Total Distance: 17935
Distance covered today:760km
Start: Sol Y Mar Ivory Suites, Hurghada, Egypt
Finish: Fox Camp, St Katherine, Egypt
This morning we got up early because a long road was ahead of us and as we had a final look at BBC and the situation in Cairo, we realised it is not to be. I have spoken to a colleague of mine in Cairo again and he said that because of the news coverage which some people think is biased towards one party, some locals might show their anger towards foreigners. I do not think America will ever learn its lesson. How many times will it still interfere with other countries' politics and then when these countries retaliate, they are the first to cry blue murder. I have spoken once to a colleague here in Egypt and he said: we as Arabs can insult our own family and people, but we do not tolerate anyone else from outside doing it. As a Western world I think we need stand back and let the country's people decide what they want to do and we should not demand from the president what he must do as that will attract the wrath of many of his followers who will again try to fly airplanes into buildings and plant bombs amongst our families. Anyway, it is double standard because why did not one syllable came from the mouth of America in regards to Zimbabwe? Answer: Oil.
Off my soapbox and back into the vehicle. We headed north along the Red Sea and the mountain range we already saw in Port Sudan is still following the coast line. We went past a wind farm which must have been at least 10km in length and 1km in depth. Apart from that we were again dumbstruck by the amount of buildings standing deserted. I am not talking ghost towns, I am talking ghost cities. Imagine Club Mykonos at Langebaan and imagine now 200 of these clubs standing next to each other and ALL them empty and deserted. Each of these resorts we guess must have at least 500 rooms and not a soul in sight. We just cannot understand what happened here and it is like a Chernobyl. We will be driving for sometimes 10km along the coast with resorts one next to the other and many of them are already falling apart and have not even been finished yet. Was it during the boom just before the crash in 2007/8 or does it have something to do with the current crisis? But we don't think the latter because of the buildings already in decay. Something has gone horribly wrong here in Egypt and if you see the resorts you will think you are somewhere between Miami and Las Vegas. The water is surely spectacular but the beaches are not that great - often rocks and we still have to come across a beach with fine sand as we know it. The contrast though between the desert and the aqua blue waters is beautiful though. And all over we see tankers and big ships going to and from the Suez Canal.
As we came closer to the city of Suez (and it is actually a massive city and amongst the top 3 in Egypt), the army presence increased dramatically. In total we must have stopped at least 40 times today at different road blocks sometimes less than 1km apart from each other. Tanks are present and it is strange to match the friendliness of the staff and the hostile looking tanks. We have been searched as well for the first time on the entire trip but all in good humour and constantly apologising to us for the inconvenience. We drove for some time close to the Suez Canal but due to the army presence could not actually go right up close and taking photos of the Suez where we heard that extra security is in force, might not be such a good idea. Although from a distance we could take pictures and an illusion is created when the ships 'sail' through the desert sand. One cannot see the canal from the side, so it really does look as if the ships float through the sand which is on both sides.
Another surprise was in stall when we realised that we are going to use the new tunnel underneath the canal. First they build a canal through the desert and now a tunnel under that canal - impressive. Very impressive. The tunnel was about 1.5km in length and it was over too quickly.
Now as the crow flies from the western side of the Red Sea to the other side was no more than 35km but as there is no bridge in the south and the ferry cancelled, we had to drive all the way up on the western side and back down again on the other side. Not that we complain at all because the desert has this uncanny ability to change its face every few minutes. However, we agree that the Sinai Desert must be one of the most beautiful we have seen so far on the trip. The colour changes are impressive - from snow white sandstone base formations, to blood red middle layers and pitch black ridges - all in one mountain range from bottom to top and each layer distinctly different from the next. What completed the picture perfect image was these starkly edged solitary acacia trees on the foreground with the majestic mountains towering behind it. Just like driving through Meirings Poort, the river has once again cut a route through the inhospitable labyrinth of rock and the road follows this line. Every now and then we came across an oasis in the river bed and nestled and squeezed between the two mountain ranges one would see hundreds of date palms. We reached our destination just after sunset and we are on the foothills of the famous Mt Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Tomorrow we will visit the St Katherine's Monastery which is built apparently on the spot where God appeared to Moses in the shape of a burning bush. Afterwards we will drive a short distance to Dahab which is on the 2nd finger of the Red Sea and then Jordan.
Again thank you to all the good wishes from everyone and keeping our safety in your thoughts. We are in good spirit and will soon be out of Egypt although as said we did not feel threatened in any way whatsoever.