Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dahab Day One

I apologize for not updating the blog recently, I’ve been quite busy with work and I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but there is also a small war currently going on in the region. Another note – my blog has been getting spammed with comments linking to websites with clothing sales and stuff so I had to change the commenting restrictions. I hope this doesn’t prevent anyone from being able to comment. Anyways, on to the updates.

Christmas in Egypt was incredibly strange because it was almost like it never happened. My friend Rob and I had decided we didn’t want to sit around for the time we had off from work so we planned a December 26-29 trip to the Red Sea town of Dahab, on the Sinai in Egypt.

On Christmas Eve we went to get our bus tickets for the 26th, and on the way back explored a part of Cairo we had never been in before. We stumbled across a “local fast food” place where we got delicious 15-cent falafel sandwiches that we ate while walking through a local clothes market. Walking back to my island, Gezira/Zamalek, I realized what a pitiful excuse that was for Christmas Eve dinner, so I went to the French restaurant/deli Maison Thomas and splurged on a four dollar ($4!!) ham panino. This is one of the only places you can get ham in Cairo.

On Christmas Day we had an unexpected “present” – RAIN! It was only the second time it has rained since I arrived in August, and of course it had to rain on Christmas day. I was invited out to lunch with one of the other interns and his visiting family members, where I had a huge one-pound burger, and then returned to call home and talk to everyone gathered at my house. I made a very simply pasta dish for a quick late dinner because I was still full from my gigantic burger and because we were leaving in the morning for Dahab.

The guidebooks say that the trip from Cairo to Dahab takes about 6-8 hours by public bus, but we left around 7:15 am and arrived just after 6 pm – nearly 11 hours!

mosaic sign outside Dahab

After a very mediocre and cheap dinner, we slept from 8 pm to midnight then went out for about an hour and a half before returning and passing out for the next ten hours. We were staying at a place called Auski Camp in a private double room for under 4 dollars a night. Something about being stuck on a public bus for that long is very draining, but Dahab is the kind of place you go to relax and not do very much at all. When we finally managed to get out of our room, we went to a seaside restaurant called Penguin Village.

@Penguin Village, with the Red Sea and Saudi Arabia in the background

This is the kind of place where you can eat a meal and hang out for 3 hours afterward without being bothered - which is what we did, until we were hungry again and got pizza for lunch! Dahab’s beachfront is lined with these kinds of places, and if you know where to go, you can eat cheaply.

After lunch we walked down to the peninsula to the south and took pictures of the sun setting behind the mountains.

One of a set of HDR images I made here, but it didn't come out like I was hoping

This is from one of the more expensive places. They all had this display of fresh fish and tried very hard to lure tourists into their restaurants where they would promptly overcharge them.

Rob and I went to “Quickly Restaurant” for dinner, which was our best find of the trip. It was very cheap ($3-4 for a main course and a drink), BYOB (MUCH different from Cairo), and the service was fantastic. We hung out there for a few hours and then wandered around to check out Dahab at night, then went to bed.

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