Road trip diary with Toyota Crown Royal
Most customers purchasing a reconditioned car from Japan usually miss out on what could have been the greatest road trip with their new car. On the last weekend of November, when I got wind of a Toyota Crown Royal pre-ordered by Nippon Auto Trading, with the help of Shift's old friend Zaheen from Nippon Auto Trading, we set about to receive the Royal.
With tickets purchased the night prior, our 7 AM trip to Chittagong presented itself in the form of a non-AC Shyamoli Paribahan bus ride. We were shuttled from the bus counter at Kalabagan to Kamalapur Bus Stand, where we finally boarded at 8:45 AM.
With empty roads ahead, we made swift progress, reaching our halfway stop at Hotel Noorjahan at Cumilla by 11 AM on the dot. What once was a dreamy mirage for weary travellers on the Dhaka-Cumilla Highway now lies as a shell of its former glory. But if you choose to travel with Greenline or any other fancy coach, be sure to stop at Highway Inn - the latest mirage for weary travellers.
Set to stop at Highway Inn on our way back, we resumed our last leg of the trip to the port city of Chittagong, blitzing through the 250 odd kilometres in just under 6 hours as we crossed the city gate at 2 PM. Upon landing at Dampara Bus Stand at GEC More, we rendezvoused with our friend in Chittagong who acted as our local tour guide for the day.
We were determined as ever to go to Highway Inn, but not before collecting the Japanese royalty. We called for an Uber from Chittagong Stadium to Port Car Shed, which arrived within a minute and was cheaper than expected, but I'd like to think we got lucky.
By 4 PM, we reached our final stop, the Chittagong Port Car Shed, where our friend got in touch with his contact and within a few minutes, we caught a glimpse of a pearl white Toyota. The gates of the port shed opened and welcomed us to a lucky customer's 2016 Toyota Crown Royal Saloon G.
Sold in Japan only, the Crown gives European rivals a run for their leather-wrapped interior's money, with soft-close, lounge-like rear seats with automated shutter blinds, reclinable seats with AC vents, cooled seats, the party piece and swing AC vents at the front.
Barely able to contain our excitement, we gave a final inspection of all the buttons and features while we checked and raised the tire pressure for our journey back to Dhaka. It must have been our lucky day as we found a full tank of pure Japanese unleaded octane, courtesy of the previous owner in Japan.
We stopped at the freshly paved Port Link Road just above Potenga with quite possibly the most glorious view of the many scattered ships drifting at sea, which bore striking resemblance to the marine drive road in Cox's Bazar.
The sky burst into a colour pallet of orange mixed with purple as the sun was engulfed by the horizon, leaving us speechless as I frantically pressed my trusty camera to capture the sunset as everyone savoured the moment. We bid adieu to our friend after a quick caffeine refill as we started for Dhaka by sundown as we only had one thing in our mind - khichuri from Highway Inn.
Sometimes, all you need is good music and good company on a trip accompanied by swinging AC vents in a Toyota Crown to really humble yourself and appreciate the finer things in life. We simply wafted in style and comfort as the hybrid system allowed us to do 25 KMPL to Highway Inn.
We reluctantly resumed our road trip back to Dhaka. By 11 AM, we were on Mayor Hanif Flyover, on our way to the concrete jungle, and just like that, we made a round trip to Dhaka-Chittagong with plenty of sightseeing and memories created in under 14 hours.
I had never wanted a time machine more that night, to rewind the clock back to 24 hours and relive the day once more. Thus, I come to the conclusion of my travelogue with one piece of advice: the best way to frantically explore Chittagong is to opt for a road trip, the next time you or a close friend buys a car from Japan!
Photos: Ahbaar Milky