I'd Like To Be Under The Sea & Egypt Wrap Up
Trip Start Sep 29, 2007
215Trip End Dec 20, 2010
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for those of you who like rules, some of these images are not mine, i only had a disposable underwater camera, some are from an online fish identification chart
This one has
a little star
This one has a little car.
Say! What a lot
of fish there are.
Yes. Some are red. And some are blue.
Some are old. And some are new.
Some are sad.
And some are glad.
And some are very, very bad.
Why are they
sad and glad and bad?
I do not know.
Go ask your dad
Some are thin.
And some are fat.
The fat one has
a yellow hat." - Dr Suess
We had been looking forward to going to Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula on the Gulf Of Aqaba because it's a place for real, vacation type holidays and would give us a good break from the days spent on the road without breaking the bank
We took a local bus for nine hours from Cairo via Sharm-el-Sheik and up the coast to Dahab. Formerly a Bedouin fishing village, now it is set up for independent travellers and is accurately described as being hippie mellow and resort chic at the same time, a nice mix i think. There is the element of a touristy dive club scene here and can see why it is many people describe it as their paradise. We loved it for it's cruisy people with sunny personalitiesa nd it's cuisine, beauty, coloured fish and it's reef. The village is set up along the coral reefs of The Red Sea and in close proximity to some of the world's best diving spots including a really cool WWII wreck of a warship called the Thistlegorm, another reason to get the dive certification. The water is impossibly blue and clear, the kind of blue that draws your eyes and won't let them go. A deep, welcoming, turquoise blue that is splendid because it contrasts with the sand which is gold. Dahab means gold in Arabic. It's not too hot because a clean air breeze always blows off the sea. We immediately felt rejuvenated here. It was super sweet (have i been talking to too many Yanks?) to see the large, golden sand dunes of Saudi Arabia from the Dahab side of Egypt. The Sinai is an intercontinental crossroads being in between Asia and Africa and has a colourful past as a place of refuge, conflict and curiosity. They say that prophets, nomads, exiles and conquerors have all left their footprints here and so it was only right that our monkey and us should fit right in and leave ours there too.
We stayed at the popular Penguin Village that had basic rooms right on the beach for AU$5 each person and is run by some very friendly, energetic chaps who have made a point of getting to know us
Seriously, there is lots of police stationed here these days and many passport and paperwork checks are done as you move around the Sinai region. The Dahab bombings of 24 April 2006 were three suicide bomb attacks that Egyptian security officials have stated were the work of an Islamic terror organisation. At least 23 people were killed, mostly Egyptians and 80 injured. We've had many conversations about the people responsible for the attacks and it is complicated so i won't go into it now. The Western world has a distorted view of the Muslim faith thanks to the mind-controlling media. There is a possibility of future attack but Egypt feels safe for now.
We finally visited a barbershop called Why Not? where the guy cuts women's hair. We both got a hair trim and Nadine's mohawk is gone but we also got the bonus of remembering the lesson to be careful what you wish for. A couple of blogs ago i mentioned that we both needed an eyebrow wax. Well, old mate barber thought so too because once he had Nadine in the chair and without her permission, he turns to me and says Egyptian style waxing method?, i say Why Not? and realised his store's name was quite fitting. He proceeds to use a piece of twisted cotton thread to pluck all the stray eyebrow and lip hairs from Nadine's face, no wax required. It worked a charm and was accurate too. I volunteered mine next. It hurt like hell but the job was done in this one-stop shop. I think we are going to get him to source some good henna hair dye for us too. We scored some pearler coins with Tutukaman and Cleopatra's heads on them for the kids. The shops sell the normal tourist bollocks but we get a good t-shirt printed for Coops that says Too Good For Shark Food. Perfect
Now, i was going to go for the PADI Dive Certification here in Dahab but i took one look at all the dive equipment needed, looked at people dressed up like Aqua space men and then decided i was too lazy to spend my holiday doing the study bits. I decided to do the snorkelling where oxygen is available anytime i want to freak out with a mask on under water. Maybe the fear of entrapment wins this time and as much as i adore the underwater world, i may never dive but know it can still be done in Australia should the need arise. I am really wanting to view that underwater, Finding Nemo world from the diver's perspective.
The highlight of Dahab is without a doubt, the snorkelling. This is an absolute underwater extravaganza, some of nature's most magnificent work. We snorkelled nearly everyday and in this time went to the sites of The Blue Hole, Three Pools, Moray Garden, Golden Blocks and The Islands and also visited the spectacular Ras Mohammad National Park at the very southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula near Sharm-El Sheik. We would bascially just hire a mask and fins and a driver who would throw us in the back of a Jeep or a ute and take us to the dive spots then wait around until we were ready to go to the next one
We saw wonderful coral, jellies and sea cucumbers and made so many new colourful fish friends, there are over 1000 species here in The Red Sea. Many of the fish are glamorously coloured and seemed to show off their hues by parading themselves very close to us. Other times we would swim right through curtains of fish in schools. I couldn't photograph them all so have included some photographs from the net of some of our favourite fish that we saw during our journeys under the sea.We don't want to forget any of them. The reefs of The Red Sea form platforms and sometimes lagoons along the coast and you can dive just off the shore and follow the platforms along, feeling as though you are swimming inside an exotic fishbowl. Sometimes divers are underneath you and at these times i felt like i was inside a household fishtank with those little, plastic divers that move around with the air filter bubbles. All the fish hang out at the coral shelves. Nadine thinks the diving is on par with The Galapagos Islands off Ecuador. The fish are abundant and you feel as though you are a fish yourself. Every now and then you would see a special species like a lionfish or a stingray and just float around watching the one creature for awhile then continue swimming on to see what was next. Extraordinary visions, absolutely beautiful. We have gotten all Rex Hunt serious about the fish so have bought one of the charts that tells you the names of the fish so you can identify them. We talk to the fish and wave at them, we love it and have even given up our Mount Sinai trip in order to do more snorkelling. We have decided to skip Jordan too.
The Islands and Lagoon areas were only a few minutes walk from Penguin camp so one day when we could drag our arses off the chill out lounges on the ocean, we hired some gear from the dive shop and trekked to The Islands site which we could access from the shore
The Blue Hole is a famous site. It's a a kind of cave, around 130m deep. There is a shallow opening around 6m deep, opening out to the sea and an 26m tunnel, known as the arch, the top of which is 52m
Another day we went with a father and daughter French team to Ras Mohammad National Park at the southern extreme of the Sinai Peninsula, overlooking the Gulf of Suez on the west and the Gulf of Aqaba to the east. There was lots of police stops and checks along the way. The area is home to most of the 1000 species of The Red Sea fish, 40 species of star fish, 25 species of sea urchins, more than a 100 species of mollusc and 150 species of crustaceans. Very nice diving here and words cannot describe the visions we saw here. We dived in three sublime locations, Shark Reef, eel Garden and Yolanda
We also checked out the underwater caves formed as the result of earthquakes and then the driver gave us a short tour of Sharm-El-Sheik, a ritzy Euro resort area without an Egyptian vibe. On the way back to Dahab we saw wild camels running with a baby camel on the road whilst the French people got into a rather risky coversation about religion.
One of the days we went on a snorkelling and camel safari to a gorgeous spot called Abu Gallum with some very interesting people who we shared a fantastic day with, they were my favourite kind of people, theatre folk and talented, famous theatre folk at that
Mix the stunning absurdity of Alice in Wonderland with the emotional drama of Ibsen's landmark 19th-century play A Dollhouse, and you get Mabou Mines DollHouse. Adapted from the classic by "wizard-director" (The New York Times) Lee Breuer, this brilliantly inventive, funny yet profound production upends proportions to make a point. Portraying female subjugation in a male-dominated society, it casts tall actresses as the belittled Victorian women and under-5-foot actors as the overbearing men. The small-minded husband Torvald fits fine in the tiny furniture, while wife Nora must squeeze into the dollhouse setting
The original Dollhouse play was written in the 18oo's so whilst Maude has been travelling, she has been interviewing women all over the world who have played her Nora character in the past. I should have asked them for a job especially considering Lee works with puppets professionally. I wanted to ask then how they found so many dwarves to play the roles and had many more questions to ask them but didn't want to bug them on their holiday rest. This day we all hired some camels (again) and took an hour an a half trek around the coast and a few headlands before ariving at the Abu Gallum location where you could snorkel a long way around a reef shelf with underwater islands, alleyways and amphitheatres of coral. We ate a Bedouin lunch and bought some scarab beetle jewellery for monkey from the very poor, Bedouin women who make their living selling cheap pieces to the very few tourists who pass by. We pretty much had the spot to ourselves because it's a bit of a mission to get there. We then made our way back to the Blue Hole for one last session and were rewarded with a school of eleven lion fish all together. The camels were a little bit wild and to our amusement would take off and run or stop dead in their tracks at any time they wanted to
The rest of the time we have just been running around with fins on our feet being clowns and writing postcards.
We had a problem with Etihad Airways website crashing whilst we were making a booking for a flight from Cairo to New Delhi so now they have taken our money but not given us a flight and the whole palava has taken hours on the phone to the United Arab Emirates to try to resolve a solution. Done deal and we are still going to Pushkar camel fair on time.
We met a DJ called Top Alex who invited us to a fancy dress Halloween Party at a place called Tree Bar. The entrance to the bar is shaped like a tree and vines and we were told DJ Top Alex is the man about town. For the costumes I looked all over town to find a plastic lobster that i was going to make into a hat and wear with plastic fruit Carmen Miranda style. Cutting up the hotel bedsheets and going as ghosts was out of the question too. We ended up going costume-less to an outdoor beergarden style restuarant called Rush that has a giant dreamcatcher for a door, natural Robinson Crusoe wood and rope decor, some nice beats by an italian DJ and cruisy crowd enjoying the night
I have a mysterious gum infection that is being treated with some of Don's Panadeine Forte.
I am back on the olives and guava fruit is in fashion too.
Mono Loco has taken is jellaba off and has been doing nudie runs all over the beaches. Naughty monkey.
And now for kid's corner:
Lame Fish Jokes Of The Day:
How could the dolphin afford to buy a house?
He prawned everything!
Why did the whale cross the road?
To get to the other tide
What do you call a big fish who makes you an offer you can't refuse?
How do fish go into business?
The start on a small scale!
What is the best way to communicate with a fish?
Drop it a line!
How does an octopus go to war?
What kind of fish will help you hear better?
A herring aid!
What did the boy octopus say to the girl octopus?
I wanna hold you hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand
What do you call a dangerous fish who drinks too much?
What's the difference between a fish and a piano?
You can't tuna fish!
Why are sardines the stupidest fish in the sea?
Because they climb into tins, close the lid and leave teh key outside!
Why did the lobster blush?
Because the sea weed
Where does seaweed look for a job?
In the 'Kelp-wanted' adds!
Who held the baby octopus to ransom?
What is a dolphin's favorite TV show?
Whale of fortune!
I think that's enough fish jokes for today
Some things we have learned:
* Don't encourage Alligators to eat small fish out of your hand
* Never slide down a sandstone rock formation naked
* Never stick your finger in a moving fan just to see what happens
* Never look up when sea gulls are over head
* Never allow anyone to shoot an apple off of your head with a bazooka
* Never go swimming wearing white shorts and no underwear
* Don't put poisonous spiders, scorpions or ants in your swimming suit
* Never rub your eyes after handling hot sauce, peppers or onions
* Never buy a solar powered flashlight
Say this really fast:
A noisy noise annoys an oyster