Sun and sand

Trip Start Sep 07, 2005
1
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My first experience of Egypt was getting my visa at the airport. On the plane and in the guidebooks they tell you it costs 12GBP. So I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the window and the man only charged me 10! Not a huge deal, but in a country where bartering and overcharging tourists are the norm, it gave me a nice first impression.

Outside the airport my plan was to take a taxi to Dahab, where I was planning to stay. I ended up chatting with one of the taxi, um, salesmen for lack of a better word! These are the guys who stand out front and you haggle with for a price. He was telling me all about the area, and was fascinated about Canada, and what it is like there. When I told him it was 9 am at home, (5pm in Egypt) he called over some of his buddies to tell them. They were all amazed, and thought it was hilarious that people in Canada would be getting up, eating breakfast and going to work right now! It just reminded me how incredibly lucky I am to live in a country that affords me opportunities like this trip. The chances of any of those guys saving enough money to go somewhere like Canada is very slim.

Anyway, eventually we set out for Dahab, which is about 100km from Sharm. I ended up paying $20 for the taxi, which was a deal for me and they still thought they were getting a fortune! Slapping each other on the back and congratulating each other when they thought I wasn't looking. You know you are in a different part of the world long before you land. As far as you can see the world is brown: sand, and mountains. It is a lot more moutainous than I expected. There is only one road we could see, the one from Sharm to Cairo. The only other thing you can see is water. A very odd landscape, the first time I've ever really been in a desert.

On the drive to Dahab, we got halfway when the driver pulled over to the side of the road and stopped (there were 2 other people in the van, I wasn't about to travel 100km alone in a vehicle at this point!). We all wondered what he was up to. Common consensus was a pee break. As it turns out, he was stopping to pray! Muslims are supposed to pray 5 times a day, and Egypt is 90% Muslim. The month I spent in Turkey (which is also Muslim) I rarely came across anyone who actually practices. After a quick prayer, we were on our way again!

By the time we arrived it was dark, and I was exhausted. I had a short walk along the waterfront, it is much more developped and touristy than I expected. Lots of restaurants, shops, dive shops, all done up in lights! There are always guys outside restaurants and gift shops trying to get you to come in to their establishment. It can get tiring, but some of them can be very entertaining. By 9pm I was asleep in bed, so today I will have a proper look around.

It seems to be quite hazy here, I'm not sure if it will burn off or not. I know the polution in Cairo is terrible, and it's always hazy. It's hot though, 29C, with a light breeze. I can't wait to get in the water and see what's down there!
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