Checked out and got a taxi with a sex-crazed Egyptian driver to the bus terminal. As he drove at breakneck speed he regaled me with tall tales of that weeks sexual conquests. A French woman who had sneaked out have sex in the back seat of his taxi while her husband slept, a couple of English women who wanted a threesome….. he couldn’t stop going on about fucking tourists. The western women must seriously love it here – non-stop compliments, non-stop charm laid on them, non-stop sex. Good for them. There is a God.
I got on a bus to Dahab – the ‘Ko Samui of the Middle East’ according to the Lonely Planet. So that must mean it’s anything but then. As I started relaxing and listening to my ipod, I suddenly remembered I’d left my passport at Oonas Dive Hotel. Just as I had that recollection, we were stopped at a checkpoint, and all our passports were checked. As the soldiers walked down the bus slowly carefully checking everyone’s passports, I felt a growing sense of apprehension. I was right at the back. What would they do to me if they found me travelling without a passport? I imagined a hefty bribe might have to be paid, or I might even be taken into some grimy police station with a broken fan and subjected to a ‘good cop bad cop’ routine, followed by being charged with a murder I didn’t commit, and having to spend the next 20 years of my life warding off lust-crazed Egyptians dying to make me pick up that soap. Maybe I’d get a few visitors from time to time, and I’d have to put on a brave face that everything was ‘fine’ and the food was actually ‘quite good’. All I knew is I didn’t have my passport, and the soldiers were drawing ever nearer. They stood in front of me. I fumbled around in my bag hopelessly, before feigning surprise. “Oh no….I think I left it in my hotel” I said, unconvincingly. “Get off the bus”. I was taken off the bus in front of everyone, and made to sit at the checkpoint as the other tourists watched me solemnly from the windows of the bus, which soon pulled away and continued onto Dahab.
Feeling very foolish, I was told to go back to Sharm. How I was to get there, I didn’t know. Luckily, a tour guide / private taxi driver was passing by. Achmed offered to take me back to Sharm for 70LE, and all the way to Dahab again for 170LE. I was stuck at a police checkpoint and had no bargaining power, so I accepted the ride back to Sharm, and halfway there decided to go to Dahab too. The whole journey took just over an hour, and we even passed my coach, beating them to Dahab by at least 15 or 20 minutes! Achmed did desert safari tours, which sounded fun, and was quick to tell me about what else he could offer me in terms of tour and transport. Everyone’s got fingers in every pie in this place, and if they don’t, they have a brother, a cousin, an uncle, who does.
Dahab seemed more beautiful than Sharm, surrounded by rugged sandstone cliffs, and very, very chilled. I checked in at Penguin Hotel, run efficiently by a young team of lads, where I got a promenade / beachside room with huge balcony for 110LE. Satisfied I’d made it out of Sharm, I went over to the seaside restaurant and sat upstairs on their lovely loungy chairs as the sun set, enjoying a Spinx beer. Lots of cats here. They were pretty chilled too. Later, I headed out into the quiet evening. Nothing here but the odd bedouin-style restaurant and bar and hotel. Nobody around. Lots of good food on display, very fresh-looking seafood. It was so chilled and hassle-free – a real backpackers haven. I bought a book, and headed back to the hotel as I’d booked a dive for the next day.