Saturday, January 01, 2000


March 26 - April 14

We arrvied from Bahrain on the 26th and were lucky enough to meet Chris and Gigi on their last evening in Egypt. We spent a few days in Cairo, saw the pyramids and the big musuem, and split by taxi out into the desert. After a four day trek, we returned to Cairo and head immediately for the Red Sea where we did 4 days of diving. We took one rest day after emerging from the ocean, then caught a bus to Cairo and an early flight on the 14th on to Ankara (via Istanbul).

Day by day:

  • Sun Mar 26 - arrive around 13:00, suffer a bit of confusion at immigration trying to get a tourist visa, immediately thereafter find baggage personnel to report our still-missing luggage, hook up with a travel agent called abdul who helps us manage the bag issue and book a hotel, he also arranges a ride into town and accompanies us to our room, a friend of abdul's called ahmet arrives an hour later to talk about travel options, we plunk down some cash for a trip to the pyramids on wednesday, head to zamelek island by taxi to meet chris and gigi in the pub beneath their hotel, have a mezze dinner of sorts there, say goodbye around 22:00 and return to hotel, early to bed
  • Mon Mar 27 - up around 10:00, breakfast in hotel, head out on foot to american university bookstore to buy reading material and guidebooks, deflect a tout on the way, walk down to street bazaar, buy some clothes, tea then meaty lunch, cross over big road to get a look at a mosque, take a tour and have a great view of the area from the minaret, met outside the mosque by a guy claiming to be an english student, he shows us around some workshops and craft stores, mike buys a little present for his mom and a fez for himself, part company with volunteer guide after a short visit to a papyrus shop, walk back to hotel, find that luggage has been delivered - huzzah!, call ahmet to arrange transport to eclipse, he comes buy a bit later to collect money and the deal is sealed, head out to local joint for a tasty dinner of grilled meat and macaroni and salads and fresh bread, back to hotel to do a bit of admin, sleep
  • Tue Mar 28 - up around 09:30, breakfast in hotel, pack up and check out, leave bags in the lobby, head down to mcdonalds for internet access, walk up back towards hotel to check out some camera shops in search of solar filters, stop in to DHL to mail gift to mike's mom, a bit more shopping, tasty lunch of meet in pasta and beans, walk down to nile to check out the scene, walk back up to hotel and wait there for driver, he arrives around 20:00 with chris (another passenger to the eclipse), drive all night with only a stop in mersa matrouh to have tea
  • Wed Mar 29 - arrive at eclipse sight around 04;00, have some tea and bread and generally chill out in the cold, watch the sun come up, play a bit of hacky sack, wait around, get interviewed on live TV, the show starts at 11:00 and hits climax around 12:40, the egyptian president was there, get a lot of photos and video, wait for driver to come back with chris, jason meets some members of the egyptian pariament, jump into car and split for cairo, stop for a meal in mersa matrou, say good-bye to chris who is staying there, truck on to cairo with only one more stop for le toilette, arrive back at hotel around 22:30 and straight to bed
  • Thu Mar 30 - up at 06:50 and out the door at 07:30, drive with guide and driver to pyramids of giza, take a camel ride to see the site, jump back in car to see older pyramids at sakarah, guide gives us a good rundown, view inside of one tomb, stop for lunch at a very touristy restaurant but the food is good, return directly to hotel by car, do some turkey and desert safari research before taking a good nap, make a few safari-related calls but no very solid leads, head out to mcdonalds for some internet access, stumble across restaurant that does pizza and savoury pastries, eat there and chat in french with some locals, back to hotel to sleep
  • Fri Mar 31 - up at 07:00 to shower and do some more reading about turkey, breakfast at hotel, book tickets to ankara on the phone, taxi down to zamalek to pay for tickets after an attempt to find the travel agent at the wrong place, taxi over to egyptian antiquities museum, enjoy exhibits separately, have a cafe lunch, save mummies and king tut for last, walk back to hotel, jason reads about crusades while mike works on eclipse video, out for dinner in mostly empty hotel restaurant, back to hotel to watch a bit of james bond before bed
  • Sat Apr 1 - up at 08:30, jason puts in the laundry, not so patiently wait for hot water, cold shower, breakfast at hotel, out to mcdonalds for internet access and to upload april fools day joke, underground to ramses square so jason can post some things, mike kills time by drinking tea and watching movie in cafe, walk back to hotel, eat takeaway lunch in hotel room and watch CNN, chill reading and burning DVDs and watching CNN and crap movies, out to cairo tower to dine in cheesy rotating restaurant, target nightclub does not appear to exist, go on a hunt for belly dancing that takes us to a riverfront club and the pyramid road, retire back to the hotel around 23:00 in despair, straight to bed
  • Sun Apr 2 - up at 07:40, shower, pack, mike pops out to try to get the internet but finds cafe closed, check out and jump into car destined for baharia oasis, one stop at grimy rest area to buy water and stretch, back in car to complete the trek, arrive around 12:30, have lunch, arrange trek and pay a big stack of cash, relax in room and charge devices, take a trip around town in a 4x4 along with 2 girls - a canadian and a kiwi, mike has a swim in the oasis lake, watch sun set from a hilltop, return to camp for chicken dinner, early to bed
  • Mon Apr 3 - up early to have simple breakfast and tea before heading out in a truck to meet our guide (arajip) and his camels (names not known), mount up and head back across town, stop for lunch in a little stone house with a frond roof then nap away the hot hours, back in the saddle and into the desert, camp in the sand after a few hours, tea then dinner, watch the stars for a bit then hit the hay
  • Tue Apr 4 - up around 9 for tea and simple (cheese and bread and jam) breakfast, break camp and head further out into the desert - this time on foot, stop at a shady spot for lunch, then press on for the afternoon, stop again near some kind of oasis farm for supper, asleep for 22:00 (or maybe earlier)
  • Wed Apr 5 - up around 09:00, usual breakfast and tea, trek out on foot, arrive in a small oasis town around 11, stop next to hot spring pump pool and have a swim and a wash, lunch on beef (maybe brain) and tuna and such in palm branch hut - are joined by some local friends of arajip's, hang there for a bit napping and reading, head out again on foot, make camp in the sand, tea then supper, jump into sleeping bags not to long after sunset
  • Thu Apr 6 - up at 8 and discover that camels have gotten into the supplies, shoosh them off with arajip's assistance, have a bit of breakfast, pack up and trek (jason on camel, mike on foot) for 2 hours, stop for an early lunch in the less than copious shade, read and nap until about 14:30 then head out again, make it to meeting point near an asphalt road, pass the time throwing rocks at other rocks and having a bread snack, pickup is two hours late, debate hitching and decide to camp there the night, safari company folks show up in a truck just as we are settling in, put camels in the back and drive into town, say goodbye to arajip, pickup bags and have a soda while waiting for room, drop stuff in room and head down for a nice mutton supper, back to room to get clean and process photos and blog and such, mike calls home to wish his parents happy birthday, shower and sleep
  • Fri Apr 7 - up at 07:00 to pack up, simple breakfast (this time with fig jam!), in the car at 8 and head out with a brief stop for the driver to get some take-away eats, two pee stops on the way, get dropped off at bus terminal, have lunch while waiting, make some calls to arrange dives and accommodation with at first little and then some success, bus leaves around 14:20, jason reads about the crusades while mike blogs, two short stops on the way, arrive for about 21:00, take a taxi to the hotel, check in, dinner in hotel is expensive so go across the way for al fresco meal with friendly staff, back to hotel to sleep
  • Sat Apr 8 - up at 09:00 and catch hotel breakfast, walk across the way to have coffee and cake and use wifi at "the station" cafe, back to the hotel to change rooms, head out by mini bus a dive center on the bay, arrange to do a check dive at noon, go out and purchase prescription lenses for mike, jump in the water around 13:00 with dive leader and a german (austrian?) couple in tow, have a nice shallow swim and see some fish and a moray eel, drop off equipment and make arrangements for the next day out on a dive boat, lunch on the beach, try unsuccessfully to buy an enclosure for jason's camera, taxi back to hotel, wash, laptop jam, cross road to cafe to use internet, sandwiches and italian soda for dinner, back to hotel and watch a bit of the twin towers, sleep
  • Sun Apr 9 - up at 07:00, breakfast at hotel, catch 07:45 bus to dive center, on the dive boat for about 09:00, do some nitrox instruction aboard, first dive is deep and do narcosis test and practice a rescue skill, have a bit of a swim along a reef wall, back on boat to enjoy the sun and have lunch, chat with fellow passengers including an english actress that will be presenting a show called "tribe wanted", second dive is shallow reef wall, joined in a group by claus (older german guy) and his young daughter nora, manage to surface on top of the reef (whoops!), get dragged back into the boat, pleasant ride back in past a rusty wreck, arrange next two days of dives, head to pleasant rooftop egyptian place for dinner, taxi back to hotel to bathe and sleep
  • Mon Apr 10 - up at 07:15 to read SSI nitrox book, breakfast at hotel, picked up at 08:45 and down to different docks, board boat and head out to ras mohammed park, do three dives including a cave and part of a wreck surrounded by toilets, back to dock late and transfer by crazy taxi to dive center, organize a few things there and buy DVD of day's diving, say goodbye to dive guide mohammed and head to town to drop off camera and get money and dine on tasty chinese/japanese soup, taxi to hotel and straight to bed
  • Tue Apr 11 - up at 05:30, picked up at 06:30, transfer to same dock as Mon, get on different dive boat, snooze while heading out to site of the thistlegorm wreck, breakfast on the boat, two dives on the wreck - one out and one in, lunch aboard, wait around while others do a third dive on the way back in, reach dock around 18:00, shuttle to dive center to get an idea of the size of the bill, so-so lebanese dinner in nama bay, back to hotel to watch a bit of TV and sleep
  • Wed Apr 12 - up at 08:00, mike finally showers after 2 days of stinking, leisurely outdoor breakfast at hotel, watch a bit of TV and finish off a DVD burn before heading across the way to use wireless at the cafe, mike has a skype with crowlins then jason gets synching stuff installed as his laptop is dead, both have a sandwich for lunch, back to hotel, relax by the pool and burn DVDs and watch TV, head out to Nama Bay and pay diving bill and get certification cards and paperwork sorted, swiss ice cream near the beach, dinner and sheesha with tea at rooftop camel bar, taxi back to hotel, watch TV while sorting more DVDs, sleep
  • Thu Apr 13 - up at 08:20, burn red sea diving DVD, al fresco breakfast by the pool, relax the morning away, mike goes across the way for tea and cake and wifi, return to hotel to back up, check out around 11:30 and taxi to bus station, leave sharm at 13:00, arrive in cairo around 18:30 with only one police stop to sniff the baggage, taxi from bus stop in cairo to airport, hang out in cafe to have dinner and pass the time until check in, board plane around 02:00 and in the air for 02:45

Photo Albums
Desert Trek

Video Clips
The Eclipse Dance
Bedouin Breakfast
Desert Trekkin'
The Camel Dance
Pretty Diving
Scary Diving