Back in Cairo after 2 days in the desert which included a long bus ride out to Bahariya and another long slightly crowded cab ride back. What can you say, nothing always go smoothly when you are in Egypt.
We got back to Cairo on Sunday from Dahab and spent about half the day walking around (with all our stuff) checking out different guest house's. This is not my usual M.O. but I was trying to keep my opinions to myself and just go with the flow. Our Flow being determined by those with the lowest budget. First Sakura because half the group was Japanese and we all thought it was part of the japanese hotel chain, not so. Then we went to the Dahab and well it was cheaper but then again some of the rooms also smelled a bit like cat piss and with plaster falling, then there was the Swiss joint but everybody went in and out so quickly that I didn't even get a chance to see that one but I took that as a sign. On that note we were off to the Ismailia House in Eltahrir sq. All of these places are a bit grungier and some outright dirtier then the Luna where I stayed earlier but then they are all significantly cheaper. Granted I am paying $4/night right now instead of $18 and at that price what can you really complain about? Actually quite a bit but I'm not getting into that right now, that's for the recap of Egypt, back to Sunday.
After settling in at the Ismailia for a few hours we decided to book a trip through the hotel (which generally costs more but we were short of time and wanted to think as little as possible) to go to Bahariya and do a desert trek with 4x4's. This was all decided and set up at about 11PM Sunday night, when people want your money they are willing to hustle a bit for it.
With a start time of 6:30AM on Monday morning after a long bus ride the previous day before I was amused to see that everybody was up and fairly well organized. And after a little hustleing we all made it down stairs (I of course forgot something and had to run back up 8 flights of stairs and back down) and into our cabs and made it to the bus station with a few minutes to spare. When we arrived in to Bahariya we were imediately beset upon by touts looking to make a buck. As it was we had our guy "Fox" waiting for us and we were wisked sway in his ancient Landcrusier. This was the first thing that set off some warning bells in my head especially after seeing so many more newer model Cruiser's driving around town. But when you go with the cheapest it's not always with the best. But off we went to Fox's house to get his gear and the other truck and after a long stop for us to buy more water of which most of the time was spent watching the "Fox" stalling the truck because he was not used to driving it. First I thought the transmision was slipping then I thought maybe the clutch was going then I realized it was probably a bit of both and he was trying to drive a manual vehicle with the parking brake on. . . now all of these guys, Fox and Mohammed, are really nice guys but . . . I'm sure you get the picture. So after we got him to take off his parking brake and a few more attempts to get out of first gear we were off and running. This was just another sign of a "well oiled machine". Everybody was telling me I should drive and after some prodding I asked if I could drive but alas no, I was told that driving in desert (actually we spent most of the day on the highway) was dangerous. So once we got on the road and started to see things everything was actually pretty cool, and it made it easier to forget that we had been promised lunch at 1PM and didn't get it until about 4. But these things happen.
I guess the only off road we hit that day was when we entered the White Desert and that was actually quite cool due to the rock formations that dotted the landscape. The set up for night was simple but actually quite nice, and with a nice moderate temperature it was a nice place to be under the stars. I guess the only problem we had that night was from Raymond. Raymond had failed to mention to anybody that he had to catch a earlier bus then the rest of us back to Cairo. Actually he also failed to check, recheck and recheck again the bus schedule which forced us to get up at about 6AM split up the trucks and send half of us back to town to try to get him on a bus.
Now a few notes on this situation -
1- you travel in groups in the desert or isolated areas for safety, after we had left the other group actually broke down and were stuck out somewhere for a few hours until they were able to get help. Of course Fox had said, "Oh no it will be ok" He should of known better.
2- Raymond who is doing his Masters or PhD or something like that in England may be book smart but man if he was left to his own devices I don't think he could find his way out of a paper bag. But maybe he's more with it in China.
3- These things happen when you travel in groups, if we had winged it things might of taken longer to happen with so many people but I probably would of refused the trip when I saw the vehicles but I guess this is what makes it a "adventure", besides we had already payed for it and one thing about traveling you know pretty quickly when it's going to be really, really hard to get your money back.
So with all the little problems and basic food/vehicles and minor group issues it was a cool trip. But if I ever come back to Egypt and I wouldn't mind because I really didn't get to see too much I know what I would do.
Cairo - Alexandrea - Siwa - Luxor - Aswan and then take a cruise on the Nile north and catch a bus to Hogada liveaboard a diveboat and a ferry to Sharm and a bus to Dahab.