Monday, July 18, 2011




I went over to an ice skating rink today. The lady I 'spoke' with was one of those that should stay away from charades for the rest of her life. She would lose. She kept trying to tell me that the ice rink was open - despite the lack of ice and the amount of water on the floor. Oddly enough, it seems to be closed during some of the hottest times of the year - when people are most interested in getting into somewhere cool. No sign of a Zamboni in there either.


I watched a guy back up through a busy intersection the wrong way on a one way street. He nearly hit a family and Lasha in order to ask him directions to somewhere. I said "What kind of driving is that?" He said "Georgian driving!"


I found out a lot more about tea produced in Georgia than I thought I would.

All tea in Georgia was apparently set up by Lao Chin Chow - a Chinese guy brought over to do that.

I went to "Chak Vis Chai 2007" which was established in 1896. A backpacker named Adam and I went over there to see it.


When we first got there, it didn't look like we were going to get past the gate and security guards. Fortunately, Adam is able to speak some Russian so he was talking to the guards. Eventually, it was suggested that the security guards call to the director. Surprisingly, the director showed up so fast that I think he was already on his way when called.

The director's name is Chamil Bulatov ("Bu-Lot-Ov"). He is a very cool person who exemplifies Georgian hospitality. Not only did he take Adam and I on a personal tour of the factory but he presented us with several kilograms of tea upon our leaving and had us drink tea with him.

Chamil Bulatov at his desk

The main product this place makes i pressed tea that goes to Mongols. They are the only place that makes the pressed tea in blocks in the correct way. There are other places that make fakes, we were told. Here, the blocks of tea are pressed for forty five minutes - others are pressed for less. They make it in the big pressed bricks (larger than a large book or a laptop computer for those who have never seen a print book before) because it lasts longer. These bricks are a mixture of green and black tea.

Chamil Bulatov with a 2 KG brick of pressed tea

Closeup detail of a brick of tea

Ever wonder what 100 tons of drying tea looks like?

There are a lot of business opportunities for tea and ownership of fields in the area of the factory (Chakvi, Georgia - not found on the internet much) but the average businessman doesn't know about them. Or, the average businessman isn't interested in this as a business because it takes 2-3 years before you start to see a return.

The factory can even make pure black tea for about $1.20 per kilo if the amount of interest in this tea increases. From personally trying it, I'd say it beats Lipton. Also, there are no chemicals in the tea at all.

Despite the pirate bandanna I was wearing, the director asked me if I was a businessman. I said "No, I am a pirate." For better or worse, I know the word in Russian as well. That sparked an interesting line of inquiry.

I felt a bit sorry for Adam. I would say something Loganesque and he'd start laughing then Chamil would become curious as to what was said and want a translation. By the time it got put into Adam's extremely rough Russian, it was admittedly less funny. Then, I'd start the cycle over again.

Tourists are welcome to come see this (call a day in advance) though they do not have active work going on in June through August presumably due to the heat.

For any international business people wishing to contact Chak Vis Chai 2007 (the factory) the international phone number is 995593090660 or local number 593090660.

Director Chamil Bulatov and Logan

I would like to thank Director Chamil Bulatov for his hospitality and Adam for his Russian. Both allowed me to have an interesting insight into tea. And Mongols.


Director Bulatov was kind enough to share with us the recipe for how to make tea in the Mongolian fashion.

Add 30g of tea to 1 liter of cold water.
Bring it to a boil for 2-3 minutes.
Leave it standing for 5-10 minutes.
Strain the tea out.
Add one half liter of milk.
Bring mixture to a boil again.
If desired, add a dash of salt (or let guests add their own).
Add 15-30g of butter.
Bring mixture to a boil.
If desired, add pepper to taste.


New (manual) blood pressure machine to replace stolen one, 28 GEL

Kahlua (only one store in Batumi has any) 60 GEL
Lets pause for a moment to put 60 GEL (two good drinking times worth of Kahlua) into perspective. For 60 GEL, I can buy any one of the following:
60 bottles of cold soda (.5 liter) one at a time, more bottles if I buy in bulk.
42 packs of ramen noodles
3 cartons of French (knock off?) cigarettes, etc.
So, although I do like Kahlua very much, it is a 'lets see how we do money wise and buy it later after a bunch of frugal living thing'.

Small thing of cold coffee I really dislike the taste of but was programmed by Starbucks to buy cold coffee when I can find it, 2 GEL

Turkish cafeteria food with 330 ml can of Fanta, 11 GEL


Thanks to Kevin M for finding this gem.


  1. So, have you bothered to pick up any other languages yet, or are you still trolling everyone in English and German?

  2. I am a firm believer that attempting to learn a language in a country where it is not commonly spoken raises the difficulty substantially.

    I am also a firm believer that most languages are simply not useful outside of the country they are native to - for example the Georgian language outside of Georgia is not very useful.

    My third belief (with plenty of supporting evidence) is that learning languages is difficult for me.

    Hence, until I get to a country with a language that is widely used outside of it (Arabic and Spanish languages come to mind) I'm not working with any concerted effort at it.

    That being said, I am currently learning (by osmosis) Russian, Turkish and Georgian words. Slowly, but they do stack up.

    Fortunately, I've got the skill "Be understood and understand others despite lack of common language" at about 70%.



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