Journey to Egypt – Trip from HELL!!!:
What I didn`t know was how long it would take me to get from Petra to Dahab Egypt. I had figured with my bus, taxi to the port, 1 hour ferry and then bus to Dahab, it would take me 6-7 hours. I heard the ferries don`t always run on time and it could be tough to buy tickets and you had to have cash only (no ATM`s at the port).
I had no idea what sort of Cluster F*@K it would be!
Here`s a short snapshot of what it took:
6:30 am – wake up
6:50 – walk to bus station for a 7:00 mini-bus. When I got there, I was told to wait till the bus is full and it maybe half hour or so
7:45 – the bus was full and leaves (5 JD/$7)
9:15 – arrives at Aqaba bus station
9:30 – cab arrives at port (5JD/$7)
At this point, I had met Evan in line to pay my departure tax. I saw his Canadian Passport and he saw my Canadian passport (as I`m traveling the Middle East as a Canadian for ease with the Israeli Passport stamp issues). Evan was traveling with his 19 year old son and the three of us decided to team up to get through this journey and I`m so glad as they made the journey so much more fun and we were able to leave our bags with each and move around freely (which is a big deal for me and my big bag).
10:00 – have figured out and paid departure tax/ gotten my passport stamp/ and purchased my ferry ticket. This was a tough process as the information desk told me the wrong process. Luckily Milena had given me so much useful information about the process as she tried and failed two weeks earlier and they wouldn`t sell her a ticket. I had to go this was as I didn`t have a visa for Egypt and if you take the ferry you can buy it after disembarkment. (55 JD/$77)
11:00 – we were “told” the ferry was ready and to go outside to wait for the ferry at 12 noon.
From 11:00-2:30 – all the locals were RUN to the front gate when they thought they were ready to board and then would be told no and had to sit down. It was a fun game we watch and we finally decided to stop getting up at all the false alarms.
12:00 noon – no boat
1:00pm – still no boat, yet all these big trucks were allowed to go through the gates to board the boat, just no people.
At this point, we met Abdul. He is Egyptian and was studying in Jordan and trying to get back home to Cairo. He was so fun to talk to and understand the norms as he has taken this ferry 3 other times. He didn`t think he could stay with us as the locals were to board from one place and foreigners were allowed to board early elsewhere. We told him to stick to us as he looks like us and could pass, which he did. He was so sweet and wanted to carry my bag for me, plus his own and wouldn`t allow me to carry it. He said it was the least he could do as I was trying to navigate this crazy country on my own and he wanted me to think well of the Egyptian people and they aren`t always helpful. Glad we met him as he was also able to talk to the crew to help us understand what all the announcements were saying.
2:30 – finally we got on boat – yet it was only a passenger and small car ferry. Why the delay?
4:30 – after sitting on the boat for 2 hours, we finally departed
6:00 – arrive Egypt, but we were told wait 1 hour to depart from the boat (again why?)
7:30 – It was a major push fest to get off the boat, check passports and I`ve never seen such chaos – well maybe to get on the boat. Guess it`s a trend.
8:00 – have passport/visa/bags ready to leave. Evan and Ethan had their visas from home already, but were so nice to wait for me so we could all share a taxi to Dahab (as no buses were running this late. As I was trying to find where to get my passport back and purchase my visa, I ran into a nice group of Americans from Mississippi and they would have their tour leader get my visa for me since I was on my own, which was very nice and saved me a lot of hassle and the $15 fee.
8:30 – We finally found a mini bus to take us and negotiated the rate to (50 Egyptian pounds per person or $10). At this point, I didn`t care and just wanted to get going as I knew I had friend in Dahab and it was Tara`s birthday and I wanted to get there to try to find them to celebrate. I still have my priorities!
10:00 – I finally arrive at hotel. It`s called the Penguin hotel (why in such heat would it be called Penguin?)
Expected travel time was 6-7 hours
Actual time 15:30 hours. It also sounds like this is typical for this journey and it happens every day. How can you run a business like this…no competition!
The good news…as I was trying to load my email to check to my emails to see if Tara, Andy or Rory let me know where they were staying or where they would be for dinner (as I expected to be in by 3 or 4pm), I heard “Megan…how are you”. It was Rory on his way to dinner. He had run out to get a couple bottles of Vodka for dinner (well to add to the fresh fruit juice at dinner). Most restaurants are not allowed to sell alcohol (since they are Muslim), but they don`t care if you bring your own in. So I was lucky to be there at the moment he was returning from getting vodka and I was able to get to my room, shower (in salt water) and then off to meet the group for a fun birthday celebration for Tara. I`ve never wanted a stiff drink so much and to be with fun friends.