We went into town to see Mr Jimmy ( a local guy who has a hostel and organises tours etc) about a taxi to Saint Catherines Monastery on Mount Sinai, but the monastery was closed until the following Wednesday, so he suggested to do a camel ride through the desert and go snorkelling for two days in the Ras Abu Galum national park. So in the end we booked that to leave early Friday morning and return Saturday, late afternoon.
We woke up earlyish in the morning and walked it to Bishbishi hotel (where Mr Jimmy runs his business from) and took a jeep to the Blue Hole.
We were meant to swim here but we didn’t. That was fine with me because I was not keen to swim there anyway. My only reason is because more than 40 divers have died there and it is the most dangerous dive site in the world. It’s also know as “the divers cemetery” . Some people say the divers wanted to die so they went too deep and died. On the last day we noticed about a dozen plaques on a wall of rock in rememberance of the people who had died there. One of the latest ones was in 2009. I am sure there have been more people who have died there but their family didn’t have the money to put a plaque there.
So when we got to the Blue Hole site we had to walk for about 5-10 minutes up and down a hill to the otherside. Once you reached the top you could see the “Blue Hole” in the sea quite clearly.
When we reached the bottom we climbed on the camels. Me and the Ultimate Traveller both wanted the same talking ,white, furry, grumpy camel but in the end none of us got that camel. The guide and the camel trainer both walked along behind us with another man with jeans and a T-shirt who kept singing now and then- I have no idea who he was or why he was there.
I have been on a camel before in India in the Thar desert but they didn’t let me ride my own camel, I had to go on with my mum. This time it was a completely different setting, place, camels…
I got a creamy coloured camel who was called (i think by memory) Shailan. Shailan was very quick and well behaved at the beginning but at the end it was very lazy,even the guides said my camel was lazy.
Mums’ and Jeds’ camel was called Ansour who was a light black colour and well trained.
I forgot the name of the Ultimate Travellers one. His camel was white with skinnier back legs than the others and looked as if it was about to collapse, fortunately it didn’t.
Our journey was on a rocky coastal path, squashed between the desert mountains and the clear blue Red Sea. It was a warm day but since we were near the sea it was a fresh atmosphere. It was probably a 1 hour journey but felt longer.
My poor mum was squashed on with Jed and couldn’t move. Jed was really good and didn’t complain at all. The first “camp” we arrived at was just inside the national park of Ras Abu Galum.
We said farewell to our camels and went to sit in a shack looking out to the sea. It had a coffee table and cushions around for chilling on. There were a few Bedouin families living there.
Once we settled down there was a mother and daughter who came and set up their jewellery stall on the floor for us to look at. Mum had a good look and finally decided on a few of the things. She made a reasonable price but the lady would not take it. It wasn’t much less than what she was asking for in the first place. To be honest it looked like she didn’t even want to sell the keyrings. In the end mum got a better deal and took it.
We decided to go snorkelling before lunch.
The coral was colourful and wonderful and healthy and the fish were all beautiful and different. Good job we had an underwater camera to show you “some” of the Red Seas treasures. You might get a bit bored of seeing all these fish and coral but I’ll put them in anyway. The camera didn’t really bring the colours up of the coral so I edited them a bit and made them as they were.-
Red Sea Bannerfish,
Blue Sailfin Tang (left) , Crown Butterflyfish (right),
We also saw a Masked Butterflyfish but I don’t have a great picture of one of them.
A Masked Pufferfish,
A Giant Clam,
Red Sea Steepheaded Parrotfish,
Red Sea Anemone Fish or a Clownfish,
Bubble Sea Anemone,
These fish could be an Ehrenbergs’ Snapper but I am not sure;
These last three fish I have no idea whats so ever what these names are but I will put them on anyway;
Well that’s most of the species that we saw along with a few others. Once we had all been in the sea (I went twice and mum and TUT took turns looking after Jed) lunch was ready. All dinners’ and lunches’ were the same food but all very good .
We got a dish with potatoes,tomatoes,onions. Another was just rice with brown bits in which we thought was herbs put turned out to be bits of “vermicelli” which was pretty good. A salad with cucumber and tomatoes. Don’t forget the Bedouin tea either,which was a red colour and if you put some sugar in it was delicious. I ended up drinking that a lot.
The Ultimate Traveller also had fish as he occasionally eats meat and fish so he was happy.
After we snorkelled a bit more ,
we took a pickup truck further into the national park across the desert landscape to where we would be sleeping.
They called it the lagoon and said that there was no coral but lots of fish and they were right. I didn’t snorkel here but I didn’t have to as I had already seen the things I wanted to see from above the surface of the water. There were lots of Lionfish (I’ve seen them in India) looking very majestic
and lots of small Grey Moray Eels in the rocks.
There were a few basic huts here where we would sleep for the night
and the backdrop was stunning in the setting sun. The mountains shone red and gold. The whole place had a very special feel, like we were at the end of the world.
We had the same food as lunch for dinner and we watched the Ultimate Traveller sharing a Red Snapper fish with the Bedouins on the beach. Unfortunately it was a full moon or very near one and it was almost as bright as the sun and you could even sea Saudi Arabia. The bad part about the moon being so bright was that we didn’t get to see the stars which were meant to be fantastic in this area as there is no light pollution at all.
We went to bed earlier than we would have done to get up for sunrise (try anyway). We slept on a thin mattress and had a rock hard pillow but we slept ok, especially Jed.
The hut was made of palm fronds so you could see the sky through it and that’s probably what woke me up first because I would have never got up at 5.30 am unless I had to.
I could see the sky turning an orange colour over the mountains of Saudi Arbia so I woke mum up first and waited for about half an hour until finally the sun rose. And that’s where the blog title comes from-Sunrise over Saudi Arabia. It was a really beautiful sunrise -.
For breakfast we had foul beans (local beans) with onions and tomatoes in (which was my favourite) and goats cheese,bread and some fruit with of course Bedouin tea. Foul beans, and goat cheese on bread was delicious(it might not sound good but it was).
After breakfast we got back in the pick up truck and went to the first place where we snorkelled some more and had some lunch. I offered to watch my brother (since he was asleep)
whilst the Ultimate Traveller and mum went snorkelling.
I’m glad I did because our Bedouin guide (who spoke good English) taught me a Bedouin game with pebbles. It’s quite hard to explain by writing it but I’ll give it a go. I’ve decided to write at the end of my blog so then you can choose if you want to read it or not,because it’s turned out to be quite a long blog post.
After here we took a boat back to the Blue Hole which was a lot faster than coming by camel but of course the camel is more exciting. They told us we were going to swim in the Blue Hole (again) but the sun was setting so we didn’t (phew). Maybe another time.
Just in case any of you are wondering, TUT stands for The Ultimate Traveller.
To do this game you need 15 pebbles of a good size. To begin with you need to know how to set it out,here is an example;
So that’s the diagram of the pebbles. I’ll explain the game using 2 players. So the first player (dosn’t matter who) has to take a pebble from the diagram. He can take as many as he wants but it has to take them off the same line. After the first player has played you take it in turns from there. Whoever takes the last pebble loses.
If anybody has any ideas of what the last three fish names were I would love to know.