Another tick - Sri Lanka
Jan 22, 2017
|A day at sea is a much desired break by everyone after four days in a row of long and hot touring. It is another hot day, although they say it is only 27C it feels much hotter. Gail goes to the gym but I pass with the lingering end of my cold and instead grab our pool seats and settle into the blog about Kochi. Mangalore, although the day before, will have to wait until Gail and Sharon are with me as they took the notes.
Today is the final round for Progressive Trivia but we have fallen out of the top 3 and with the answers we give today we are not likely to climb back up. The day progresses much like most sea days, a little blog, a lot of sun and pool time and well into another book. Thank goodness for my ereader.
It is a formal night although they are not as fancy as they use to be. Tonight the 20 of us are having dinner together and Deb has reserved 3 tables. However in order to accommodate us all together we are going for 6. Certainly much earlier than we prefer but for one night it is fine. At 5 we meet in the lounge for cocktails before our 5:30 photo-shoot in the Grand Foyer. Have to say we are a good looking group!
We enjoy a couple of cocktails after dinner but decide to make it an early night and return to watch anything but the Presidential Inauguration. There will be enough of it for weeks to come.
Up early for lunch in the dining room as we have no tour planned. We have arrived in Colombo Sri Lanka. A new tick in the list of countries visited. Today it is very hot 35C and humid. I definitely choose the wrong shirt as it doesn’t breathe and within minutes I regret it.
Eight of us decide to walk into town, Sharon and Steve, Dennis and Anita and the OAB’s. That is Barb and Pauline’s new nickname. The “One Armed Bandits” or as Barb said the “Old Age Bitches”. We are offered a taxi for $10 but as it only 2 km we all feel like some exercise. Unfortunately it is more like 5 km and in this heat and humidity we are dragging our butts when we finally get to town.
Here there are throngs of tuk tuks all harassing you for a tour. Trying our best to avoid them we stroll into a small local market. Sundu is relentless and finally convinces us that things are too far apart to see on foot. So we arrange for $10 an hour per tuk tuk and get 4.
It turns out to be a good plan both as the sights are spread out more then they appear on the map and the ride gives much needed air in this heat.
Our first stop is the Gangaramaya or Seema Malaga Temple. This Buddhist temple and museum is spread across many buildings. There are literally thousands of Buddha in all sizes, shapes and materials. From stone, marble, white plastic, gold and jade. There are towers of miniatures and massive floor to ceiling ones. The museum holds trinkets, trash and valuables left behind by worshippers including jewellery, watches and other personal items.
Once again we see the holy water worship of plants. In this temple the people circle a large Banyan tree, pouring water over it as they rotate around. It is quite the sight. This is a bustling temple and Sandu has guided us through so that we don’t miss anything.
As Sharon and Steve had arrived much after the rest of and with Sandu the one with the best English we get him to instruct the others to follow us. We make it clear that we want to stay together and he does a pretty good job of herding the troops.
From here we go to Independence Memorial Hall. Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain on February 4th, 1948 and this huge open air stone structure surrounded by gardens celebrates that day. In front is a large statue of the first president or ‘father of the nation ‘. The columns and wall carvings depict different parts of the culture and history of Sri Lanka. It is beautiful and impressive.
From here we see the new parliament and then head to what we thought was going to be a gem factory. Assuming we would see the process of transforming from stone to polished gem we agree to go. But No! It is the requisite shopping stop of any tour .. of course the kick back place. They have beautiful stones but pricy. Sri Lanka is known for its gems so it isn’t a total bust and Sharon picks up a beautiful tear drop shaped yellow sapphire.
Now we head along Galle Face Galley, a long stretch of greenery next to a narrow beach. Here are all the 5 star hotels like the Taj with more and more being built. Apparently it was originally built for the Dutch cannons to have clear sight but today is being built up to be like a little Dubai. In fact when we get up to the bastion around the light house we can see a huge area of reclaimed sea being filled with sand in preparation for the build of a whole new city centre.
Colombo is incredibly clean and well-kept even the poorer area of Pettah or the old town. This is our last few stops first to see the colourful and ornate Hindi temple and then on to the Red Mosque. But first Steve has their driver detour slightly so that he can buy each of us a cold beer. Awesome … we are parched for sure.
Here in Pettah the streets and sidewalks become very crowded. The noise level increases and the ride gets more than a bit wild. We bob and weave amongst trucks, pedestrians and dozens of honking tuk tuks. It makes it more fun and scarier at the same time.
Back at the port entry each of the drivers try to get more money out of each of us but we have been more than generous. Next is the negotiation with a taxi to take us back to the boat. Not a chance we are making that 5 km walk again. We are back in time for a late lunch and back to the pool to read.
While we are supposed to leave by 4:30, once again the buses from Celebrity are late. We go to the Sunset Bar aft with Steve and Sharon to enjoy some live music and a cocktail as we sail away. The skies have darkened and it looks like we are in for a storm. Indeed by 7ish as we have a glass of wine before dinner we are entertained by the sounds of thunder and flashes of lightning.
Dinner is late tonight so after a short nightcap we are back to our room. Tonight the clocks go forward another 1.5 hours. Yuck! Breakfast will come early.
In fact I awake to see that it is almost 9 am (but really 7:30) but if we don’t get moving we will miss breakfast altogether. Should have done room service.
The weather has turned and it is a stormy day. As we sit in Reflections for Trivia the skies open. While it is plenty warm between that and the thunderstorm we are inside today. I work on the blog and Gail plays with her pictures. It should be a lazy day.
We join Barb and Pauline in the dining room for lunch today, our first time. They are sitting with a lovely couple from Paris, Gaudy and Yves. They are very enjoyable to chat with and speak good English although every once in a while Gaudy turns to Yves to come up with an English expression form what she is trying to share.
The afternoon is spent reading before heading back forma relax and ready for dinner. We meet the whole gang in the Rendezvous for cocktails and then go in slightly apart us with a table of ten. Sharon and I both have the Brisket which is huge, almost overwhelming but tasty.
After dinner we head to the show a little late though. We have missed a lot of the shows to date some are due to watch one. Tonight is singer Laura Broad who was a semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent previously. She has a wide range of songs from Opera to Adele, all done wonderfully. The guys are most impressed with the full length, figure hugging sequin dress!
A night cap and off to bed with another day at sea no need to rush.