Published: January 6th 2009January 5th 2009
Enjoying an after dinner smoke
We left Luxor on a late night flight out of the local airport and arrived in Sharm El Shek around 11:30pm. We had arranged for a driver from our hotel to pick us up but he was no where too be found. So here we are, sitting at the local terminal at midnight in Sharm, Egypt trying to figure out how the hell we were going to get to Dahab (which was over an hour away). Luckily I was able to borrow the cell phone of a local, call our hotel and sort out the issue. After another 20 minutes a 25 year old guy showed up in his car saying he was our driver. So we load up our gear and head out. Just outside of the airport we turn off of the main road and heads towards what looks kind of like a checkpoint, but also looks like a bunch of guys just hanging out on the street with out much lighting and a few machine guns. I hear Haley squeal a little in the back street and my heart starts pumping a tiny bit faster; this definitely looks a little shady. On the other side of the check
Relaxing on the Beach
Relaxing on the beach in Dahab, Egypt
point it looks like the road just kind of ends. Keep in mind it is now around midnight and there are basically no street lights...well actually there are street lights but on another street - a street that Haley and I kind of thought we should be taking. So here we are, a couple of normal looking Egyptians with machine guys asking to check our passports at midnight in the middle of no where. We clear the check point and head down a lightless road to god knows where. I am a little bit nervous and I know Haley is nervous because she keeps squeezing my shoulder from the back seat. But as we continue down the road we start to see more cars and become comfortable with what’s going on. We arrived in Dahab an hour later safe and sound. The next day we kind of joke about how much your surrounding can change when there is no light. It would have been a nice drive through the mountains if the sun was up.
Anyways, Dahab is probably on of the most relaxing places that I have ever been. It is referred to as a "slice of Thailand"
but I'd definitely say this place is unique. Our first morning we slept in (and everyone morning after that) - when we finally managed to get up we walking about 50 feet over to the closest restaurant and plunked ourselves down on the Bedouin style rugs and pillows, and then basically vegged out there for an hour or two - like a cat laying in the sun. Check out the pics and you'll see what I am talking about. The beach here is rocky so the restaurants go right up to the water. But they don't have tables and chairs. Imagine the movie Addalin where the sultans just lounge around on big pillows and fancy carpets... that’s exactly what it is like here. At night when it cooled down, the restaurants would spark up a number of fires making things just that much more relaxing. The next for days of our trip didn't really consist of much more then relaxing, reading, eating, shisha, sunning, sleeping, naps everyday. Haley said she just could not believe how much I slept (typically I am up and out the door at 6am on these types of trips).
We passed on the mount Sinai
Typical coast line shot
There are tons of restaurants and bars that have set up right on the coast
trip due to the war that broke out just across the border, which gave us more time to....um.....relax :). Though I will say, we did manage to go scuba diving (twice).
I hadn't been in over 3 years and Haley hasn't finished her certification so I took a quick refresher class and Haley hired a personal guide and we went off and dove. I think the most memorable part of the dive was when Haley first when under and started to breath using the respirator. She must have had a quick panic attack because when she looked at me her eyes just about popped out of her mask and she made a few quick moves with her hand indicating she was going right back up to the surface. Our guide took a few seconds to calm her down and then everything went really smoothly. It was really beautiful down there and we saw a ton of small fish and colorful coral. I got a chance to see a number of large Lion fish, which was a first for me, and Haley even managed to spot a moray eel! That afternoon we went for another dive that was even more
Haley taking it all in
We celebrated new years here in Dahab much in the same way we celebrated every night in Dahab. Some kabobs, some beers, a hookah, a fire, and propped ourselves up on some pillows. So perfect.
After about 4 days of this, Haley and I were fully rested and relaxed and sad, but ready to begin our trek back home to the states. We caught a not-so-scary ride back to the airport and then a quick flight back to Cairo. On our last day back in Cairo we planned on doing some serious shopping at the largest market in Cairo, the Khan-El-Khalil and then see a few of the larger mosques.
Shopping in the markets is always fun and the Khan-El-Khalil was particular interested because it was in the Islamic part of Cairo. There where large mosques and beautiful architecture all over the place (see pics). I can't tell you how many people made eyes at Haley and told me how "lucky" I was. Haley’s head was getting bigger and bigger by the hour, and I figured that I'd most likely be able to sell her for more then the initial two camels that I had planned
A typical night for us
Each night we'd pick a new Bedouin style restaurant to eat and lounge in
on. We made a good few purchases including a new hookah for me. You know you get a good price when they don't seem happy to sell it to you.
Haggling for a good price in Egypt is a little different then some of the other places that I have been and it really changes depending on how touristy of an area you are in. In places like central America if someone starts off with a really high price, you start off with a really low price and then trying meet someplace in the middle (well actually you try to get it about 1/3 of what they ask...). But I have noticed here that no matter how outlandish of a price that they first quote, if you start off too low, they will get offended and basically not be interested. Haley was interested in a ring that probably should have cost like 60 Egyptian pounds. But the guy selling it initially asks for 600. So we counter by saying 20, so that we have room to negotiate. Well he was not too happy about that and basically asked us to leave. This definitely makes bargaining a little more difficult.
New Years 2009
Lots of "playing with fire" for our new years celebrations
So after about 4 hours of the market I had to drag my partner out of there for some sight seeing. We got a chance to enter a number of mosques which was fun and then went on a long walk (way too long, and definitely through the wrong parts of town) to see the Citadel. That night we went out for a nice fancy meal and then went to bed.
I don't think our trip could have gone much better giving the short amount of time that we had. It was a great experience for me to go back to a country that I visited 15 years ago - experience what I had then, but through new eyes, and see so much more. Since I had already seen Giza one of my personal highlights was going to the other more remote pyramids. After running around like a bunch of crazies trying to see everything and do everything in Cairo and Luxor, our relaxing time at Dahab was very much needed. I haven't even finished my blog for this trip yet Haley has already started planning our next.
There are more photos below