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Diving in Dahab

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Our third dive that day drifted between Shark and Yolande Reefs, situated in Egypt’s only national park, Ras Mohamed. Clown Fish pop in and out of the coral, like balloons at a rock concert. Turtles, eels, and rays glide over countless features in the most stunning underwater landscape we have ever seen. A very special place.

A smaller shipwreck than the Thistlegorm had spiled a load of toilets and sinks along a part of the reef, providing humorous photo opportunities (if only we had a camera) as the coral slowly engulfs the ceramic. Unfortunately, our dive was cut short by the apparent lack of experience displayed by one of our companions. Using his regulator at the surface (instead of his snorkel) and inflating/deflating his BCD to maintain buoyancy (instead of using his breathing rhythm) quickly brought his tank pressure down to 50 bar while the rest of us still had 100-120. It was somewhat frustrating watching him flail around like a fish out of water, wreaking havoc on the coral. Sometimes it’s a shame you can’t choose your companions on such excursions.

Due to the danger of suffering from symptoms of decompression-sickness, it is ill-advised to climb Mount Sinai if you have been diving that day. The Greek Orthodox St. Katherine’s Monastery sits at the base of the 2,285 metre Jebel Musa. It is believed that God spoke unto Moses in the form of a burning bush at the site of the monastery, and that the Ten Commandments were given to him by the same god atop Mount Sinai.

The beautiful monastery was swarming with tourists. The spiritual atmosphere one might expect was completely drowned out in the jam-packed church. This is a place where limiting the number of people inside at one time might be worthwhile.

The climb up the mountain and the Steps of Repentance weren’t difficult, but the top proved to be very cold and windy. A friendly Bedouin at the tiny shop serves tea, and provides blankets and a seat beside the heater. A small church watches over the rising and setting sun, and the views are breathtaking. It is obvious why this piece of land has been so desirable through the ages.

Our guide book suggests that Dahab is a wannabe Ko Samui, a popular Thai diving resort. We feel that the opposite is true. However, Dahab exemplifies the lack of originality present in many countries. Neighbouring beach cafes have the same menu, the same cats, the same Bedouin girls selling the same bracelets, and play the same music. Invariably, the latter will be Bob Marley's Legend. Across the road, neighbouring shops sell the same perfume, the same papyrus, and the same T-shirts.

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