AfricaEgyptDahab

Dahab : Backpacker friendly relaxation in the Sinai.

Dahab Travel Blog

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Maggie prepares to go under.

Now this is more like it!  Peace and quiet.  Unpopulated roads.  Genuine Egyptian/ Nubian cafe culture.  Well, some of them anyway.  Laziness.  Time to unwind in Dahab.  Time for my wallet to rest and lick its Sharm el-Sheikh wounds.  3 Euros a night at the BishBishi nubian 'village' hostel for a spartan but private room "Yes please!".  Straight away the lovely Maggie from Winnipeg, Canada and I have introduced ourselves.  She's at the start of a good 7-8 month travel stint that will see her next working as an orphanage volunteer in Nairobi for the next 3 months before heading down the east African coast to South Africa and thence to South America.

A Dahab bar from the water.
  "Cool!" Both divers.  Both wanna go diving?  "Yeah sure".  Sorted.  Thiiiiis is the life!  Dahab is such a welcome change of scene and pace after not just Sharm, but the rest of Egypt as experienced by myself thus far.  It's been a vastly enjoyable 3 weeks plus  ( and I apologise to both Egypt and the readers if this has not always seemed so from my writing) but it's been hard work at times.  Sometimes you need to just stop.  Cease movement for a time.  Forget the greater journey.  Forget the concept of a need to move on.  This is hard for me as my Egyptian visa's nearly all out and whilst I would love to stay in super Chillsville Dahab longer, floating in a dream whether above or below water, other countries and the scraps of my 'sort-of' itinerary that I care to observe are coaxing me on to Jordan now.
Everything's A-ok by Maggie.

Our first evening in Dahab, Maggie and I hang out with an Ozzie (Chris) and New Zealander (Regan) whom she travelled to Dahab by coach with from (Luxor?  Cairo?  I forget which).  We enjoy a cheap 'mystery meat' baguette from Pop Eye's sandwich bar and then retire to The Penguin Bar, one of the many, many beduoin style rug and chushion strewn chillout hangouts that hug and practically drop into the waters of the Sinai all along the little tourist-developed stretch of Dahab's waterfront.  This is a much needed moment of perfect relaxation.  Cold beers.  A hookah/ shisha pipe on the go.  Stars above.  Playing cards for the boys and backgammon for Maggie and I.  Across the now night blackened waters of the Gulf of Aqaba, a mere 26 kilometres or so away in the distance the craggy shoreline of Saudi Arabia.

  Clearly visible by day, now just discernable by a cluster of little points of light that markout some mountain town or village way off in the distance.  I had originally planned to travel across Saudi in 7 days on a transit visa to get to my friends down in Qatar and Abu Dhabi but reasearch over the last months has proven that any such visa for myself is an impossibility so in an odd way this is almost as close to Saudi as I will get on my journey.

The next day Maggie and I get straight into diving mode.  She hasn't done it for sometime and is looking to do an Advance PADI course whilst she's here, so I just accompany her on her morning test dive and generally muck about whilst her and her instructor do there thing.  She seems to be pretty much be taking back to like getting back on a bike.

  We're paddling about in Banner Fish Bay and true to the name we are entertained by a fantastically large shoal of these pretty white, yellow and black patterned fish with their peculiar long dorsel fins. 

In between dives Maggie has to stay put running through the theory for her qualification so I just drift around the Dahab corniche.  Whilst Dahab is very developed for tourism it doesn't suffocate you with this sense.  Yes people will try and coax you into their shops, bars and restaurants or on to the backs of their horses, camels and quad bikes but not invasively.  You can just zone it all out and keep on strolling.  Whether we've hit a minor ebb in the tide of tourists at this time of year I'm not sure, but it feels pretty quiet in my 3 days or so here.

  One is able to walk the further extremeties of the corniche as it winds north-easterly along the coast barely encountering a soul beyond the main drag of bars, shops and dive centres.  Beyond this there is a sense of charming, if not quite beautiful decay and abandoment along the coastline here.  A clear example of how the shifting tides of the tourist dollar can leave a place struggling to get the balance or scale of economy and development right.  Hotels, hostels and bars continue to proliferate as you stroll along but they are increasingly dust-blown, care worn and almost abandonned.  I bet it's possible right now to have an entire hotel to yourself.  Solitary guests lounge on cushions in front of wind-breakers reading.  An entire little stretch of the Sinai coast all to themselves.
  There are piles of broken down wooden parasoles and almost artistic compositions of overturned old restaurant tables and chairs. An eye sore I suppose, but wooden and weather-worn as they are they almost feel an expected, accepted part of the scenery.  Attractive in their own delapidated, environmentally questionable manner. 

What is less attractive and a problem in Dahab are the vast amounts of litter that enter its waters and wash up here, further down the coast.  A clear sign of when tourism goes wrong, or the local people and authorities care too little.  Great shoals of all too common Plastic Bottle Fish can be found here washed in by the tide.  The Rusty Can Crab and Plastic Bag Anenome are common species here too.

Sayeed and my dive buddy Haruko.
  The many-coloured carpets of the bars, claimed and then returned by the sea also drape their way along the tideline.  An entire walkway of beautifully rusted, ornate street lamps stand in mourning to these symptoms of Progress, one after the other, all of them their eyes put out and smashed many years ago.

In  the afternoon Maggie's off doing dive skills so I am to buddy the pretty Haruko.  She's passing through Egypt after some months in northern Africa and on her way home to Japan.  Sayeed is our energetic and slightly loopy guide to Eel Garden, a short open-top Chevrolet truck drive up the coast.  Eel Garden so called because of the long sandy shelf here at about 15 metres down that is covered in a gently wreathing forest of slender eels that dance hypnotically as if trees blown hither and thither by a gentle breeze until you approach and they alide back down into their sandy-bottom holes.

  Hold still.  Retreat and they slowly snake back out and up again.  Before you get there though we pass through what I dub Lion Fish canyon.  We swim through a narrow, twisting craggy concourse of rock and coral wall populated by an alarming number of these beautiful but poisonous fish.  Here in Dahab I've been put in a half wet suit for the first time so my skin is well exposed from the knees to my ankles and whilst hypnotised by their beauty I am quite perturbed by the gentle drift of so many of these creatures besides, above, beneath and often towards me.  Not fully active until the sun goes down they just gently glide about, often seeming to dance gently with one another.  To me it means extreme observation and buoyancy control through a minefield of burgandy-orange and white splayed stripes "Yelp!".
Lion Fish.

Sayeed prats about amusingly and gets Haruko to sit atop of him and ride him like a horse as they float along the sea bed.  Haruko's fairly new to diving and a little later it becomes evident that the guys have not weighted her too well.  Sayeed in his own little world way up ahead, I am left to put my new Dive Leading skills to the test and noticing Haruko's sudden over-buoyancy and mild panic I swim up take her by the hand and fin back downwards as hard as I can, not letting go of my buddy so she won't lift uncontrolably to the surface.  Hand in hand with my extra weight we fin along the sea bottom.  Inhaling.  Exhaling.  Gliding up and down over sandy ridge and coral formation.  I am flying with Haruko.  A very plesant experience indeed.

Dahab shop window (abstract)

Stevie_Wes says:
Hi Hali, so sorry I didn't respond to any of your comments earlier in the year... I've been a naughty boy and off of TB for a little while. I hope you enjoyed Dahab and the rest of your adventure? :)
Posted on: Jun 10, 2013
halilee says:
So glad we have decided to go to Dahab when we visit.. sounds wonderful! :)
Posted on: Mar 04, 2013
jennifer_z says:
Wow, so many nice pictures.
Posted on: Aug 06, 2009
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Maggie prepares to go under.
Maggie prepares to go under.
A Dahab bar from the water.
A Dahab bar from the water.
Everythings A-ok by Maggie.
Everything's A-ok by Maggie.
Sayeed and my dive buddy Haruko.
Sayeed and my dive buddy Haruko.
Lion Fish.
Lion Fish.
Dahab shop window (abstract)
Dahab shop window (abstract)
Maggie.
Maggie.
Clown Fish guard there anenome nes…
Clown Fish guard there anenome ne…
Underwater schooling.
Underwater schooling.
A large school of Banner Fish in t…
A large school of Banner Fish in …
Our instructor decides to show off…
Our instructor decides to show of…
Maggie & Stevie.
Maggie & Stevie.
Broken, salt-rusted lamp posts lin…
Broken, salt-rusted lamp posts li…
Dahab at times, towards it periphe…
Dahab at times, towards it periph…
There is a marine littering proble…
There is a marine littering probl…
Sayeed, one of the Sinai Divers Ba…
Sayeed, one of the Sinai Divers B…
Haruko :)
Haruko :)
Sayeed practices weightless weight…
Sayeed practices weightless weigh…
Ride em cowgirl!  Yeeeee hah!
"Ride 'em cowgirl! Yeeeee hah!"
A poor shot of a very, very large …
A poor shot of a very, very large…
Maggie gets a necklace biro-tatooe…
Maggie gets a necklace biro-tatoo…
Lamp for sale (abstract)
Lamp for sale (abstract)
Dahab
photo by: TamaraSimons