THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2014 – INDIA TO SRI LANKA:
Today was much “calmer” but a very long travel date. Flights were really short but layover was brutal.
Had breakfast with some of the guys and then we departed. Thanks to Suleiman, the equipment and van were there and all our drivers were ready to take us. The drive to the airport was beautiful. Goa reminds me of Key West – except for the drivers. There are lots of motor scooters and vehicles pass them when there is another vehicle oncoming. There has to be lots of deaths from this! If we come back to India, this is the place I’d love to have more time. The hotel had a huge pool with the lounge chairs built into the edge of the water!
It was the same “cluster” when we arrived at the airport but I was armed and ready for them today. I had printed out boarding passes for everyone so it was easier for us to “enter”. Of course, they didn’t just wave us through. It’s never that easy in India. And sorting out and paying for the excess is always fun. We had about an hour before our flight from Goa to Bangalore and the Bellamys were approached non-stop by “fans” wanting autographs and a photo with them. There was a little snack bar in the gate area and Howard commented that he would pay $100 for a Gatorade. Since there was an entire row of Gatorades in the cooler, I told him to pay up! J The gate agent told us not to get on the bus with the other passengers because he had a special bus for us. That was nice, but he waited until all the other passengers had boarded before taking us. By that time, there was no overhead space left for the guys in coach. We all knew to get our little tags stamped on the carry on bags today!
Flight was a little over an hour. Now here is one for the records…they would not let us get off the plane and onto the bus to the terminal without showing our boarding pass. Hello, we had to have a boarding pass to have gotten on the plane in the first place and certainly didn’t need it for the bus. Will never figure that one out!! The Bangalore airport is new and MUCH nicer than the Mumbai and Goa airports. But still just as crazy. We picked up our luggage and thankfully only had to walk out of baggage claim and turn right to the international check in counter. But, the agents at the entrance again would not let us enter. They wanted to see our boarding passes. I told them it was an e-ticket and that I had tried to print online but the website refused to allow us to print because we were on Jet Airways and connecting to Sri Lanka Airways. After showing them everything I had in my bag, they let us go through.
We had a 5 hour layover and were hoping to get checked in and go immediately to the Lounge and get on email. No such luck. The check in counter doesn’t open until 3 hours prior to flight time. So we “sat” with 18 pieces of luggage and equipment surrounding us for more than an hour. We decided to walk upstairs and change our Indian Rupees for Sri Lanka Rupees. Nope…we needed a boarding pass to do that! I swear you need a boarding pass to use the toilet in this country!!! We were finally able to check in but again, the excess was a problem. They finally got it all figured out but said we could not go to the gate until everything cleared security. We waited and waited and waited. Every time I would ask, they would say 5 more minutes. That was after it took us 1 ½ hours just to check in. I finally snapped and went up to the ticket agent and said, “if you need us, you can find us in the lounge”! We left.
We changed our money and had to fill out all kinds of paperwork to make that happen. We had to write down all our passport info but then they took a copy of our actual passport.
The Lounge was a huge disappointment. Food looked like it had been there for weeks and the internet didn’t work. Neither did many of the electrical outlets. But then we only had about 30 minutes in there. When we boarded the entire flight crew was in awe that the Bellamys were on the flight. Business class had a LOT of empty seats and they told us we could move to a vacant row if we wanted. I fell asleep about half way through the flight and woke up when we were landing. The Bellamys were across from me but they were not there. Their cowboy hats were in the floor. I looked around and they had not moved to other seats. The first thing I thought about was that Stephen King novel where passengers started disappearing one by one from the airplane. J When we finally landed, Howard and David came out of the cockpit. Now that is something that will NEVER happen on a commercial flight in the U.S.
All our luggage and equipment arrived but Customs would not let us leave because they wanted to see our Carnet. I had already emailed our promoter a copy of our Equipment Registration Form. That’s all that is required in the U.S. unless you are bringing in amps, monitors, PA and all we had were the guitars. By the time they finally approved us going out, they had 8 people standing around discussing our situation to make a decision! They signed our registered manifest and told us we wouldn’t have any more problems. WRONG. We got stopped again but this time it only took about 10 minutes and 3 guys to make a decision.
Our promoters met us and had a nice large bus to transport us to the hotel. The hotel is beautiful. They did have me on a different floor from the Bellamys but was able to sort that out quickly.
When I got to my room, I found I couldn’t open my luggage. India had put a strong zip tie on my zipper which held it together. The Concierge on the floor came with a pair of scissors and removed it and said he had done the same thing for the Bellamys. I carry a Swiss army knife but of course, it was packed in the bag!
Internet would not connect but finally got on and it is slow but not as slow as it was in Goa. It’s almost 5 am again and I have to get up at 7:30. Going to bed!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7TH – COLOMBO, SRI LANKA:
Much better day today. But no more sleep. L Got two hours again last night and I’m too old for that two days in a row!
The breakfast buffet at the hotel (Kingsbury Hotel) was the best we’ve had the entire tour. Howard, David and I left for the radio station interview at 9:30 am. It was a fantastic interview. The two DJ’s – male and female – were hilarious which was infectious. They mentioned that the Bellamys are the first know country music artists to perform here as well. How about that – first in India and Sri Lanka. HOOAH Bellamy Brothers!
The DJ’s mentioned that Ellen DeGeneres had a funny “spook” on her show recently about “Where in the world is Sri Lanka”. I’m going to send her a copy of the interview with the Bellamys.
There was a press conference at the hotel after our radio interview. They asked some great questions. One of my favorite was, “Will any of the new country artists of today have “evergreen” music? Think about it, the Bellamy’s music has sustained since 1976 and handed down from generation to generation. Do we have any new, young acts who will have their music played around the world for the next 40 years? I couldn’t come up with one person. That’s very sad. I’d love to hear from you if you think there is someone who is a top artist today who can do that – Taylor Swift?, Luke Bryan? Who?
After the press conference, we went shopping at a local “mall” that also had local products. I got the twins some more toys (Lindsey, you said I can bring them home gifts as long as I get them in the country I’m visiting!) and David and Howard got some shirts. Everyone went except 3 of the guys ventured out on their own to the beach.
Can’t say enough good things about these promoters. They really have their act together. Very happy about that after the nightmare experience in India. And Sri Lanka is beautiful. It is a beach resort and everyone should put it on their list of places to visit! Our hosts took us to a local restaurant for a great meal. We had rice and meat in a curry sauce that was cooked in a banana leaf. Of course, I only had meat since I can’t eat the rice and everyone but me had a “caramel flan” for dessert. Howard, David and I didn’t have time to go sightseeing because everyone had booked Thai massages with the hotel. I gave Howard a gift certificate for one for his birthday.
My massage was extremely painful but felt wonderful when she quit. She got on top of my back and used her knees to massage me about 50% of the time. She was very strong and I kept asking her to “lighten up”. Unfortunately she did not understand one word of English. She’d answer me in Thai and was probably saying, “Stupid Lady. Quit talking to me. I have no idea what you are saying!”. J I’ve been slamming water all afternoon so I won’t be sick. She pressed so hard at times, I thought I was going to throw up!
I had dinner in the hotel restaurant. It was a huge buffet which was such a waste on me. There was a long row of desserts, salads, breads, fruits, cheeses, every kind of meat imaginable, a pasta bar, a grill with any type of meat you wanted and one section of nothing but “local” favorites. I had meat, cheese and fruit. L I’m going to take a photo of it tomorrow night and post it on Facebook!
Randy said they visited two temples – one Buddhist and one Hindu. He got to “pet a baby elephant” at one of them!
Have been working since dinner and keep thinking, I’m going to bed by 10 pm. Then by 11 pm. Then by 12 midnight. My new goal is 1 am. J
Show is tomorrow and I’m hoping they are sold out!
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8TH – PERFORMANCE IN SRI LANKA:
Got 5 hours of sleep – something I really needed. But even better, had a great workout in the hotel gym which was surprisingly well-equipped. Had my omelet in the Executive Room on the 9th Floor. David and Howard call the staff “their personal butlers”. Evidently, the staff is super impressed that the Bellamys are here and knock on their doors every couple of hours to see if they need anything.
Rode over to sound check with the guys and was delighted to see that the stage was set with their equipment….like it is supposed to be. Venue is a strange layout….there will be 450 VIP/Sponsor seats on the floor and then the audience are in seats around the top of the building. The buyer wanted to do the show in the round but I explained that the Bellamys are not on wireless or in-ears and there would be a lot of people behind the stage who would only see their butts the entire show. He changed that plan.
It was really hot in the building and we were informed that the building won’t turn on the air conditioner until 5 pm. I checked out the dressing room situation and then told Wally I was going back to the hotel since everything seemed to be running well. Told him to call me if he needed me.
I got a LOT of work accomplished and at 5:30 pm, Wally called to say they were just getting back from sound check. They should have been back at 4 pm latest! Evidently, they blew out the power when they plugged in and it took an hour to get it back up. Also, it got hotter and hotter in there with no air conditioning and the guys were pretty stressed out.
Everyone ate a quick dinner and left for the show. Traffic trying to get to the venue and park was horrendous! We had to delay the start of the show until the people could get in their seats. A “duo” sang 2 songs and were sort of “Opera” singers. I don’t know how many people were there because the capacity was 4,000 but that was if we did it in the round. I know it was packed!
Another “first” for country music and the Bellamys! Awesome performance and very happy audience members.
Going to try and get a little sleep and get up to job tomorrow. We don’t depart to the airport until 2:30 pm so we are going to a huge “street market” tomorrow morning.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9TH AND MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10TH– SRI LANKA TO NASHVILLE:
Was happy to get in bed at 2 am knowing I could sleep until 7. Only I woke up at 5:30 and never went back to sleep. Decided to get up and go jogging as soon as it was light enough (Yes, Silvia, it’s very safe here – lots of joggers along the beach in front of our hotel. J). Weather was perfect and it was a nice, scenic jog along a beach walk. There was a helicopter that kept circling really low over the beach and then I noticed uniformed security/police stationed along the beach walkway. Figured there was probably an important motorcade that was going to pass by soon. I asked the Concierge when I returned to the hotel and he said that sometimes the President’s wife likes to jog there, so that was probably what all the security was about.
I keep forgetting to mention that when we were at the hotel in Goa, David fell! As I said, the hotel was beautiful and spotlessly clean. Evidently, someone had mopped the tile floors that morning and didn’t put out any type of signage to warn of a “Wet Floor”. David hit it and went flat on his back. He did manage to turn his head so that he didn’t crack his skull. I kept asking him how he felt and amazingly enough, he didn’t break anything or have any last repercussions from the fall. Very, very lucky!
Howard, David and I went shopping at a “famous” street market. It was just streets and streets of clothing, electronics, bags, luggage and “local” items. We only made it down the clothing street. I found one t-shirt and “bargained” for it. The vendors quote 5 times higher prices to tourists and you have to negotiate. We did have a King Coconut that was amazing. I’ve never seen a coconut with so much juice in it. I couldn’t drink a fourth of mine. They split it open and the “meat” was delicious – very soft. They actually cut off a small piece of the shell and we used that to scrape the meat out. The coconuts are sort of an orange color instead of green.
We drove to a place I had seen the day before that sells local handicrafts and is owned by the government. There’s one like it in Hong Kong and a great place to shop. Found all the souvenirs we wanted there only now I have to go back to the street market and get an extra bag. David really wanted to buy a mahogany elephant but they told him the shipping would be double what he paid for it. The things there were really good quality and priced reasonably. I stopped and purchased a really cheap suitcase and hope it makes it this one trip.
We had time to go back to the hotel and pack up then leave for the airport. I had checked with the airlines before we left and also had Lindsey call them yesterday to find out the baggage rules. Both times we were told that even though our first flight was on Emirates, the baggage allowance would be set by the airline we were flying “over the water” which in this case was “Delta”. We had all the luggage split up accordingly and I’m always allowed to check 3 pieces because I am a 2 Million Miler Double Platinum flyer. Emirates refused to allow me to check the 3 pieces. I was furious and called the Delta line and put them on the phone with the Supervisor. He was rude and would not budge. In the meantime, all the guys were checking in next to me and the ticket agent was following the Delta rules and allowing them to check 2 pieces even though they were in coach! We are going to dispute the charge on the credit card and I’m emailing Emirates when we return.
We didn’t have but a few minutes before we boarded for our flight from Colombo to Dubai. I’ve always heard that Emirates is a fantastic airline. It was a really, really old aircraft and the flight attendants were nice. Other than that, didn’t see anything outstanding about it. We had lunch that was pretty much like all airline food and then I slept for a couple of hours. It was a 4 ½ hour flight. When we landed in Dubai, the terminal was really pretty but there were no “signs” indicating where our flight would depart. The only flights listed on any of the boards were Emirates flights. So we would walk a ways and stop and ask someone at an information desk. They kept telling us to go to Terminal 1 only there were no signs for a terminal one. I finally asked what terminal we were in and they told me terminal 3. We went up and down elevators and finally arrived at the end of the “B” gates and found a sign with our Delta flight on it. Norwood’s passport had fallen out of his pocket and he had to run back to the flight to retrieve it. Thankfully he discovered it missing right after getting off the plane.
Somewhere along the way, I dropped my boarding pass for the flight to Atlanta and had to go to the gate agent to get another one. She asked if I had checked bags and I gave her the claim checks and receipt. She said, “They charged you? They can’t do that! You are allowed to check 3 pieces”. DUH!!!!
The flight from Dubai to Atlanta is 16 hours long. It’s a nice aircraft, thankfully, but that’s still a long, long, way especially for the guys in coach. I could barely stay awake for the meal and kept falling asleep before the movie was over. Slept for about 6 hours and got up to work for quite a while. Movies aren’t so “great” either.
The visit to Sri Lanka was amazing. Hotel was fabulous – right on the beach – and the promoters we worked with did an excellent job of setting up the visit and taking care of everyone while we were there. We’d all love to go back there and perform. There is definitely a fan base for the Bellamy Brothers in India and Sri Lanka. We’d even go back to India if we had a different promoter! J
We landed on time and it took forever for the luggage and band equipment to come out. The equipment was the very last items out….all the other passengers had already left the area. I didn’t turn my iPhone all the way off on the flight so the battery was completely dead when we landed. I had about 30 minutes in the Lounge where I could re-charge it. In my “stress” to get to the gate, I left my power plug for my computer!
Flight to Nashville was on time and we landed on time. It was a great, fun tour with the Bellamys and truly a learning experience in India! J