Sharm El Sheikh

Despite the political turmoil happening in Egypt during the summer of 2013 (there was a revolution to remove President Morsi from office), I still decided to visit the country. Very aware of the constant protests and riots happening across the country, especially in Cairo, I decided to make Sharm El Sheikh my base due to it’s neutrality and safety.

My purpose in Sharm was simple: dive, dive and dive! So I made camp at Riviera Sharm, found a local friend called Mustafa who seemed to be genuinely happy to hang out with a Westerner and started diving!

I decided first to get my Advanced Open Water PADI before tackling the trickier dives (with stronger currents) in the Red Sea as I’ve always wanted to improve on my buoyancy and down-time. After five dives at the NabQ Dive Center, I was Advanced PADI certified and felt that I made some serious advancements in becoming a diving Jedi! So I took this confidence and dove with the lovely British instructors at Elive Diving for two whole weeks and thoroughly explored the waters of the famous Ras Mohamed and the Straits of Tiran.

Of all the millions of things I saw underwater in those weeks of diving in the Red Sea, these are the top 15 fishes from my divebook:


Cairo is a pretty crazy place. I know I went during the civil unrest and all, but I’m pretty sure it would be just as crazy any other time of the year!

I visited Cairo on a one-day excursion from Sharm El Sheikh. That might sound like a short trip to visit the Pyramids, temples and the Archeological Museum, but on the plane ride back all six of us agreed that one day was enough. They say the people make a place and unfortunately the people we encountered were aggressively opportunistic, generally quite angry and wouldn’t stop hassling us despite the fact that we had a local guide with us all the time who did his best to double as a body guard. At some point while we were trying to get into into the Great Sphynx of Giza, one of the girls in our group burst into frightful tears when some nearby Egyptian men got into a fight because of the built up frustration of waiting to get into the archeological site. I mean come on! The bloody thing has been there for four thousand years, it wasn’t like it was going anywhere!!!

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Bedouin & Star Gazing in the Sharm Desert

Another great excursion that I went on with my British friend Dan (this may or may not be his real name, I struggle to remember!). After being picked picked up in a van for a short 45 minute trip into the Sharm Desert, we jumped out of the van and immediately proceeded to ride a camel towards the camp itself. Of course this camel ride was completely unnecessary; I think we actually just did a big circle for 30 minutes. Having just done a camel ride at the Pyramids of Giza, the novelty of the experience had worn off and what remained was the reality that camels are quite uncomfortable to ride and have a fairly uneven gait in their stride (you’d swear they were all born with polio).

We eventually arrived at the camp and gathered around a circle to learn about Bedouin history, their culture and the art of making bedouin bread.

We then had a stroll around the camp. Egyptians, like Filipinos, don’t tend to walk very much. So their definition of a stroll meant 5 minutes of walking in one direction, looking around and then walking back. We still managed to get a good view of the camp and, upon my insistence, watched the sunset from a good vantage point. We made our way back to one of the tents, smoked a few hookah pipes, had a tasty Bedouin dinner (I say tasty in a very relative manner, as Egyptian food isn’t really rocking the culinary world) and were entertained by belly dancing and a Tannura show.

The part that I was looking forward to the most was the star gazing in the desert. Having done something similar in the Death Valley with the amazing Sandy Gabucan and blown away by how much you can see with the absence of artificial light, I was looking forward to a similar experience. And although we weren’t too far into the desert to appreciate a full 180 degree natural light show, it was still one of the best views I ever saw of the night sky in my life. The talk we had about the celestial bodies with the accompanying pen light to point out different constellations added a lot of meaning to the whole thing.



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