"Ayubowan" from Sri Lanka (Greetings and may you live a long life).
The flight from Oman to Sri Lanka was quite eventful. We lifted off at 5:45 AM to arrive in Sri Lanka at a reasonable time. It was projected to be a 9 hour flight and we would lose 2 hours due to time zones. At that hour it was already 90 degrees and, with extra fuel aboard, climb performance with the warmer temperature was quite sluggish. To add extra anxiety, there was a 25 knot headwind. The performance monitor showed our fuel economy at about two-thirds of normal. At that rate, we would not have enough fuel to make it to our destination. Whoa!
The good news was that there was a reasonable tailwind forecast about 2 hours into our flight and, combined with better performance as the extra fuel was burned off, the culmination of the flight should still be in Sri Lanka. As it turned out, the tailwind arrived nearly as forecast and we ended up landing nearly on schedule with 2 hours of fuel remaining. We were forewarned of such situations and were expecting them at some point--but there was still a very hollow feeling when it occurred. If conditions had not improved, however, we would still have had the option of either returning to Oman or landing for fuel in India. We did not like either of those options but at least it was not a dangerous situation.
An amazing thing also occurred on climb out. When we were switched to Muscat air traffic control, the controller in a very British voice said he noticed on our flight plan that we were from Melbourne. I replied, "Yes, but from Florida--not Australia." He replied that he knew it was Florida because he had recently purchased the Global Travel Agency in the Melbourne Square Mall and his wife was holding down the fort until he could move there in the near future. It is certainly a small world and Nigel and we plan to get together in Melbourne upon our return.
Although over 1500 miles south of Oman, Sri Lanka is much cooler. It receives a great deal of rain and is more humid but it is extremely green everywhere. The traffic is something else again. The ride from the airport into town was really fun! The road is slightly wider than our two lane roads a home. However, it needs to be. There were trucks, busses, taxis, cars, motorcycles, mopeds, motor scooters and bicycles and all trying somehow to get past each other. For additional excitement, there were pedestrians crossing the road as well. It was like putting several thousand of those vehicles on the race track at Sebring--and just to add interest, have half of them going the opposite way--driving on the British side of the road--blowing their horns--and with people crossing the track every few hundred feet. And it all works. We did not see one accident.
Colombo, the capitol, is a bustling city with maybe the most friendly people we have met so far on the trip. With today being Sunday, we attended the morning worship service at one of the oldest churches in the city. After the service, we met several members of the congregation. One particularly nice family drove us to their lovely home for a cold drink. Their hospitality was very touching and we hope to see them again someday. That was a special experience we will never forget.
Over the years, this country was known as Ceylon and was renowned for its tea. In 1947, it gained independence from Britain and, in 1977, changed its name to Sri Lanka. Frankly, we like both names. Although still a major tea producer, clothing manufacture and tourism now also bolster its economy. It has a countryside much like Jamaica, one of the most beautiful in the world, and a very modern downtown business district. We wish we could stay longer.