Walk like an Egyptian – The Red Sea, Pt. 1

Everyone talks about how amazing the Red Sea in Egypt is for diving and to be honest, it really is. Some say The Maldives is the diving capital of the world, but I found The Red Sea just as populated with interesting life, and I actually prefer the underwater landscape of the reefs.

Now, I’d walked like an Egyptian before, roughly 10 years previous, but I wasn’t a diver then, not like now. As the holiday season is here I figured I’d share how wife buddy and I planned, and executed a dive trip with the Pharaohs.


WE ARE GOING TO EGYPT


The 3 Spiky Things
Dialling back one year ago, wife buddy decided that we should go to Egypt, mainly because everyone else was, and reporting back how “amazing” The Red Sea diving could be. As usual, I took absolutely nothing to do with it and simply asked how much money was required and when to book the time off work. Of course Kerri had it all broken down to the last penny, which hotel we would be staying in, which dive centre would be taking us and had selected our diving package for the week. Such efficiency, she’s simply a marvel.


Turned out we would be staying in The Hilton. Needless to say there was a highly structured thought process behind this choice. The Hilton is in Sharks Bay, which was the up and coming dive location, it had the best house reef, it was far away from the tourist trap, had a really cheap all inclusive package and possessed an onsite dive centre – Sinai Dive Club. Another factor was, despite popular belief, wife buddy and I are extremely posh.

Posh Hotel

We had to be wary when choosing a hotel, as although some promised house reef diving, it often involved a bus trip every morning to an affiliated dive shop. Bit of bollocks if you asked me. I prefer to have my kit stowed pretty much in the hotel and my “house reef” to actually reside near the “house.”

I’m also a bit lazy, and buses are for poor people that can’t afford cars. Buses also remind me of school trips in which I was most likely bullied due to my rather splendid flowing locks, and to relive such ordeals in a foreign country would be nothing short of traumatic.

So, we were off to The Hilton Hotel, Sharks Bay and would be diving with Sinai Dive Club.


PACK YOUR BAGS

Now that we had a destination sorted, we had to get the kit together.

Packing kit is a critically important part of the dive holiday. Wife buddy tends to pack at least 12 months in advance, I prefer the day before so I have absolutely no chance of obtaining what has turned out to be a vital piece of missing equipment.

Weight restrictions on the flying things are nothing short of ridiculous; as a result compromises must be made.

Scuba packing is an art form

I tend to bring as little clothes as possible. I find most tourists dress ridiculously, so for me to alternate 2 pairs of shorts and 5 t-shirts for a week will go pretty much unnoticed. I travel out in heavy shoes and a jacket that do for the cooler evenings. Toiletries are heavy so I ditch them almost immediately, plus women tend to never leave home without them, so I just share their stuff. Not random women you understand? – women I’m travelling with, and by that I mean Kerri, of course. Hotels have soaps and all provided anyway, I use their towels too so I don’t bother with my own. Sun cream would be the only thing I tend to bring as it’s horrendously priced abroad.

I now had most of my miserable weight allowance left for scuba gear.

I put my non breakables in “the big suitcase” that’s checked into the hold - suits, fins, backplate, wing, adapters, cutting devices and the like. I put my batteries in the hold too; it saves the hassle of explaining to an Egyptian later on that my hand luggage wouldn’t explode upon command. I’d imagine if you were planning to detonate the plane you’d best keep the batteries to hand.

I use my hand luggage for more sensitive gear and let’s face it, the most expensive stuff. I got a roller case dedicated for hand luggage. Immediately this was the correct size and with semi rigid sides I couldn’t over pack it, subsequently not fitting into the little cagey thing in the airport, then having to check it in, and then paying a squillion pounds for the privilege.

roller hand luggage
My regulators are always kept in hand luggage away from uncompressed areas of the plane, not to mention baggage handlers. I also kept my can light, back up torches, computer, compass and various other peripherals in the cabin.

My hand luggage always weighs a ton. Some plane people have weight restrictions on hand luggage, some don’t. Easyjet don’t have one, our last journey to Malta resulted in 10kg worth - fantastic. “Just make sure you can lift your case into the overhead compartment” was the only rule.

On our last flight, when I entered the plane I found wife buddy with her case 3 inches above her head shaking violently, willing it into the overhead locker. I took over like a real man and stowed if for her. If there had been turbulence on that flight and the cases fell out, we would all have been killed as they would have certainly penetrated the hull. On the plus side we may have escaped death; crash landed on a desert island, formed the Dharma Initiative and had our very own version of LOST.


TO THE AIRPORT

On the occasion in question we flew to Egypt with Thomas Cook who in fact did have a restriction. To counter this I made my case look light with the aid of nonchalant facial expressions when lifting it, and simply hoped for the best. This nearly put Kerri into apoplexy, but it is an occupational hazard, and also added excitement to the otherwise boring checking in procedure.

Having successfully checked in the big bags and not been asked to weigh our hand luggage, our next step in the journey was the dreaded secret police, more commonly known as airport security.


checkpoint
I have, in the past, received strange looks from the security people as my case was scanned. For the Red Sea it was fine though as security had seen it all before as Egypt is a popular diving destination.

When we had to get a connecting flight to the Maldives 2 years previous, nipping over to the UK from Northern Ireland was a slightly different experience. Trying to explain to a Belfast security guard what scuba equipment was could be described as ……. well … a bit of an education for both of us.


With the Gestapo fading into the distance we boarded Air Egypt, or whoever we were flying with, and finally we were on our way for some Red Sea diving.



TO THE POSH HOTEL

Upon landing we did the usual ‘collect the big bags’ thing and headed for the exit where we were met by the Thomas Cook rep. After no wait at all we were whisked a short distance to the bus, bags loaded onto a truck and were on our way. This was all frighteningly straight forward, and I secretly waited for wheels to come off. It never happened.

We arrived at the very posh hotel in no time, given a drink of juice, allocated a room and that was it. Kerri and I stayed in the “New Town” bit, which was even posher (more posh??) than expected.

Towel elephant
I could tell immediately it was, in fact, super posh, as the cleaner person had made our towels into creatures lying on the bed, in this instance an elephant. I immediately decided I would return the favour and leave the cleaner towel animals of my own every morning to brighten their day. That said, after I made one very disabled looking cat, I was a little short on ideas and quickly abandoned the project.





TO THE DIVE CENTRE

Now that all the boring bits were done, we unpacked our dive kit, repacked it into our mesh dive bag and carried all 6 tons of it to the dive centre, which was an unhealthy 18 minute walk away. I later learned that had I phoned down to reception, the posh people would have sent a golf cart to pick me up, along with all my gear. ‘1 – 0’ to The Hilton.


Wife buddy round the corner from the dive centre

Nevertheless we were finally at the dive shop and ready to get wet.

2 comments:

  1. I would love to hear more about your diving experiences, especially in the middle east few people know the wonders in diving the red the spectacular ecosystem formed underneath wrecks that are quite beautiful and worth a visit to.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There are plenty of my diving excursions posted here Patrick, check the tag for 'trips' top left to see more.

    Glad you enjoyed this post, and the Red Sea is fabulous!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.