Jun 022008
 

The bus ride from Aswan to Hurghada was fairly typical: five or six ticket-checks and several rest stops. Shockingly, there wasn’t a single military checkpoint – these seem to be MUCH more common in Sinai, which I guess makes sense since the border with Gaza was recently bombed by Palestine (or so I’ve heard – I didn’t actually read about it myself).

The bus arrived 2 hours late, and since it was already after 2am and we had to get up at 8 to buy the tickets to Sharm, we went with the first hotel tout who approached us. He said he’d pay for the taxi if we agreed to come have a look at his place, but as usual asked for the money as soon as we actually got there. “Sorry, but no – we would’ve paid if you were honest up front, but let’s be true to our word here.”

Mike got to sleep about 4 hours, I slept none. Mosquitoes.

The 1.5 hour ferry took just under 4 hours, which was actually great for me because the boat was quite luxurious and I managed to sleep the whole way there.

You know, I love backpacking – it’s a wonderful way to see a country for what it is, instead of seeing it through a glass window like you often would on a first-class tour or cruise. You have the opportunity to travel with the locals, eat with the locals, and sleep like the locals. But I think Egypt has been the first time I’ve ever really started missing things like clean sheets and toilet paper. This boat ride was a nice little break 🙂

Sharm was another one.

Wow. We’d heard that Sharm was built up, but never expected anything like this. Literally everything there – and I mean everything – was at LEAST ten times the average cost of anywhere else in Egypt. Cheapest hotel rooms? $100 a night. Keep in mind that in Dahab we found some NICE waterfront places for $5 or less. The main walking promenade was lined with hotel resorts, casinos, and clubs – and over half the people walking around seemed to be Russian tourists. Admission to Pacha, the biggest club in Sharm (and pretty much *the* reason most young vacationers go there) was $50 – more than the cost of traveling for 2 or 3 days anywhere else in Egypt. It was an upper-class tourist mecca.

It was like a completely different country.

But you know what? Like the jetboat ride over, it did provide a nice little break. Not once during the entire time there did anyone try to sell us anything. It was so easy to get things done that I almost felt like I was doing something wrong. Need to go to the post office? Just walk there! No fending people off, no soaking your jeans in pools of garbage, nothing. Just a pleasant walk to the post office. Nice! 🙂

I guess sometimes you gotta pay for comfort.

After learning that the only budget lodging in Na’ama Bay (the main drag of Sharm) had closed several years earlier, we managed to find a hostel a few minutes outside of town and spent most of the first day just getting settled. Mike had to contact El Al Airlines re-extend his ticket home from Israel, and I spent quite awhile washing my entire wardrobe in the sink. And getting a tad more sleep to make up for the previous night.

Then around 10pm we met up with Mahmoud and his buddy, prepartied a bit in the room, and went out to hit the town.

At night the streets were bumpin – like I hadn’t seen since Tel Aviv. Opting out of Pacha’s $50 cover, we spent the first night at a club called Buddha Bar. Talk about glitzy. It was a great night out, but unfortunately, it took its tole – the next morning Mike woke up with some sort of very intense stomach bug and found himself bedridden for the entire following day. And it was Saturday – our long-awaited weekend in Sharm. But he just couldn’t make it, and because Mahmoud’s friend had to get back to Cairo for military service, they too had to take off. It was a night on the town all on my own.

I hit up Pacha.

Now THAT was what I call a club!

(Note: This entry was originally posted on Aug 3; I later changed the date to fit the chronology of events.)

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