In the world of first world problems, I decided I needed a vacation from my vacation. Between Cambodia, Myanmar, India, and Jordan, I’ve been sightseeing nonstop for a few weeks. With getting a crappy cold in India that seemed to be going nowhere good fast, I decided to have a bit of a change of plans.
I decided that after Jordan, I’d book myself into an all-inclusive in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for a few days to recoup before going to the madness that everyone says Cairo is. It also worked out that if I took the ferry from Jordan, I could hit Sharm on the way to Cairo, avoid taking a plane to Cairo, and also get a bit of a break. Win-win-win.
I also knew that Mount Sinai was close, so I figured I could easily take a day trip there as well. AND, to top it off, there are a ton of great deals to be had on Sharm All-Inclusives right now. I found a deal on the Hilton for under $50/night!
After making it here from Jordan via Dahab, I was quite tired. I got here about 2pm and my room wasn’t quite ready so I went to lunch and hung out around the resort, then got my room at about 4pm. I ended up with a room facing the Red Sea, so I have a great view out both the window and the patio. I felt pretty gross after the ferry and sleeping on the beach in Dahab, so I took a shower. And then promptly fell asleep. I think I was still exhausted from the overnight! I woke up at about 8pm, went to dinner, and then came back and went to bed at about 9:30pm. And woke up the next morning at about 8 am.
I definitely needed an intermission to sleep. I’ve spent so much time here just sleeping and laying around – it’s making me realize just how much I needed to take a break from all the sightseeing.
And I’m learning some things too. One thing I’m learning is to say “no” to things, even when I feel like I should. I am so close to Mount Sinai, and climbing it for sunrise would be the kind of thing I’d remember the rest of my life. But I decided not to go. It’s a few hours away, it’s a few hours climb up and a few more down, and it’s crazy hot. And I’m tired. And I’ve been berating myself for not going. But I’m learning that there are times you just have to say no. It’s hard for me, and hard not to go, but I think it’s the right decision.
So all day, every day, I’ve been eating, sleeping, writing, swimming, and sunning. It’s been a good break. I’ve also decided that I like Sharm el Sheikh quite enough that I feel like I’ll be back – so I’ll come back for Mount Sinai! Once I get my SCUBA certification, I’d love to come diving in the Red Sea. Just snorkeling here is absolutely incredible; I can’t imagine how amazing diving would be!
Sharm is an interesting place – being around the resort, if I didn’t know better, I’d be confused that I’m in Cancun. Except for the lack of Americans and surplus of Russians. There are a LOT of Russian people here. So many, in fact, I’m shocked I haven’t seen any Trumps with them. (too soon?) But it’s interesting that all signs here are in three languages – Arabic, English, and Russian. And the workers here are the first I’ve come across that are more likely to know Russian than English.
There are other interesting things here – the bur-qini is quite the rage. I feel so scantily clad in my standard bikini! Luckily, Sharm is a very accepting place. There are just as many women in bikinis as bur-qinis. (Side note: a “bur-qini” is basically a burqa-like swimsuit that allows Arab women to remain covered as they observe and also be able to swim in public.) And, unlike Cancun or the States, just as many men in Speedos as in swim trunks. So there’s that.
I feel a bit awkward here, just because I can tell it’s so odd to all of these people that I’m here alone, especially given that I look so foreign. Very few people guess I’m American – most guess that I’m British. But it’s very clear that I do not belong! It’s funny how so many little things become such big things or involved things when you’re foreign. It’s a good lesson for me both in humility and in empathy. Things like figuring out how to rent a snorkel – snorkeling is included in the all-inclusive package, but it wasn’t explained where to get a snorkel. It took me two days and asking four people before someone understood what I was asking and knew the answer.
I also feel awkward because it’s another place where people stare, and I can’t help but feel famous – whenever I walk through the resort, people stop to ask if they can take pictures of me or with me. I’d love to know what they caption them online. Probably “can you believe this crazy gringa who’s here alone?!” It does make me self-conscious, and to be honest, I don’t always say yes. If it’s a guy who’s asking to take a picture with me, or of me alone, I’m generally going to say no. If it’s a woman who wants a picture with me, or with her husband and me (yeah it gets weird), then I’m more likely to say yes. If kids ask, I basically feel compelled to say yes. Whichever way I go, I make sure to be polite about it, but it’s still so odd. I cannot imagine going somewhere in the States and asking a random person to get in my photos.
However awkward some moments are, this was definitely the right decision. It’s also been a good introduction to Egypt, and a way to make me like Egypt, before I go to Cairo. I’ve heard many stories that people who have Cairo as their first impression of Egypt do not like Egypt as well.