My New Paradise


This blog entry about the events of Friday, June 11, 2004 was originally posted on June 17, 2004.

DAY 237:  Tourism in Egypt falls into two main categories: 1) sightseeing the ancient sites and 2) relaxing down the shore of the Red Sea.  Of all the Egyptian shore communities of the Red Sea, nowhere is the scene more laid back than in Dahab, on the eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula.  Away from the “package holiday” scene of the bigger cities, Dahab has retained a hippy vibe with an Arabian flavor so relaxed that Lonely Planet states that many travelers to Egypt skip the ancient stuff and head right for the shore.

MY OVERNIGHT BUS ARRIVED in Dahab’s bus terminal about ten in the morning and I was immediately approached by multiple guys calling out my name.  “Erik!  Erik!  Erik!”  Apparently my name had been accidentally revealed by the true person assigned to meet me, and now four different guys were claiming to be that guy.  This is a predicament, I thought, I knew this happen at some point.

One guy who said he was the right guy started leading me to a taxi, but the guy holding a handwritten “ERIK” sign wasn’t following.  There I was with four options, three of which had taxis waiting for me, glistening in the s morning sun.  The fourth guy, The Man With The “ERIK” Sign wanted to lead me to something else:  a modest public cross-town bus.

That’s the cup of a carpenter, I thought, remembering the climactic scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when the famous yet fictitious archaeologist chose a modest looking cup amongst a plethora of shiny chalices as the Holy Grail.  Only a public bus would not try and hustle me for a bloated taxi fare.

I went with The Man With The “ERIK” Sign and waited on the empty bus.  One of the other guys got on to tell me that I was going with the wrong guy.  “Where are you going?” he asked me.  “I can take you there.”

“Actually, I don’t know,” I truthfully responded.  It was my local agent’s responsibility to tell me and take me there upon arrival.

The Man With The “ERIK” Sign saw the other guy on the bus and yelled at him for talking to me — he ran off — and the bus took off, taking my apparent escort and me to an undisclosed location.

Isham, The Man With The “ERIK” Sign, turned out to be the right guy after all (I had chosen… wisely.) because when he took to Penguin Village, the entirely all young male staff was waiting for me as a welcoming party.  The accommodation was more like a mini-resort for budget travelers, with a hotel, campground, lounge/restaurant, dive shop and — the key to my new paradise — cheap high-speed internet right next door.  All of this was situated right on the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, “right prong” of the “fork” north of the Red Sea.

LET’S GO’S MIDDLE EAST GUIDEBOOK describes Dahab has “one of those places that has grown larger than life in the minds of travelers… a resort for backpackers and budget travelers, a kind of Club Med on US$10 a day.”  Yes, it was a backpacker paradise, complete with a modern stone promenade that hugged the shoreline filled with stores, bars, cafes and dive shops.  Nearby, people on horses and camels rode down the shallow surf, while others snorkeled at a deeper level. 

Dahab didn’t have much of a beach in terms of fine white sands, but it made up for it with what lay in between the promenade and the water:  pillow lounges (picture above).  For as far as the eye could see, Dahab’s coast was mainly comprised of these lounges where apparently no one told the owners that the chair had been invented.  Instead, soft woven carpets covered a deck and pillows and cushions were everywhere for people to veg out in.  The pillows were placed to form little sections for groups, with tables in the center of each one for food or a towering sheesha (hookah). 

Surrounded by pillows, I laid out to admire the deep blue waters of the Red Sea with the mountains of Saudi Arabia just across the way, while listening to the chilled out vibe of electronic lounge music and sipping on a fresh strawberry and mango lassie with the gentle sea breeze blowing by.  I knew I had found my new paradise.  Up until that moment I thought that Kendwa in northern Zanzibar was the most laid back place in the world, but evidently there’s just something about pillows that goes a long way.  It’s no wonder most travelers did the ancient sites before heading to the shore; if they had gone to Dahab first, they might not have any desire to see anything else. 

THE SUN SET DOWN THE WESTERN MOUNTAINS OF SINAI and the relaxed vibe of Dahab continued.  The promenade lit up with sparkling colored lanterns, flickering candles and Christmas lights — and why not?  It was like Christmas in June.  I didn’t know if it was because of the decline in Middle Eastern tourism since the conflicts farther up north, but there weren’t many crowds around — or rather, not many big package tour groups, which was a good thing.  (Most tour groups go to other shore towns catered to their travel style.)  Whatever the case was, those who weren’t there were missing out, which was I thought was just fine — that means more paradise for me then.

Next entry: Moses For A Day

Previous entry: Valley Boy

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Comments for “My New Paradise”

  • First - and the pics of the beach are gorgeous!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/16  at  09:27 PM

  • wow…paradise indeed. Although, i thought paradise would have more women?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/16  at  09:28 PM

  • Oh my gosh, that looks like the coolest place ever.  Good job with the Erik sign guys!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/16  at  09:31 PM

  • Let’s go to Dahab!!!!  Although it does seem that we’d have to bring women with us….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/16  at  09:48 PM

  • This is paradise! F’ing great man.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/16  at  11:30 PM

  • Seriously, I think EVERYONE should make it a point to make it out to Dahab at some point in their life, if nt for a couple of days—although once you get there, you won’t feel like leaving!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/16  at  11:56 PM

  • sold. I’m there

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/16  at  11:59 PM

  • I’m there too.  Relaxing on pillows and watching the beach is just my style!

    Posted by Liz  on  06/17  at  03:53 AM

  • At least we’d have friends - I’m there too!!
    Nice, I’m jealous - as usual.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/17  at  07:45 AM

  • I didn’t think a beach could get more relaxing, but PILLOWS?! Count me in too!

    And yes, you chose wisely.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  06/24  at  02:06 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
Moses For A Day

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Valley Boy


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