Sunday, April 11, 2004

Farewell with Kenji

Kenji brought us to Safari Hotel. There were a lot of twist and turn along the way, I really respected him to able to recognize the road in the night. The Safari Hotel was completely patronized by Japanese only. He introduced almost everyone in the hotel to us, and Wei Heng and I were the only non-Japanese there.

We had a delicious dinner with Kenji later in the night. The dishes above were ordered, and paid by Kenji! (Later I did pay him back a little, as he didn't want to accept much). Actually it was very common food in Egypt.

Later in the night I sent Kenji to Turgoman bus station. He was to take the bus to Sharm el-Sheikh. He was a very friendly guy, I think he was very happy to meet with us too, as he said as travel alone, sometimes he felt lonely too. So met with us did make him felt more comfortable. But he was going to be alone again. He told us where he planned to stay in Sharm el-Sheikh, that's Youth Hostel, and hoped that we can joined him there. But too bad, we're going to Dahab instead.

After bided farewell to Kenji, I just noticed that Wei Heng and I now had to stand on our own foot already, as all friends that we met along the way so far, had went their own way... A big challenge ahead.

First Taste of Cairo Metro

The bus from Bahariyya Oasis dropped us off Pyramid Road. This was not a bus station. I became nervous as I had no idea where were we now. Sing Wei and Herman decided to take a taxi to back to their hotel. They would continue their package tour. And we also didn't want to back to the previous hotel anymore. Jeff was not with us as he would travel to Farafra Oasis instead.

Kenji studied the map for a while and finally we can located where were we. And there should be a Metro station nearby. So Kenji, Wen Heng and me decided to take Metro to back to Cairo downtown, where Kenji would bring us to the hotel he stayed before, Safari Hotel. The hotel costs only EGP 8 per night.

It seemed weird that most Egyptian didn't actually understand what is Metro, despite every Metro station in Cairo has a big M to indicate the Metro station. And I had no chance to ask what's the big M at Metro station actually meant too. Anyway, after some body language and explanation by book, we were able to find our way to the El-Giza Metro station to go to Nasser Metro station.

The Metro was dirt cheap. Each ticket costs only EGP 0.75, no matter how far you travel. The station and the train were also very clean, and efficient, it served every couple of minutes. And to transit to another train, one no need to exit from train platform, buy another ticket, and go to board another train again. Here just followed the sign board (point to the line's last destination station, so make sure you get your way right, as at some station, it's not possible to cross platform), and you can get to your transit train. This really put Malaysia's LRT system to shame! By the way, they also has carriage specially for women, but make sure you board the right one.

Lake in Bahariyya Oasis

Time was running short as we needed to board the bus back to Cairo at 3 pm, actually there were other attractions in Bahariyya Oasis such as Oasis Heritage Museum, Golden Mummies and Temple of Alexander, so our guides ended our visit of Bahariyya Oasis at this big lake.

Very hard to imagine so much water in the desert, but that's what a oasis, and this is a Big oasis.

Unique houses besides the lake. The design was similar with rooms in Ahmed's Safari Camp.

Gebel Dist

We didn't go to Gebel Dist, a pyramid-shaped mountain. But from Black Mountain we could viewed it.

Gebel al-Ingleez and English House

After zip-zapped through narrow village tracks, we reached Gebel al-Ingleez which also known as Black Mountain. It's a flat topped hill with remains of a WWI castle built by British officer named Captain Williams to monitor the movement of Libyan Senussi tribesmen. Our guides called the remains English House. A short climb led us to the top and the English House, view from here was superb!

Gebel al-Ingleez

English House - Remains of WWI Castle

Baharriya Oasis and Bawiti

After a short rest, we continued for tour around Baharriya Oasis and Bawiti. Bahariyya Oasis is situated in a 2000 sq km depression about 265km southwest of Cairo. Only depression on the desert floor can have enough water to support agriculture and prolonged settlement. Bawiti is the main village in Bahariyya Oasis.

Panaroma view of Bahariyya Oasis, a lot of palm, lake and desert floor furthest away.

One of the many hot springs in Bawiti. The oasis has a lot of hot and cold springs that are the life line in the Oasis.

Tips for the Guides

After the trip, Sing Wei asked us if we would like to give our guides some tips. He would collect from all of us and gave it to them. I refused. I don't know why, but at that point of time, I felt that I had paid enough for the trip, and the guides were not very excellent in 'guidance' too. Now looking back, it might be a small amount that I can afford to make them happier, and richer, but I never regretted.

Nevertheless, the overnight trip to White Desert was one the most interesting part of my whole trip to Egypt and Jordan. From here, I enjoyed the wonder and beautifulness of nature, and experienced life that I had never experienced, or even thinking of trying before.

The whole group except Herman and our guides took this photo at Ahmed's Safari Camp, with our car in the back. As usual, luggage on top!

Worst Nightmare in Desert - Stuck in Sand

Luckily it's not our vehicle. Our guides saw this van immovable from afar and drove in to rescue, and all of us been asked to help to push the van after all other method, i.e. special maneuvering of wheels, deflating tires, putting woods under tires, unworkable. But too bad, we also couldn't help, by the time we left, the van still stuck in the sand. On the way back, it was our turn to nearly get stuck in the sand, but I had to respect the guide's driving skills, able to escape to safety everytime.

White Desert

White Desert is an otherworldly region of blindingly white rock formations shaped by wind erosion. The rock formations here will change its color, and thus its feel and look during different time of the day. So it's best that to have an overnight trip to here.

Interesting chicken alike rock formation in White Desert

Another rock formation, taken at sunset

Rock formation after sunset

Sunrise at White Desert

Woke up very early just to wait for the sunrise. The feel and look of the White Desert was very different at this time of day. From here, I enjoyed the sunrise with an Italian, Carlo Macellini.