Tag Archives: Desert

Travels to Egypt

14 Sep

I realised yesterday that I had been neglecting my little blog despite the amount of important things going on in my life at the moment, and thought that I should probably give the e-world a little update on my activities. So, here goes…

I’ve been in Canterbury mostly, working at the library and enjoying life with my new house mates (as they slowly filter back to Canterbury from their respective towns and counties). The work at the library is rather mundane and laborious, but I’m not going to complain about the £9.54 an hour I’m getting for doing it! So, if all goes well, I may finish with money at the end of this academic year! I know, right? I’m looking forward to actually doing a few shifts on the Support Desk (my actual job), despite being slightly nervous; I’m sure I’ll get over it soon enough.

In other news! I paid a little visit to Egypt with my family. No, not to see the pyramids, but I did get to snorkel in the Red Sea (around the Raas Mohammed) and spend a few days in the sun, making me a little less deathly-white and more living-human coloured. Always a good thing. I stayed in Sharm El Sheikh, a highly popularised and tourist-y part in the south.

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

I flew with Monarch. The baggage allowance as a generous 25kg, the flight was on time, the staff were helpful (although there was a bit of a delay both ways due to some kind of administrative error in the airport, but we didn’t mind much), and we arrived with all our baggage intact, which is always a bonus. The transfer from Sharm El Sheikh airport was quick in a nice, air-conditioned bus and the hotel staff at the Grand Hotel even carried our bags to our rooms for us (particularly awesome because there were four of them, and they were pretty damn heavy… especially Mum’s). The hotel itself was amazing. It had five to eight restaurants, six swimming pools and its own little private beach. The rooms were spotless, the hot water was always available and the inclusive food was pretty good. Mum and Emma were pretty damn picky, and Emma did get raw chicken once, but other than that it was definitely edible.

So what about the people? You hear a lot of stories about Arabic men harassing women. Uh… it’s not completely a stereotype. I had quite a few pushy, slightly creepy men flirting with me, even on the complex. One even approached my sister and said, quite plainly, “I need a visa. I need a passport.” At least he didn’t beat around the bush. Heh. So, moral of the story, if you don’t want to be harassed at all, try go with a male member of your family, or your partner. I know! But it would have made my stay a whole lot more comfortable if I’d had Mike there.

Despite the lack of pyramids involved in my visit, I did go on two excursions. The first was on the boat/submarine combo known as the Nautilus (I lol’d too). It took us out towards the Raas Mohammed to have a look at the coral reef, and oh my God. It’s very difficult to describe what you see down there to someone who has never been there. It was amazing. The corals were fantastic, and the fish were even more so. I only went snorkelling, but I’ve already looked into starting my diving license so that I can spend longer down there. It was truly out of this world.

Parrot Fish, possiblyA fish swimming amongst the corals

The crew on the Nautilus were great fun. The trained diver was a blonde, British bloke who swam with me and a couple of times helped me down to the bottom of the sea bed to take a closer look (he had weights strapped round his waist, where as I didn’t). He was pretty damn cool, and he swam like no human I’d ever seen before outside an Olympic swimming pool. Seriously. This guy was like a fish. Aaanyways…

My second excursion was out into the desert. And no, not on a Camel, but on a Quad bike! We had a brief tour of all the rocky mountains in the immediate area, and he took us over an assault course of uneven terrain. It was great fun, and the heat really wasn’t that much of a problem (considering we were in the desert, that is), but we did have to wear a head scarf arrangement over our heads and faces to keep the sand out – mine dropped away for about five minutes and I was spitting out sand afterwards. We stopped off at a small settlement in the middle of nowhere and took pictures of the sunset. It struck me just how empty everything was, but how beautiful at the same time. It was possibly one of the most barren landscapes I had ever seen, but there was a strange charm in its lack of human occupants.

Some of my tour group speeding through the desert

My sister and I working our head scarves and sunglasses

But there was certainly evidence of human contamination. At some of our stops – obviously used all the time by the tour guides – I found rubbish strewn everywhere. It made me angry that tourists felt it was fine to taint such an amazing landscape. I encountered similar frustration while on the beach one day; I watched one of the locals clean up the corals as the tide came in. With the crashing waves came empty water bottles, sanitary towels, crisp packets and sweet wrappers, amongst other things. This was the Red Sea! One of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural attractions, and someone felt obliged to use it as a rubbish tip. Urgh. People… I much preferred the company of the fishes.

So yeah, it was really good. I would have liked to have gone to Cairo, but I didn’t fancy the ten hour bus trip/short haul flight that it would have taken to get there. The Pyramids will have to wait a little longer! It was only meant to be a family holiday anyway; some sun before I come back to Canterbury where rain, sleet and snow reign supreme over all. At the moment, the sun seems to be clinging on as we get closer to Fresher’s week… rain on the Freshers! RAIN CANTERBURY!