After flying from Luxor to Sharm El Sheikh (and of course sleeping in the Cairo airport since I didn’t book a more costly direct flight…) I had to figure out how to get from Sharm to Dahab which is about an hour away. Usually there is a bus that runs every hour and should have been an easy trip. However, the buses were on strike. I only found this out by having the taxi driver take me to the bus station to be sure that he wasn’t simply trying to rip me off for a more expensive fare. Well, it turns out he was actually telling me the truth (or took me to a different, but very convincing closed bus station…). In true backpacker fashion obviously not wanting to have to pay the full way by myself I found a local Egyptian guy that is also going to Dahab and offer to share the ride. The taxi driver quoted 150 Egyptian pounds (about $25), which is a good price according to wikitravel, so splitting it with this guy would be a decent way to go. I clarified that in fact we would be splitting it 50-50, each paying 75 pounds. His response I kid you not: “well, I’m not a tourist so I only want to pay 20”. I was supposed to pay 130 because of my passport, and he thought that that was completely reasonable. Never mind the fact that I’m taking minibuses like the locals do, not taking the chartered air-conditioned buses around like a lot of the tourists. I obviously turn that down and say that I’ll wait around for more people to bring the cost to a more reasonable level. Either the driver or the local guy got tired of waiting after about 20 minutes so they say fine, 75-75 and we leave. I’m sure the local guy didn’t really pay that much, but either way I got the ride for the price I was willing to pay after a bit of frustration.
Unfortunately I had been pretty congested for over a week from the pollution and all of the second hand cigarette smoke, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to go scuba diving. I was pretty bummed, but decided to try and make the most of the Red Sea and go snorkeling. I was not disappointed! The coral and wildlife I saw was as good as, and maybe even better than the Great Barrier Reef, which is obviously a tough feat. And there were divers underneath me, seeing the same stuff, but at about ten times the price I paid, so bonus!
Mt. Sinai, where Moses delivered the Ten Commandments is a popular trip from Dahab. So of course I had to do the difficult (but popular) version and climb the mountain to see sunrise. I left my hotel around 11pm and got to the starting point on the mountain about 1:30am. Well, this was after driving through the snow storm, not joking unfortunately. I started climbing with my group and Bedouin guide in complete darkness. I had been warned about how cold it is during this journey and dressed appropriately in a full suit of Under Armour underneath two fleeces and a rain jacket; in total I had six layers on the top and two on my legs, along with hat, gloves, and two pairs of socks. I actually got quite warm while climbing, however because my group was apparently quite adept trekkers, we moved too quickly and had to wait in a Bedouin house (without heat of course) for almost two hours to wait for the sunrise. Regrettably, during this time, just sitting around in sub-zero temperatures, I got quite cold, even with a down blanket, and never quite recovered. I got to see the sunrise over Mt. Sinai, which was a very cool site to see, but unfortunately between the wind and my shaking hands, very few of my pictures turned out very well. I even downloaded a picture of the Ten Commandments on my kindle and was hoping to re-enact the Moses scene, but I couldn’t feel my hands enough to even turn it on.
I stayed in Dahab for a fairly extended period of time because it was a good place to get some work done. My hotel had a beach-side restaurant that had quite a view, which I used as my “office” for the week J And bonus since I’m not volunteering at the Humane Society anymore, I got my fix of kittens! A mom had had a litter of five kittens on the upper deck of the restaurant a month ago and all of the kittens were quite friendly! It probably didn’t hurt that I fed them and the mom, usually two meals a day… It was ironic to watch them beg for table food and for me to give in, since my cat at home is not supposed to get any people food, despite his “Puss In Boots eyes”… (Lisa this is directed at you).