The last few days have been spent on the Sinai peninsula which is part of Egypt, but technically part of Asia (separated from the rest of Egypt by the Suez Gulf & Canal).
We visited the St Katherine Monastery – the origin of Christian Monasticism. It was built in the fifth century AD and harbours some of the worlds oldest Christian relics. This is the area that the Isrealites waited for Moses as he climbed Mt Sinai and received the Ten Commandments from God. Within the walls of the monastery was Moses' well and a cutting from the 'burning bush' (from which the voice of God is said to have emanated) – complete with fire extinguisher standing in front of it (just in case). There is also an Islamic mosque within the monastery – evidence of the history of religious tolerance in Egypt. This part of the world is significant to Christianity, Islam & Judaism and is a rugged but stunning place.
The full religious experience would not be complete without climbing Mt Sinai and watching the sunrise – which is exactly what we did. Unfortunately another two thousand people had a similar idea! We woke up at midnight and trekked the seven kilometers to the summit to see the sun rise above the Red Sea Mountains which was truly spectacular! Less spectacular was the fact that most other visitors to the mountain have little respect for the historical significance or beauty of this place or for their fellow human beings! We enjoyed the trek and could appreciate the (potential) sanctity of Mt Sinai but were glad to be on our way back down the mountain.
On our way back to Cairo we drove through a tunnel under the Suez canal then stopped to watch several massive cargo ships exit into the Red Sea. This place has a serious military presence as it brings about five billion dollars into Egypt each year. It was a massive undertaking that took eleven years to finish and resulted in the death of one hundred and twenty thousand Egyptian workers.
We're now back in Cairo about to leave for Alexandria. More later.