Disclaimer: These a long winded blog posts. Your choice how much you read but these are purely my take on my adventures in the Middle East
I promised to blog about my travels so here goes. No words can explain the full experience that I had, the sights that I saw and the emotional and physical aspect of the entire Middle East Tour.
My parents decided that we should do Uncle Abie Dawjee’s Middle East Educational Tour for the mere reason that we would be seeing more places and in the hope that we all would learn the history or the Middle East better from someone who understands it and reads about it extensively. The blog posts that follow have nothing to do with what he said and I hope not to preach anything much about it but just to share my experiences completely.
So we set out on December 16, 2010, to do five countries, 7 cities in two weeks. No easy feat but think about it along the lines of Contiki Middle East style.
It was exactly that. Loads of traveling over land, in tour buses and sleeping one night in places, which you would never usually book at. Those were the little things to me. In all honesty it was more like ‘sleep when you dead’.
Landing in Cairo in the early part of the morning, we were all loaded into the various tour buses and taken out immediately to see the sites of Cairo.
The land of Kings and Queens, Pharaohs and Roman Emperors, the old and the new. That is Egypt. Mythical, mystic and one that you either love or hate in a heart beat.
Yes, the pyramids, sphinx, perfume shops, and bazaars as well as the “Citadel of Salah Al-Din” were our calling card on the first day of travels. Not only that but we also managed to fit in Jumuah [Muslim Friday Prayer] into that day as well. This was a tour filled with Muslims, so lots of salaah [prayer] stopovers were required.
The citadel is one of the most beautiful places. Its called Salahudin’s citadel as he prepared his armies from this and various other locations to take back the land of Palestine from the Crusaders. He is also honoured for being a leader who did so without shedding unnecessary blood and for not killing innocent women and children. It also is a mosque whose architect was a Jew. Just goes to show that Muslims and Jews can live in peace and harmony. [We just don’t like Zionists much]
That night for those who wanted to, there was the Nile cruise, which included food, belly dancers, and whirling dervish amongst other things. Our family decided to pass up on that as we had visited Cairo before and have been on the Nile cruise. From other who went, they immediately proclaimed that it was indeed awesome and definitely not to be missed.
The following morning started out true adventure around the Middle East. Climbing onto the bus, we started out journey along the route the Prophet Musa (A.S.) [Prophet Moses] took on his flight out of Egypt and then on his escape from Firaun [Pharaoh]. Through the dusty, dessert of Egypt we went, till we reached the most important canal in the world today – the Suez Canal.
The Suez was actually built by French investors to shorten the trade routes. So instead of a trade route that went around the tip of Africa from India to Europe, it went through the Red Sea, Egypt and into the Mediterranean.
You can imagine how surreal it is to see a ship moving across the desert sands of Egypt. Almost floating on a magic carpet. My imagination was running a little wild when we happened to see what looked like a container ship floating over the sands. Blinding to the senses.
We crossed the Suez by actually going under the canal. The Suez is one of the most important canals and the importance can be seen in the various phases of its history. Firstly when Egypt decided that it belonged to them and it should be nationalized, the ‘Suez Crisis’ ensued. Thereafter during the 1967 war between the Arab nations and Israel, due to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, which to this day still continues.
Fact: The taxes on the Suez can finance one person in Egypt $300 per day according to a population of 60 million people as worked out a few years ago. Sadly this cannot be seen amongst the population today.
Under the Suez and continuing on Musa (A.S.)’s journey we came to the ‘Wells of Musa’. These were a number of wells of which we only say about three but which originally numbered close on 20. It was in this area that Allah [God] provided the Israelites water when they fled Firaun.
The sea from these wells is approximately 1km away and, according to the Qur’an, is where Musa (A.S.) fled from Firaun. Across the sea on a clear say you can see a mountain that looks like Firaun lying dead with his hands crossed against his chest and his head lying back.
Bedouins still inhabit this area and we were able to buy a few trinkets from them.
Back on the buses and we headed to Sharm el-Sheik , passing by Mount Musa, where Musa (A.S.) was given the 10 commandments, which forms one of the holiest books in history, the Torah. A book all Muslims believe in as well.
Sharm was completely full of beauty and I would have loved to dive there but sadly the shark attack a week or so before we arrived changed my original plans. Still swam in the Red Sea and saw the most beautiful fish swim around my feet. Also Sharm brought with it the entire beach resort experience with night life and so on. Joined the girls and headed to a shisha/hooka/hubbly setting. Brilliant watching the so dubbed ‘Boy Bands’ do boy band moves to entice people into their shisha houses. Yah group of guys doing the exact same dance steps to the loudest music. Hilarious but also an amazing site to see. Got to also do a little desert quad biking at sunset and boy was that an experience.
Travels 2 to follow… Crossing the Red Sea and experiencing a little of Jordan.
*Pics of first leg here