Tag-Archive for » Egypt «

St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sharm El-Sheikh

wpid-StCatherinePano-2012-08-11-19-58.jpg

If visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site is on your list to do when you visit Eqypt, then make a trip to St. Catherine’s monastery & catch a glimpse of Moses’ burning bush & the well of his destiny at Mount Sinai! It’s located a few hours away by road from Sharm El-Sheikh. We got off on foot after trailing across mountain ranges to get to St. Katherine city to see the place where Moses purportedly met with God.

wpid-StCatherineMountainPano-2012-08-11-19-58.jpg
Opposite the monastery….

wpid-1050446-2012-08-11-19-58.jpg

The view on the road to the mountain was breathtaking to say the least, I was blown away by the terrain & vastness of the dry desert. It was in December when I visited Sharm El-Sheikh & it was a good 10?C. Reaching 1500m above sea level, we got down to walk the rest of the way to the monastery from the parking area. I had to climb a monstrous mountain to take a picture of the monastery! In my Crocs!

wpid-1050302-2012-08-11-19-58.jpg

At the base of the rocky range, vendors sell their wares along a row of little shops. It’s interesting to see & not be able to buy as I’m already over-weighted with all that I had to bring on my journey to Sharm El-Sheikh. The drive kept me in awe & seeing the size of the ranges up close truly made me marvel at what God can do. We went inside the monastery but many areas were cordoned off, sparking my curiosity to break in ala Tomb Raider style. I wasn’t dressed for the part neither did I have my cloak of boldness worn when I went pass the fortress. Still, I’m sure I would have headed straight for the kitchen if I were allowed to roam.

wpid-1050579-2012-08-11-19-58.jpg

wpid-1050398-2012-08-11-19-58.jpg

wpid-1050256-2012-08-11-19-58.jpg

wpid-1050569-2012-08-11-19-58.jpg

My fascination for animals & especially animals I hadn’t seen before, was quite apparent judging by the expressions I got from my subject & the people around me. This camel was rather cautious as I pointed my camera at him. And camels sleep with their entire neck & head lying on the ground! I also learnt that walking on these pebbly & sandy ground is rather uncomfortable. Be sure you have the right kind of shoes when traversing hard terrains & wear socks to cushion impact. Wearing a hat helps & be sure to have polarised sunnies.

I flew to Sharm El-Sheikh with Emirates Air with one stopover in Jordan. Once you have your ground arrangements taken care of, getting there is a breeze with the many airlines that fly to Sharm El-Sheikh.

The monastery is Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the UNESCO report, this monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world together with the Monastery of Saint Anthony, situated across the Red Sea in the desert south of Cairo, which also lays claim to that title.

Shark & Yolanda Reef in Egypt

One of the most exhilarating dives I’ve had was in the Red Sea when I was in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Visibility exceeded 30m & water temperature was around 20 – 21 degrees Celsius, prompting me to wear a 5mm farmer jane wetsuit for protection. The initial shock as I entered the cold waters set all my senses into alert. My heartbeat fluttered for awhile but as soon as I saw how clear the water was, that apprehension turned to excitement. Wolfgang was my buddy & we went down to Shark & Yolanda Reef at Ras Mohamed National Park, which sat at approximately 15m – 30m of water. The wreck sits at 145m – 200m further below after the drop off & what’s left on the shallower bed is the cargo of bathtubs & water closets strewn all over.

The corals in the surrounding reef was amazing. Sunlight penetrated to more than 20m depth & with the help of strobes, I brought out the colours of the soft corals as we inched along towards the sunken cargo.

wpid-P1150943-2012-06-18-18-35.jpg

There wasn’t a shark in sight. I was hoping to encounter at least a reef shark & was geared to film my first oceanic shark but they just didn’t appear when I was there. I could even get close to a Sea Perch without it flinching while I pressed the shutter button.

wpid-P1150948-2012-06-18-18-35.jpg
Sea Perch.

The sight of bathtubs stacked together was quite nostalgic as my mind wandered to how I’d been raised taking herbal baths for all my ailments but to me, it was a time to frolic! Toilets & pipes were all over the place too, albeit encrusted with corals.

wpid-P1150979-2012-06-18-18-35.jpg

It was interesting to see what we sit on with our bottoms at the bottom of the ocean & this WC having great growth prospects gave me a new sense of respect for them!

wpid-P1150974-2012-06-18-18-35.jpg
An inverted WC!

This part of the cargo below has turned into a reef. Can you see the pipes & bathtub?

wpid-P1160002-2012-06-18-18-35.jpg

wpid-P1160018-2012-06-18-18-35.jpg
Visibility was near perfect!

wpid-P1150932-2012-06-18-18-35.jpg

Flying to Egypt was quite an experience. I flew UAE & had a stopover in Dubai. I will be planning another trip really soon as I’ve yet to see the SS Thistlegorm, sunk during World War Two. If you are planning a trip to the Red Sea, you can check out holidays to Egypt & request to dive with Diving & Discovery, awarded as the best dive centre in Sharm El-Sheikh!

Back From The Red Sea

wpid-1050566-2010-12-18-23-471.jpg

Going to a string of destinations within an interval of weeks or even days, requires mental endurance rather than physical as each trip has varying degrees of strain. The ability to adapt to each demanding circumstance comes with being able to sleep anywhere and everywhere. Friends I know who can’t fall asleep on beds apart from their own, have trouble everywhere they go. I don’t think many buy the idea of bringing their own ”˜security blanket/stuffed toy/pillow’ along but these essentials are like AMEX for me. I never leave home without it.

Having been to Egypt and back, the 22-hour journey each way has stiffened my shoulders and back, making me wish I had a designer spa at home. The thought of coming home to a portable hot tub on a rainy day makes my toes wiggle with pleasure and that’s what a designer spa is all about, relaxing and soaking away my travel blues. I saw a practical and portable designer spa that I can think of placing in my apartment and you can see what I’m talking about. On top of having it fitted with jacuzzi sprays that address the need for a massage, I can fill it up with bath salts and bubblies to fling about to get the fragrance to permeate my space! Ah, bliss! Give me a jet spray and a waft of green tea please!