So we arrived at Sharm el Sheikh Airport late Thursday night. The last time I flew anywhere it was to the USA with a friend to celebrate the end of GCSEs, and a parting of the ways in a sense. I don’t really remember either flight, but I do remember that I wasn’t nervous at all. I mean, first time travelling at all and of all places to the USA. [Arizona, to be precise, it would seem that I have a penchant for hot destinations, yet I am not the sun, sand and sea type of person – naturally Alex wants to do Alaska the next time we travel anywhere… brrr!]
Sitting on the plane I was filled with this nervous energy, butterflies doing a number deep in the pit of my stomach. I can only assume that this is because I am older and more aware of what happens in the world. I can honestly say that all sorts of thoughts were going through my head… then the planes engines started, the take off beginning and I was fine for the rest of the journey. I have no idea what brought that nervousness on. Perhaps it is simply because I have been watching too much Criminal Minds recently.
The descent into Sharm Airport, Egypt was a night time decent. Which meant that all the lights, excluding the emergency lights , were put out! This has to be, in my personal opinion, one of the oddest experiences I have ever had. With all the lights out, and looking out into a desert – it was actually quite disconcerting when the plane tilted/turned left or right! Especially when you think you’re looking at the ground, and it turns out it was the sky, with the only point of reference being the flashing light outside the window where the engine is [oh yeah, window seats!]. Of course, once you voice these thoughts, you cannot take them back, and you tend to look like a pleb. However, this is me, so you guys already know that I am a bit “special” in that sense anyways!
So the first night we got to our hotel, which by the way is amazing. And huge. Most definitely huge – our room number starts 21— [like I’d put the whole number on there!]. It took a long time for the luggage to be collected for some reason though, as it would seem there had been a problem on the other side. Plus you kind of had to guess where your luggage was coming out as some of the information screens weren’t working that night. There was the “Windows has encountered an error” sign on one, and on another the Windows [XP] unlocking code required! You know the one I mean, the control, alt, delete one. However, after my nasty visions of my luggage having gone astray, we wound up at the hotel. Even though it was something like 22:00 local time the heat! The heat was immense, I just didn’t expect it. I assumed that once the sun had set that the temperature would drop as well, but that wasn’t, and isn’t, the case.
One of the main things we are trying to ensure is to keep out of the midday sun – which it kind of goes without saying is the most harmful part of the day. Unlike my trip to Cornwall last year, I haven’t yet burnt, and have been applying my factor 50 [yes, I know] very regularly, especially today as we went on our first excursion to the Ras Mohammed National Park – Egypt’s first national park. Being a park, you would have thought that mean land, but it was all in the water – which means…. swimming and snorkelling in the bluest sea that I have ever seen! Even now I can feel the sea salt on my hands, under my nails – yeah, I have yet to wash it out – my hair is the crunchiest I have ever known it. The coral reefs were amazing to look at as well! We got an underwater camera, an old school one that you have to wind the film on in – but as with any film camera I am unsure how the pictures will turn out. We saw a shark, and a stingray, down at the bottom of the ocean, and I managed to swim right into a coral reef – which is called being “stung” so when I got back to the boat I had to have some medical treatment for even though it didn’t bleed or anything. I think it was antiseptic more than anything. It turned my leg brown for bit though. In all there were three dives that you had the opportunity to go on. The first one was pretty long though, and being as though I am not a great swimmer I had to wear a life jacket [I wans’t going to drown before you all laugh at me!]. Snorkelling is a very strange experience though, and whilst it was really awesome to see the coral and the fishes, my mask, which we had bought the precious day, was leaking in one side a bit and was causing my eyes to sting – that water was most definitely salty. I made sure I was wearing my contacts for this trip or I wouldn’t have seen anything at all! The second dive we both didn’t go on, me because of my lack of swimmers status meant that my legs were pretty weak by that time, and Alex because he wasn’t feeling too well – I have yet to decide whether this is because he is suffering heat stroke, or because he hasn’t been eating/drinking as much as me. Which makes me sound really quite greedy but I am very conscious of the fact that I really do not want to get ill. Hence, all the sunscreen – which to be fair Alex has been putting on regularly [factor 30].
The last dive was also pretty interesting but again I didn’t do the whole dive as I really am a weak swimmer – something that I really want to work on when we return home. The guys that ran the tour were brilliant as well! Syed has got to be one of the best swimmers in the world. And Mohammed “Like every other Egyptian [named] man you have met” , I think he was the tour guide-y type person had such personality and character that it made the whole experience so much better! Plus he looked after Alex when he wasn’t feeling well, and after he had also been “stung” by some coral reef – right below his bum – I should add for my amusement more than anything. Some of Mohammed’s colleagues were saying that people remembered him, even four or five years after their first tour. In this world of anonymity that has to count for something, right?
During the dives we crossed from the Gulf of Suez [where I geeked out my history knowledge to Alex a little bit, until I saw the glazed expression in his eyes…] to the Gulf of Aqaba [which being honest, doesn’t it sound like a name straight from Aladdin?]. So, swimming and being in both these waters means that I have technically have visited Asia today as well! It sounds strange to think that I am currently staying in Africa – I mean, in my head Africa and Egypt are two different places, but it really isn’t. I know, this is one of those comments that cannot be unsaid.
Our next excursion is to Cairo – although the Sharm Club representative did tell us today that there is a possibility that the excursion may be cancelled if the Egyptian tourist board see fit. He said it wasn’t because of trouble in Cairo – apparently there it’s “perfectly safe” – and nor was it to do with that fact that we are coming from Sharm, it’s to do with the in-between bit. Which is about 500km from where we are staying, and is about a 6 hour coach trip between the two destinations. He has that the last two trips to Cairo by coach were cancelled, and that we will find out tomorrow sometime as to what is going on with it all. I suppose it’s not the end of the world if it is cancelled – money is refunded and all that – but Egypt is all about the Pyramids. Naturally, safety first [ooo, talking of safety first – I have spotted one Esso site – that sort of looked like a S&S from the outside, and a few Mobil sites too] For anyone that didn’t know I work for Esso. It’s sort of my thing to spot them when I go abroad.
As I write this I have left Alex in the hotel room resting and sat in the lobby as he isn’t feeling a hundred per cent. This is probably because he isn’t adjusting to the Egyptian sun/heat as well as I am. Well, I say that, I am making sure that I eat enough and drink enough more than anything. Even if I am eating a lot of carbs, I feel as though I need it! Also, the lobby is the only place to get WiFi – it’s the slowest internet connection ever, but it’s a connection! Also, I apologise if there are many typo’s as I have been writing this on Alex’s laptop, which I really am not used to! I miss mine already! The air conditioning is also the best in the lobby, although it makes that whole avoid going from extreme heat to extreme cold thing pretty hard to avoid.
Anyways, that is all for now, and I hope to blog again soon – probably after the Cairo trip – assuming it goes ahead!
Take care folks, and hope that it isn’t raining too much in the UK!!