New Acupuncturist Sun and Entertainer Joe West were the guests on Good Morning Amsterdam this morning. Sun is from South Korea and received some of her training in Los Angeles. Joe is from England but now lives in Spain with his wife where he does some voice over work when not working on cruise ships.
At 10 am Barbara presented a very interesting overview of our next two ports in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, where we will be visiting Hambantota for the day and then Colombo for an overnight.
Barbara emphasized that Hambantota is still recovering from Civil War and the 2004 Tsunami and is working on rebuilding basic infrastructure before they build more traditional tourist infrastructure like hotels, restaurants and cruise terminals. Our exact mooring location was not known, but will be inside a working port, where we may be close enough to walk to the gate or they will provide a shuttle bus, but to the gate only. It is several miles to the town from the gate and the ship is not allowed to charter shuttle buses to help create more business for the local taxis and Tuk Tuks. Barbara mentioned that one of her goals for this cruise is to entice a local Tuk Tuk operator to let her drive. Taxis and Tuk Tuks do not have meters and all prices should be negotiated in advance.
Shopping for gemstones is popular in Sri Lanka, but Barbara warned the audience that unless you have the ability to personally verify the quality of the stones, the risk of buying fakes is simply too high and we should avoid buying gemstones from anyone, anywhere in Sri Lanka. HAL cannot recommend any retail outlets as worthy of our business. She basically said, buy the stone, but assume it is fake and if you get a good price and like it anyway fine, but don’t assume you are getting a good deal on a genuine stone unless you really know what you are doing. Certificates of authenticity are easily forged and are worthless.
The Rotterdam was in Hambantota recently and Barbara mentioned that people from that ship who only visited the town were disappointed and that the best recommendation from the Rotterdam would be to venture out to the National Parks.
After Hambantota the Amsterdam will be in Colombo for two days. We will be leaving on the second day for our independent overland adventure to New Dehli and the Taj Mahal. We will be rejoining the ship in Dubai.
Barbara went on to explain that Colombo is much larger than Hambantota and was not devastated by the Tsunami, and there is more going on near the ship than there will be in Hambantota. We will be moored at the Queen Elizabeth Pier.
I stayed in the Queens Lounge to hear Kate Ross’ discuss the Taj Mahal, who built it along with some of the history of events in India around the time it was built.
Weather remains hot and humid, but the air-conditioning is holding up fine in our part of the ship. I didn’t venture outside at all.
The Texas Hold’em game is more popular than ever. Playing requires you to sign up in advance and you would usually have an empty seat until around noon. Lately the game has been filling up by 9:30 and today we played a second game right after the first. I finished in money in the first game and out of the money in the second, so it was almost a break even day.
Judy went to Arts & Crafts today. The project was an origami corner-of-the-page bookmark – easy and useful.
After crafts Judy remains in solitary confinement working on her Shawl. Only 40 rows left, but each row has over 400 stitches. I have been informed that 400 stitches in a row is a lot.
Tonight was Gala night – there wasn’t any special theme, but the menu included Lobster Tails and a Beef Tenderloin which most of us combined to make a very nice Surf and Turf.
Tonight’s entertainment was provided by a group called Graffiti Classics. The group consists of 2 men and 2 women playing 2 Violins, 1 Viola and 1 Cello. Since each instrument has 4 strings, they bill themselves has having 16 strings, 8 dancing feet and 4 voices. They were very good and produced an exciting, high energy show. They play modern pop and classical songs with interesting arrangements that showcase their amazing talent. One of the more interesting songs was a country hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by Charlie Daniels.
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