Petroleum Engineering Specialist Farooq A. Khan, who retired from Aramco in January 2021, recalls a remarkable trip to Sri Lanka he enjoyed as president of the Dhahran Cricket Association (DCA) in 2018. The following report captures the memorable time that was had by 69 DCA members and their families who journeyed on a beautiful 5-day excursion.
Day 1: The group arrived at Colombo from Dammam after a 5-hour flight and were welcomed and garlanded at the airport. The group was transported onboard two branded, black VIP buses. The first stop along their journey was to enjoy breakfast on the outskirts of Colombo. Continuing the drive to Kandy, they stopped at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and had lunch. After this unique experience, they arrived in the afternoon at the hill station city of Kandy and checked in to the beautiful Mahaweli Reach Hotel. In the evening, they enjoyed a sightseeing tour of Kandy hills and the lake by Tuktuk's. They attended a local cultural dance by famous Kandyan dancers. After a buffet dinner, the families enjoyed a well-deserved overnight rest.
Day 2: The DCA cricket team had an early breakfast and left to play a cricket match at the international stadium while other group members, ladies and children, went for a shopping/sightseeing excursion. The cricket team had a buffet lunch at the stadium while others had lunch at Kandy city. After the match, the players joined their families at the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens. After a tour of the gardens, they enjoyed a city tour and more shopping. This was followed by a buffet dinner at the hotel and later families had leisure time.
Day 3: The group had breakfast and started the journey to Nuwara Eliya known as little England of Sri Lanka. En route, they visited a tea plantation and factory where they saw the process of how the world’s finest tea is made. Also, they enjoyed a Tea Plucking competition for the ladies and the winners were rewarded with gifts. Alng the way, they witnessed the astonishing Ramboda Waterfall while having lunch. They reached Nuwara Eliya, a city at a very high altitude in the mountains with such a nice scenic view. Here the group enjoyed boat rides and had snacks. They returned to Kandy hotel and had a buffet dinner and relaxed after full day of touring.
Day 4: The group had breakfast and checked out from Kandy hotel. On the way to Colombo, they visited the factory outlet and had lunch on arrival at Colombo. In the afternoon, the group took a city tour and enjoyed lots of shopping, then checked in at the luxurious Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel. The group then had a gala ferry dinner at the lake. A lavish dinner was served accompanied by lovely background music. The families had more than 2 hours of fun and then returned to Hotel.
Day 5: The group had breakfast and continued on their city tour with yet more shopping. They photographed the Brisbane state cricket team match at the International Cricket Grounds. In the afternoon, they checked out and left for the Colombo airport (some group members stayed back at the hotel and enjoyed swimming). The flight arrived on time at Dammam around 9.00 pm. where ARAMCO busses were waiting to drive everyone back to Dhahran camp.
'DCA would like to send a special thanks to digital media experts Huma Mian and Basharat Ali who captured memories of this trip by taking hundreds of photographs. Also, special thanks to Wajahat Ali DCA OOK coordinator for helping organize this trip. Thanks to the DCA board for approval and Salman Kaleemi for his support during the trip. Mr. Jehangir deserves special appreciation. 'Ladies, gents, boys and girls kept things alive and entertaining with songs, games and other activities during long drives between the cities.' ~Farooq A Khan