Day 9: Sharm el Sheikh – Dahab: From One Resort to Another
Sunday May 29, 2011, 114 km (71 miles) – Total so far: 934 km (581 miles)
Still feeling great in the morning I took the ring road out of Sharm el Sheikh and set my sights on Dahab. When I woke I noticed something a bit off with my hand. Part of my palm had turned blue! I had heard of this happening before due to the overuse of flat handlebars. I decided to try some different hand positions today to try and get rid of it and luckily by the end of the day it was mostly gone.
Along this road to Dahab is the first time I experienced any problems with the Bedouin children. Since arriving on the Sinai I was used to the shouts for “Chocolate, candy, caramel” and “MONEY!” that are aimed at foreigners here. But they were never too aggressive and a firm “LA’A” usually quietened them down. Today though they were a bit more aggressive and even after a firm no they would still keep screaming for chocolate and money. And even worse the second group of kids I passed took it up a level. As I was passing they started chasing me and tried to rob the tent and mat off the back of my bike. I doubt they would try anything if they were alone but with 3 of them together they obviously thought they could rob a few things off the back of the bike and get away with it.
Inevitably they were all wearing donated clothes (old English soccer jerseys.) It seemed a lot had been donated to the bedouin villages around here. And because of this the children have grown up expecting to be given everything. It’s the same story I have heard of time and time again in Ethiopia. Because the people there were given so much aid by charities (and not given the framework to work themselves and sustain their own lives), many Ethiopians have grown up expecting to be given everything in life. This leads to any foreigner passing through an Ethiopian village to be chased by all the children and teenagers demanding pens, chocolate and money. This is usually accompanied by stones being thrown at the foreigner! It really is a pity and makes you wonder about the solution to all this as it is only getting worse.
Here this culture was visible but on a much smaller scale. It is only fuelled by some travellers who pass through and give them the chocolate or money they ask for without a second thought. They don’t realise the damage they are doing here. Anyway for the rest of the day I kept an eye out for the bedouin children and when they came sprinting out of the villages I kept enough energy in reserve to get away before they reached the road!
Just like the end of yesterday, the scenery was unexpectedly great and I spent the day climbing up a dry river bed between high valley walls. The climb started straight from the ring road and lasted around 50-60km but it was nice and gradual only climbing 800m in that time. I had a headwind against me for the entire day aswell so had a low average speed, but once I was healthy I couldn’t care less!
After a nice bit of climbing I reached the top and had a swift descent down to Dahab. Somehow I ended up at the completely wrong end of town and ended up cycling an extra 20km back and forth looking for the hostel I was hoping to stay in. After an hour I just gave up and found a cheap hotel that I heard did a great breakfast.
I spent the evening down on the promenade overlooking the water, getting a good meal and just relaxing by the sea. I have to say I really liked Dahab, the tourist numbers were still very low there (due to the revolution and the increased warnings of terrorism in the Sinai), so it wasn’t too crowded at all. The promenade and the cafes and restaurants down by the sea gave off a really relaxed vibe. You could just relax on the cushions down by the sea and watch the day go by. I was never a fan of beach holidays but I really would have liked a day off here just to relax. Unfortunately due to already losing 2 days on my schedule (taking 3 days to reach Port Said instead of 2 due to the headwind and having to take the long coastal road to Dahab) and having to make my flight in Amman on the 7th I had no choice but to continue to Nuweiba the next day.