the hours and days passed, I soon realised it would be impossible to keep an accurate record due to the sheer volume. So, in the end they became uncountable, but no less significant…

  • Asked the question, “Your country?”
  • Confused questions with suspicious facial expressions regarding my reason for being in Jessore/Khulna/Bangladesh
  • Enthusiastically praised for my comprehensive Bangla language proficiency


  • Robustly chastised for my low level of Bangla language proficiency
  • Pondered the meaning of life
  • Wondered if rural Bangladesh is the most beautiful place on earth


  • Wondered why my bus driver was trying to overtake three other buses up ahead
  • Wondered how that 93rd passenger was going to find a space to squeeze into on the already cramped bus, but soon realising there was space for passengers 94, 95 and 96.

So that concludes a brief look at my week in the west. It was fascinating, eye-opening, and at times a little testing. However, it was completely worth it, and evidence once again of why I often question why more tourists don’t come and explore this golden land.

Selfishly I’m glad they don’t though, because there were times on the trip as I sat on the back of a wagon and we meandered our way down a silent, tree-lined country road in the early evening, just as the sun began to set, that I thought to myself, “I’m totally at peace right now.”

IMG_5346

11 responses

  1. Ian Craft

    I have been reading your blog for …….. well, a long time! I don’t know what I enjoy the most – the words or the photos. Do keep writing of your travels, you almost make the experience come alive.

    March 29, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    • Thanks very much for your kind words, Ian. It is always motivation to hear that there are people who regularly read and appreciate the blogs I post. I’m glad you enjoy vsiting this page and hopefully I’m able to provide a little glimpse of this wonderful country. Thanks again, and if there is anything you would like me to photograph here just let me know. I’m always open to suggestions from people!

      p.s. GREEN ARMY!!

      March 30, 2015 at 4:30 am

      • Ian Craft

        Apart from managing to find someone wearing an Argyle shirt, your photos are more than enough!

        March 30, 2015 at 10:08 am

  2. Jane

    clearly you need a fake fiance! I am available if you are cool with bigamy.

    March 30, 2015 at 9:16 am

  3. Jamie Studwell

    John, your photos just get more beautiful with every post! Thanks for this reminder of Bangladesh.

    March 30, 2015 at 10:30 am

  4. I loved it John. Really colourful and different style of reporting this time. I’m off to Argyle this Friday v Burton. Cross your fingers!

    March 30, 2015 at 1:51 pm

  5. Julie Roberts

    John,just amazing and a superb blog ( as always )Such a lovely part of our planet, you are to be admired.Brilliant.! Auntie Julie.

    March 30, 2015 at 5:21 pm

  6. Another brilliant and interesting blog John and lovely photos. You wouldn’t get one free cup of tea in this country let alone 26. Also, I’m amazed you only had 24 jibes about England’s cricket team!

    April 1, 2015 at 10:19 am

  7. Dad

    Nice one son !

    April 1, 2015 at 4:18 pm

  8. Amazing photos John! Some great stats here too. How many times did you get asked if you knew Kevin Pietersen? I lost count in India.

    April 8, 2015 at 10:02 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s