Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Red Sea: Bedouin Camp 1





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This set of pictures has been sitting in my laptop for a couple of days because I don't know how to begin talking about this experience in the Red Sea. It all seemed like everything was wrapped in a smoke of surrealness or something, that's for sure. In any case this is what happened.

I was really disappointed when plans to go to Alexandria with some friends didn't pan out (uhm, let's just say it's destiny) and was prepared to spend the rest of the week sulking in self-pity. But then my classmate Rebecca had a brilliant idea. And the next thing you knew, we were off to the Red Sea. We first intended to spend the weekend climbing Sinai, but Sarah, Rebecca's roomate talked about this Bedouin camp she spent a couple of months in. Well, she had me at Red Sea.

When I was a kid, I was kinda Bible facts freak. It all seemed very interesting to me and not just for religious reasons. I mean, imagine you were 10 years old, wouldn't you be amazed to hear stories of entire seas being parted by the raising of a stick? or dead plants burning endlessly?

So while there are far more beautiful beaches than the Red Sea (especially in the Philippines!) I couldn't pass up the chance to see and swim in it.

At the end of this post, be sure to check some very important things about traveling to the Bedouin camp.

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So here's what happened:



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The trip from Cairo to Sinai takes about 8 to 10 hours. We left at midnight. After several stops, we came to this abandoned gas station in the middle of the desert. We were almost there.



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3 more hours later and we were there.


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Basically, you stay at a hut by the ocean. It's no five star hotel, that's for sure, so it may not be for everyone.


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Around it are the mountains of Sinai. Of course, I could be very wrong. This website is not wikipedia ya'll.


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Here's Sarah and Rebecca!


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Sarah is half Italian half Dutch. She's an artist. Rebecca is an Australian journalist who's also struggling to learn Arabic with me.


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Here I am, all wet.


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The waters of the Red Sea are fantastic. It's so salty, you float effortlessly. I even try to make myself heavy and still I float.


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Sarah in one of her beach dresses.



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As with everywhere in Egypt, it was very hut.


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This Swiss lady has stayed in the Bedouin camp for 15 years. She loved the place so much, she never left. Look at her clothes, artistic.



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First meal was tuna salad.


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And some very sweet tea.


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All red and happy from the sea and the sun.



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Hammocks everywhere!


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Finally the sun started to set on our first day.


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And the hippies, I mean, the people, started doing yoga.


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And hanging out on the rock.


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I wanted to take a closer shot, but I might get punched.


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Here's Bec, relaxing.


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At night, we only had candles.


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It was all lovely in its own way.


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Across the sea was Saudi Arabia.


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I woke up very early to catch the sun rise.


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The moon was still visible.



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Almost there.


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I tried taking a picture of myself since Bec was still asleep. Just as well.


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In 10, 9, 8, 7, 6,5 ,4 , 3, 2, 1...


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And there it is!



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Now here are some things you should know about visiting this place:

1. The Red Sea is around 8 hours away by bus from Cairo. It is best to travel at night so you don't waste any time and you get to sleep.

2. There are several check points along the way. Military men will check your passport. I wasn't supposed to come because my passport was still at the Hungarian Embassy. But then we found out that it's okay as long as you photocopies of your passport. Lesson: Always have copies of your passport when traveling.

3. Bring snacks and drinks. Especially if your sick of the usual snacks and drinks you find in all Egyptian stores including bus stops.

4. There are many resorts beside the Red Sea, including really high-end ones. But being the poor traveler we were, we stayed at a Bedouin camp called Ras Sinai.  Here's their website: http://www.ras-sinai.com/ . Accommodations are very cheap, around 30 LE a day. And meals range from from 20 to 60 LE. For 3 days we spent around 200 LE or less than 30 USD for food and accommodation.

5. If you decide to stay on this camp, be sure you're ready from some roughing it up.

6. Bring lots of sun block to avoid sun burn and skin cancer.

7. Snorkel!!! The water is so clean and full of fish and corals.

8. Know the culture. Bedouins are an indigenous Arab group. We were hoping to learn more about them by coming to this place. But what we found were a lot of Egyptians and foreigners trying to escape the "real world". The place is a paradise for hippies and hipsters. You have to be comfortable in that kind of culture if you want to enjoy your stay here. In particular, Hashish smoking. The place was swimming in it. I have more opinions on the matter, but that's for another post. :)

Part 2 coming up!


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