Cairo Diaries - 19

Lots of complaints that I haven't been posting quite regularly. :( I know.. I am very sorry. Seriously very limited inclination to blog all of a sudden. But I am trying my best.

We went on a trip to Sharm-El-Sheikh. It was one of those trips that you plan all of a sudden... I had absolutely no indication that morning, that in the evening I would be travelling to Sharm El Sheikh.

And so it happened that Sharm el Shaikh was planned and the bus departed at 2:30 in the morning. Yes, you read that right. 2:30 in the morning. We reached the place at about 10 in the morning. The journey was a bit ok for me. Not much disturbances and all. Atleast for me, coz I managed to get the last row of seats all for myself. :P

The distance between Sharm and Cairo is about 500 kms. For the uninitiated, Sharm is on the Sinai Peninsula. It's literally a different geographic mass. :)The last three hours of our journey was with the virgin beaches on one side and rocks and mountains on the other.

The hotel where we stayed was Naama Inn. Pretty decent. I specially loved the size of my room. Huge, compared to the 'dingy' rooms which we stayed in during our Aswan and Luxor trips. (NOM to the organisers of that trip, if they are reading this.. :P)

Naama Inn has a wonderful swimming pool, which again, as Murphy's law would put it, was not in operation. This inn was situated right 'on' the road. Opposite this place were places like KFC,TGIF,HardRock etc.

The beach was just a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Hardly 200 steps. :)
We reached the beach. Gaped and Stared for about 20 minutes. Then got used to it. :) :P

Then of course, we were floating in the water for about an hour or so. We had time till noon. After which we were supposed to have lunch and leave for the desert biking. Lunch was not on the menu on our trip. So we had to fend for ourselves. I had lunch at the India house. We ordered Veg Pulao and Aloo Tamatar Sabzi. One of the best simple lunches I've had till date, after my landing in Cairo.

For folks who have ridden on Desert Bikes and who wish to come to Sharm-El-Sheikh and try Desert Biking, you will be in for a big disappointment here. It is not actually a desert !!!. It is just a plain that is surrounded by the hills and looks like a Desert !!!! And trust me when I say it, Its simply not worth it.

The Desert Biking here is run by touts. And trust me its effing disgusting. Not a single thing is organised !!! Before you start for your desert biking trip, ideally I would expect my tour organiser, I mean, my agent, to tell me, that I need to carry water (for drinking) and a handtowel for covering my face so that the dust will not affect me. But this guy, did not mention it to us. We reached there, and we find that the touts are ruling the roost here. You do get the water, but it costs 6 pounds. (The average price is 2.5 to 3).You do get the hand towel, but it costs 25 pounds. Again, these folks do not know, how to bargain. So you cannot bargain on the price. Half these guys do not talk English. So it is highly probable that you might be taken for a ride. These guys follow one crazy rule. They tell you, that all of you are supposed to maintain a distance of 10m between each other and that you are not supposed to overtake.

Now let me tell you something. If you do not overtake in Desert Biking, there is no fun !!! Absolutely no fun !!! There are no sand dunes here dude !! WTF ? Its just one straight road. What are they going to do now ? Put speed limits on Desert Biking ??

To top it all, the guy who was leading us, was riding such a pathetic bike, that I at once felt pity and anger on him. Pity that he was stuck with me, and Angry that the amount of money he is fleecing from his customers, he would be better off driving a BMW. And the bike's chain kept slipping every 40 metres or so, and again, like a set of cycles, we all had to stop, abruptly. At one point of time, I felt so pissed off, that I felt I should run the man over with my Desert Bike. And of course, you have the option of about 3 hours of bike racing. These guys know how to waste time. So what they do, is to take you to some idiotic place in the middle of the plains, calling it the echo point, and then ask you to shout so that you can hear the echo. Bleddy Childish !!!! I felt like tearing out the lungs of the man. Then they took us to a bedouin camp in the middle of the Desert, for refreshments. Nothing comes free. Here also, the water is at cost, so are the other refreshments. As for me, I had a good photo session. !! :)

After this, we had to get back. Nothing was planned for the evening. So everybody was having their own plans. I reached the beach. Took some beautiful snaps of the moon. And the beach, and some of my colleagues. Went back. Had a decent dinner. Came back to the beach and then spent an hour or so, idling in the sand, listening to the waves coming in. After that, we came back to the streets, only to find it jostling with people. People of different nationalities, all come, for a good time. We then located a couple of our colleagues at sheesha counter and settled there. Spent some two hours in that atmosphere. It was fun !!! :)

After that it was time to retire to our rooms. Next day, breakfast and then 9AM we were due for the Cruise. It was a day long cruise. We reached the Jetty. Again Touts.. !!!

Now they were haggling with us for the life jackets and the face masks. Everything was on rent. And they were quite good salesmen too. The actual cost of a lifejacket is about 30-35 pounds. They were renting it to us at 20 pounds. Assuming atleast 2 people had used that life jacket before me, it was still a return over investment. And going by the condition of these lifejackets, it was quite apparent, that the investment was atleast an year old.

Anyway, the ship (o.k. the boat.. இவன் ஏதோ டைட்டானிக்க்ள போனா மாதிரி பிட்ட போடறான்னு நினைக்கவேண்டாம்.,,)came. It was called 'Dar-Es-Salaam'. Cute boat. So were a couple of passengers.. :) :D

Anyway, again, a whole set of photos. We dropped anchor a couple of kilometers off the coast of an island. This was for deep sea diving and snorkelling. I was actually not inclined for this at all, but later on the bug bit me, and I wanted to do it badly. Snorkelling was fun. So was deep sea diving. We would have gone down some 20-25 metres in the water. I did get to touch some corals :) and the seabed as well.

After that lunch on board. Nothing special for vegetarians. So it was kind of half stomach. Finally we reached the beach at about 5 PM.

After that, a group amongst us, wanted to try the banana ride. This photo may well have been my last photo ever, if it wasn't for the life jacket that I was wearing. :)

Quite into the water, the boat/ride turned upside down, in water. This was totally unanticipated. As that was not what we were told. Of the six people, 5 did not know swimming. Of course, Myself and another colleague, we knew how to keep afloat and move about here and there in the water. And then finally, after the 'rescue' mission, we did complete the ride. :) :D

Our guide had planned for a bedouin dinner for the night. We had tried to talk him out of it, but he did not agree. So finally we had to go to the Dinner.. Waste of time and money. (Apparently that dinner alone was 100 pounds.) The food was pathetic. There were some three group dances and one solo dance.

The event started at 8:30 only, though our guide hurriedly sent us at 7:30 itself. The highlight of the day was supposed to be the Belly dancing, which of course turned out to be the dampest squib of the evening and a big comedy at that.

After that, we spent some time idling around, then back to the hotel rooms, packed our bags, and left Sharm at 1:30 AM. We reached Cairo around 8:30 AM on Sunday.

It was a great weekend.. :) :D

Saturday, July 3, 2010 by Hari
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