Snorkling, one of the 7 new world wonders and more
09.09.2010 - 18.09.2010 28 °C
9th of september until 18th of september.
At the moment i am writing this, sitting in a car from Wadi Musa (Yes, Jordan, close to Petra), going to Amman.
So, how did i end up here?
After 18 hours in the bus going to Dahab, i actually felt quite good. Not sleepy. But it's good to take some time telling what happened during this ride. It was quite amazing.
During the stops I talked to some australian people, going in the same direction. For the rest, it was fairly quiet.
Around 6.00 am, during a break, and yes, after 14 hours of ride, i went to a toilet. We were at a gasoline station. Still 4 hours away from Dahab. Everyone was sleeping, so i didn't bother telling anyone i was going to the toilet. I went searching for the toilet. It turned out to be a bit away from the gasoline station. When i was back, i told the guy who worked there that the toilet kept on flushing. He told me he was going to have a look. We had a small conversation. (about soccer, and that Arjen Robben should have scored in the final of the world cup). And then i said, i really should be going, because i didn't know when my bus would leave. All total took about 10 minutes. Then, just when I went out of the station, in the nice sunrise, i see the bus just 50 metres away, heading to the mainroad! I started running, but realised they wouldn't see me. It was too dark and everyone was sleeping. So yes, there my bus went! Unbelievable. All the other stops they counted heads and in this short stop they didn't. On the other hand, it would have been better, that since everyone slept, i should have told the driver i was going to the toilet.
Anyway, at first i was like, fuck! Then, ok, lets see what happens. I had one Egyptian pound (about 15 eurocent) and my mobile plus busticket to Dahab. My passport, money, bankpas, everything, was in the bus. And that was gone! Hmm..how am i going to Dahab. A was thinking of the worst case scenario, which would probably be that i would catch the next bus of upper egypt travel going 5 hours later, arriving in Dahab (since i had my busticket with me). And likely the Aussies would realise at some moment i was not there. They knew exactly what my backpack and daypack looked like. So, probably they would leave me a note where my stuff would be, or just take my stuff to their hotel. That gave me relief and i just waited. Not 100% relaxed, but more relaxed than i would have thought beforehand.The guy of the gasoline station called friends, but none was on my bus. 10 minutes later a group of modern guys shows up in a new car. They were heading to Sharm el Sheikh. Since just after 0.00 this night, ramadan was over, it was time for party. I had 4 lucky angels.They took me in there car and i got a hitch. I was very, very lucky. It was great fun! They had loud music, chips, coke, and were ready for a big party. So with their Volkswagen, we headed onwards. A quick car and i was calculating the time we would catch up with the bus. It should be around 1 hour later. And yes, 1 hour and 15 minutes later, there was the bus. I was very happy! So we took over the bus, hunked, a few times and made the bus stop. So then, i came out, arms wide, big smile, like 'guys you forgot me'. It was very strange.
Luckily, i was back in the bus. The guys of the car didn't want a tip or anyting. Wow, so these were the real, honest Egyptians. They continued to Sharm, and i to Dahab in the bus.
1 hour later, we passed a checkpoint where our passports were checked. I realised that if i would not be on the bus and arrive later with a car or bus, it might have been a problem, since my passport would have passed the checkpoint and i was without passport. All turned out ok, in the end
In dahab, i went with the Aussies. They checked in to an expensive hotel and i walked on to a nice hostel.
Just in between, now that i am writing this, in Jordan, we have a cat in the bus. The owners put it in the back, and it was crying a lot. The poor cat. But luckily, it was able to get out and i took it on my lap. A beautifull white cat with long hairs. But in the end, he continued to the front of the bus to the owner, and now he is quiet again
Back to Dahab. I checked in in the Bishbishi hostel. A very nice, relaxing place! The days start to flow over in each other, so the timeline there might not be totally correct.
I met up with a group of Egyptian friends, also celebrating a long weekend after Ramadan. Also, a German guy was there. He lived in Cairo and was friends with the Egyptians. Hayes, Gomla, Waleed and Hos (Hossan). And the German guy, Johannes. We went for dinner in a nice place and got a lot, a lot of food. As foreigner i would never get this much food. Egyptians always give each other a better deal .
Well, it was too much food for all of us. So the cats and the HUGE dog had a feast with us.
The next day, in the evening, we went quadriding. I enjoyed, but have to say, not 100%. The owners wouldn't let us do funny spinnings, or even go out of one line. So yes, there we drove, very nice quads, just in one too predefined line. And every time one would even move a little bit out of that line, the owners on their motorbikes, would come to that person to tell it was not allowed. Stupid! On the public road, i can totally understand, but later in the dessert, stupid!
I was on the quad with Waleed and when he drove, he managed to get the quad in the dessert and get stuck. Really by accident. It was his first time on a quad. Yes, the owner got pissed of...there we go again. Anyway, i took over and we drove. The only fun left was letting the people before me getting far away, and then, push the gasoline full strenght, to catch up with then. And, in the turns, make the turns a bit sharper and put the gasoline open, so still, a bit of a spin. Well, i really enjoyed spending time with my new Egyptian and German friends. But the quadriding itself was not so special.
Another day i just hang out on the beach with an Australian guy and worked a bit on my websites.
Later, i met up with an American couple. With them, i went snorkeling. Hayes joined also. The underwater world here is incredible. Truly wonderfull. The reef starts just immediately when you hit the water. So you could walk in the Red sea until knee hight and then, take your snorkle and flippers, go underwater, and a whole new world opens up. Amazing! We did this during two days and i am still amazed. I am thinking of taking diving classes in Thailand. I have to see because of the anti-malaria pill Lariam, i cannot go deepseadiving. But i check. Because recreational diving was ok, according to the doctor (recreational diving is until 30 metres deep).
So, yes, wow, incredible. Snorkling, and i imagine, diving in Dahab.
Dahab is a very young city. 10 years ago it was just some berber tents. Now, it could be any place: Rimini, Siofok, Costa del Sol. 100% relying on tourism and growing like crazy. I quess in 5 years it will be like Sharm El Sheikh. All inclusive, a lot of shops, party places, restaurants and more.
One day i went with the egyptians and Johannes on a glass boat. This was the first time i also dived (after Australia). It was incredible. But the sea was rough. Still, we could see a lot. Later, we just stayed at the beach near to the first all inclusive place of Dahab (100 US dollars a night) and just hang out there.
The food: we went to the same place all the time and every time, our friendly giant dog would be there: Bonebreaker we called him. If you would trow him anyting, he would not only eat the meat, but really break the bone. The interaction between all cats and the dog was very interesting.
After 4 days, 2 days more than planned, it was time to go to Jordan.Actually a bonus. I was thinking of going to Jordan, but it was an 'if', as in, if i have time left. Well, there was and i was looking forward to see Petra. Now one of the 7 new world wonders (together with Machu Pichu, the great wall of China, the Colloseum, the Christ statue in Brasil, the Taj Mahal, and a Maya place in Mexico.). Yes, on my way to Petra. I went with the American couple: Aaron and Elena. The intention for me was to go straight to Wadi Musa, close to Petra. We got up at 8.00 and left at 9.00. Around 10.00 we were at Nuweiba, where the boat goes to Agaba in Jordan. The boat costs a thrilling 80 us dollars. The annoying thing is that there is an alternative route overland, but it goes trough Israel. I don't want to have an Israelic stamp, or even an exit stamp of Egypt and an overland arriving stamp in Jordan in my passport. A lot of Muslim countries wouln't let me in. And yes, later i learned that i wouldn't be allowed into Dubai, my next destination, if i went via Israel. Happy i didn't do this. Then there is a ferry that apparently goes once every hour from Taba to Agaba. But i learned from the hostel owner in Dahab that they take your passport, so you have to come back. For me that was a bit tricky, since i intended to stay longer in Jordan. And yes, my flight is from Cairo, but i dont want to leave my passport with someone for so long (later Mr Thai in Khoa San Road will be the only exception ). Anyway, therefore Nuweiba – Aqaba. 80 us dollars. The boat would normally take off at 13.30. And Jimmy, of the hostel in Dahab, told us better to be there at 10.00, since it could set off at 12.00 and you have to arrive 2 hours before. Well, after 7,5 hour wait, finally the boat arrived. Waiting another hour in the boat, and finally we set off. Arriving in Agaba at 20.30.
Crazy, spending almost 11 hours just crossing a stupid small lake, due to anti-Israelic tensions.
After, we checked in to a hotel and had a dinner. Later, i went to an internet cafe, because i hoped to get a flight from Amman to Dubai. I didn't want to pay another 80 us dollars (the Lonely planet tells 120 us dollars aqaba-nuweiba) and spend 11 hours + 9 hours in a bus Dahab-Cairo. The price plus time would be too much. So i set down in an internet cafe and spent 2,5 hours searching alternatives. Israel, stamp. Aqaba-Nuweiba, a lot of money and time. Aqaba-Taba.Not sure about the returning of the passport.
Flight amman-Dubai. Expensive. Amman-Alexandria: super expensive. Amman-Cairo: super expensive, or cheap, but too late (later then my flight Cairo-Dubai). Amman-Abu Dhabi: too expensive.
Overland is no option. Flight prices of 300 Euro or more. Finally i found a Airarabia flight Amman-Sharjah (10 km from Dubai), for 125 euro. Just before the internet cafe closed, i booked it. I realised all the hassle and prices to get back to Cairo would cost me the same amound of money and two days. So now i fly the 22nd at 1.00 am from Amman to Sharjah. Thank you Airarabia! Without this, i would have gone back overland, and spend 2 full days just getting back to Cairo and paying a 100 US dollars boat + bus.
Later, i contacted Egyptair and i might get some of my money back. Also, the hotel in Dubai might give me part (or even all) of the first three nights i am going to miss now, back). So in the end, it is not so bad and i am able to see Jordan
Jordan: after arriving so late in Aqaba, i didn't feel like going to Petra. No busses were going and a taxi would cost 20 JD (Jordanian Dinar). About 22 euro. No..
I checked in in an amazing hotel with the Americans. We had a three person room. 12 dinar each. After the dinner, i went to the internet cafe (as described) and just after 1.00 am, i got back. What an amazing hotel! Hot shower, perfect soft bed, great view. Aaron told me that you could see Israel. Yes, it was very close. And due to that, we spend 11 hours waiting for a freaking boat. If the problems between some arabic countries and Israel would stop, this ferry is bankrupt, or goes for dump prices. Overland, it is about 50 km from Egypt, trough Istrael, to Aqaba.
What a good hotel though .
The next morning we got up at 6.30 (what a shame). The bus would go around 7.00 to Wadi Rum. Since i had more time now, i joined the Americans. Wadi Rum is where the movie Lawrence of Arabia was partly filmed. The area is stunning! In the dessert, the rocks with all kinds of colours. A beautifull sight.
Both me and they were already over budget, so when they offered an overnight stay in the dessert with berbers for 'only' 45 dinar (50 euro), we refused. In the end, we could get it for 30 dinar, but 'don't tell others, special price for you'. Later, we found out others paid 25 dinar. Anyway, we took the cheapest place. Your own tent under the stars for 3 dinar (3,30 euro). It was a very good place to sleep. We headed to a small spring in a beautifull surrounding of mountains of all shapes and different colours, changing all the time, as the sun passes by. Amazing. We ended up trying to do a climb. At a certain moment, when Aaron was a bit lower and i checked out the area, i realised this would be too dangerous. It was possible to lift yourself up, but going back would be nigh impossible. So we turned back. We enjoyed. Just a bit later, i stepped wrongly and injured my ankle. Not too bad, but i realised the next few days i had to be carefull.
After, we walked in the dessert. We thought it would be 20 minutes. Maybe a bit more to 'that rock with gorge over there'. It turned out to be 1 hour 15. But we enjoyed. I also enjoyed the lizards running away. My ankle was ok, as long as i compensated a bit and the dessert doens't have strange steps to make. Once we arrived, it was amazing, but the gorge was still 20 minutes away. We took a relaxing moment and headed back. What a great day
The next day we went by shared taxi to Wadi Musa. Petra Finally. One of the 7 new world wonders. After arriving, we checked in to a hotel. After a lot of hassling, we got 12 dinar including breakfast. For one night, fine. We already lost a lot of time, talking ,invited to tea (la shokran.no thank you) etc etc. But, i walked in the city because i knew there was a good hostel for less.
I found it, checked in for the other night, bought food an drinks and went back. Going to Petra
Again, an amazing place! If you know the pictures, you can see the entrance of the city in between the rocks once you arrive. It is as it is on the postcards.Truly amazing!
After, we explored the city further and learned 25000 people have lived here. It was a place for trade and the romans had also been conquering this place. Therefore you see a mix of traditional Jordanes tribe style and Roman (or actually Greek; they were inspired by the Greeks) facades and monuments. We went for a 4 hour hike. It was wonderfull. And after about one hour, there is a lookout. We had a great overview (and yes, Loca, gato had a great overview too ).
After, we turned to make the walk longer. A direction that not a lot of people take. We met almost no one on our way. Just one berber woman and one guy from Bangkok.
At a temple, we were making pictures and yes, 2 red cats Again. They went t o me and after cuddling a bit, one of them sat down on my lap and didnt want to move away. But later, we went. Aaron and Elena were ahead of me and told me there was a surprice around the corner. Yes, two puppies with the berber woman.
That evening i had a shisha (waterpipe) with Aaron. Elena was too tired. We had a great talk, and last evening. There was again a very nice puppy. He went to me and i played a bit with him. But in his enthousiasm he bit my t-shirt. So now i have a hole in my Jack and Jones t-shirt. Not too big though.
The next morning Aaron and Elena checked out. I stayed a bit longer to relax, listen some music and repack my back. Took a good (cold) shower and checked out. Went to a kodak shop to buy a convertor from SD card to Usb, because mine is probably broken, and at some point my sd card for my camera is full. I bought one and went to the Valentine Inn hostel, where i checked in yesterday.
10 Dinar for a bed in a 14 dorm, breakfast, dinner and ride from Petra included. A very good deal.
I checked in and walked Petra. 15 minutes walk (the bus goes only at 6.30 and 7.30 as a courtesy bus to Petra). I had a pass for two days and could explore another part today! Yes!
Just in brackets. I learned that in 2008, a day pass was 20 Dinar. Now it is 33 dinar and in two months it will be 45 dinar. Crazy!
I bought a 2 day pass for 38 dinar. But i imagine that after two months, when a day pass costs 45 dinar (50 euro), people might think twice visiting Petra. The collosseum is less than 10 euro. Even machu Piccu is cheaper. (entrance, not the train to get there). Maybe, they want to attract the high end traveller, or maybe the Jordanian government just want to make too much money. I guess that this could influence people their decision whether or not to go to Petra. Especially the ones going for a day trip from Dahab.
This day i was on my own to explore Petra. Just before the gorge, there is a pathway on the right. A very nice hike. It does say that is is recommanded to take a guide and it could be dangerous getting offroad. I did go . After about 30 minutes, i went to the left. But 10 minutes later, i got stuck. I went back and took the other direction. Keeping in mind the way back. I walked and there was a rock, and a nice plateau. Only, there was a deep and steep ravin in between. I walked, and still it was easy. But at a certain moment is was less easy. I threw a rock and it fell like. Tak, Talk, tak, ggggh (through some trees) and then, plop (into the water). I realised, better to get back. It was possible to go here and there were places to put your feet. If it was just 2 metres deep, i would have walked it (actually it had the same difficulty of the start of the trip). Only this part, one mistake could mean a fall down very deep. So i returned to the main city of Petra, where is spend the rest of the day. Later i talked to an Italian couple, and with the help of the lonely planet, they did the correct hike and enjoyed a lot.
Well, i spent the rest of the day in Petra and enjoyed a lot too.
After, the ride with the Valentine Inn bus back to the hostel and a bit later, a great, truly great dinner.
I can really recommand the Valentine Inn in Wadi Musa. If you are on a budget, this is really a good place. Clean, cheap, great dinner and very friendly staff. In the evening i talked to my sweet bonita who is now in Buenos Aires. I heard that in the hostel they were watching Indiana Jones. This was partly filmed in Petra.
During the evening it was very cold. This is the highest peak of the middle east and there could be snow for 4 weeks. This was the first time (evening) that it was really cold during my whole trip. Not to bad And, i didnt have any rain yet. I guess Asia will make up for that soon. During the day, temperature is very good and now that i am writing this (18th of september), i am heading to Amman. That is out of the mountains. So i think it will be ok with the temperature. And in 4 days i am checking in to my amazing hotel in Dubai. Warm, with rooftop swimming pool, a gym, and more
So now, going to Amman, where i expect to spend this day working a bit (i didnt really work since Istanbul), and relax. Tomorrow i am probably going to Jerash, an amazing place with Roman ruins and i might get to the Dead sea. The lowest lake in the world, where you can float on the salty water. I heard that it cost 15 dinar (16,50 euro) to get on the beach. Crazy! But someone told me just to walk 2 km and then, climb over rocks to the beach. I might do this.
The last day i will explore Amman. By then, i have seen both Egypt and Jordan. And it is time to check out Dubai Life is great!
Now, the last hour to get to Amman. I used this time in the minibus (with white cat, that is very relaxed now with a woman in the front), to write all of this story, starting in Dahab. Soon more to come