Sharm El Sheikh

Sharm El Sheikh scuba divingSharm El Sheikh is the ideal place for scuba diving, for those who want snorkeling for golfers, for families who want holidays with sandy beaches and under the warm sun, which makes tourists very happy also in winter, and for those who simply wish to spoil them self in excellent hotels.

Sun, sea and sand, comfortable hotels with an interesting construction, water sports, shopping and entertainment. This is the Sharm El Sheikh, the most popular holiday destination in Egypt, and certainly one of the best diving centers in the world. It is very well organized and has a nice bay called Naama Bay, where you can find many bars, restaurants and shops on a lively promenade. Modern hotel resorts are already litle towns themselves.

People in general, are very happy and are smiling all the time, although their average monthly salary is about 1000 LE (120 €), even less in Cairo. The town is totally dependent on tourists; most of them are Russians, British, Italians and some Slavic. The work performed in the town is done by the staff at the hotel, cleaners, waiters, cooks, tour guides, vendors in the bazaar or shops, taxi drivers with a 30 year-old Peugeot in blue color… It is interesting that at this Old Market you are welcomed in Russian language. When you still ignore them after the third hello, they however ask in English: “Excuse me mister, where are you from?”. Although it is all very commercial, bazaar has its charm. Each shop is open until three am, so that you do not need to worry if you are in a hotel and your refrigerator is out of the last drink of Pepsi, Diet Coke or Sakara.

Sharm El Sheikh salesmenIn case they see that they can sell you something, you will be served just by this drink(Sakara), or coffee, ice cold bottled water or hot hibiscus tea, a drink with five spoons of sugar, I have tried it with two and could barely drink it. It is interesting that you could spend all days with bargaining, which is a big challenge for them and also a necessity for every traveler in this sandy place. With bargaining “for a smaller price you will attract a little smile on their face, and if you proved to be a good negotiator, they will even shake your hand. It may happen that you offend them with a price that is too low and the calculator will fly through the air. You shouldn’t worry about that, just leave and already at the neighbors shop you will have the same opportunity with the same products.

You can spend every day with various trips or activities. Since we traveled with the agency they take care of all the trips themselves, but if you step out on the street, you can see on every bend invites to trips, organized by the locals. We decided that we go in the desert with quadricycles (Quad Runner 40 € per person at the agency, 15 € at the locals). The price was bargained against the agency for more than 60%, and we could still go lower, but we were running out of time for bargaining. We went with the agency to Ras Mohammed (45 € per person) or Head Mohammed, to the edge of Sinai, where we saw a dream sea, coral reef and white sand beaches. Trips are more expensive compared with Djerba up to 100%. But it is it true that they are worth visiting.

Egipt Kairo SfingThe biggest attraction is most certainly the pyramids in Giza with the mighty Sfing. From Sharm to Cairo, is about 500 km. We started in the morning at 2:00 am in front of the hotel escorted by police with a big gun hiding under his jacket. The journey lasted good 7 hours with a stopover for the tunnel under the Suez Canal, the entry into the Black continent. At the beginning I was expecting some differences on the African side, but there were none except from slightly lower prices. We continued our trip toward the capital city of Egypt, and already when we were approaching the city we could see by the road 99 tables with the ancient Egyptian gods. Upon arrival in the city, we saw a magnificent mosque of Mohamed Ali and went from there to the pyramids, where I experienced a different side of people.

Sharm El Sheikh camelWhen leaving the bus, I reached in to the bottom of my bag and grabbed my wide-angle objective, to capture this magnificent peace of engineering ahead of me. At the first push on my camera someone toot my headband, which I wore, away. I looked from behind my camera on to the left and there I saw a local boy who was talking to me in fluent English, that my headband is not properly tied around my head. He took then one from his bag, and tied it around my head and then said to me that he will take a picture of me in front of the biggest pyramid. Naturally, I was not afraid for my equipment (because safety is very high, and probably because of their religion no one would dare to steal my equipment. It may be, however, because they fear the severe penalties, which they would not be able to pay and jail is something very insulting in their culture. In addition, they are living from tourism and they could not afford bad publicity) and passed him my camera. When he took a picture of me, he pushed into my hands another headband and miniature plastic pyramid, which I bought later for 5 LE. I suspected that this excessive generosity will not end well, but I still asked politely how much does he want for all of this. His answer: “Anything little, whatever you want is good …”, for this I wanted to give him 30 LE, but I did not have them, so I knew that I have to give him 50 LE (about 7 €). But when I opened my wallet, he reached out and took out three bills of 50 LE, which were at one another, so that was 150 all together and he added: “… this will be OK ….” The first moment I thought, 20 € for something I never wanted to have, so I push him back into his hand all of things, but he still insisted that he can give me all that for just 15 € and that I have to take it, because he took my pictures. Okay, here I will end this story, as I have ended it with him in that moment turned back, walked away and was very angry. WTF, what kind of arrogant people are they? “Are Arabs like that, I thought. I do not know, probably only in the capital city because in Sharm, it was not the case, there were all smiling all the time, and they are all waving and they are welcomed, even if they think: “Yes, you just wave, but I will rip you with the price …”. But better that than such a negative experience. Well, but at least he made the picture like a pro.

Sharm El Sheikh beachPeople and their customs:
Egypt’s total population is around 75 million. 90% are Muslims, the remaining 10% are Christians. Egyptians are very friendly and hospitable. As a result, they say that Egypt has one of the greatest treasures – its people. They always await you with a spontaneous smile and they absolutely cannot hide their enthusiasm towards the children. The most typical are the bars where the Egyptians spend their free time drinking tea every day, “Shish” (water pipe) and chat all day long.

Bayram is their bigest holiday, which follows after the month of Ramadan. During this time, Muslims fast all day long and wait for the night to eat food, drink and walk. During this time, there are very large number of people on the streets everywhere. It was a coincidence that we were there at that time and we have seen an increased number of tourists from all over Egypt, who came to celebrate this great feast in the elite resort.

Bedouins are the people who were born and live in the desert in tents or in caves. Living in contact with nature, that we urban people have long lost with the. They breed sheep, goats, donkeys and camels. They know different types of herbs and they know how to effectively use them as food, drink and medicine. Bedouins are able to appreciate and accept all that they have, they are not attached to material things and are happy to live and give life.

Here women are breastfeeding a very long time. One of the reasons is of course a natural contraception. In addition, they carry their children in the tracks, and later on their backs.

Of the approximately 25 000 Bedouins only few still travel with their camel herds across the Egyptian desert areas. Many have settled on a permanent basis and shall be working, mostly seasonal, in the oil or construction industry, but also in quite a lively tourism on the peninsula of Sinai.

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Ales Maticic

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