Sunshine and Shisha
27.03.2012 - 01.04.2012
We took a 9 hour bus ride from Cairo, with about six check points along the way. The first of which we thought was a refreshments break, so we just stay on board. Next minute, there is a police guy who comes on board and takes our passports, and then an army guy comes on board making chopping gestures. Things start to get a bit heated only to find out that all we had to do was take our luggage off board so the sniffer dogs could check them out. It was plain sailing from there, but we weren't sure what to expect at each stop, refreshments break or check point? Michelle managed to go the whole 9 hours without going to the toilet for fear of being left behind, and also a case of travellers tummy that morning, ugh.
We arrived in Dahab a little weary and hoping like crazy that the hostel that had been recommended to us had a vacancy. Turns out they did, and we fell in love with the place immediately. The restaurant or chill out area was a cushioned paradise with a couple of open fires, and plenty of atmosphere. The staff were all really welcoming and really genuine after all the pushy touts in Luxor. Aziz showed us the beach just behind the restaurant curtain, gently lapping the shore a few metres away with the lights of Saudi Arabia in the distance. Amazing.
We filled our days exploring our surrounds, renting bicycles and soaking up rays. There is a lagoon where everyone learns to wind surf, where we discovered the water is actually quite cold, despite the warm temperatures. The mountains were the most incredible back drop to the beach, with the low sun they were all silhouetted against each other. Apparently there are something like 360 days of wind here, which makes it such a great spot for windsurfers, so was really eerie to head out one evening with the water completely calm, looked amazing and so serene.
The food was pretty good, plenty more kosharyi, and had to try local dishes of stuffed pigeon and bedouin spiced fish, both really delicious, followed by sweet shisha and beer, super cheap. Cats are king here, so you have to defend your plates against them armed with a spray bottle of water. Any unwatched plates get taken over by the resident cats, and they're not fussy, they'll chow down on cucumber and all.
Dahab is full of activity and people along the beachside, but is a real contrast when you leave the seaside roads, the people disappear and the whole vibe completely changes. Goats wonder around idly, and only a little bit further beyond that and buildings cease to appear, save for the few remains of places that have fallen through. The drive on the way into Dahab revealed finished and unfinished resorts that went on for miles on miles, almost like a whole city, just sitting there, it was really odd, tourism has really taken a beating here.
One of the highlights was going to the blue hole, a massive natural hole that goes down 100ft or so, to go snorkelling. Again the water was really cold, but was pretty gorgeous swimming around the perimeter checking out the fish and coral. We dipped in twice, the second time swimming beyond the hole, where we saw trumpet fish and more impressive coral. On our trip we met a really cool guy, Peter, a sort of freelance philosopher from Munich, and we ended up climbing Mt Sinai that night with him, the site where supposedly Moses received the ten commandments.
That night was something tough, we headed out about 9pm in a loaded hiace van that had little room to put your legs, let alone have a 2 1/2 hr sleep. Was pretty hard climbing on very little sleep, also instead of bringing the head lamp for the night walk, we took sunglasses for the next day instead. Classic case of lights on but no one home. After say 5 hours of climbing, with three to four 20 minute breaks in between we reached the top. Well almost, we stayed about 365 steps below the summit to warm up, because it was freakin cold, then about half an hour before sunrise we headed up to the top where there is a small church. The views from up the top were pretty incredible, amazing place, even if the sunrise almost didn't happen due to clouds.
Dahab is a beautiful place to just chill out. Place wouldn't have been as cool I don't think if it wasn't for our cool hostel guys. Cheers Penguin.