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Published: December 29th 2022
Finding Nemo in Hurghada
- Piprey on wheels
Hurghada is an Egyptian Red sea coastal town
, famous for snorkeling, scuba diving and a beach holiday.
If I took a flight, I had to change at Cairo. The best option was to take a train from Aswan to Luxor and then bus from Luxor to Hurghada. Train and bus journey from Aswan to Hurghada
To catch the early morning train, I arranged a private ferry to the jetty closest to the railway station. I pulled my suitcase for the last leg of 300ms to Aswan railway station. No tea but grabbed a nice lebanah baguette. As soon as the train pulled off, I was staring at my clock. Was it not supposed to reach Luxor at 7.49am? I even stood at the train compartment door with my suitcase so that I can get off early. A kind lady came over to me and explained that it would reach around 8.30am. I looked at the train timetable and saw that I had miscalculated the time. the train was not
running late. The correct time to reach Luxor at 8.30. I had a bus to catch and the manager had
said it would be okay if only if I could make it by 8.25am
The train reached at 8.27 am. I had given up. Yet, when the lady said this is the Luxor station, I sprang on my feet and made a dash- out of the station and run to the bus stand next to Luxor station. A man standing close to that bus enquired, Hurghada? I was so relieved and happy. He remembered me and chose to wait a few minutes. I think God works in his own unique ways.
We passed several more checkpoints in the desert, passing through Qena which had the temple ruins of Denderah. I had a nice Egyptian tea for 10 LE and reached Hurghada in the afternoon so that I had the full day ahead of me. Hurghada resort stay
In old Hurghada, I had the restaurant almost to myself where I enjoyed nice local meal. Then took a taxi to Mercure hotel. I expected it to be the usual hotel and was about to ask if breakfast would be complementary.
To my surprise, it was full board with snacks and drinks included. Yippey!
Embarrassingly, my card refused to work and I realised I had to top it up before it
I swam in the private beach. Then went over to the diving school to see if I could do a deep dive. I said I wanted to learn and Ahmed, the diving school manager suggested a PADI course. It could be done in 2 days and we could start at 9am the following day. Firstly, I was afraid of the idea of breathing with those cylinders and equipment. Secondly, learning everything in 2 days. I wanted to do it. I paid 230 USD and said I would pay the rest of 200 USD later. The single person cost 550 USD but I was being given a discount.
The next morning, I was ready. Yasser, the Egyptian diving instructor explained humoursly how to set up the equipments (still smiling at his descriptions). He did not remember my name and addressed me (and all other ladies I observed later) as 'princess'. Scuba dive training experience
I got into the dry scuba wear and felt sick because of the heat. Quickly I jumped into the hotel swimming pool which was the confined area to practice diving. It took me a while to breathe in and out and exchange
the breathing device with the snorkel. Yasser grew impatient. He shouted something in arabic to the diving school manager, Ahmed who was walking past by the pool.
I could not grasp buoyancy, whether to breathe in air to float or breathe out. In the middle of it, I started to feel nausea. Yasser had to run for Friday namaz. I went to my hotel room and took a shower. I lay down and still felt poorly. Skipped lunch. Then went down to say that I was not in a position to continue. Knowing what the money meant to Egyptian, I said keep it. They asked me to come later in the evening as most of the hard learning was already done. I was simply not feeling well. Incident in hotel premises
I slept and felt better. Went to the hotel lawn to play dart. An old Russian man tried to be friendly with me. I just said hello and ignored him, going towards the dart. While I was aiming, he sprung from behind and put his arms around my neck. Immediately I turned back and said how dare he misbehaved and shouted for security. Meanwhile, Ahmed was
rambling around, looking for customers and I told him about the incident. They called the security manager. There was a yoga session which I joined.
After yoga, the security manager informed me that he had confined the drunk Russian and his equally drunk wife to their room for the day till they felt sober and removed their permit to have free flow of alcohol. He assured me of my health and safety. The Sun was still up. I decided to go for another short swim in the Red sea and noticed a security guard keeping an eye. Good. Dinner and evening entertainment
This time, I ate everything in small quantities and enjoyed a gorgeous dinner. The previous night, the buttered fish did not suit me.The traditional folk music with Darbouka (Goblet drum), trumpet and tambourine were delightful waves of music matching those of the sea. I watched an energetic belly dancing
and a Tambura dance
. Awesome. Sunset boat tour
After breakfast, I checked out. However, I did not go to the hostel in Hurghada central because Ahmed had offered to take me along with a group for a sunset boat ride in a glass bottom
boat. If I wanted, I could snorkel or even go for a scuba dive with Yasser. I was in tears when he offered it. I so wanted to see the beautiful fishes and corals in their natural habitat.
Yasser's sister and brother-in-law were visiting. They shared Fettar
(which is big laccha paratha) and liquid jaggery
(gur) with me. It was most touching.
The boat ride in choppy waters made some of us uneasy. Yasser's right hand man, a young lad called Mahomed, stuck the anchor in the corals. Meanwhile Yasser got another princess and her prince ready to dive. He asked me to get into gear and go into water immediately before I felt sick. I put a snorkel and lo! A new world opened before my eyes under the water. Snorkeling and Scuba diving
The corals were of all kinds, brown like the brains, green etc over which clown fishes and other varieties swam about under me.My gosh! The water was choppy and so salty that it started to make me sick. I was curious as the fish which looked at me with their beady eyes. I carried on. After a while, I heard
voices and Yasser was calling me back. I did breast stroke and swam towards to the boat. Did backstroke but hardly moved. He was getting impatient. Was not sure if I wanted to dive. He put me in the gear and Mahomed threw me in the water. Many more fishes! I found nemo and other clown fishes. Some green coloured parrot fishes. A sting ray was surfing the sand. Wow!
Yasser wanted me to create a heart sign and smile etc but I was in not in the mood, craving to see this new world which opened up. I started to feel nausea again and called him to ascend. I started without seeing if the coast was clear and noticed the rusted flat bottom of the ship above me. Yasser pulled me over and we ascended to the Red sea surface. Later, on the boat he said he had wanted to show me so many other things. To be honest, this itself was beyond my dream. I was satisfied. I told him that I ascended because I was feeling nausea and for the first time, he acknowledged and said he understood.
Somehow, I managed to get the wet
suit off and changed to my dry dress. We got into a little boat into an uninhabitated little island. The shells on the island pricked our feet and we tip toed about the island. Yasser's sister, another Russian tourist and I collected white corals on the beach. I felt happy and free. The boat took us back Hurghada Mercure. Yasser spotted dolphins and whistled powerfully but he later said that the other boat had scared it away. I took leave with an uber to my hostel. Hurghada town center stay
It was a remarkable sassy place right in the centre of town, full of Germans. There were some fixed price shops just below. I visited a local restaurant and had the best mahsi (leaves stuffed with cooked rice) in my life. I was delighted to see a massive fruit shop with lip smacking sitaphal (custard apple) which was my dessert for the night. I slept contently with the noise on the roads reminding me of home.
A streak of sunlight bathed my room. Got ready and ate a lovely set breakfast. Then walked up to a sofa sewing shop to repair my pantaloons at sofa sewing shop
It felt odd to hear Christmas carols in the hot weather. This buttered fish did not suit me, I think.
as the regular shops were owned by Christians and closed on Sunday. The boy who guided me showed me a tiny scratch mark on his thumb where a shark had nibbled. I walked to the Marine parade which was lively but small. It was busy with Russian and Eastern European tourists. Football and Airport
Drank some non alcoholic beer and was ready to catch my uber to Hurghada airport. Ah! The FIFA world cup finals between France and Argentina. Most of the passengers were glued to the TV like fevicol in the airport lounge. Even the airport staff had come around to us to encourage us to move and board the airlines.
I watched the first 30 mins of the game. As soon as we landed, some Chinese co-passengers responded it is 2-2. After taking my luggage and doing some merry go round looking for the hotel (should have asked for the free hotel pickup), I arrived in Novotel Cairo. It was 3-3. I went straight to the TV. Watched the penalty shots and Argentina win. Splendid performance of my favourite team!
I celebrated with Egyptian lokum sweets in my hotel room and slept off. With
A man swirls continuously and creates patterns of tambura with his hand.
all the Nemos and other fancy colored fishes swimming in my dreams, I thought I saw a little hammerhead shark as well coming out of the corals? Thankfully, I did not see its mother and slept like a kitten. Conclusion of the series
This is the concluding chapter of Egypt series. I trust you enjoyed it as much as I loved writing about the fascinating ancient wonders of Egypt.
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