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Jaw-rattling to joyful Jaffna!

 
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jbalonso777
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Joined: 05 Jul 2012
Posts: 1501
Location: Never, never land

PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:52 am    Post subject: Jaw-rattling to joyful Jaffna! Reply with quote

Hello everyone.
And welcome.
To this slightly long trip report, featuring a short set of flights, and the war-hit Northern Province of Sri Lanka. This would be my third and fourth domestic flights outside India, and by far the most unique.
Following were the previous internationally domestic flights:
1. MH B734 LGK-KUL post 9/11
2. MN910 B738 GRJ-JNB 12APR12 (here)

The following two reported flights would be on aircraft which aren't built in the EU or North America. In fact, they are built, right here, in Asia, specifically, the emerging super power: China.

INTRODUCTION AND STUFF BEFORE DEPARTURE DAY
The purpose of this trip was to follow up on the 50 hours of voluntary work in Jaslok Hospital, BOM: teaching photography to people in aid of CORD Jaffna (Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development). These extra co-curricular activities will no doubt help later with time. There are 2 flights to get to Jaffna: there is a direct Expo Air flight on a Cessna Grand Caravan, and a Helitours flight via Trincomalee on a Xian MA60 (MA-Modern Ark). Importantly, Helitours was much cheaper too!
RMA-JFF 19AUG13 0730 MA60
JFF-RMA 23AUG13 1530 MA60
A slight confusion is the IATA code for Jaffna/Palaly Airport. Is it JFF? Or is it PLY?
I really was looking forward to this trip: pass on some useful information, and maybe get an idea of what happened during the civil war (what's so civil about war anyway?). However, the dreaded news of my IGCSE results being declared on the 22nd of August put me on the backfoot.
I'll be honest - I don't like this place very much. However, at the end of this trip, I learnt something. And I'll tell you that later. In the build up to this trip, I was notified by one of my friends that she would onboard the Helitours flight to Jaffna on 19AUG with 26 others. They were going for the ongoing festival in Nallur, namely the Nallur Festival. Oh well - meeting a school friend while on holiday just before results and just before school starts. Summer ruined? Absolutely Smile

At 0000 departure day, I finally decided to get my packing done and make the handout for my lessons. Along with that, I also had an interesting conversation with Rishul about... Everything in aviation. 0230 it was, I decided to head for sleep, for about an hour and a half.

DEPARTURE DAY
Rudely being awakened by the annoying alarm of your cellphone at 0400 in the morning is not the most ideal way to start your day. However, this is exactly what I had gone through on the 19th of August. With check in opening at 0600 hours and Ratmalana Airport being a bit of a distance away, I eventually woke up at 0500 hours. Obviously, this meant that I was yelled at by Mum to wake up soon.
Miraculously, I got ready in time, and headed out at 0527 hours, 3 minutes prior to our departure time. Slowly, we exited the garage and sped away southwards towards Ratmalana. A lot of questions popped up in my mind: how is it going to go? Security? How comfortable is the Xian MA60 for a passenger? What is our arrival time(s)? How will the trip go as a whole? All these questions (well, most of them atleast), would be answered within a few hours.
Colombo had a considerable amount of traffic on the road, for that hour. Actually, people in Sri Lanka start early and finish early, so people usually head out to have food in an local 'kade' (food stall). Of course, it does look Indian-ish, but the vital difference is that it is very very clean indeed.
Looking at the sky, a orange horizon appeared with pods of broken black clouds. This was changing all too quickly as the sun rapidly rose. The roads too had a few puddles thanks to the previous night's shower.
'Colombo Airport', said an old classy sign in the middle of the road.
'SLAF Ratmalana' said a much more modern looking board.
We drove down alongside the runway, and soon, I saw some of the birds parked. There was 1 small tail, followed by 2 larger tails. These 3 vertical stabilizers were silhouetted against the beautiful orange backdrop, thanks to the rapidly rising sun. I could barely manage to notice the dark blue colours, so clearly these were the Harbin and the Xians of Helitours. Another private Beechcraft Baron 58 was parked rather rudely: with its left landing gear on the grass while the left wing was agonizingly close to the hangar wall.
One final board, this time mentioning 'Ratmalana Airport', stamped by the AASL (Airport and Aviation (Sri Lanka) Services Ltd), showed an arrow pointing towards a terminal, which looked like a wedding cake, because of its floors getting narrower towards the top, 3 floors in total. 'Colombo Airport', it said in red capital letters, along with a massive clock with Roman Numerals. This was a good feeling for me - because I was entering a rather nice old terminal...

PRE-BOARDING STUFF
....that was not be to be. This is because, Helitours had a separate terminal just a few odd meters away from there. The good point was this - it was just given a facelift from the outside, the inside looked quite nice and old. Getting our bags out, I noticed a lot of people at the check in counter. A full flight wasn't the main worry for me (because all tickets were sold out on the website, when I checked), not getting a window seat was. However, us being 3 passengers and the bird with a 2-2 configuration, one window seat looked like an inevitability. Walking through the only security check (where passengers, their luggage (both carry on and to be checked in) were being screened), it felt like entering the waiting of an Indian Railway station: under-lit, warm and passengers just waiting there.

Entrance and security.
There were 3 check in counters: counter #3 for passengers flying to Trincomalee, #2 for passengers flying to Jaffna and counter #1 just being there. We went to #2 first. There we were told that the passenger doing the formalities there was in fact checking in for 28 passengers.
28.
I was told 26 by my friend. Typo? Or more joined in? Never mind. We went to #3 and waited there again. It wasn't long before we were diverted away to counter #2 again. (Before this diversion we were told about the counter allocations.) Anyways, a few passports were missing from that group, so their check in process had to be halted for a bit. This meant that it was our turn to check in.

Check in counters

Its been a long time since I last checked my weight, because results have been rather depressing. The excuse of having big bones works, to some extent only. Speaking of which, on check in, our weight was being checked, along with the bags, of course.

Not the best place to get your weight checked Sad
Our check in took about 3 minutes, which is impressive, considering the fact there wasn't anything computerized and the passenger weights, too, were checked. Seats 12C/D and 13D were allocated for us. 2 windows on the starboard side, which meant nice views of the Trincomalee coast, and of course, starboard is my preferred side. We entered a common area, where the snack bar had nothing, not even anyone looking after it, while there were several lounge sets - 5 or 7 seater arrangements with a centre table. We sat in one of them, and quickly we were diverted to the boarding gate, which thankfully had AC, but still, not cool enough for my liking, I overheat too soon, no denying about that.

Activities outside. Nothing was visible, thanks to the blinds. I felt slightly weird drawing the curtains and seeing what is outside, let alone getting my camera out and clicking away. I waited for a while, before finally deciding to man up and click pictures of the inside of the terminal.

Waiting area

Not the most efficient ACs out there...

Helitours colours. Everywhere.

A light oriental song was playing, perfect to set the tone for the upcoming flight if you ask me! A gentle decline to the sandwich given to me by Mum, I decided to re-read, for the fourth time, Sumantra
sir's 'Chhattisgarh' & 36, Chappan-bhog & 56: Mumbai, Jan'13 trip report. SCL-3124, a Mil-Mi18 helicopter of SLAF (and presumably operating for Helitours too, as it is part of the fleet), made its presence known while taxiing quite loudly towards the runway, and away from the runway. 4 times, I counted. The sound of the stellar Klimov TV-3 turbo-shafts just barely 10 meters was mind blowing, especially when the terminal was rather quite.
I moved the blinds away for a bit....and the glass was frosty. I moved the blinds again, and there it was: a Harbin Y12 (SSC-857) in the standard Helitours colours. Next in line, albeit a bit far away, was a Cessna Grand Caravan (4R-EXL), of Expo Air had its engine cover removed. Looked like pulling up a dog's upper lip to find its rather massive canine! Razz Closer, yet obstructed by the trees, were 4R-HTN a Xian MA60 and 4R-HTO another Xian MA60. HTO had most of the ground vehicles around it, so that would be our aircraft. The last aircraft I saw, was a more common Dornier DO228.

You draw the blinds away. And you see a Harbin (sort of) staring at you.

The group of 28 came in. I quickly waved to me friend, and she came and said a quick hello. Being with our families, we had difficulties in switching to school mode. Well, I feared I wouldn't be in airplane travel (AT) mode, because of a class mate being around. Luckily, I was in AT mode. Sadly, we did what our generation does best today: text each other. I stopped looking outside, all I did was read Sumantra sir's trip report, and reply to those texts.
'You cannot possibly expect a 777 Boeing to land in Ratmalana, you need to stare at communist birds for once', read one of texts.
2 things:
A - Almost everyone in school knows what my favourite aircraft is..
And 2 - Communist planes. No denying about that. The Soviet Union once was a communist state, while China is still quite communist.

BOARDING
0705 in the morning, 25 minutes to go, nothing was happening, other than the usual prop activities on the tarmac. 0707, 23 minutes before departure, a very clear and prompt announcement was made, requesting us passengers to board the aircraft. The 28 group of passengers headed out first, followed by the other passengers. Walking on this tarmac felt rather strange. It was really quite quiet. We usually hear the sound of auxiliary power units or ground vehicles moving, there was nothing here. Secondly, the yellow markings on the taxiway. None of them were there. With every passing second, I drew closer to HTO. The first thing aunty noticed was a slightly different shape of the propeller blades, as she was comparing it to what she saw on SG's Q400. Being a bit conservative about the rules, I didn't take pictures with my DSLR camera. I got my cellphone out.

A few from the cellphone camera..



I can swear on God that exhaust is Formula One inspired! Shocked

Soon, I heard the familiar click of a Canon DSLR. Seeing that, I got out of the queue, removed my camera and just started clicking away! No one gave me weird looks, the air force officials were smiling at this.
Why can't rules in India be this soft Sad

DSLR is OUT! Click away!


The Dragon and the Xian (both flies Wink what a lame joke Rolling Eyes )

No doubt of the aircraft type and registration!



Those exhausts. Honestly. F1 style.




Another difference aunty spotted: the Xian MA60 required separate ladders for boarding, while the Q400 had their own in-built steps. Speaking of the ladders, they were very very wobbly. Jelly is less wobbly.
Like I mentioned, it was all too quiet. The sound of no auxiliary power units felt very very strange, and to some extent, uncomfortable. I entered the Xian MA60, and the first thing to catch my eye was the water boiler in the galley.


The crew, sadly couldn't welcome us because of the large group's leader talking to them. The rear was quite full, but the front was empty. Yes, all 3 of our seats were occupied. A really old couple were seated in 13C/D, while 12C/D was occupied by my classmate and her Dad. The old couple were communicating with their daughter, in believe it or not, HINDI. Anyhow, we were offered seats 10B/C. No thank you. No aisles required. One of the flight attendants, didn't have a smile really, but politely asked Mum and aunty: 'Please follow me, I will find you a window seat.' Mum sat in 04A, aunty in 06A and I managed to get my original 12D, as my friend and her Dad moved to 2C/D. Free seating rules were followed despite the seat number's being written and marked on the seat map. Comments reserved.

Aircraft with wings above the fuselage aren't really photo friendly >.<

DEPARTURE
Another FA, who was quite lively did the safety demonstration and explained the safety aspects onboard the Xian MA60. Captain Wickramasinghe was in command alongside First Officer Gamage. Flight details of a 45 minutes air time and an altitude of 11,000 feet were given. At 0723 hours, a mere 6 minutes after I set foot inside the Xian, the Pratt & Whitney (yeah, PW127J props. These were the only things I knew which are similar to the ATR.) props were fired up and we waited for departure. Rather disturbing to note that there was white and almost invisible smoke coming out of the F1-like exhausts. Oh well. Rolling Eyes
We taxied out and waited for a bit, because the Harbin Y-12 was taking off.

A dog in the airport. A few pelicans somewhere else. Is this a farmhouse? Razz
We too had to back-tract till the end of the runway, waited there. There were 2 or 3 pelicans just...swimming there. Shocked

Flaps set to 15'
The PW127J engines were given full thrust, the white smoke was increased by a bit and soon we were airborne over the Ratmalana part of the city. It was almost a 220' turn as we headed north east towards Trincomalee.

The western coast of Sri Lanka

INFLIGHT
I noticed that my seat-back had...automatically reclined Rolling Eyes
The low altitude of 11,000 feet was a new highlight for me, as the lowest cruising altitude in a plane. This low altitude was reached really soon, and the couple behind me were the centre of attention: almost everyone came and checked on them. Including the leader, who spoke Hindi with a highly American accent. Yeah.

The rather narrow highway

Flying into clouds. Oh dear Rolling Eyes

Away from the clouds. Oh yeah Very Happy


In the midst of those mountains, one of the iconic cities in Sri Lanka is located: Kandy. One can go there to see the Temple of the Tooth Relic, with SriLankan Air Taxi's Twin Otter seaplane.

So this meant a few problems for the flight attendants ( 2 air hostesses and 1 steward ), to get the small slim duty free like trolley down the aisles. Of course, as 12C was empty, they stood there to let the trolleys go. The fact that food packets were served and later cleared up is quite a big thing on a small flight like this one. The box contained Scan Jumbo Peanuts, Orion Choco Pie (a bit stale >.< ), My Juicee Mixed fruit juice and a 4GB nutri bar. It was actually quite a filling breakfast for me, at least! I'm not sure if Sumantra sir would accept this Confused

The food packet

Contents

Orion. The name of Dobby's successor. Another Labrador. However, I'm not sure when it'll be home Razz

A rather haunting yet soothing (I'm a very very weird person) was playing in the cabin. This was turned off after taking off from Trincomalee.
Except for the group chattering away in a pleasant level of voice, there was nothing going on. It officially meant: time to get iFE out: Mr tiny iPod Smile
Suddenly, there was a ding-dong on the PA system. Captain announced that descent would start in about a minute...

DESCENT
...and he was right. Following that another announcement from the FA was made, and we prepared for landing. Little did I know, this was going to the scariest arrival for me. And little did I know, my iFE decided to put on the worst possible shuffle at that very moment. HTO started descending rapidly, almost entering a very formally conducted free fall. For once, I was quiet in fear, and not enjoying the
descent.
iFE had 'Ride the lightning' playing: Death in the air/Strapped in the electric chair/This can't be happening to me.
Skip the song, 'The Outlaw Torn': And if I close my mind in fear,/Please pry it open!
Next song, Lift me up. As the title suggests, I needed to be lifted up, or maybe, get down. Slowly -.-
The final song, when I gave up, and stuck to it, was 'Nothing else matters': So close, no matter how far (to the ground).
I stuck to that song, hoping this would end well.




Cabin. Seat belt signs are on.




From the western side, to the eastern side. In less than 45 minutes. This is the Trincomalee Bay.

Flaps were the only indication when I could start video recording this landing, however, there was a massive amount of glare right over the flaps and therefore, I had to assume when I should start recording. We flew right over the Trincomalee Bay and got a beautiful view of the Trincomalee city.

Gear down



Trincomalee city.


Captain Wickramasinghe made a gentle touchdown onto China Bay Airport's runway 24, made a 180' turn and headed back down the runway to the one and only parking bay.

China Bay Airport set up (Source - Google Maps)


They looked like rice lights to me.
And rice lights are made in China.
So yeah.
It all makes sense..

STOP OVER
A stop over of 20 minutes was announced. As the PW127J engines were cut out, there was a massive vibration for about half a second. A vibration similar to the one you'd find on the Premier Padmini taxis. Looking at the bulkhead, the shadow of the still slowly spinning blades on the white bulkhead gave a rather prison-ish feeling (I watch too much of Banged Up Abroad, bear with me).
12 passengers walked out. Just then, I decided to move in front, to get a view of the propeller and get some interesting shots of the blades Smile I asked Mum if she wanted to swap seats with me, and as I went to get my bag, boarding had begun. Like an idiot, I started pacing through the cabin. The newly boarded passengers too had problems with the allocated seating gone wrong. The FA did her 'Please follow me' thing, this time with a smile on her face. Just before I decided to give up on my next to propeller seat, I asked the FA as she went by if the first row was empty. Indeed. 4 seats for me. I romped towards the bulkhead row and I had a spectacular view of the PW127J propeller blades. I waved at my friend who was sitting in 2D. Well, that is the closest we got throughout the flight!

My view from seat 1A.

An aviation fanatic's nightmare is right in front of the window: no window.

DEPARTURE AGAIN
We were pushed straight back onto runway 29 for departure, after what surely was a sub 20 minutes turnaround. However, instead of starting up, we just waited there. One person in blue uniform (ground engineer) ran towards the back of the Xian bird. Another person, in formal Helitours uniform, ran to the rear of the aircraft. A few seconds later, the sound of what clearly was a door being armed came. So we were about to depart with an open cargo door. I do not want to think would about could have happened. Shocked
There was no safety demo for this leg of the flight. The crew only checked the usual tray table things, etc. A flying time of 35 minutes
was announced.
A few SMS exchanges with Rishul, the PW127J props were slowly brought to life. A short, 12.7856m (<-random number) taxi later, HTO came to a standstill. Captain requested the crew to be seated, and half a second
later ( Shocked ), full thrust was applied to the PW127J engines and we were away heading northwest to Palaly.

INFLIGHT AGAIN
There was nothing interesting going on.
Other than the fact that food was offered only to the passengers who boarded in Trincomalee. It was exactly the same, so I didn't want
another box anyways.
I took a few pictures, and fell asleep. This cycle went on till we
began descent. In fact, watching a rock get weathered was more
entertaining than this segment of the flight.

A fast shutter speed with a low aperture value...

A slow shutter speed with a high aperture value.
Manual photography. No more auto mode for me! Very Happy


Through the window!




ARRIVAL AGAIN
Once again, the roller coaster ride downwards began about 10 minutes before touchdown. I put my feet against the bulkhead, getting some feel of security, although knowing it would zilch difference IF anything went wrong. For now, I kept the iFE on more soothing songs (Deep Purple) and went down with HTO. Faintly in the horizon, I saw a bare strip of cement. That was Palaly Airport, waiting for the Xian to arrive. Flying a bit over the Bay of Bengal, one final terrifying turn later, land arrived underneath. The wheels dropped from the wings of the Xian, we were getting closer to our destination. I switched onto video to record the landing, and underneath us passed a church with no ceiling. A church with no walls. A church...just with the 'cross' standing tall. This church is probably an idea of what I saw, of what was left from the war. More on this later.


One of many salt pans in the Northern Province. In fact, one of these could be Elephant Pass. More on that later.


There it is: the Palaly Airport runway!

The North-Eastern Coast

Anyways, we landed on the rather wide runway in Palaly. First indications were that a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A320 can land on the runway. As we got to the parking bays, the condition of the tarmac was clear: only the runway was relaid. The rest was just there. There was a SLAF Antonov AN-32b unloading its cargo. Palaly has a very interesting set of parking bays, as you'll see in the map below:

The unique parking bays (source - Google Maps)
HTO came to a standstill. Once again, the whole aircraft shook as the propellers were turned off.

Hello Jaffna Smile
Soon, the batteries were switched off. All the cabin lights were turned off. It was starting to get warm. Soon, First Officer Gamage came and opened the cargo door in front of the cabin. The silence was too loud. I could hear the sea gulls in the distance. I could hear the swash & backwash of the Bay of Bengal in the distance. These sounds are usually not what you'd hear from an aircraft, but that is exactly what I was hearing.

The sounds were weird when the door opened. The silence was just too loud.
Soon I got off with the help of the jelly wobbly stairs and headed for the terminal. It was a slightly long walk away to the AC terminal, equipped with wifi which didn't work. A short wait there as our bags were unloaded from the Xian onto a TATA Pick up truck, we boarded an AC bus to the city centre.


A final look at the cabin

Goodbye HTO. Hopefully we get HTN on the return, or even better, a different aircraft type!

The war hit Palaly Airport. It was such an astonishing feeling as I walked down the tarmac towards the terminal. The ruined taxiways, the sound of an abandoned beach, everything. This was a very different flight experience, as you can see!

Inside the terminal

The Auto Door was being manually moved Razz

Largely uneventful, however Mum's blue suitcase wasn't there. This is because someone else had an exact same colour suitcase, same size, looks, etc. This was returned about one and a half hours after it was taken away. Yup, headaches were created. Sweat rolled down.

That is it for part 1.
Part 2 will be the return flight, while part 3 will be the non aviation stuff.
Stay tuned!
Regards
Jish
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sir, what an amazing report! This was something we had all been waiting for, with bated breath, ever since you posted your Papa's lovely report, and pictures, on a similar trip. Exotic destination, exotic aircraft type - something most of us would not otherwise get to experience readily.
- Nice point with regard to the term `civil war'!
- Lovely description of the day beginning over the Xian and the Harbins
- Nice cellcam pictures! It was even nicer to hear that the SLAF officers were nice about pictures being taken around, that too with DSLRs
- Thank you for reading one of my reports again: that is encouragement for me! About the breakfast on the MA-60 Hmm...Smile However, I loved the sight of your note pad with your notes on it, from a roller ball gel pen.
- Interesting medley of songs while landing
- Food served depending on where you had boarded from, much like the Indian Railways trains with food in the ticket cost...Hmm...
We look forward to both Parts 2 and 3!
Thanks, Sumantra.
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TKMCE
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful report. I would have gladly traded the foodie goodies you got on your flight with what I got on my recent flights on UL . I am neither a big fan of yoghurt nor what looked and tasted like vermicelli type rice (yellow coloured stuff) and veg curry both of which now seems to be staple for UL atleast in tbe back of the cabin day or night Very Happy Atleast at 10 PM in the night I would have expected something more tasty!!!! But that said I like Srilanka and now have been fortunate to have travelled there a few times, the first of which was way back in the 1990s during the troubled times. Now that everything has settled down, things appeear to be really great. You may be aware that like Sumantaraji, I am also a foodie and I make sure I have my favorite "local" breakfast of Disk and Kulhimas atleast once a week. I allso love experimenting with local cusine where ever I visit (although I am hardly a globe trotter) and this time at CMB I did manage to have breakfast at a local "Kade". The string hoppers and ulundu vade were excellent and my home being where it , I was venturing into familiar territory Smile

By the way Jafna code is JAF. JFF is not assigned to any city while PLY is given to Plymouth, Indiana in US.

Looking forward to more reports.
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ameya
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Jishnu for the wonderful TR.
It was a treat to you,

For years I have known Colombo and Kandy for cricket and Jaffna for Civil war and all three have mention in your TR


Look forward to the rest
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TKMCE wrote:
...I am also a foodie
Sir, we love to hear your point of view on not just matters of the tummy (I remember your posts on Keralite dishes on the food thread with delight!), you are one person who can give a great informed opinion on aviation in general, being vastly experienced, and a regular traveller. Thanks, Sir! Smile
Cheers, Sumantra.
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shivendrashukla
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR there Jishnu. Jaffna is JAF (VCCJ). Also you must have seen a Mi-17 and not Mi8. SLAF does not operate any Mi-8.

JAF was major staging base for IAF during IPKF. An-32, IL-76 and even IC's 732 routinely landed at JAF bringing Indian troops.

The exhaust that you mentioned is actually APU exhaust.

Cheers
Shivendra
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reports like these are rare!

Good stuff Jishnu.
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent TR there Jishnu!

Great insight into domestic aviation in SL. Your TRs are always a pleasure to read!

Quote:
There are 2 flights to get to Jaffna: there is a direct Expo Air flight on a Cessna Grand Caravan, and a Helitours flight via Trincomalee on a Xian MA60


Do these flights have flight numbers and all? Shame you missed the Grand Caravan, would've been great to fly on at least one way!

Quote:
Soon, I heard the familiar click of a Canon DSLR. Seeing that, I got out of the queue, removed my camera and just started clicking away! No one gave me weird looks, the air force officials were smiling at this.


Wow, great! This would never happen in India.

Quote:
The box contained Scan Jumbo Peanuts, Orion Choco Pie (a bit stale >.< ), My Juicee Mixed fruit juice and a 4GB nutri bar. It was actually quite a filling breakfast for me, at least!


Looks great! Definitely saves money for the airline to buy packaged food!

Quote:
There was no safety demo for this leg of the flight.


Haha! Is that legal?

Anyway, great write out overall. Love the descriptions and humor.

Can't wait for a travel insight into Jaffna! I Look forward to that in the next part!

Cheers!

Theairplaneguy4ever
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a cracker of a report. Absolutely lovely descriptions and pictures, and an exotic routing like no other Smile.

I read it 2-3 days ago (when it was posted), and the main thing that I still remember is the fact that you volunteered at the hospital while on holiday KUDOS to you for doing that!
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

People, thank you so much more all your support, it means a lot to me!
I have almost finished writing the second part, and it will be out in a short while Smile

Till then, a reply to your replies Smile

Sumantra sir:
Quote:
Sir, what an amazing report! This was something we had all been waiting for, with bated breath, ever since you posted your Papa's lovely report, and pictures, on a similar trip. Exotic destination, exotic aircraft type - something most of us would not otherwise get to experience readily.

Thank you for your very kind words sir! Yes, Dad's TR sure gave all of you a heads up on what to expect from this trip, I guess! And talk about exotic aircraft - this takes the lead by a country mile!

Quote:
It was even nicer to hear that the SLAF officers were nice about pictures being taken around, that too with DSLRs

And that is what India is sadly missing Sad We need that, and wow we'll certainly have many things to cherish after that!

Quote:
Interesting medley of songs while landing

Apple trolls at times, I tell you!

Quote:
Food served depending on where you had boarded from, much like the Indian Railways trains with food in the ticket cost...Hmm...

I have mentioned my 2010 Rajdhani trip in your TR.
BCT-SVM was cheaper than SVM-BCT because of 1 meal against 2 meals on return. Yup, just like IR.

TKMCE sir:
Quote:
I am neither a big fan of yoghurt nor what looked and tasted like vermicelli type rice (yellow coloured stuff) and veg curry both of which now seems to be staple for UL atleast in tbe back of the cabin day or night Very Happy Atleast at 10 PM in the night I would have expected something more tasty!!!!

This does not bode well for me, as my next confirmed flights are with UL, and both those flights are about 1 hour in flight duration!

Quote:
things appeear to be really great.

Things are great, except in cricket Razz
It is another long story there!

Quote:
he string hoppers and ulundu vade were excellent and my home being where it , I was venturing into familiar territory

HAve you tried kottu by any chance? I got bored of anything really easily, but kottu is NOT one of them! Plus, the Mongolian rice. That deserves a shout out too, as I have mentioned in my previous TR.

Quote:
By the way Jafna code is JAF. JFF is not assigned to any city while PLY is given to Plymouth, Indiana in US.

I have figured that out, and it will be talked about in part 3 Smile

Ameya sir:
Quote:
Thanks Jishnu for the wonderful TR.
It was a treat

Thank you for your kind words, sir! I am glad you liked it Smile

Quote:
For years I have known Colombo and Kandy for cricket

And soon, Hambantota will be added, to it, too! Wink

Quote:
Jaffna for Civil war and all three have mention in your TR

There will be more mentions about other places, so stay tuned for it! Smile

Shivendra sir:
Quote:
Excellent TR there Jishnu. Jaffna is JAF (VCCJ).

Thank you sir! And once again, yes, I will mention the codes in the third part Smile

Quote:
Also you must have seen a Mi-17 and not Mi8. SLAF does not operate any Mi-8.

You are the military expert here, so I have to follow what ever you say Smile
And yes, correction made Very Happy

Quote:
The exhaust that you mentioned is actually APU exhaust.

Well, smoke starting coming out only when the propellers were turned on. And plus, if that is true, then the APU was switched off till doors were armed. Is this unique? Confused

Quote:
Reports like these are rare!
Good stuff Jishnu.

Thanks a lot, Varun!
Yes, these chances do not come up too often, and as any aviation geek, its a pleasure to be a part of it!

TAG4E:
Once again, thank you for your very kind words Smile

Quote:
Do these flights have flight numbers and all? Shame you missed the Grand Caravan, would've been great to fly on at least one way!

Yes. Expo Air is EXV711/2/3/4, while Helitours has no numbers. (Its XIAN MA60 on the boarding pass, though!)
Plus, Helitours return is LKR15500, as compared to the one way LKR18000 on Expo Air. That is a lot! Shocked
However, I wouldn't mind doing this:


Quote:
Wow, great! This would never happen in India.

Never Crying or Very sad

Quote:
Haha! Is that legal?

This'll be answered in part 2 Smile

Quote:
Can't wait for a travel insight into Jaffna! I Look forward to that in the next part!

Thank you for your words again, its being typed out now Smile

And last but not least, Nimish sir Smile
Quote:
What a cracker of a report. Absolutely lovely descriptions and pictures, and an exotic routing like no other

Its an absolute pleasure to bring out these trips and routes to you all readers Smile

Quote:
and the main thing that I still remember is the fact that you volunteered at the hospital while on holiday KUDOS to you for doing that!

It was in the back of my head during early 2013, but slowly, I figured out that it is vitally important for admissions 2 years down the line. Either way, I am rather unproductive at home, so this was a welcome morale boost for me. And once again, thank you for the compliment, it means A LOT to me! Smile

Regards
Jish
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shivendrashukla
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbalonso777 wrote:
Well, smoke starting coming out only when the propellers were turned on. And plus, if that is true, then the APU was switched off till doors were armed. Is this unique? Confused


Was a GPU (Ground Power Unit) present near the aircraft?? If it wasn't then most probably APU was already switched on and it was used to start up the engines. This probably caused the smoke that you observed during startup.

Cheers
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A unique trip report, thanks a lot. Great pics of a rare aircraft
Civilised people = no prob taking pictures

You don't like flying into clouds ... bumps can be fun. Very Happy
3 cabin crew on a short flight? I wonder why?

Silly Q) but why china bay airport?

Great TR once again
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Come the 23rd of the August, things were looking good for the future, after what happened the previous night (more on that in Part 3).
That morning, I woke up with positive vibes all over. Mum asked me to get a bottle of water from the nearby store. Obviously, walking on that road was as good as walking walking barefoot anywhere, so annoyingly the shoes had to be worn. On the way to the store, I heard an aircraft take off. This was blue in colour. Clearly, it was the Xian MA60 which had arrived from Colombo via Trinco. I saw a lot of white smoke billowing out from the rear of the propellers, something which was almost unnoticed thanks to the white clouds over Colombo. But the amount was shocking, almost like vapour contrails! Hopes were slightly kicked up with this, as I felt that I was in with a chance of being onboard the Antonov AN-32, which is part of the Helitours fleet despite being in full military colours.

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END, RIGHT?
As we had our lunch, I got a rather alarming message from a close friend informing me about 'a fall in the bathroom'. Immediately, I was flash backed to Hong Kong 2010, when the roller coaster ignited my back issues, then the fall in school in early 2011, and finally, my own fall in the bathroom just a few days later. Reading the description of the extent of the damage done, I was worried. All the effort of a nice cold bath was undone thanks to the sweat which started pouring down my back, and on my face. A mandatory shirt change had to be done. In fact, I was so worried that I didn't even bid farewell to my students in the CORD Office. Well, I did, but not as I would have wanted. A few more text exchanges later, I knew that person was in deep trouble, and got really really worried about the same. All I had to do was calm down, get on the plane, get home, and then get in proper touch. However, getting home seemed agonizingly far away for me. The good mood was wiped away with this. However, I still did have a slight hope of maybe being onboard an Antonov aircraft! I had an exotic aircraft to fly on. I had the Belgian Grand Prix Free Practice One to follow, so I had things to keep my away from those thoughts.

THE FIRST CHECK IN...AT THE LOCAL OFFICE..
Anyways, we wanted to leave the office at 1300 hours to reach the Helitours office with ample amounts of time to spare. However, a slight delay meant that we left only at 1320 hours, and started rushing towards the Helitours office. I kind of got my mind away from the painful thoughts, as I engaged in conversations with others.
Soon, we were at the Helitours office, with about 10 minutes in hand.

That is the air force bus.

We once again met the officials, who helped us with the misplaced luggage a few days ago. They asked how are stay was and enquired if we would return. While the returning to Jaffna answer is an almost certain YES, little things like these go a long away in making a flight memorable. I also enquired about the possibilities of getting a different plane. He said 'That is a smaller plane, we have many passengers today'. I also asked him about the possibilities of getting the Antonov. He said that is in the military configuration and cannot be used for passengers operations. Dang Sad
Our names were ticked off, a few more passengers joined us, and then we were asked to board the bus at around 1400 hours.

Inside the Helitours office.

Finding a seat on the bus was rather difficult: no, there were enough vacant seats, but the fact that my hip nudged against many people and their seats, made me wonder what a widebody I have become in recent times, and I desperately needed tactics to find a solution to this. This does not bode well for the future.
We drove to the Hospital Street where a passenger had to be picked up. While we waited, I noticed some dry fish being hung out from the store:


A long and lazy ride on the bus was followed. I kept my self away from the thoughts with the iPod (still not iFE yet Wink ), and trying to stay awake from an afternoon snooze, I noticed we arrived at the SLAF Palaly defence station, where the passenger list was handed out to the official. After picking up two police constables, we quickly arrived at SLAF Palaly Airport, and annoyingly, I noticed a blue fuselage. Well, I could still hope for 4R-HTN rather than 4R-HTO! Anyways, we followed the TATA Pick up truck which had the luggage into the Terminal area. We were dropped off there, along with our luggage, which was kept at a side and we had to identify it. Once again, we went through the only security check in the terminal.


Entering the departures area

In the check in line.

It was once again not computerised. There was a person behind the desk, ticking off the names and handing out the boarding passes, while another assisting with the tagging of the luggage. A weighing scale was there.

I was saying..

A few to Trinco, but mostly to Ratmalana.

A big shouldered captain A. N. Perera took an update of the check in process as he walked in from the door in the above picture.

It was our turn to check in. Something had to go wrong. Nope, none of Helitours' fault, it was mostly my misery (My Friend of Misery?). Our bags were weighed. An aggregate weight of 32 kilos was calculated, but rounded off to 30 kgs. Okay. Shocked

CBY - China Bay, Trincomalee,
RMA - Ratmalana, Colombo.
It was time for my misery.
I asked Mum and Aunty to look away from the weighing scale. I also assured them that the weight is mostly because of my massive bones and the massive camera and the massive amount of air in my bag pack. As I did my best to hide the screen away with my widebody, the assisstant announced '*9.4 kgs'. I heard that number. I was shocked. My Mum was shocked. Some random person on earth too must've been shocked. Desperately thinking about tactics to get over this massive issue I had, I then remembered my friend's condition. Two things to worry about at the same time is not the best of feelings, people. Yet, I had the First Free Practice of the 2013 Begian Grand Prix to follow. Seats 6A/B/C were given to us. I was having a bit of a nightmare because I felt row 6 is an emergency exit row, and the only row with no window on the plane Shocked This day could not have gone worse.
We sat the in the waiting room for about 25 minutes. Fernando Alonso led proceedings at a wet First Practice in Belgium Mr. Green


Wi fi which sadly didn't work Sad

Waiting area. Same as arrivals lounge Smile

BOARDING
Boarding started with less than 25 minutes to depart. I had my camera out this time, so please, enjoy the treat of pictures I have for you Smile


'Are we exiting our resort room to head for lunch?'
'No, we are going to board an aircraft.


That has some nice curves Wink
PS - Shivendra sir - Is that the ground power unit? I think we have found an answer! Very Happy


Another look at the war hit SLAF Palaly Airport.


Close up with the Xian.


IC A320 like 'moustache' Very Happy


The PW127J propeller.


The wheel and the exhaust.


That exhaust. Just..wow.


A hot and sunny day to fly. Perfect!
Oh wait, the heat surely does not help me because of my brain thinking about the injured friend...


Closer look

And soon, we were greeted onboard by the exact same crew, but this time, smiling. (Actually, that FA which I mentioned, smiled everytime after I mentioned she didn't smile. Nice Smile )


Narrow seats.

The moment of truth was drawing closer. Luckily, the answer was clear. Seat 06A is indeed one row behind the emergency exit. Oh thank God! Very Happy


Like I said, propeller planes aren't the best for taking pictures Sad


A bit more detail inside the cabin..

DEPARTURE
At 1522 hours, the PW127J propellers were brought into life. Purser Hansini introduced herself, following that the Captain Sqdn Ldr A. Perera and (Captain on the inbound) First Officer Sqdn Ldr Wickramasinghe. The Xian waited there for a bit.

Helitours Xian MA60 start up at Palaly, Jaffna



Exit...

Captain Perera came over the PA and gave details of a 35 minutes flight to Trincomalee with a cruising altitude of 9000 feet. This took over my lowest ever record from 11000 feet, which was set just a few days ago.
And slowly, we taxied towards the runway for departure. There were some weird noises coming, I quickly turned back to see what was happening: it was just the flaps. While the taxiway was quite rough and bumpy, the runway was velvet smooth. Power was applied to the PW127J propellers and we were airbourne, quickly banking while heading in a South-South Easterly direction.


Taxiing

Helitours Xian MA60 take off from Palaly, Jaffna


Shadow of the Xian.

Still climbing


Elephant Pass in the distance. Wait for part 3, please Smile

INFLIGHT
Seatbelt signs were turned off rather soon. That was obvious because of a low cruising altitude. Mum moved over to seat 06C, while I remained in my seat. Thinking. How is my injured close friend doing? Soon, I had to take evasive action and remove iFE. iFE was being kind to me today, and played some nice soothing Western Classical songs. (What, just because I love Metallica doesn't mean I am banned from listening to Bach or Beethoven!) Once again, this was very uneventful. Watching grass grow was more exciting.





PLEASE head back towards land Sad I can swim, but I may be too slow Confused


As we coasted along the coast (in the air, obviously), I decided to head for the washroom. The last few rows were quite empty, and taken by the Trincomalee bound passengers. How did I know? They were eating the food served to them. The curtain was drawn, and I doubt if I could enter the washroom. I pulled it a bit, and the rest was pulled away by one of the FA's.
'Would you like to use the washroom? Right this way sir'
This was nice.
Anyways, the toilet onboard the Xian is as big as a usual Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 toilet. It wasn't as tiny as the ATR toilet. The proof? It wasn't a sliding door, it was a normal door.

These amenities are quite good!




The crew smiled at me as I headed back to the main cabin.




That is a runway. Right there.

The arty me Smile

And soon, we entered some thick clouds. Turbulence was bad, and scary. Shocked




ARRIVAL
Once again, an announcement was made by the captain, informing us that we'd be touching down in 10 minutes. This was followed by the cabin preparations. Once again, a smooth landing was made and we taxied to the end of the runway to head for the parking bay.


Gear down


One of many beaches in Trinco
One of thousands in SL

The Bay of Bengal

Trinco city

Helitours Xian MA60 landing in China Bay, Trincomalee


Taxiing to the terminal

THE WAIT..
A short 15 minutes stop over was announced. The flight got really full after this.


Safety card


We are ready to roll. Again. For the last time.

DEPARTURE AGAIN
Before starting off pushback, First Officer Wickramasinghe came out of the cockpit. When he tried to get back in, he got stuck in the cabin. He went to the rear of the cabin, surely must've called the captain through the intercom, and then tried going back in again. This time he was lucky. We were pushed back and for the fourth time, the PW127J propellers were brought back into life, for the final time. After a short wait, the Captain requested all flight attendants to take their seats, one of them took the empty exit row seat 05A. Soon, power was applied and we were airborne for one last time.

Pushing back

Helitours Xian MA60 start up and take off from Trincomalee. (< This has FCUK in the URL. Good God Shocked )


Back in the air


INFLIGHT AGAIN
Before taking off, the captain announced a cruising altitude of 10000 feet, and a flying time of 45 minutes. So the low highlight of 11000 feet was soon the third lowest cruising altitude for me. How times change. Wow.
Once again, it was a rather uneventful flight, more so because I was quite concerned about my friend. The only thing that happened, Mum and I had a bet: Will the contents of the food box be exactly the same?
Mum said it would be different, I said it would be EXACTLY the same.
I had to win this LKR500 bet. I honestly did not have LKR500 to pay to Mum if I lost Crying or Very sad


The trolley. Made in China (obviously), in January 2007. Does this give us an indication of the age of the bird?

The yellow nutri-bar was tucked away underneath this, and as you can clearly see: I WON THE BET! Laughing
The glass of water does not count.

Another conversation with Mum I had:
*me opening my tray table*
Mum: Son, don't open it. The crew will open it for you.
Me: Why?
Rolling Eyes
Mum: It shows that you are greedy for food.
Me: Ugh Mum, never mind.
Evil or Very Mad
At the same time, obviously, I wondered if Sumantra sir would agree to disagree that this is a sign of food greed Razz


Remember the hills you saw in the distance on the inbound flight? Now we fly right over it.

More cabin detail

As the food boxes were being collected (trash being thrown into a massive bag, while the 'box' and the cover would be uniformly stacked up), the captain made his announcement informing us of arrival into Ratmalana.

ARRIVAL AGAIN
For the last time, the Captain was spot on. Soon enough, we began a rather quick descent into Ratmalana. I was a bit disappointed because we didn't fly over the massive Bolgoda Lake, the Mt. Lavinia beach (maybe not Confused ) and the Ratmalana Railway Graveyard. As we descended, I got a glimpse of the under construction Colombo-Katunayke Airport Expressway (should be ready for the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, during the third week of November), and a few massive kites, as I have pictured. Another nice landing was made onto the runway and soon enough, we taxied into the parking bay. A wonderful experience had come to an end.

Banking

For all you interested people. Smile

More cabin detail! Very Happy


The outskirts of Colombo city

The new highway. A long stretch of this is along the coast. You will be treated to a wonderful drive while you are on your way to the airport!

In the bottom half, note the blue black thing over the houses. That is a MASSIVE kite.
A must see sight on the Galle Face Green in the evening!

Almost there!

Colombo city.

Helitours Xian MA60 landing and arrival at Ratmalana (Colombo)


Taxiing to the parking bay.


Eng..erm...propellers cut out, the passengers got their bags out. A text reading 'I'm much better now' made me much more relieved. All passengers had disembarked, however, they had to wait a bit. Reason? A certain SCL-857, aka Dad's Harbin, was prepping its props up to head for departure.

Passengers on hold.


Rows 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 had much more legroom as compared to rows 6-14. These could well be used as premium economy seats!


Getting off the wobbly stairs, with a wobbly picture.

The crew once again smiled at me, and I thanked them for another wonderful flight. Well, since passengers were on hold, I decided to take MORE pictures of the Xian. And once again, there was another smiling SLAF Officer! WHOA!

Another feast for you, people:




I wanted the Harbin Sad


4R-HTN the 'Hatton' plane, isn't in service, as one can see.


There goes the Harbin!

What a stunning nosewheel!

There she goes again

Note the cheeky Cessna?


We were taken back into the terminal. A few pictures from in there:


Departures area: sofa sets, as I was talking about.

The...Cafeteria.. Rolling Eyes


We waited for a bit. Bags had 'arrived.'

On the back of a Toyota Hilux pick up truck this time.
For all those interested, according to Top Gear, the Toyota Hilux is an indestructible car.
One of our bags were kept aside. I claimed that bag. The official gave me a friendly smile and handed that bag over to me, with a tick on the sheet.


You don't see this everyday!


And the arrivals lounge. More like a nice garden sit out set ^_^


The main wedding cake domestic terminal.


And the airport boundary. If only India didn't have any walls!


Bata factory. Right there. Looks abandoned. Confused

We drove out into the city. The first thing I noticed was the 'SLAF Museum', which shall no doubt be covered in the recent future. As I have mentioned, work begins early and finishes early. Therefore, the evening rush was in full swing. Cutting through traffic (yeah Razz ), we eventually reached home to a very tail happy Dobby. The first thing he did was bring his leash to me and asked me to take him for a walk. I gladly did so. With still no word from my injured friend, I had to keep calm. Belgian GP was on!
This concluded a wonderful aviation experience, however, no conclusions yet.
Third part is in the works, so please stay tuned Smile

Regards
Jish
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The videos concerned with this trip report are below in this post.
The propellers are not slow, as you may see. That is because of a fast shutter speed while recording the videos.
However, there are a few videos too which have a slow shutter speed, and you might not be able to see the propellers at all.
An advice would be to use headphones/earphones for the start up videos at least.

Helitours Xian MA60 start up at Ratmalana (Colombo)

Helitours Xian MA60 take off from Ratmalana

Helitours Xian MA60 landing in China Bay, Trincomalee

Helitours Xian MA60 departure (start up and take off) from China Bay, Trincomalee.

Helitours Xian MA60 landing at Palaly, Jaffna (Note the Antonov AN32 while taxiing..)

Helitours Xian MA60 start up at Palaly, Jaffna

Helitours Xian MA60 take off from Palaly, Jaffna

Helitours Xian MA60 landing in China Bay, Trincomalee

Helitours Xian MA60 start up and take off from Trincomalee.

Helitours Xian MA60 landing and arrival at Ratmalana (Colombo)

Have a nice weekend people Smile

Regards
Jish
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shivendrashukla wrote:
jbalonso777 wrote:
Well, smoke starting coming out only when the propellers were turned on. And plus, if that is true, then the APU was switched off till doors were armed. Is this unique? Confused


Was a GPU (Ground Power Unit) present near the aircraft??


Sir, the pictures in the second part of the TR must have answered this question. Yes, that sure does look like a GPU present.

Nikhil, thanks for reading the TR and thanks for your words too.
Appreciated! Very Happy

Quote:
You don't like flying into clouds ... bumps can be fun. Very Happy

As I have mentioned, I love bumps. The best bumpy experience I had was on board CX710 to SIN. Turbulence outside, turbulence inside too. Rolling Eyes

Quote:
3 cabin crew on a short flight? I wonder why?

And its usually two on the ATR or Q400. It is interesting why they had three FAs.
The purser just came over the PA system, that is all. And of course, assisted with boarding.

Quote:
but why china bay airport?

It was established by the British as RAF China Bay in the 1920s. My neighbour is an ex-SL Army person. I will ask him and get back to you on this. He also has interesting stories of the tough times during the LTTE war.
Once again, thank you for reading Smile

Regards
Jish
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, this is lovely again! Extremely vivid descriptions - you had the reader imagining all the setting around you - the sights, sounds ans smells too. Lovely. The large number of videos left no question unanswered - whatever I may have had in my mind. Superb! The description of the commotion on the weighing scale is something I too have gone through, and do go through - it had me in splits! Once again, you have treated us with more pictures that one could possibly dream of - of exotic aircraft, and locales. I found the `sitting paper' description quite interesting (not unusually, I read the first word with an `h' added after the `'s', and rebuked myself for my oversight). Your tray table opening conversation was another thing I usually do just as lovely smells waft towards me. The Wife complains that I often reach out for the tray as well Razz
`wedding cake terminal building' ha ha!
Eagerly awaiting the next part!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello everyone.
Yes, I know that greeting is usually at the begining of a new TR, but thanks to my very long delays, I had to restart all over again. That is what I think. Just four days into my A Levels course (equivalent to 11th in India), I know all my cakewalks are long gone. Which is exactly I have not been able to make enough time to take care of Dobby, let alone being active on this forum!

Anyways, we'll gloss over that later. For now, I have the third part of my most recent trip to Jaffna. Looking at my current trends (in the India and Singapore TR), I did not pay much attention to the non aviation parts. I hope to rectify that here.

Moving on.

After the bag drama, we got off from the AC bus, and it was WARM. A cold drink needed to be chugged down ASAP. A van was waiting for us. With two big people. And by big, I mean BIG. Traditional attire was worn by them due to the festival season, but their big beards, big tummies and massive shoulders with red eyes was a slight cause for concern for me. While they spoke horrendous english, they knew good Tamil. And every time they spoke, I could notice only one word most of the times: terima. Yes, Sumantra sir, I blame you for me nearly cracking up as I heard those words, as a certain joke popped into my head. Rolling Eyes
Anyways, bad news was written everywhere: the CORD office was far away from the city, deep inside a still developing area. So no shops. PLUS, bad roads. That meant my spine was crying out for desperate help. Anyways, we got through the roads and eventually reached the office. Our bags were kind of dumped by those two men into the office, so that wasn't very nice of them.
The office also had accommodation for us. Well, I am not going to say much about the that, it was all rather basic stuff anyways. Only thing I'm going to say is: I complain too much and I'm a spoilt brat (obviously.) I complained about no hot water for my shower. I complained about the cobwebs. I complained about the overly-soft bed (that is a health issue).
I complained about no fizzy drinks. I complained about rather basic food.
One thing I didn't complain about was: internet. Yup. A good internet wi fi connection (password is 0 26 times, by the way Smile ), was enough for me to get through the next four and a half days.



Around the office..


Wow. Village girls know how to use a Macintosh before I do. Brilliant. Rolling Eyes
However, do take note, I'm not complaining. Wink

Yup, soon we were close to the two teachers there. Both were teaching the villagers English. They were there for 3-4 months, and there I was cribbing about everything for the next 3-4 days. According to them, a large environmental concern is that A LOT of plastic is being used in the whole of Jaffna. This is certainly not a good thing at all.


How much I was missing my telephoto lens right now!


View from my room.


Speaking of plastic, it was nice to have a nice Indian-ish thali after so long!



I headed off to the city for a bit. Just to see what it was like. And oh my, it does not feel very Sri Lanka like! Hearing Tamil everywhere, I felt Jaffna was sort of a home away from home for myself. Except, its located in Sri Lanka.



That evening, we headed for the Nallur Temple for the ongoing Nallur festival.


The sand was placed on normal roads, to give a very beachy feeling, but it wasn't a beach. My decision to wear socks and tag along was a gamble which backfired miserably. Especially after carrying only one other pair of socks! Evil or Very Mad


As close as I got. I didn't go inside, because that meant going in without wearing a shirt (men only, of course!), opening shoes, socks, jeans, etc.
And of course, we didn't have enough time.

The evening during the festival is when the 'idols' go out for their evening rounds. I noticed, I was slowly being swallowed by a swarm of people. I moved away, before I broke off from everyone.




That is the Chinmaya mission group. The guru-ji, as you can see, was quite an interesting person, as I'll explain later.








They looked rather unappetizing to me, more so because of the colours..





CORD's area near the temple.

Anyone else notice the woman walking past? No? Wink


The guru-ji giving his talks.
Like I said, he was a very unique person.
(The crowd tripled after a few minutes, by the way!)
Anyways, he talked to everyone in Tamil. And he got good responses from his devoted followers. Along with his Tamil words, he asked things like 'What is your job?' and 'How old are you?', etc. Obviously, none of us have lived during the days of Ramayana and Mahabharata ( Exclamation ), but he got out what I saw on TV: a guru-ji's spiritual lectures.
When he was done, most of his followers bowed to him and touched him on his legs. He said 'Hari Om' to everyone going.
One of us, tapped him on his back, he turned around.
His eyes became big. Round.
A smile erupted.
And suddenly, he became all modern.
'Oh hi, hari om hari om! How are you doing? How is it like here?'
This is quite a contrast, to what I saw just a few minutes ago, of course! We had a rather long chat, and soon we headed for dinner.






THE NEXT DAY
I had to teach the people photography. Mum and Aunty had field work in front of them.
And as luck would have it, no one turned up for my lesson.
So much for me being a teacher, I guess. Rolling Eyes
I stuck to writing part 1 of this TR.

Our bags were tagged to Plymouth, but we received them in Palaly Smile

Different logos.


Dog did a rather un-gentleman thing of taking a pee there, as the lady sleeps. Very very bad.


NOT our road.

Exhibitions were on at the temple. I headed there for a couple of pictures.






Headed back after that, does this make any sense?


THE NEXT DAY, AGAIN
The office staff were there. I teached them a bit of photography. They picked up really soon. Thankfully one of two knew a modest amount of English, so languages were not an issue there.

My teachings at practice. I had reasons to be happy about!

I think the road needs a shout out Rolling Eyes :



According to very well known and close source (Mum), I sat in one these when I was 1.5 (maybe less?) years old. And I made a fuss for getting pulled out. Anyways. Times have changed.


Somebody wants food! Very Happy


SIGHTSEEING DAY

ALL DESCRIPTIONS CREDITED TO THE LONELY PLANET

This is what I was looking forward to most: sightseeing in and around Jaffna. Also, going all the way to Kilinochchi, which is about an hour from Jaffna. We started off the day with the Jaffna Clock tower..



Cross roads..


The Jaffna Public Library.
Quote:
Symbolically, one of the first major public buildings to be rebuilt after the 2002 ceasefire was the Jaffna Public Library. Architects kept true to the original neo-Mughal design and books were donated from around the world. The earlier library (inaugurated 1841) had been lost in a fiery blaze set by pro-government mobs after the violent Jaffna District Council elections of July 1981. Few acts were more significant in the build-up to full-scale civil war. The world-renowned collection had included more than 90,000 volumes, including irreplaceable Tamil documents such as the one surviving copy of Yalpanam Vaipavama,a history of Jaffna.



The St. John's Church
Quote:
The tiny Anglican church of St John's looks like a Sussex chapel, but with the napped flints replaced by cut sandstone chunks in the walls. Appropriately enough there's a cricket pitch ranged behind.





The Archaeological Museum was up next. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed. The whole point of a museum is to preserve the remains of everything. Here, everything was just kept. Despite the 'DO NOT TOUCH' signs, the guide kept touching all the artifacts. And it was really dark.
Quote:
This unkempt but interesting museum is hidden away at the end of a messy garden behind a cubic concrete events hall that looks rather like a masonic lodge. Asking for directions may elicit odd responses since most locals donít think of or refer to it as a museum. At the door are a rusty pair of Dutch cannons from the fort and a set of whale bones. Inside, the most interesting items are 11th-century Buddha torsos found at Kantarodai, a poorly conserved life-sized portrait of Queen Victoria and the 1845 palanquin of Point Pedroís mudiyalar (district governor). He must have been very small.


Whale bones found in Mannar!

Torture stuff.

EASE on the spelling please! Razz

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth. Ruined. Absolutely ruined!

We went to the Jaffna Fort next.
There was supposed to be a few signs of the war. Strangely, there was a lot of construction and development going on. Shocked
We didn't waste too long there, and headed off for the next destination.

Jaffna 'Fort'.

Kantharodai - Kadurugoda was up next. These are ancient Buddhist pagodas(?), about 60 of them. This was the only sign of Buddhism (as far as I saw!) up north, reminding me that we are still in Sri Lanka! As you can maybe see, note the large number of bullet holes!




I am honestly very interested to see the parents of THIS particular canine. Yeah. Rolling Eyes

To visit the Keerimalai Fresh Water spring, we had to drive down a road which opened to public only in mid 2010. Landmines. Landmines everywhere. Also, it was my first encounter with the destroyed homes and shops, destroyed livelihoods, in short. Houses, or just their bases, with half of the walls remained. With shrubs growing right through them. Bullet holes. They were everywhere. However, in a much more pleasing sight, there were new houses being built. And with families in them.

Quote:
Keerimalai is a natural spring lying next to the sea west of Palaly. A bathing tank is built surrounding this pool and only the walls separate the waters of the spring and the sea. Although the tank is so close to the sea, the water is fresh coming from an underground fresh water spring in Tellipallai-Maviddapuram. The water is not hot. This spring is popular among the Hindus for the miraculous powers it holds.


Keerimalai translates in to Mongoose Mound in Tamil. It is said that a Indian priest called Nagula Swami (Nagula Muni) bathed in this pond and his mongoose face was cured and turned in to a human face.
According to Local folklore a pandiyan Princess named Maruthapura Veeravalli built the Hindu Kovil at Keerimalai when she was cured of her horse shaped head after bathing at Keerimalai.

Once, this temple was nothing. And now, its standing back up.



I think these should give you readers a fair idea of what happened..


This is unbelievable, yet true: that is a fresh water spring, while right next to it, is the salty sea waters. This is amazing stuff!


The beach. Note the sunken ship in the distance.


The corals. Once they lived. And now they are rocks. Rocks with beautiful designs.


I got THE moment!
But then again, its not in horizon!
My photography is honestly quite laughable! Embarassed


The war struck area. It just gave chills down my spine..







These. These pictures should give you a vivid enough description of everything which occurred in Jaffna over those 30 years. Things were very uncertain for the people. They didn't know when this ordeal of theirs would get over. And knowing this fact, my heart went out for them. There is a lot of irrelevant things I have mentioned about this country, but now I felt, it was wrong. Plain and simple wrong. They stood on their feet and they fought. And won. And that is a big big achievement for them. They have reasons to be proud of. Tough times are over, and now they can walk away freely, do what they like, breathe the air without the fear of being attacked. They are free.

But that wasn't the end. I found something much more spectacular. The drive to the Point Pedro Lighthouse was slightly long. On the way, I noticed railway lines. And those railway lines were only on the road (as in..a level crossing). No lines on its either sides. I asked the driver to turn. And oh my the station has a lot to say.

They are getting rusted as they wait to be laid.


The Railway station.
Really, I do not have much to describe, as I feel this pretty much speaks for itself. I think the fact that a family are having to slum it out in this bombed building makes it all the more sad.

You've got to feel for them.
(And that dog was chasing me, by the way Razz )


There was once a time when rails were there. When trains used to be wait. When people were out in large numbers. And now, it just stays there. Silent.


The railways I was talking about.
What might have been......

The Nilavarai Bottomless Well was up next. It has a rather interesting story:
Quote:
The Nilavarai Bottomless Well at Nawathkiri is another frequently visited place in the Jaffna peninsula. There are no definite reports about the depth of the well.
Legend has it that when Rama was going back after the war, Seetha felt thirsty and there was no water available. So Rama sent an arrow to the earth and there a bottomless well was born.
According to the people around, 40 feet of the well contains fresh water and from there downwards, the water is salty. They believe that the well is connected to Keeramalai Ponds. Some say that the fresh water comes from an underground tunnel from Matale.




Once can actually walk down to the well. And if they decide to scuba dive from there, well, they might not return..



These are basically Kithul Jaggery. Soldiers kept this in their mouths. And this stayed for hours altogether.

We found a few non-aviation birds on the way to Point Pedro..



I want to drive one of those!



There isn't a description as such of they Point Pedro lighthouse, just that it is the northern most point in Sri Lanka. And it is well guarded by the Navy, so it was impossible to go in. We got close though..


Once of these pictures has been sent for a photography competition organised by The University of Melbourne. Hoping for the best! Mr. Green

Isn't that comforting...




Lunch followed. And then...the long drive to Killinochchi, in search of that massive fallen tank. On the way though, there was Muhamalai.
The Muhamalai Forward Defence Line was the Army Defence Line separating the Sri Lankan Army and LTTE militia in North Central Kilinochchi from South Central Jaffna. The distance between the first line of defences ranges from 200 to 600 meters.
There were....mines.
All preserved in a tiny shanty.


A Sri Lankan army personnel was presenting us the mines. While there is no denying that the LTTE had much more powerful weapons, the army personnel took pride in doing his job of showing us what impacts they had, what they did, etc.

RANGAN 99 mines, used by the LTTE.

Hand grenades.

The landmines used by the LTTE were enough to eliminate ones' lower limbs.





Suicide jackets.

Dynamite stuff.

Well um. Interesting name, I suppose. Shocked


Booby traps.

The remains of what was destroyed..


I held just one of these in my hands. IT WAS HEAVY! Its truly amazing how people hold 3 or 4 of these sets, around them, and walk around! Wow!

This was used by the LTTE. They said that it went only a few metres into the air, but they could travel up to distances of 100km. My God that is a lot!

Apologies for my laughable exposure settings.

(Taken from the car). They are still in the process of de-mining.

Elephant pass was up next. And it surely was a crucial place during the war..
Quote:
The base was under SLA control until 2000, despite repeated attempts to capture it by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. In the First Battle of Elephant Pass in 1991, the LTTE suffered heavy losses while trying to capture the pass. The base was used as a springboard for a number of SLA offensives during the 1990s, including Operation Yal Devi (named after the Colombo-Jaffna train) in September 1993 and Operation Sath Jaya (Truthís Victory) in July 1996.

However in a major military defeat, the Sri Lankan Army lost control of the pass to the LTTE on April 22, 2000 in the Second Battle of Elephant Pass. The pass was finally captured by Sri Lankan force in Third Battle of Elephant Pass, as part of campaign that led to destruction of Tamil Tigers.


Mandatory checks take place here.

A lot has happened there..


And soon enough, we were at Killinochchi.
Sadly, the driver didn't know where the water tank was located. A slight slow drive forward, and two words came out of my mouth:

'Oh sh*t.'

Yup. That massive tank which had been taken down late 2008 was just fallen there. A saddening sight, really. I really cannot imagine what the people had gone through when the tank was taken down.
How many houses were destroyed?
How much water was split?
What did it sound like when the tank made contact with the ground?
Its all a long mystery.








They had a souvenir shop on the side. Really, I would not like to have one of those right opposite such a negative sight to be honest.
We stopped at a cafe on the way back to Jaffna. The owner was again, an ex-military person. And as you'd expect, he didn't let his waiter take a tip from us. He pointed out to the stall and asked him to get us something worth LKR25. Personally, I felt bad.


Ballsy crow. Razz



This...is a bulldozer. The LTTE loaded it with explosive and let it go through Elephant Pass, one of many of their attempts to get a hold of Elephant Pass. Yup, it was out of control. And as you'd expect, one young chap (about 22 years..IIRC) sacrificed his life in saving Elephant Pass and the SL Army. May his soul rest in peace, a real hero.


Koththu and meales.


The sun sets over a tiring day.
The red mud is basically the foundations of the Colombo-Jaffna railway line
(Yesterday, September 14th, the line up till Killinochchi was opened.)

Elephant pass again

Mines on both sides.

DOOMSDAY?
My eyes were getting away after a tiring day. But every vibration of incoming messages on the phone kept me awake. One of them said:
'Duuuuudeeee!!! I got an A for maths!!!!!! How are your results?!?!?!'
There we go.
A brilliant way to wreck what has a very unique day.
22nd August 2013.
The day Edexcel declares its IGSCE Candidates' results.
Good thing for me though, Mum didn't say a thing since I told her that my results would be out in Jaffna! Razz


What a beautiful sunset.
Would be results be equally beautiful?
Or will I have to face darkness, just as this day enters darkness?

Oh Almighty Crumpled Roads. Please don't make my results bad!

The time had come. I was back home. Quickly I rushed to the (scary) washroom and calmed my nerves. These results meant make or break for my future aspirations. If I do well, I know I'm well set. If I don't do well, I would toppled over my first hurdle itself. Things looked scary. Everything seemed to slow down. My heart was pumping out every horsepower it had.
I went to Mum. I asked for the iPad. I logged into Facebook. She came close to my ear and asked 'Aren't your results out yet?'
She remembered. Obviously, any mother would remember a crucial day in her child's life. And acting silent, as you can clearly see, certainly didn't help one bit.
The blue ResultsPlus online login page opened. My heart was thumping really quickly. I gave in my details. And closed my eyes.
I saw the page change. Slowly, I opened my eyes....and my results weren't there, sadly. Anti climax. As always.
There was a tab which said 'View my results'.
The page was loading.
And it kept loading.
And loading.
And loading.
After 20 of my longest seconds in life, the page changed. Before I saw anything, I quickly covered the iPad and headed for my room.
I was ready to burst into tears, or maybe run out in full speed with celebration.
I slowly opened the cover.
'Biology'
'Chemistry'
'Economics'
'English Language...'
They were alphabetically arranged.
Slowly, I moved my eyes towards the grades.
There was a big red D next to my Chemistry grade. I was broken.
Things didn't go according to plan AT ALL.
However, as I scrolled down, I was absolutely stunned to see 5 A grades in the subjects where I new I had done fantastically well in!
There was a sudden change in mood! I erupted with joy! I threw the iPad on the bed, slipped nearly, took an on-the-spot round, yelled and RAN towards Mum and gave her a big hug, telling her that I delivered the goods which were required from me from my first hurdle!
Well, maybe the celebration in this video will tell you exactly how I celebrated, maybe Razz
But as I ran towards Mum, my last few meters were hopping, because my little toe smashed against a door. So much for epic celebrations I suppose Sad
I called Dad. I called my brother. My grandmom. Everyone. I called them up and informed them what had just happened.
I took a while to calm down, obviously. I sat in the courtyard, with both my palms on my face, knowing this is a huge success as I find paths into my future.
(And yeah, the B787 trip is now 100% justified! Feels great! Very Happy )
What a brilliant day it has been, I said to myself. Everything fell into place. And now, all I did was peacefully head off to sleep, and keep the excitement low. And now, I prayed that I get the Antonov An-32 the next day, but that was unlikely.


I sat next to the pillar there.

Where the iPad was dropped Razz

Spiders. Rolling Eyes


FINALLY a food picture.
Pepsi, string hoppers and curry. Vegetarian, of course.

She was an entertaining companion all throughout!


Students finally turned up on the last day..


The house....

And then, mood changed because of my friend's condition, as mentioned in Part 2.
That'll be the end of Part 3.

Regards
Jish
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jishnu - lovely 3rd part. The pictures from North SL are quite telling. The one thing that seemed horrible was the miles of sea, and hardly any good beaches? And what's with the one tiny food pic - we expected far more Smile
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A really great part 3, with the beauty of the land contrasting the poignant memories of the tragic happenings in the region. Your pictures of the places, and the beaches were fantastic. The doggie pictures take the cake: your pictures seem to express doggie emotions beautifully. For those who have been lucky enough to have a doggie in the family will comprehend what I'm trying to imply. The sea eagle pictures were superb! This is a rare bird. Congratulations on the excellent results, and we all admire you for your social commitment (of course, in addition to your being an excellent photographer, an excellent trip report writer, and more!). SL has too many non-veg food items for a Buddhist country: what are some prominent veg dishes of the region? How much do they have in common with say, traditional items in coastal TN, Chettinadu, interior TN, modern-day city TN with some North Indian influences on some items, and the like?
Thanks once again for a lovely Part 3!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nicely done Jishnu and I can't believe I missed the second part. Guess I have to get on the forum more often Rolling Eyes.

Quote:
Soon, we were at the Helitours office, with about 10 minutes in hand.


I think I missed this, but how does this work? Do you head to the office instead of the airport and check in there followed by taking their bus to the airport? That is pretty neat I must say.

Quote:
Boarding started with less than 25 minutes to depart. I had my camera out this time, so please, enjoy the treat of pictures I have for you Smile


Wow, what an airport! It's like a garden!

Quote:
The PW127J propeller.


I wonder why the props have 4 fan blades instead of 6 like on the ATR72 or Q400, they are almost the same capacity, correct?

Quote:
Trinco city


What a splendid looking town!

Great insight into Jaffna town, though I must say, it doesn't look as appealing as I thought.

Quote:
That evening, we headed for the Nallur Temple for the ongoing Nallur festival.


Great photos here. I absolutely love temple festivals and the usual buzz of activity around them.

Quote:
I think the road needs a shout out Rolling Eyes :


Not even close to the ones we have in Kerala though. Very Happy

Quote:
This is unbelievable, yet true: that is a fresh water spring, while right next to it, is the salty sea waters. This is amazing stuff!


Fantastic pic! It seems to be an awesome sight!

Quote:
The Nilavarai Bottomless Well was up next. It has a rather interesting story:


Interesting to hear!

Quote:
However, as I scrolled down, I was absolutely stunned to see 5 A grades in the subjects where I new I had done fantastically well in!


Glad to hear. Congratulations!

Quote:
FINALLY a food picture.


I have to agree with Nimish on this one. I am slightly disappointed on there not being more pics. Rolling Eyes

Fantastic job you have done though in helping out the villagers of Jaffna and on this trip report as well.

Waiting for the next one.

Adi,

Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful TR, Jishnu Da! Really enjoyed all the pictures. The interior of that turboprop aircraft looks better than what I expected. Keep it up! Laughing
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh My God!
One and a half months have passed and I haven't got the time to reply to all this! Not good Rolling Eyes
Nimish wrote:
The one thing that seemed horrible was the miles of sea, and hardly any good beaches? And what's with the one tiny food pic - we expected far more Smile

Hi Nimish sir, thank you for your reply.
Beach wise, its mostly the east coast and southern-south western coasts which are more common among tourist spots in Sri Lanka. That could be because of the war, so that is not a reason for no good beaches up north. I haven't the studied geography as of yet of that region, however, it is quite interesting that you spotted that there aren't any good beaches there!
As for the food...well.
Obviously, I wasn't in a mood to constantly get my camera out and click pictures of food up close (the camera wouldn't focus it), and plus my phone camera is (was) quite useless. And lastly, the food wasn't that exotic in my opinion. I will take food into consideration for the next Trip Report, and I will do my best to get that through to you all readers Smile

sumantra wrote:
The doggie pictures take the cake: your pictures seem to express doggie emotions beautifully. For those who have been lucky enough to have a doggie in the family will comprehend what I'm trying to imply. SL has too many non-veg food items for a Buddhist country: what are some prominent veg dishes of the region? How much do they have in common with say, traditional items in coastal TN, Chettinadu, interior TN, modern-day city TN with some North Indian influences on some items, and the like?

Hi Sumantra sir thank you for your reply!
Yes, I made this mistake last night of watching The Conjuring. Watching the dog die in the first scene really broke my heart. However, after the movie, Dobby was right beside my bed, so I knew I had nothing to worry about Razz
And he is pretty much scared of pretty much everything (and in one extreme case, a black cat Rolling Eyes ), so yeah, he is unique. However, I do agree, dogs do have their ways in expressing themselves, possibly even better than us humans!
SL has all sorts of meat available (beef, pork, etc...beef being much cheaper than chicken!). It is a Buddhist country indeed, however, there are a large number of Muslim people too, so their needs are catered too, hence the variety of meat in this country. In SL, vegetarian food is rare. It is very difficult for the general Indian tourist to find vegetarian food. Of course, there is the vegetarian version of pizza (the usual Domino's, Pizza Hut..etc), burgers, kotthu, pittu, etc. There is a high possibility that an Indian restaurant would be owned by a South Indian or a Sri Lankan Tamil. In terms of the similarity, there isn't much to compare in Indian food. However, in non vegetarian, Sri Lankan food is a bit different from North Indian or South Indian food for sure! However, its gotten overly repetitive for me. I am bored of it. For a foodie tourist like you, you will love the food here (like I did...for the first month and a half). However for a foodie resident like me, it has become really boring because Sri Lankan food has distinct similarity in between them. You eat deviled chicken for example on day 1 - you'll find deviled fish on day 3. That's how it works, in a nutshell.

Hey TAG4E! Thanks for your reply!
Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
I think I missed this, but how does this work? Do you head to the office instead of the airport and check in there followed by taking their bus to the airport? That is pretty neat I must say.

I think I too have complicated something rather easy. Rolling Eyes
Its like this.
Since Jaffna is an air force base:
1. Arrive at the office, wait for all passengers, get your name ticked off.
2. Board the Air Force bus along with the other passengers, while the luggage follows in a pick-up truck.
3. Identify the luggage, get in line for security..
4. Check in (on paper, as I posted a picture..)
Yeah..I hope you understood the process now Smile

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
I wonder why the props have 4 fan blades instead of 6 like on the ATR72 or Q400, they are almost the same capacity, correct?

Correct. There isn't much information about the Xian MA60 on the internet. I got this from Wikipedia. I think this required really deep research (I do not have the time for that now Sad ), and only then it will answer a few questions.
This might help a bit:
ATR 42 - 4 blades: 42-52 passengers
ATR 72 - 6 blades: 68-74 passengers
Q400 - 6 blades: 78 passengers
MA60 - 4 blades: 56 passengers.
I think that minor difference in passengers do have a massive impact on the performance of these birds, hence the differences.

Theairplaneguy4ever wrote:
I have to agree with Nimish on this one. I am slightly disappointed on there not being more pics. Rolling Eyes

As I promised, there would be more in my next trip reports. That is because, again, a new technological advancement which I will announce the next TR.

VT-A320 wrote:
Wonderful TR, Jishnu Da! Really enjoyed all the pictures. The interior of that turboprop aircraft looks better than what I expected. Keep it up! Laughing

Sayan, welcome to this forum! And thank you for reading and your reply!
Indeed yes, the Xian wasn't as bad as I had initially expected!

The next TR.
The inevitable will happen after avoiding it for a long long time.
Flights with SriLankan airlines. Sadly, we didn't have option, so we had to go with that Sad
2 flights with SriLankan.
One with JetKonnect (ATR!! Very Happy )
I'll say nothing else, just that much.
More announcements as time goes on Smile

Regards
Jish
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jbalonso777 wrote:
For a foodie tourist like you, you will love the food here (like I did...for the first month and a half). However for a foodie resident like me, it has become really boring because Sri Lankan food has distinct similarity in between them. You eat deviled chicken for example on day 1 - you'll find deviled fish on day 3. That's how it works, in a nutshell
Interesting! Entranced after reading your reports, I was looking forward to a SL visit...I missed a chance to go to the Emerald Isles this Dec, with something parallel coming up Sad
Cheers, Sumantra.
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