Black and White
11.12.2008 - 20.12.2008
Well we weren’t going to stay in Egypt for the whole 6 weeks so we escaped to the east in search of Jordan. Escape meaning an 8 hour taxi to the Israeli border for a ½ hour taxi to the Jordanian border with each boarder crossing taking another ½ hour.
Another hour in a taxi (good thing taxis are cheap huh) once in Jordan and we were at our first destination, Wadi rum. The reason for coming to the area is the desert and rock formations that are around. If you know Lawrence of Arabia this is his country.
Bedouin camp, wadi rum
We got to go on a 4 wheel drive ride around the place with one of the locals and he’d stop at the different formations, mountains and camel herds. It’s a really surreal place in how the mountains just rise out of the sand
Besides just driving around we went for a few hikes up into the mountains and I tried a few climbs, but you gotta be real careful cause some of the stone is soft as and will just crumble if you put too much weight on it.
Life in the desert
Back at the camp. Me and Rach did the real Bedouin experience and stayed in the tents and it was freezing. Mary and Ken in a room/ mud, hut the upgrade
So wadi rum was this tranquil awesome place that we’d never even hear of and so was a real surprise to be there. Our next stop was Petra another couple of hours north, and this I knew a little bit about. If you’ve ever seen Indian Jones and the last crusade this is the place where he goes at the end to get the holy grail, at the red city.
Canyon to the center Petra
Anyway I was super keen to get in and see this place which I thought would be all secluded and mystifying, well not anymore. It’s more of a tourist trap now, don’t get me wrong the ruins and temples themselves are amazing, more anti ruins really as they were cut, carved and sculpted out of the solid canyon walls. But when there are local ‘guides’ constantly berating you for a camel/donkey/horse ride it takes away from the whole thing.
Yip the main red temple, really awesome place. Had to wait forever for a shot with no crowds in front though.
Besides the tour groups and hawkers there is still the great moment after the 2km hike through the crack of the canyon where you are confronted with the main and best preserved temple and you just stare at it trying to comprehend how it was made.
Mary trying to mount said donkey
Kids outside our hotel window near petra, lining up every morning for exercises and what we guessed was the national or school pledge/anthem
Ok, so the Petra ruins were a bit of a let down but the real reason I wanted to go to Jordan was the Dead Sea. So we hired a car off some random we me outside a newsagent and got Ken to drive us 2 ½ hours north. When we asked for directions a local told us that we should go the main highway north but we could follow some signs and drive through the desert and we should end up at the dead sea highway, maybe.
Well we chose the less trodden path and went the desert way and don’t let the photo above fool you, it got down to some pretty knarly rocky roads but we got there in the end.
I was trying to put my feet under the water but they just kept popping out.
Besides the floating the best part was layering up with the mud and letting it dry before washing it off, oh skin so smooth.
The drive back was the best part of the day as we got totally lost in the dark middle of nowhere and our A5 map of the country wasn’t really helping. Mary and Rach were starting to freak out a little with me in the back try to comfort them ‘don’t worry, don’t worry I‘m sure if we just keep going we’ll hit a main road eventually’.
Still in Jordan we had one more day in Aqaba, right on the Israel border where we went for a snorkel and Rach got freaked by a plastic bag she thought was a massive jellyfish but other than that no really to much to tell.
So now done with Jordan we split from Mary and Ken who went back to Alexandria and me and Rach went into the heart of the Sinai peninsula. But we had to get there first and coming out of the Israeli border there was no public buses or anything. Just a group of 20 men all with vans who you had to batter like hell with to get the price to something reasonable. We ended up just saying la la la la la (no in Arabic) and waiting them out for an hour before they dropped the price to something worth paying.
So St Katharine, slap bang in the middle of the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt and home to Mt Sinai (mosses and the 10 commandments) and an Orthodox Monastery that surrounds what is meant to be the burning bush.
The cheapest of good dinners, basically in a locals dining room.
We stayed at a Bedouin style camp and ended up haning around the campfire most nights with Sheik Mousa and his mates talking about boduin life, eco tourism and playing cards.
The main drawcard for coming here is to climb Mt Sinai, which we did. It’s not the highest mountain ever but the so-called Steps of Repentence, 3000 of them in total really kick your butt on the way down
Apparently the burning bush
St Katharine’s Monastery
Our last stop on the Sinai peninsula was Sharm ek sheik , a resort town on the very southern tip. It is black when compared to St Kathrine's white, big fast roads are everywhere with strip malls and chain hotel resorts. The town centre could have come out of Bangkok, flashy fakeness and guys lining the street trying to get you into their shop.
Our hotel did however have access to a ‘private beach’ which they shuttle you to and from. So down we went expecting a nice lie down on the sand with a wee snorkel in the ocean. The words private and beach cannot be used to describe the place where they took us as there were another 5 hotels using the small strip of land and every available space had been systematically covered with deck chairs of which all had been claimed by leather skinned, cigar smoking, bikini clad, mostly overweight euro-trash. We were ushered to a free set of chairs and immediately took our snorkels and got into the water.
Not the ‘private beach’
The water is where Sharm finally makes sense, 100m past the beach and the reef just drops into black nothingness. Then you turn around and the fish and coral just pops out at you as you stare back and dive down to look at under cuts in the reef wall.
Back on land and we grabbed our stuff and ran from the disgustingness of the hotel beach. Good thing was we found a rock that had access to the water and may or may not have been on flash resort land.
So Jordan done, Sinai done. Now onto a 7hr bus back to Cairo