Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia located in the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. We were supposed to spend several days on this picturesque (at least according to the travel websites) island, but once again, COVID-19 is keeping us out. We were, however, allowed a “technical stop” to pick up some supplies and fuel, and we’re grateful for that. Arriving at sunset, we were aware of the presence of armed guards (in masks, of course!) throughout the pier. We weren’t entirely sure if they were to keep us out or to keep others away from us, but whatever their role, we were on our best behavior. We also noticed some dock workers who were apparently on break, but who were we to tell!
The Port of Colombo is the largest and busiest port in Sri Lanka. Located on the southwestern shores on the Kelani River, it serves as an important terminal in Asia due to its strategic location in the Indian Ocean. The port was busy all night, and although it made for a somewhat noisy evening, we were grateful for the fuel and supplies. In the morning, a thick haze enveloped the skyline and a pungent smell of smoke filled the air. We have no idea what was going on, but the skyline was somewhat obscured from view on the port side of the Viking Sun. The whole port operation is pretty impressive, and we spent a long time watching the loading and unloading of countless containers, causing us to wonder what was in them and where they were heading.
The very tall structure to the left of the Colombo skyline is the new Lotus Tower. An impressive 1,168 feet tall, the tower was opened in the fall of 2019. According to reports, the 7 year construction of Lotus Tower was funded by the government of China at a cost equal to $104.3 million USD. The tower’s main purpose is to function as a single transmission hub for telecommunications, digital TV, and radio. In addition to functioning as a TV Tower, the Lotus Tower includes a hotel, restaurant, communication museum, supermarkets, food courts, ballrooms, a conference center, and a shopping mall. The design of this building is inspired by the lotus flower, which symbolizes purity within Sri Lankan culture. Although we were docked quite far from the tower, it looks beautiful on the skyline, and would have been a great place to visit if we had been allowed.
So our overnight technical stop in Sri Lanka didn’t give us a whole lot to talk about, but we wanted to let our followers know that we’re still well and hanging in there. We’re painfully aware of the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our loved ones and others throughout the world. For now, the impact on us has been primarily been related to the disruption of our world cruise…kind of pales by comparison. We’re proud to read that our home State of Ohio is leading the way with pro-active efforts to lower the curve and contain this beast. And we’re equally proud of the Cleveland Clinic’s heroic efforts to provide drive-thru access to testing with rapid turnaround. While we wouldn’t advise surviving a pandemic on board a cruise ship, and definitely wouldn’t recommend boarding a cruise ship today, we just wanted to let you know we’re safe, well, and still enjoying great service, delicious food, good wine, and entertainment. We’re getting plenty of fresh air and exercise, and Viking has gone beyond belief to ensure our comfort and safety. With each and every reminder to “wash, wash, wash,” our Captain Lars ends his comments with “take care of each other.” That’s what we’re trying our best to do, and that’s our advice to all of you. We’ll be at sea for the next three days en route to our next technical stop in Muscat, Oman. After that, we really don’t know, but we’ll let you know as soon as we do! Meanwhile, you’re in our thoughts, prayers, and hearts! Here are a few shots from last night to prove we’re OK!