Day 11, Laid-Back Dahab After One of Us Almost Gets Left Behind

As the sun came up on Day 11 of our journey through Egypt, we were greeted with incredible views of the desert meeting the sea.  We were in the 15th hour of our 14 hour bus ride and it looked like we only had about three hours to go.  We finally pulled in to Sharm El Sheik, not our final stop, but a chance to get off the bus for a few minutes and stretch.

Since our bus did not have a working bathroom, Sara took the opportunity to visit the Ladies Room at the bus terminal.  She was late getting out of the bus and, consequently, when the bus driver was ready to leave, she was nowhere to be found.  I was getting worried, not for her safety, this was a pretty safe area, but I wanted to make sure they didn't leave her.  I walked up to the front of the bus as the driver was starting it up.  "Excuse me, sir, but my wife is in the bathroom.  Do you mind just waiting a minute?"  He sort of looked at me, but it was obvious he did not comprehend anything I was saying.  I started using hand gestures, pointing to myself, saying, "my wife" and then pointing to the terminal, "bathroom".  No good.

The driver called some friends over.  At first I thought maybe one of them spoke English, but later realized that they really just wanted to laugh at me.  They all stared as I pointed to my wedding ring, "my wife" and then "bathroom".  They just looked and then one of them said something in Arabic and they all broke out laughing.  Needless to say, I was getting a bit frustrated, when the driver sat down in his seat and started to pull away.  The doors were still open, so I jumped down as if to get off of the bus.  He made a motion to stay and his friends pushed me back on.  Geez, what was going on here?  I looked around the rest of the bus to get some help, but I got the quick 'look away' as I scanned the faces in the now mostly empty seats.

The driver drove across the parking lot with me still pointing and now yelling, "bathroom...bathroom...bathroom."  Then a sudden thought hit me.  "Toilet," I yelled.  "She's in the toilet."  He pulled over and stopped at the other side of the parking lot.  Add that to your list of things to learn about a country you are visiting:  what do the locals call the restroom?  Toilet, WC.  Definitely not bathroom.

A few minutes later Sara ran up huffing, "I thought you guys left me."  I just looked at her and shook my head.

Now that the bus was less crowded, we took the opportunity to get to know some of the other passengers.  The first couple was from China, but they were currently living in Holland and were in Egypt on holiday.  Their goal in Dahab was to learn SCUBA diving.  They had traveled quite a bit and made us jealous with all of the countries that they had seen.

The second couple were brother and sister, Mike and Maya, from Switzerland, but they spoke to each other in Italian.  When they spoke to us, their English was so perfect that the could have been from Michigan.  It turns out that theirs is a very complicated story.  They were born and grew up for a while in Switzerland, but ended up moving to the States when they were still young.  In school they had been forced to speak to each other in Italian, so that was their habit, but they also spoke German and French.  Mike also worked in a field that allowed him to learn an obscure African dialect.  He was currently living in Israel, so he had picked up some Hebrew and was taking Arabic classes.  Sara speaks Chinese (Mandarin) and understands Cantonese and Taiwanese.  Me, I speak Southern, so it looks like all of us together can go just about anywhere in the world.

The six of us got to talking and decided to share a taxi to our hotels in Dahab.  Since Mike had the most Arabic experience, he was elected to do the bargaining.  This was a job that Mike would take on many, many more times throughout the rest of our trip.  He did a great job and got us an excellent price for a ride in the back of a pickup truck into town.  We all exchanged hotel information and separated with a plan to meet back up for dinner.  We never saw the Chinese couple again, but ended up spending the day snorkeling with Mike and Maya.

I would be lying if I told you that Dahab had the most beautiful beach in the world.  However, there was something alluring about the Red Sea (actually the Gulf of Aqaba, part of the Red Sea) that made it an absolutely incredible experience.  The reef came right up to the shore, so it was necessary to walk on it about 50 yards until it dropped off to about 35 feet.  We had rented snorkel gear and walked south out of the city to a highly recommended swim spot.  Most of the reef was dead, but there were enough fish and a few corals to make it interesting.  Plus, it was great just getting wet after the heat of the desert.  And, again, it was the Red Sea!

The main street in Dahab runs along the beach, with hotels and restaurants on either side.  Our hotel was across the street from the beach, but they had another hotel with a pool right on the beach that was available for us to enjoy.  We swam in the pool and enjoyed lounging by the beach for the rest of the day.

After a nice shower (our room was awesome, the shower was fully enclosed so we didn't have to squeegee the bathroom), we met Mike and Maya for drinks (they had juice, we had tea - wild bunch) at Funny Mummy and then walked down the boardwalk to find a restaurant.  We found one that Mike had visited on his last trip here and got a table on the water, literally.  The restaurant, Aladdin, was an outdoor deck built out over the water.  Our table was on the edge of the deck, so we could reach over and touch the water.

It was a memorable night and Dahab definitely lived up to its reputation as a laid back beach town.  I can see an argument that it is getting a bit more built up and touristy, but we enjoyed it thoroughly and would recommend it to anyone who is into no-frills relaxation.  Now off to bed, for tomorrow we go to Israel and Jordan.  I can't wait to tell you about the bomb scare at the Israeli border.

  • hande

    Dear Flip and Sara, this is a great source and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading about your Egypt journey. You have such a witty syle of writing… Me and my husband are planning on going to Egypt next Saturday. We have trouble figuring out how to transfer from sharm to dahab. Could you give me some information on that? Are there any busses, which company is good / how much does a taxi cost? (of course only if you can remember) Thanks… [Hande from İstanbul-Turkey]

  • Flip

    Hi Hande,
    Sorry, we have just moved our website and did not get your comment until just now. There is a pretty regular bus from Sharm to Dahab by East Delta Bus. It is very inexpensive, but I’m not sure the schedule. The bus leaves from the main bus station in Sharm and goes to the main bus station in Dahab. Since we did not actually go to Sharm, I am not sure where in the city the station is, but once you reach Dahab, you will probably want to take a taxi into the town (although it is walkable if you feel like it). If you are staying in Sharm first, just ask your hotel for a schedule, they should be able to tell you when the bus leaves.
    Hope this helps. Have a great time! Dahab is awesome!

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