Saturday, June 30, 2007

Happy Canada Day!!!!! Or, cya later Dahab...

dahab can be a very very very lonely place (that's saudi arabia way in the back).

Oh happy days are here again!!!

you can't see this, but i'm dancin' a lil' jig, eh...

first, happy canada day!!!! to my loyal overseas friends, it's our national bday!!! to my fellow canadians, drink up and celebrate till the wee hours (even though that means till 9 pm for most of ya).

second, I'M LEAVING DAHAB!!!!! WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! i think that deserves repeat of the chorus:

Oh happy days are here again!!!

man, i think i just winded myself.

seriously, i've never been in a place as long as i've been in dahab. it's been definitely a love/hate relationship.

i'm going to miss the sea. i just finish 2 SCUBA dives. i thought i could pick up where i left off 7 years ago in thailand. unfortunately diving is nothing like riding a bike. you need practice to keep up the necessary skills. thus, i was pretty much floundering around in the deep blue sea. it was too bad. however, i did see some pretty cool stuff. the fish and coral are genuinely amazing. however, when it comes to SCUBA skills, i'll pick them up with a refresher elsewhere. perhaps, back in thailand?

i wish i traveled to dahab back in '95. back then (not long ago) i think it was a backwater. a true backpacker chillout spot where chill really meant chill. no hassle (even i have a hard time believing this one). but, i'll never know.

here's to the people of dahab...

to the touts and taxi drivers, everyone's got to make a living. let's just leave it at that.

as for the other people, it's about an ecclectic bunch as it gets. first, ricky, the greasy, flunk out from manchester. you're just 17 yrs. old and you're a wasta already... too bad. then there are friends from the dahab hostel in cairo who seem to have suffered the same fate as i. if he every reads this, Mo', my advice is to get the hell out of here. not tomorrow. i mean immediately. forget about western union. btw, you owe me 270 LE. jason, you got out in the prime of your trip. good on ya!! richard and sally... dunno how u did it but 2 months in dahab... how the hell did u do it? finally, to the blonde woman pushing the baby carriage back and forth, day after day, you are really really really hot.

to all my rushion friends, dost va donya!!! i luv u all!

finally, bob marley is the greatest human being to set foot on this planet.

Monday, June 18, 2007


thanks for the emails from my loyal readers with regards to my health and lack of postings.

i'm alive and well in dahab. i've been here for a long while now.

it's beautiful here. the scenary's pretty stark. the nearby desert mountains are jagged. they're butt up against the brilliant turquoise waters of the red sea. to the east are the seaside cliffs of saudi arabia.

dahab for the most part is a street and a half town. very touristy. the "strip", as i call it, rims the shoreline. there is a wall of chillout restaurants (and their annoying touts) on the seaward side of the walkway, while hotels, gawdy souvenir shops, internet cafes and ubiqutous scuba shops line the otherside. add to this, a caravan of gypsy-like beduoin girls, selling homemade bracelets.

not many tourists are here. the tourist trade is pretty much dead. those that are here are an ecclectic bunch. a plethora of vacationing russians, japanese/korean hippies, and a surprising number of canadians.

there's not much to do here unless you like to SCUBA dive or snorkel. otherwise, you work on your suntannin' and chillin' skills.

you'd think chillin' would be easy in a place like dahab but not really. the touts are relentless. actually, if you've been around awhile, the touts' remarks get quite personal. for example, on the way to dinner tonite, there is a bridge i cross. there's a troll, sorry that's tout, flogging a trip to a local attraction. i'm not interested and say "no thanx, i love dahab". the troll answers, "dahab doesn't love you." what's with that?

here, and in most of egypt, the traveler is nothing unless they fork out the cash. it's ironic that the very people who benefit from tourist spending actually talk trash to them as well. very strange sales techniqes...

i spend most of my time now avoiding "the strip". there isn't a local public beach in town. so, i've got to walk a half hour either north or south of town to get some peace and quiet.

i've got a few more days here. i've got to spend some of my hard earned cash to go scuba diving.

after that, i'm getting the hell out of here.

ed. notes:

1. not all egyptians are nasty sob's.

2. i still do not know where i'm going. i'll return to cairo and make some kind of decision quickly.

3. i went snorkeling yesterday. the biodiversity of the surrounding reefs is incredible. the show just starts about 25 metres off shore. it's shallow at first then all of a sudden the ocean floor just drops off. breathtakingly deep blue sea. beautiful corals. billions of colourful fishes. i haven't seen a Nemo fish yet...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

sometimes when we're out of touch...

alexandria's corniche on the Mediterranean sea. i guess this kind of marks the end of the trip...

wacky egyptians hamming it up at the market.

well, i'm back in cairo. there's a price to pay though. bright (well, as bright as it gets here with the smog), sunny and 40 C. since the last posting , i've been to alexandria and the extremely isolated oasis of siwa in the great sand sea close to the libyan border.

alexandria's sort of like a mini cairo; however, the people are much more relaxed. founded by the one, the only alexander the great, it was famous for the great liberry back in the day. until it was torched and razed to the ground. i went to see the new replacement liberry. i must say it didn't have much of a collection yet. it could fit 8 million books but currently held only a half million. lot's of empty, dusty shelves. alexandria was also famous for having one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. well, it was dismantled and the pieces were used to construct a fort.

perhaps what alexandria is most noted for (well, in my books) are it's people. really friendly folks. i think the lack of tourists or reduced numbers has to do with some of the friendliness.

next, i headed deep into the western desert to the oasis of siwa. i've never been to an oasis before. the landscape prior to arriving was horrifically bleak. i mean nothing. flat for as far as the eye could see. nary a soul. hot as hell. then the bus i was on dipped into a shallow depression, and voila, we were in a patch of a date palms, surrounded by pools of cool clear water! soon thereafter, we were inundated by donkey carts, the preferred mode of siwan transport, at the bus station. funny how things work out in the end.

not much to see in siwa. the chic thing to do is rent a bike and visit some of the exquisite springs in the outskirts of town. you can escape the oppressive heat of the day by taking a refreshing

this is my new bud, robbie, from amerika taking the plunge into "cleopatra" spring.

dip in the coolish waters. very nice. alternatively, you can do nothin' and sit on your butt all day reading a book or watching siwan life go by. ain't that fun, eh? plus, it's quiet as hell. Siwa's an anomaly in egypt that's for sure.

nice sunset, eh? if you have yo tv screens adjusted correctly, you can see a small sample of Siwa's 70 thousand date trees in the foreground.

siwa's pretty conservative in terms of adherence to tradition and islam. the women are covered from head to toe in public - even in the oppressive heat. as my friend, sal, would say, the full ninja suit. the whole nine yards. they can walk around, but they can't drive the donkey carts.

however, traditions are a changing, just as the shifting sands of the surrounding desert. i had this conversation with the hotel manager, mano:

bubba: so, mano are you married? (one of my favourite questions).
mano: no.
bubba: (feigning shock and dismay) why not!
mano: i'm just 24.
bubba: that's really old. (well, relatively old)...
mano: i need money to get married...
bubba: ha! how are you going to meet your wife?
mano: my folks are going to set me up.
bubba: then?
mano: then we are going to meet...
bubba: ...and go on a date?
mano: ha! no.
bubba: play cards?
mano: no. maybe watch tv (with her parents present of course). if the parties are interested, her family will talk it over (family meaning parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.). if they like me, we'll get engaged.
bubba: when would that happen?
mano: could be next day or maybe ten years... hopefully, not ten years.
bubba: why not 10 years?
mano: very expensive.
bubba: how do you know if she's the right one?
mano: if her family is good then everything is good...
bubba: what about the woman?
mano: she doesn't matter. just as long as the family is good.
bubba: when are finally going to get married?
mano: before i'm, say, 30.
bubba: that's quite advanced in age. hmmm...what about your friends?
mano: well, 99 percent of them are married. i don't get to see them much.
bubba: they just disappeared?
mano: yep. i like my freedom.

ed notes:

1) i've been sick for the past few days. that certainly put a wrench into my plans of chillin' in dahab (capital of western decadence by the red sea - i'm sure it drives the islamists crazy). it's been pretty rough. high grade fever, head eck, muscle and joint eck, and to top it off, you guessed it, explosive diarrhea. dunno what it is. any doctors out there? anywho, i'm resting for next couple of days.

2) while i was bedridden, the ducks won the cup. that kind of sucked...