Monday, April 23, 2012

The Captain's Message as we head to Sri Lanka.................


As we commenced the two day voyage from Malaysia to Sri Lanka, our Captain notified us of the Anti-Piracy Drill to be held the next morning. As we would be passing through the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, areas well documented for piracy, QE was required to take precautions.
We were assured that we'd be using an internationally approved transit corridor under the protection of an International Military Task Force, including the UK Royal Navy.
We did the drill, which included sitting on the floor of the internal corridors, and not in front of the closed cabin door......
...........and from then on things on board changed somewhat.

Bob on the promenade deck - high powered water 
hoses visible behind him.
  • External promenade deck 3 (in above photo) was closed from dusk to dawn - being the lowest open deck where grappling ladders could be used by speeding pirate boats 
  • Large fire hoses were at the ready on that same deck - apparently forceful enough to knock back pirates 
  • During hours of darkness only essential open deck lights would be on as it was important to reduce the ship's external lighting
  • Curtains of cabin/balcony windows were to be closed at night and cabin lights turned off when not required
  • We attended an extremely enlightening lecture, with excellent videos, showing just how those Somali pirates work, given by a high profile Royal Navy Commander who was aboard to assist in setting up the safety system.  Fortunately no cruise ship has been taken hostage yet , only container ships and small private vessels which are easily  boarded
  • The Commander stated that armed security agents had been brought on board for the duration of the journey to Dubai - they were trained to shoot to kill any pirates who tried to board the ship
This was the Queen Elizabeth's maiden call to Colombo, the largest city in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). The large harbor and strategic position along the East-West trade routes was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago.


Fast Facts
  • Similar in size to Tasmania, Sri Lanka is half the area of England and slightly smaller than Ireland
  • Approx. 70% of the population are Buddhists
  • The classic film 'Bridge On The River Kwai' (1957) was shot on location here
  • The horrific tsunami of Dec. 2004 devastated coastal communities and killed more than 30,000 people
  • Sri Lanka is the world's fourth largest producer of tea after China, India and Kenya
Colorful musicians and dancers in national costume welcomed us to their country.


A tour around the city included a visit to the National Museum..........where a huge Banyan tree, also known as a 'strangler fig' stood guard......

........and was thankfully air conditioned inside for viewing more Buddhas and interesting artifacts.......


..........because it was unbearable outside where I stopped to view the prayer flags.


Hot and humid in the streets so we did very
little walking....

............these were actually 'lady monks' making good use of their umbrellas - sorry for blue tinge, our tour bus had dirty tinted windows and I got very few good images through them!

The taxi driver washed the dust off his little green auto rickshaw, a 3-wheeled tuk-tuk. This mode of transportation is definitely not for those of a nervous disposition as they weave in and out of traffic......apparently an unforgettable experience!


An elegant lady with the right idea for keeping 
cool in Colombo.

Next on the trip...........sailing to India. Thankfully, no visits from pirates!


7 comments:

  1. My husband wants to take a cruise but I'm not really an ocean big boat kinda person. I'd rather keep my feet on dry land. I don't mind flying -- although the older I get, I don't have patience for the longer trips. 6-8 hours is long enough. We've been to Sri Lanka many times. My husband started a printing press there with a Sri Lankan partner and is doing very well in its first year. I love those banyan trees. Glad ya'll had safe travels. Best wishes, Tammy P.S. I will have to pay for any vet bills for this kitty. I've already paid for a couple to be cleaned up and spayed. A good friend adopted one I rescued. This will be the 3rd Persian cat. Makes me so sad. This recent one is still a bit scared, so I will have to wait and see if I can transport her to the vet in a few days. She definitely cannot stay on the street.

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  2. Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for!

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  3. Thank goodness the pirates left you in peace, quite a wake up call I would imagine...
    Rose H
    xx

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  4. Mary, it's all so interesting. A little pirate excitement in the form of safety drills sounds like plenty for me. No real pirates please. Glad you are safely home without incident. ~ Sarah

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  5. It must have been quite unnerving having all the piracy threat to contend with - must have been rather comforting to have the Royal Navy on hand:)

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  6. Would love to visit the tea plantations here. You have certainly added more countries to your list of places visited.

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  7. Hi Mary,
    We spent a month in Sri Lanka in 2011 and loved it..did a lot of traveling thru out the country and found the country to be amazing..the people so kind and lovely. Before getting to Sri Lanka, we spent 10 days in the Maldives..what a heavenly place!
    Xo

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