Issue 15 May 2008
Welcome to the 15th edition of our newsletter.
|Special point of interest:||
Thoughts from Abroad
Items for Sale:
Also Poseidon Cyclone regulator & long hose (requires service) £50. see John Searle 07776 411406
If anybody has any ideas about what they would like to see in the newsletter, please talk to us – or email if you prefer – just remember it’s read by the family!
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this months issue, and apologies for any mistakes.
Any further articles for next months edition would be appreciated, (any gossip, scandals, etc that’s printable) so let us know by 28th April.
Hope you enjoyed this issue.
We Came, We Saw, We Conquered, (We Taught the Locals Lovely Jubbly)
Hurgada Redsea 2008 By Gaz
That’s it Christmas has come and gone, and our minds turn once again to what has become our annual migration, the Red sea. Flights booked, wives bribed into giving us a lift with offers of gifts, the suitcases & dive bags crammed full of diving gear and we’re off, Manchester Airport here we come.
Do you know how much it costs these days for a meal on a flight? £20! Good job we filled up on a big, greasy breakfast before the flight - even then I got hungry (OK I’m greedy), but £1 for a Mars bar, you got to be joking!
Finally, we’ve arrived. No real problems at the airport in Hurghada just had to keep running between the baggage collection belts, as the Arabs couldn’t make up their minds as to which to use. Sea Gardens Hotel, not too bad, area don’t look too bad (ok it was dark when we got there), room clean and tidy, shower works, beds, beds, beds, ah, Houston we have problem! 1 double bed and a cramped looking camp bed for the 3 of us! Time for some very quick thinking: Mark’s much taller than me, so he’s to big for the camp bed, Dave’s back not the best, so the camp bed’s to soft, me I’m a little-un (no comment Gary – editor), with no back problems, right the camp bed’s mine. Phew, they fell for it.
1st day’s diving. Picked up by Emperor’s at 07:40 sharp, off to their new dive services, paperwork filled in, kit on the boat, quick trip in a rubber ducky, duck under the steel mooring line, and we’re away. 3 nice steady dives later, and the 1st day’s diving is done. No problems to report, the dive guides happy, and we’re happy.
This set the tone for the weeks diving; the water was warmer than the air temperature, the seas were a little bouncy at times, but nothing too serious; the tanks were always ready, the crew efficient and knew when to help and when to stay out of the way. The dives were all at different sites (13 in total for the 5 days) with varying conditions on each. Some were quite shallow paddle dives, while others were more challenging drift dives down to 35 meters or deeper if you wished. The dive guide was very good, taking plenty of time to explain the site, type of dive, and gave loads of advice on which route to take, and what you were likely to find. The guide stayed within viz on the first day, and then basically just left us to it afterwards. (Note; the 5 of us are fairly experienced, and generally a little nervous about admitting to how long we’ve been diving. Safe to say, we know what to do with a bottle of Nitrox, (someone fetch the glasses please). Visibility was well up to par, varying from about 30 m up past 100m.
We didn’t find any really big stuff, no whales or sharks this trip (OK they staked out a big plastic Great White, but that doesn’t count). We did see some Eagle rays, and the videographer claimed he’d found a turtle, but we suspect he already had the images on file. The area is packed with small stuff, hard & soft corals abound, along with decent sized shoals of fish, you very quickly loose count of the numbers of fish species and the varieties of corals. Dives here can go very quickly while you’re busy ferreting around coral heads discovering what lives there.
Would I use Emperor’s Diving again, would I recommend this area for diving, yes, without a shadow of doubt! But what I would say is this. Choose another hotel other than the Sea Gardens, as the surrounding area is currently a building site, and there’s a night club at the end of the street where the taxi drivers race up/down till 3 in the morning hooting their horns.
I would also say, that I don’t feel the area is really suitable for families with children, as it seems rather raw as a holiday resort, Sharm El Sheik by contrast is much more mature and friendly.
Beware, the local tour companies! One of the reasons for us going to Hurghada this year, was to take the opportunity to visit Luxor, Karnac, and the Valley of the Kings. So having got the first few days under our belt, we arranged with one of the local tour company’s a trip. An idea which proved to be an unforgettable experience!
The driver turned up on time, at 0315hrs, so on we go and settled down for a nap, as we had a 4hrs run. Soon we were awakened by the bouncing of the bus, desert everywhere, and no road. I reached for my trusty Swiss Army Knife, Mark reached for GPS and mobile, Dave went for his gun.(!!!) Paul, well Paul remained happily asleep, how does he do it?
Fortunately, the driver had decided to take a short cut, but you never know! Needless to say, apart from Paul and Eddie, the rest of us got no sleep after that, especially as the driver spent most of time over 80 miles per hour, and nearly parked the bus in a ditch going too fast into a roundabout. Eddie woke up, said are there yet, I said no go back to sleep, which he did, as I wished to spare him the experience.
The actual trip around Karnac, and Luxor, wasn’t too bad. We had a pleasant young Muslim lass, as our guide, who spoke very good English, and looked after us quite well. We had guided tour around some of the monuments at Karnac and Luxor, and time to explore on our own. A short boat trip up the Nile to pick up the bus on the other side, and then off to the Valley of the Queen’s. Strange, we thought we would be going to the Valley of the King’s, think we got ripped off there. The walk from the coach park up to the tombs was an experience, in so much that we really must invest in some Tee-shirts printed up for next time, which say ‘What part of NO, do you not understand’ in English, German, and Arabic.
Finally, to end the trip, it was back across the river for a meal, and then time to say farewell to our guide and back on the bus. 2pm in the afternoon saw us parked up, in a side street along with dozens of other coaches, buses, and a police armed guard. We had no idea what was to come!
Wits, I have none left, as in frightened out of! I think it was either Mark or Dave who best summed it up, it was like ‘Wacky Races’. You had the police guard front and rear, with all the little bus drivers all racing one another at 70 mph, trying to overtake with inches to spare. There’s a lorry coming the other way, who gives a damn. This situation got even worse, once we crossed the desert from Luxor, back to coast to Safaga, because that was when the police escort left us, and it was as though the reins were taken off and anything goes. What they were doing at 70 mph, they were now trying to do at 85-90 mph. I can’t remember a time when I have been so frightened. 6 weeks on, and I think the nervous twitches and shakes have finally stopped!
Last night, but sadly nothing much to tell. Back to our now regular seats at Café Del Mar, then off up the town to meet up with Cat (our dive guide) for the evening. A very pleasant evening, with loads of beer, games of pool, and back to the hotel.
Some of the funnier moments:-
Paul - failed to delivered on doing anything suitable to qualified for the rusty nail, this trip, like jumping off the boat to early, but he did a sterling job, convincing the locals that ‘lovely jubbly’ is a traditional English greeting. A phrase they seemed to take on-board very well.
Eddie - seemed to have a knack of disappearing. We lost him in Manchester Airport in duty free, several times around the town, Hurghada Airport, even on the way back through Customs at Manchester Airport.
Mark and I nearly got on the wrong flight - I swear it was the lack beer, affecting my sense of direction. But then again, I still get lost in Dosthill!
Mark’s memorable comment to Dave, on their 1st night together, ‘if I grab your butt, in my sleep, just give me slap’. No photos were taken, honest lads.
I nearly got myself stuck, chasing Nudibrachs under a wreck. Yes I can squeeze under a little further. Oh bugger, help, how do I get out? Worse still, I’d lost me buddies. Sorry Phil.
Dave - got lost in the hotel, and had to phone me up for directions. It was a really big hotel, all 3 floors. Worse still, he was sober.
I’d like to say thanks, to Paul & Eddie for seeing me safely back to my room on the last night. I still say I’d only had 6 bottles, Hic.
And that’s about it, we came, we saw, we conquered, Paul taught the locals that ‘lovely jubbly’ is a traditional English greeting. 5 went out, 5 came back safely. Loads of first rate diving done; great food once we found a reliable restaurant; and a very good dive operator.
I can’t wait till next year.
(sounds like a great time was had by all – editor)
The usual format will be restored next month - dependant on the editorial alcohol intake