So, it’s time for me to make another blog already – I genuinely cannot believe how fast the time has been going. It seems like we have done so much. When we planned our trip here, we planned to do an activity every other day meaning that it wouldn’t take it out of us too much on the rest days, and when you think about the hot sun beating down on you with highs of 42 degrees, it can’t get any better. It literally reads as sun, sea and bliss. With the occasional adventure added in to make it interesting.
There are people who sit by the pool all day and not move, except to turn their bodies over. I don’t think I could do that every day. On our rest days Alex and I have been spending it by the pool, but we generally get there about 9ish, and leave about 1pm, in time for lunch at the restaurant, then return to our room and perhaps go out in the evening, or return to the pool. It is on these days that I’ve been getting my reading in, and have made fairly steady progress through Game of Thrones, although I can’t actually tell if I like this book yet – but when I am not reading it I am thinking about the characters and why they were written and what purpose they have served.
I haven’t really tanned. I am frequently putting on the factor 50 sunscreen, although I could probably safely go down to a 30, I’m not here to get a tan. I don’t really see the point in a tan in the first place to be honest; I suppose it’s all about that sun kissed look. Tan = healthy, right? People that talk to us here can scarcely believe that we have been here over a week and still look like we’ve just stepped off the plane.
So, what about our most recent adventure, which is really the reason that I am typing, and that you dear readers, are reading. This adventure was one that I have been looking forwards to for a long time as it is another of those things that I have always wanted to do – we went camel riding in the desert, watched the sunset over the Dahab mountains, had dinner with the Bedouin people, and saw the stars in all their beauty.
Camels, I think, are the oddest creatures that I have ever known to – well – exist. They walk oddly, both left legs forwards, then both right, which then makes for a strange ride when you are going along causing you to sit in this weird back and forth motion that I am pretty sure if I were on there for a long time would cause me some sort of motion sickness. Getting on and off the camel is another matter all together. When you get on – the saddle is a carefully constructed seat across the animal, near to the camel’s neck, covered in Bedouin blankets with a hold at the front and the back of the saddle. It’s also pretty big – as is the animal. So getting your leg over with these can be quite difficult. Their legs bend at strange angles too – it doesn’t look natural. You have to brace yourself getting up and down and it really isn’t the smoothest of rides.
We were on the camels for about 20-25 minutes making our way to the camps. The camels were led by children, which I don’t really know what to make of. They begged for “tips” at the end of the rid – but… I refused to give them tips. Their service had already been paid for… I think it’s like a guilt thing really – have children to lead the ride to get more money out of the tourists… I don’t know. Really, I don’t want to think too much about it. Children in work is obviously a contentious issue but it’s sort of part of the Bedouin culture – well it must be – I haven’t seen any children Egyptian’s in Sharm at all, thinking about it, except for those with adults trying to tout “free” Camel rides outside the hotels.
Much like the Quad bikes, I was certain I was going to get the moody camel. My luck was in as aside from a couple of camels [including mine] walking into other camels where the children were more concerned with talking rather than leading the animals in a fairly straight line, it was good. Before we got to the camel station we were warned about the camel’s temperament and how they could be. Alex kept quoting Aladdin “Careful, they spit!” As it turns out, Camel’s are the most expensive animal in Egypt costing approx £1000 [£E10,000 approx]. I think horses are more expensive back in the UK.
Once the camel ride was over we spent some time with these “modern Bedouin’s” who even had a TV and a working toilet. After we had spent a small amount of time here, we climbed one of the smaller Dahab mountains to watch the sunset. Dahab, it turns out, means “gold” or “city of gold” because of the way that the colours of the Sun hit the mountain as it sets. I have a few pictures of this, and hopefully my camera can do the sunset justice. It was so nice to just sit there and watch the sun go down behind the mountains. The temperature didn’t drop at all though; apparently it’s the wrong time of year for it to go cold anywhere in Sinai at least. Oh, before we actually climbed the mountain our guide showed us some stuff unique to the desert – things like beetle homes, special herbs that the Bedouin use to fight diseases and snake bites, and the two types of trees that grow in this region.
Once we returned from the mountain – I did the nice thing of helping someone down as she was wearing totally the wrong shoes to be climbing a mountain [and she wasn’t even part of our group of tourists] – we returned to the tents where we had some more of that tea mentioned in the last post. I believe it’s called Habuk tea, but I really can’t remember. It’s a nice tea, but difficult to describe – very sweet – more so than you would expect from tea.
After a small while we had some dinner with the Bedouins – we learned to make their special flat bread, and see it cooked. It’s kind of like a bread pancake, cooked over a hot iron condiment – quite nice really. The closest thing to describing it would be a tortilla wrap – but thinner and nicer. Dinner was rice, vegetables, BBQ chicken… and some camel’s milk. Which I tried and it was actually very very nice. It’s quite a sweet milk.
Next the Bedouin’s put on a show. First there was some singing and music playing, then this creepy voice started up and I was utterly, completely convinced that a Combichrist song was about to follow, then this guy walked onto this stage clearly designed for this sort of thing – and starts playing with fire! It was pretty awesome – and I was able to get a few pictures along the lines of light painting which looked pretty cool on the camera but I haven’t yet looked at them on the computer.
Next up on stage was a Bedouin man dressed in, well they looked like skirts, but I assume they have some sort of ceremonial purpose, and well… he spun. And spun. And spun for a very long time [to music]. After some time lights appeared on his skirts and starting glowing too – to which I got some light painting orientated pictures from as well. There was also a point when he got members of the audience to dance on the stage with him, which was funny.
Then again with the creepy music – and the fire guy came back, but this time with two big pillows full of metal prongs – and he proved to the audience that this is what they were by going round and making them touch it. He also had a big heavy looking bag as well, full with broken glass. Can you see where this little bit is going? Add in some volunteers from the audience and this man was stepped on, quite a bit, in all areas of his body – including his head on the nails – by the volunteers. It was fascinating to watch, it really was!
Once the show had ended – and what a show it was too – we were taken by our guides into the desert – to do the stargazing part. You won’t have seen anything like it, it just took my breath away! You could see the whole of the Milky Way. Seriously, the whole of it. It was so beautiful! And pretty difficult to photograph as well, but I walked away with a few shots that I was proud of – I just hope that they come out on the computer. This moment in time – it was one of those times that make you realise just how insignificant our little planet is, and how beautiful the natural world is. We would probably see it at home, if there wasn’t all the light pollution clogging up the night sky.
We had an astronomer as well, telling us where certain constellations were, and how to find the North Star [which isn’t the brightest star in the sky – which I always thought that it was]. It was pleasant, and relaxing and I enjoyed it so much! The only thing that made my night awkward was the fact that my eye started playing up – which it hasn’t done for ages – and it was sore until the sun went down and the lights weren’t as bright.
Right, well, I’ll leave it there for the time being.
Take care folks!