Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Billmon in Egypt

Like Praktike, I've been noting Billmon's travels in Egypt. Those of you who like my occasional travel blogging should definitely give him a read. Here's how he begins his impressions of Sharm al-Shaykh:
"Sharm is one of those Third World beach resorts specifically designed to be as far removed as possible from the gritty realities of how the other four-fifths of humanity actually lives. It's the Cabo San Lucas of Egypt, an incongruous little bubble of luxury and suntan lotion perched on the southern most tip of the Sinai peninsula, like a cheap piece of costume jewelry pinned to a mummy's desiccated earlobe. You can fly here nonstop from Frankfurt, spend a long weekend working on your tan, and be back in the office with Gunter and Hans without ever setting eyes on an Egyptian who wasn’t checking you into your room or serving you a Mai Tai.

"If Sharm had existed when the Israelites were wandering Sinai around looking for the Promised Land, they would never have made it. They'd still be lounging by the pool ordering drinks and trying to put the tab on Moses’ room.

"I’ve always detested places like this, and initially I saw nothing about Sharm to make me feel any differently. After being shepherded through the Cairo airport, my connecting flight and the Sharm airport by my WEF minders, I was shuttle bused to an anonymous hotel complex on the shores of the Red Sea – one in a long line of holiday bunkers that stretch down the coast as far as I can see. I suppose there’s a 'downtown Sharm' around here somewhere, maybe clustered around an old fishing village or fort, but so far I’ve seen no sign of it – just the hotels, a highway, a pathetic line of palm trees along the highway, most of them dying or already dead, and behind them a desolate plain pockmarked with little piles of rubble and garbage, and behind them the mountains of Sinai, as barren as the moon."

As the "initially" implies, he eventually comes to like it - you'll have to read the whole thing to find out why. Then you can head for his Cairo tale and finally the absolute best Middle Eastern travel post I have ever read, his train trip down the Nile Valley. When I inevitably return to Egypt during my year in Jerusalem, I was planning on doing a cruise, but he may have convinced me to try a train trip instead.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home