It was time for Sharm-el-Sheikh! We flew on a small plane – it must have been a 60-seater or something…I can’t remember, but it felt tiny! I’m not usually afraid of flying but this one made me a bit jittery as the plane felt so fragile. To make matters worse Bubbles turned to me, as we were flying over the desert, and asked “how come there’s turbulence when there are no clouds or wind?” Thanks, Bubbles – I felt a lot more confident after that! But this flight was nothing compared to the return flight. There was more turbulence and a lady fainted during the flight!
We arrived at the Sharm-el-Sheikh airport and another rep fetched us and sent us to our hotel. We went exploring around the beach resort after off-loading our luggage in our room. I’ve never been a fan of beach holidays but this was the point I started warming to the idea that I could enjoy beach holidays even though I didn’t like water activities. I got into the water but alas did not try reading a book while floating on the Red Sea!
The first evening, we took the hotel bus to town. We had dinner at an Egyptian restaurant and by now I was beginning to suss out Egyptian food: it is full of spices but isn’t hot like Indian food. We took a leisurely stroll around the shops and found a local tour agency that organised tours. We fancied a camel ride and a quad bike ride in the desert. I had especially been looking forward to riding a quad bike as I hadn’t been on one before. There was also a tour to the St Catherine monastery and I would have loved to go, except it started in the wee hours of the morning so you could be at the top of the mountain for sunrise. I love hiking, but not at some ungodly hour like 3 or 4am.
The next morning, I finally got into the pool! I clung to the edge and watched Bubbles enviously as he swam a few laps across the pool. Bubbles had also been planning on going snorkelling, so he borrowed snorkelling gear from the hotel and went snorkelling by the shore. Me, I just stood there and looked at all the fish by the shore – the water was so clean and clear! If you’re keen on snorkelling you might want to stay where we stayed – at the Hyatt – as apparently it boasts one of the best snorkelling spots. Boats from tour groups brought tourists to the Hyatt’s waters whereas we were right there!
That evening we went on a camel ride in the desert overlooking Mount Sinai. I tried hard to snap some photos but it was quite a bumpy ride, so nothing turned out well! Fortunately the camel herds stopped the camels every now and kindly offered to take photos of us on the camel. After nearly an hour, we returned to the base and climbed a hill to watch the sunset. It was picture perfect. Isn’t nature the best artist? Included within the package was a barbecue dinner with the Bedouin people. We must have missed the fine print as the BBQ dinner ended up being a pre-cooked meal transported to the desert by a group of men masquerading as Bedouins. Well, who can blame them for deserting the harsh conditions of desert life! They danced around a lit fire as the sun disappeared beneath the horizon.
Another morning and more lazing around the hotel resort. This was beginning to sound like the best holiday ever: being waited on hand and foot, great hotels and great food. We were also having the best of both worlds; starting our holiday with a city break and then ending it with a relaxing beach holiday. We only had two more nights and we wanted to relish it. Bubbles was planning to go snorkelling the next morning, properly this time. I thought I’d curl on a deck chair by the beach with a book. But before that we had our quad bike ride in the desert.
That evening we were picked up at the hotel again and taken to a yard near a desert. We were each given a quad bike and had a test ride around the yard. Bubbles wanted me to ride pillion but I wasn’t going to have that! This is just like a large tricycle, I thought! We were asked to bring a scarf and sunglasses to keep the desert sand away from our faces, so they tied a keffiyeh for us. We weren’t given helmets but I thought that should be fine since we were only going on the desert. After waiting around for a bit, we were finally on our way. The ride felt bumpier over the desert. Some of the people in our group went zooming past while I was trying to get comfortable with the bike. Not even five minutes after we rode out to the desert, we were veering off to a road. There was traffic going past us in the opposite direction. We weren’t briefed about this – I thought the whole ride was going to be on the desert. Only later did we find out they veered off the desert to avoid land mines. Great! Anyway, I didn’t like it one bit, it didn’t feel right as we weren’t even wearing a helmet. I slowed down contemplating if I should stop completely. The next series events happened in split-seconds. I stepped on the brakes but it felt like it wasn’t braking properly. Before I knew it, I was losing control of the bike and it was going towards the kerb. It went up the kerb, throwing me off and toppling over back on the road.
The next thing I remembered was someone asking me if I was okay. I had fallen on my head and was bleeding profusely. There were grazes all over my body. I was bundled up into a van and rushed to the hospital. I was not unconscious but I was suffering from shock and couldn’t remember what happened the next two hours. My wounds were cleaned and I was sent for a brain and ankle scan. Fortunately there wasn’t a concussion and I didn’t need hospitalization. But I had a second degree sprain on my right ankle which meant I couldn’t walk properly. My body was badly bruised. We had to get a taxi home as the tour organiser disappeared while we were at the hospital. I wish I could remember the name of the company so I could “name and shame” them on TripAdvisor, but I never got round to it and now it’s just been too long and I can’t remember which one it was.
Poor Bubbles was in worse shock than I as he had witnessed the whole accident from behind me. He spent the next day nursing me in the hotel, implementing the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) on me. No snorkelling, unfortunately! The hotel staff were fantastic – bringing ice and food and checking on us every now and then. I spent the whole day feeling sorry for myself and recuperating, and finally it was time for our flight back home the next day. The ground stewardess saw my condition and upgraded us to Premier, so it was a lovely flight apart from the fact I was in so much pain! Anyway, it was lesson learnt. Safety comes first even on holidays, especially when you have the sense of balance of an egg like I do.
Enjoy your holidays, but stay safe!