Monday, April 19, 2004

Met with Another Asian

At the evening stroll we met with Julia. She was from Taiwan this time. She ended up traveled with us to Jordan before going to Jerusalem.

Red Sea

We finally woke up by the evening. It's late so snorkeling was no longer viable. However I still decided to have a swim in the Red Sea. Actually the beach along Dahab was not so beautiful. It's more famous for diving and snorkeling. Red Sea has long been selected as one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World. But nevertheless, I had swimed in the Red Sea.

No Appearance in Dahab

This afternoon, it's very hard to imagine a person as 'kiasu' (mean afraid to lose in Hokkien) as me, nowhere to be seen in Dahab. Instead, I stayed in the hotel room for the whole afternoon, sleeping. We were simply too tired, and too lack of sleep after the hike to Mt Sinai. We had to ignore all those who came to find us, including Teresa who missed the bus to Cairo and came to ask us to go for a swim.

St Katherine's Monastery

When we came down from Mt. Sinai, the Monastery of St Katherine was not opened yet. So everybody was waiting at the entrance beside Central Tower.

Bell Tower of Church of St Katherine

Moses's Burning Bush where Moses heard the voice of God coming from.

Beautiful paintings in Monastery of St. Catherine, also called Monastery of Transfiguration or Monastery of Burning Bush.

Well of Moses

At entrance to Basilica of the Transfiguration (Church of Saint Katherine), outside fresco depicting the Transfiguration of Christ.

Basilica of the Transfiguration or Church of Saint Catherine interior. Photography is not allowed, so this photo was taken from outside by Sing Wei.

Monastery of St Catherine

The first view of St Katherine Monastery from Steps of Repentance

Great view of St Katherine's Monastery from Steps of Repentance.

Elijah's Basin

Elijah's Basin is a small plateau below the Mt Sinai summit, dominated by a 500 years old cypress tree which marking the spot where the prophet Elijah heard the voice of God.

Camel seen at Elijah's Basin

Steps of Repentance

We decided to get down Mt Sinai following 3750 Steps of Repentance, which laid by a monk as a form of penance. The Steps start just beside the stores below Mt Sinai summit.

Gate along the way on Steps of Repentance.

Steps of Repentance has really a lot of steps. It's lucky that we used it to go down Mt Sinai, and not go up.

Toilet on Mt Sinai

Composting toiet on Mt Sinai. You have to brave the very strong wind to get to the toilet, which is on the edge. Toilet usage is free of charge, but no water.

Steps to Summit

After dawn, the steep steps to the Mt Sinai summit. There are food and drink stalls just beside beginning of the steps.

Spectacular View from Mt Sinai

Bare, jagged mountains of Sinai, with plunging valley.

Although unable to view the sunrise, but the beautiful scenery more than still made the hike worthwhile.

Greek Orthodox Chapel

On the summit of Mt Sinai, there is a Greek Orthodox Chapel, but it was locked.

Gebel Katarina

Gebel Musa (Mt Sinai) is not the mountain directly behind the St Katherine's Monastery. And on the summit of Mt Sinai, the higher mountain Gebel Katarina is in sight.

Disappointing Sunrise

We were so eagerly waiting for the sunrise. The sun did rise, when it doesn't? But we unable to view it as it's too cloudy. What a waste.

Still too cloudy.

At Mt Sinai Summit

We reached the summit of Mt Sinai at about 4 am, after 3 hours of long hard hike. It was very cold at the top. To make matter worse, the wind was very strong. This made me couldn't get any rest. But arrived the summit early did have an advantage. We can scouted around for better position to view the sunrise, although initially we were not sure which direction is it. But it's better than to squeeze with lots of tourists that continued to flood the summit right until dawn.

Mt Sinai summit packed with people, and made me very uncomfortable with strong cold wind.

Tip: If you get cold, there are people who is renting blanket for EGP 10 each. Expensive!

Christians, Muslims and Jews believe that God delivered its Ten Commandments to the Moses at Mt Sinai summit. So there were a lot of faithful who sang, prayed and, as in this photo, read the bible, loudly!

Mt Sinai Hike

Our van departed Dahab at 11 pm and arrived at St Katherine's Monastery 2 hours later. Sing Wei and Herman were in different bus, but we arrived about the same time. Yet they insisted didn't want to climb, so Wei Heng and I started to climb Mt Sinai (Gebel Musa) which stands at 2285 meter by using "camel trail". Since it's called "camel trail", you can expect a lot of camels that can be hired to hike up Mt Sinai. Been dropped in completely darkness, actually I had difficulty to find the trail starting point. Other than followed other tourists, these camels also provided confirmation whether we were on our direction.

Our climb started at 1 am, with little moon, and it's completely dark. Photo was taken by Wei Heng, and it was not purposely crop that way, but it's too dark till could not framed properly. Our torch light also got problem of battery used up too fast, which forced us to hike in faint lighting.

There are a few stores selling drinks mostly along the camel trail, usually light up with candle only.

The last part of the hike was steps to the summit. It was cold, and windy hike.