Never trust a guidebook

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Africa » Egypt » Sinai » St Catherine
November 15th 2010
Published: November 29th 2010
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Never trust a guidebook. The lesson of the day. After spending the night on Mount Sinai, I had been planning on getting either the 1pm bus, or one of the 'frequent' minbuses that my guidebook said run from St Catherine to Suez, where I could then catch the overnight bus to Luxor, saving me spending a night in some deadbeat town or at worst the bus station, and giving me time in Luxor and Aswan before the ferry to Sudan. But once I was back from the summit, I was told there was only a 6am bus to Suez. And nothing else. No 1pm bus. No minibuses. Nothing. My only option was apparently to hire a car for 120EP, more than my previous 5 nights accomodation. It may have only been 12GBP, but still. It's all relative isn't it?

After pleading to the owner of the campsite he devised a plan to catch a minbus to 'the cross', from there catch a bus to Suez, and I'd then be able to head to Luxor. The first minibus would leave at 2pm, and I'd have 1 1/2 hours spare. It seemed abitious, but to save 8GBP I thought I'd give it a go. As I sat in the sun waiting, I wondere if the decision was something I would regret later?

At 1.30pm I was told the bus was 30 minutes late. At 2.30 it still hadn't arrived, and we left 20 minutes after that. And then proceed to tour the whole town looking for other passengers to pick up. Each passenger seemed to scowl as me and my bag took up double/triple space. The man behind me covered me in ash from his cigarettes. And the driver slowly ambled to our destination. I started to look up hotels in Suez.

A painfully slows 1hr20mins later we got to 'the cross', nothing more than a junction, a ribbon of asphalt in the desert, and I was told to catch a lift from there. I had just 3hrs until the bus left, and just 2hrs to pick up my ticket. Maybe it was time for Plan B. Maybe a night in Suez wouldn't be that bad after all. Buses drove past, ignoring us. As did cars and trucks. And then a car, normally used for luxury tours, pulled over. I asked the price to Suez, but couldn't get an answer. Not that I had any choice. I jumped in, hoped I wasn't going to be fleeced, and hoped I'd make it to Suez before the bus left. Hmmm. Chances?

Again we drove agonisingly slow, being overtaken by buses, trucks, almost anything on the road. With the sun setting over the Red Sea, and the rusty mountains of Sinai to our left, we snaked slowly, so very slowly, to Suez. At about 7pm we pulled over at a roundabout with the lights of Suex in the distance. I hoped to be dropped off of the bus station but found out that was another two bus rides away. I didn't know where I was, what was happening, or where I was going.
And time was quickly slipping away.

We got to the town centre, and I was told to get off. I tried to pay, but someone had already covered my fare, and then found me a taxi to the bus station. I paid over the odds, and told the driver to drive fast. Somethings don't need any language to explain, and the street lights and dusty streets flew past as head sped through the city. With 20 minutes to spare (but 40 minutes after my reservation had ran out) we reached the bus station. Confusion. False directions. Usless officials. And 18 minutes later I had a tickets and a seat. 2 minutes later was heading to Luxor.

The releif was immense. And it had actually been the most exciting day so far. This was why I came travelling in the first place (although I might have disagreed had I been forced to spend the night in Suez). I sat back, relaxed for the first time in the day, and awaited Luxor in the morning.


1st December 2010

Mad Chris. You are mad. But I can see why you're loving it ;) xx

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