Michelle and Charlie's Around the World Trip 2004-2005 travel blog

Divers ready to go down

Sharm at night


the Hungarian dive master

one of the president's houses

I guess this can be done as a shore dive

everybody at rest, Michelle with Lonelyplanet

Nice dive boat

Pigeon's House, the least fancy hotel in town

this is still PH, our hotel

Meanwhile we are talking with Christina and decide to go with her to Sharm. She said that the diving is night and day difference nicer than at Dahab. Also on the way she is calling on her cell phone ahead and gets us a room in the least expensive hotel in town. Well, it is still more than anything in Dahab. We get there and take an instant dislike of Sharm. Maybe because by now we are both itchy all over our bodies (Michelle had a slower but worse reaction to the bites than I did), but it is a Cancun in Egypt. It had the worse features of all, the gaudy crowded night life of Western resorts with the constant "Where are you from?come into my restaurant" from the few locals that could be seen. There was definitely no muezzin and neither the inexpensive and low key places that Dahab had. Add to this that both of our bank card were refused and that the credit card that automatically paid the storage fee in the US got suspended days before those fees were due. Then we try to call them collect to reactivate only to be charged $3 for 2 min being on hold. We walk away and they run after us that we owe them $3. We say, why? The call did not work, and anyway it was a collect call. They said we did not say that it was collect. Michelle asks him to pull out the number we gave him to dial and there it stands written: "collect call to the USA". Now they argue that it is a business and collect or not they are there to make money. I say that OK, we pay for 3 min local call. [He said that after I had been arguing with them loudly for 5 minutes, thinking that when I get back I'll have to go into litigation with my new found aggressive side. Michelle] They say that here is nothing like collect call in Egypt and want $3. Eventually we give them 1 and leave. We were not too happy that night. And very itchy. BTW even today we are pretty scared getting into the bed at any place. [No matter what the temperature I wear pants and a shirt and socks and sleep inside my sleeping bag liner. Most of our rooms have been in the 80s, even at night...Michelle]

Next morning the dive people pick us up. They say 5 min after 8 and guess what? They are there 5 after 8. We are very impressed. [It is a German run company so we were impressed, but not surprised. Michelle] At the dive center there is about 50 people ready to go out. Yes, it is a far cry from Dahab's layed back atmosphere. We get to the dive boat (yet again Ford would have thought that "now, this is how an assembly line works") and a surprise. The dive master is a Hungarian, same age as I. He just like me spent the last decade out of Hungary, except instead of medical research he spent it with being the captain of cruising sail boats on the Mediterranean, on the Caribbean, diving at Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia... he was a lot of fun. He also said that the price that we got was about 20% less than what the others did, thanks to Cristina. I am talking about money now all the times but when for a month every time it comes to paying you have the suspicion that they are taking you for a ride, this happens.

So first dive briefing. He says that we are going to 93 feet. I am thinking, didn't I just learned in my class a few days ago that all I am good for is 60??? He said that its OK. We start with a check out at 30 feet deep over the sand, then go deeper to a point where there is a crater between the coral reef and the sand. One by one (there is 7 of us) we dip down and swim threw the cave in the reef. On the other side we are on the top of a coral canyon that keeps sloping further down. We follow it to the point that we reach our max depth, the get out of it and move over a shallower coral surface. Cristina did not steer us wrong- we might not like Sharm the city, but what is in front of it is extraordinary. Zsolt, the Hungarian guy is saying that these close to shore dives are not even in the same league than other ones in the area.

The second dive an hour later was less deep, but it was a drift dive. We get in the water at one point, go down and the current takes us along the reef. The first surprise at around 60 feet deep a huge dolphin that emerged from the deep blue and continued to pass us. Then following it is a fish on the same course, but a fish the size of Michelle. Later we see 10 feet large fan corals over our head...

We skip the last dive of the day (yes, money) which is under one of the Egyptian president's villas. He is not around otherwise we would not be around. There is a long reef in front of it and while the others are down, we are discovering the place by snorkeling. It was very, very nice, although Zsolt warned us that two tiger sharks were seen lately at a nearby island and while they are no danger to divers, they've been known to bite snorkelers. He said that we should keep close to the reef and if they come we can get away. [Hey...I didn't hear that part. I just heard stay close to the reef and I assumed that was because the tiger sharks didn't come close the reef, not that if they did we'd have a better chance of getting away! Michelle] In the evening we went to meet Cristina and a few others from her work (here you go, Joe, this is all the night life we had).

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