Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Street View of Aqaba

Along King Hussein St (Corniche), which runs more or less north-south along the coast through the centre of the town, and follows the Gulf of Aqaba around to the west as far as Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and to the south as far as Saudi Arabia.

At central Aqaba

A Night In Aqaba

Aqaba, is just a gulf (Guft of Aqaba) from Eilat of Israel. The night view was superb. Actually, Taba of Egypt is just further down.

At a square in Aqaba, along the King Hussein Street (Corniche), the main street in Aqaba.

A corner of Aqaba Castle (Mamluk Fort), built firstly by the Crusaders in the 13th century, then by Mamluks during the reign of Sultan Qansur al-Ghuri (1510-1517). It was renovated and enlarged by the Otoomans in 1587 and 1628.

Entrance to the Aqaba Castle. We reached there at night, so it's closed. Just beside the fort was Aqaba Museum and visitor's centre.

Dinner at Aqaba

After settled down and had a shower, the first thing to do of course, was to have a full dinner. The restaurants are plenty, although with English sign were more scarce. Tim, the Canadian guy we met at the immigration, joined us. The dinner costs me about JOD 1.50, plus drink of JOD 0.75 - expensive! Anyway, it's desert country after all. So expect to pay about the same for a bottle of mineral water too.

Excellent View from Rooftop of Petra Hotel

It's also possible to sleep on the rooftop of Petra Hotel, for about JOD 1.00. The rooftop not very clean though, and it might getting very cold at night during winter. So sleeping bag and even camp is best to have. The rooftop however, provides great view of Aqaba and Gulf of Aqaba and its neighbouring countries.

Petra Hotel

After immigration clearance, we boarded a service taxi to Aqaba town center for JOD 1 each after some bargaining. The shock that I had was that everything in Jordan was very much more expensive than in Egypt.

We headed to Petra Hotel, a very clean and comfortable hotel that has lift to each floor! Almost all foreign tourists on the ferry came to Petra Hotel together, including Wei Heng and me. We paid JOD 2.50 each for a 4 single beds' room with attached bathroom, together with Jim and Chris.

Bus to Aqaba Immigration

After alighting from the ferry in Aqaba port, there was bus that brought us to Aqaba immigration building, free of charge. As only foreign tourists (not of Arab origin I believe) were allowed to alight from the ferry first before of the pack, so there were only few of us on the bus.

Jordan Visa

As at our time of arrival, the 14-days tourist visa for Jordan costs ....... $0. Yes, it's free. It's a special ASEZ visa that introduced by Aqaba Special Econimic Zone Authority. All arrival by Aqaba should be able to get the visa free, which is only valid for 2 weeks. For longer period, there is a stamp on the passport that stated that you need to report to police before 14 days.

Slow Ferry really Slowwww.......

Yesterday, we called the Nuweiba port ferry ticket office to check the departure time of the ferry from Nuweiba Egypt to Aqaba Jordan, we were told it's on 11 am and 12 pm for slow and catamaran (fast ferry). When we reached there, the ticket officer told us it's actually on 12 pm and 3 pm. Guess what, we thought the slower ferry should arrive about the same time with the fast catamaran as there was 3 hours gap. And it's cheaper too at USD $32 each. But it's not case. The slow ferry only departed on 2 pm! 2 hours late. And half way we can saw the fast catamaran sailed passed us.

The slow ferry carried almost everything, and it spent a lot of time loading these lorries, thus the delay.

There supposed to be a few classes of 'cabins' on the ferry. But I am not sure, because we only been asked to pay 1 price, and that's USD $32. We walked all over the ferry, virtually nobody care about our class of tickets. So we settled ourselves into this air-conditioning lounge. Here Chris from England came to join us, as we're the few foreign faces on the ferry. Beside, we also met a German guy who paid a tour agent to arrange for him. He was not happy with the arrangement, including the promised 'high speed catamaran', but ended up together on the same ferry with us.

On the roof of the ferry there was a canteen, and a lot of Arabs and Africans that seated themselves here. Basically there is few things to buy here.

The ferry we took. There was Jordan immigration on the ship where we'd submitted our passports to them, only to re-took our passports at Aqaba immigration. We also left the ferry first with other tourists before others did, so there were only few of us who took the bus that brought us from the Aqaba port to the immigration building. Here we met another nice guy from Canada Tim. So you can guess also that at the Jordan immigration, only few of us occupied all the counter.

Tip: There is money changer on the ferry itself. The rate is about the same you can get in Jordan.

Tip: Nobody will tell you that you need to submit the passport to the Jordan immigration ON the ferry. So keep a lookout. Anyway it's of no harm if you don't manage to submit it. Just wait a little while longer at Aqaba customs.

Dolphin in Red Sea Gulf of Aqaba

It's possible to see Dolphin swimming around the ferry when the ferry half way to Aqaba. Too bad I noticed it too late and had too few time to get a proper shoot. But it seemed like all local passengers (although most of them didn't understand English, but we still managed to get their meaning) of the ferry knew about it, except tourist. I guess this was the only advantage of taking this slower ferry.

There was simply a lot of fish in Red Sea. Here the fishes swam around the ferry before departure.

Telephone in Egypt

I purchased a phone card to call back to Malaysia at the Nuweiba immigration building for EGP 10. Talked about 1 minutes and 30 seconds, at it costs me EGP 7! Communication in Egypt really expensive. I used my Singapore mobile phone and roamed in Egypt and I was really consent with my phone bill. I really hated 1 insurance agent who called us but didn't want to hanged up the phone even though I told her I am now overseas, until I told her I had no money to chat with her! Really annoyed those insurance agents.

Goodbye Egypt

Last look of Sinai of Egypt and Nuweiba port. Good bye Egypt, hope to see you again.

Nuweiba Port

Nuweiba Sea Port

Waiting Area before going through the immigration. Wait here or wait in a hall after the immigration as they won't let you go to the ferry too early.

Immigration building was under renovation, so the appearance was so-so. There were special counters that specially for tourists, which were virtually no need to queue.

After immigration it's a short distance to the ferry. They arranged the bus to ferry us there, right in front of the ferry. It seemed like tourists get privileged treatment everywhere. We no need to checked in our luggages, got own counters for immigration, allowed to have a seat in the bus, and also allowed to board the ferry first.

The Way to Nuwaiba

Sinai is after all a desert that filled with barren and jagged mountains and desert sand dunes.

Some part of Sinai has been declared protected area to preserve its natural environment. Right out of Dahab to the interior is Saint Katherine Protectorate.

Landmark marking arrival into Nuweiba

Service Taxi to Nuweiba

We had searched for service taxi to Nuweiba yesterday night. We agreed to pay the driver EGP 30 each, as was the only person who approached us. The agreed price was for 4 person, and when Julia decided to join us, we still needed to pay the same price! Anyway, be it 4 or 5 person, the price was expensive in a non air-conditioned car.

Actually there suppose to be bus to Nuweiba in the morning, but afraid that we might not be able to catch the ferry to Jordan in time, we decided to pay more for the service taxi. To be fair, the taxi driver was responsible. He brought us to the Nuweiba port ticket office first to buy the ferry tickets. After that we boarded the taxi again, and he drove us to the entrance of the port. The distance was not that far, but anyhow it's nice that at least they did what they said, and brought us right to the Nuweiba port, without the need for us to turn back to buy the ferry tickets again.

It was a small taxi, so as usual, big luggages went to the top.

Last Look at Dahab

Dahab beach front, along Masbat area.

Small bazaar at Dahab, all closed in the early morning hour. Tourists also nowhere to be seen.

Goodbye Dahab

Today was our last day in Egypt. We carried our backpacks to go to Mashraba of Assalah to take taxi to Nuweiba. Everybody who saw us was so friendly. The bided us farewell and invited us to come back again. But all of them only wanted to take photo with Wei Heng.

Same with this guy from another restaurant.