Not that long ago, we were exposed to endless images and video clips of sword-wielding Egyptian revolutionaries with one, and only one aim in mind – to topple the oppressive and corrupt regime of their once loved president, Mr Muhammed Hosni Mubarak.
The ramifications of this were severe as Egypt plunged into darkness whilst tourism as far south as Sharm El Sheikh, which had seen years of exponential growth, disappeared without trace. What was particularly worrying is the fact that few or no incidents were reported in any of the resorts located within the Sinai peninsula, so what was all the fuss about? It was time to head south…
It so happened that I had the pleasure of the company of some exciting UK freestylers including the likes of Adam Sims and Max Rowe. Max, who had only just recovered from an epic journey to Vietnam for the PWA event would join us a day later so the boys had some time to kill as we headed for our first stop, El Tur.
Having travelled to Egypt on a number of occasions, I have to say that I was somewhat stunned by the emptiness of Sharm El Sheikh airport upon our arrival. This once bustling airport had an eerie air of tranquility about it whilst baggage handlers and security personnel appeared unusually relaxed. So much so that they seemed most patient when receiving a drilling by Adam Sims regarding the state of his quiver bag that had obviously been dragged around runways behind a baggage trolley whilst doubling up as a surf-board for bored airport personnel! It set the tone of things to come but more about that shortly.
The drive up to El Tur was relatively eventless whilst the roads were notably quiet. Although Egypt’s political unrest has now paled into insignificance with recent events in Libya and now Japan, you could still smell the stale air of a tourist factory that had simply ground to a halt pretty much overnight.
Suffice to say that in El Tur, the most obvious visible difference was the presence of the army which as we all now know, is holding temporary charge whilst the Egyptian government is working hard on its constitutional reforms. The army in Egypt is a highly respected institution so a few soldiers here or there seems to me, at least, to instill an atmosphere of security and stability.
As we rolled into Moses Bay Hotel we were greeted by the usual friendly staff who seemed relieved by our presence as I guess we must’ve offered them instant hope, being one of their first guests following a prolonged drought in tourism. I think for any hotel to have survived the last 3 months shows an act of defiance for which they should be proud, very proud. These people survive on next to nothing and to maintain a smile to that extent, should be a subtle reminder that during times of hardship, even a relatively insignificant ray of sunshine can be enough to spark hope and expectation.
Following a swift check-in procedure, there was no time to waste as we headed for the only drinking establishment in El Tur, that being the recently expanded Ibi & Friends centre (see next blog entry) with local host Max & Co. Many a (rather odd) tin cups of vodka and shishas later and with a forecast for light winds, fighting talk soon spawned within the camp about how best to tackle the newly installed cable tow the following day. Good night ‘John Boy’…
Day two arrived sooner than you could say ‘mesh’ (meaning ok in Arabic) and as we all set about finding ways of passing the day in our own unique ways, news soon emanated from the cable tow area that young Adam Sims had attempted to make love to his wake-board only seconds into his first ever wake-boarding experience. I’m going to be fair on Adam and spare you the details of what actually happened as I know he will be doing his own column and wouldn’t want to stand accused of raining on his parade (it truly was a ‘special’ moment!).
With PWA freestyler Max Rowe now onboard, it was time to head north to our second stop, that being Moon Beach, Ras Sudr. Again, nothing out of the ordinary to report en-route other than quiet roads and a slightly more prominent army presence at the usual check-points. Unfortunately, Max’s late flight meant a more subdued entry to the resort as we relaxed within the newly configured beach bar whilst being looked after by the very generous Moon Beach team.
By day, Moon Beach seemed surprisingly populated as weekenders arrived from Cairo seeking a much needed relief from their recent Cairo exploits. Suffice to say, Egypt seems very ‘normal’ given the circumstances therefore begging the question, where and why had everyone left? Now more than ever, this country needs us and with the spring season now in full swing and flight prices slashed, this is the time to grab yourself a bargain and enjoy what in recent years has become one of the most desirable windsurfing and kitesurf holiday destinations in the world.
A point that I’m convinced will be endorsed by my younger comrades (currently still in Egypt) is that there should be little or no cause for concern when considering traveling to Egypt right now. For sure, it will take time to recover from this down-turn in tourism and for those feeling the need to go on holiday following a long and harsh winter, now is the time to head for Egypt as there is no place in the world that will offer you better conditions.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any queries regarding the current situation in Egypt. For details on pricing or to place a booking, please visit www.oceansource.net/egypt