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ISSUE 15 ARCHIVE - DRY SHARM DOS

Traveller

Do Remember we owe it to them. Oh yes. They are only part way through their first democratic elections ‘cos of us, the Brits. Here’s a potted history. Befezzed King Farouk was our favourite royal in North Africa. We kept him there rather like we did the Shah in Iran. Seemingly independent, he had rooms at the Ritz, did our bidding and made sure Egypt stayed as much like the ‘red’ on old colonial maps, subject to our political whims. Now you can run other parts of the world like that, and some still are, e.g Columbia and the US, Denmark and Greenland, but at some point the worm will turn. And it did big style. Farouk was booted out to spend his days by roulette wheels in casinos, and a more Egypt minded man came to power. But like all new potentates he only lasted a year. This began a succession of despots ending in the recently overthrown Moustachiod Man Mubarrak. (Doncha just love the way our politicos suck up to them when in power, then dump them when the wind changes – see Gadaffi, Assad and soon the Saudis).

Diver – if you have any concerns over your welfare during this politically unstable time – it was our fault in the first place. It is our duty, nay, obligation, to get our neoprene covered asses there and dive, dive, dive.

Do Lovingly dream of the reef there. I’ve seen all the coral in the world, and frankly for a ‘time getting there/ beauty equation’, the Red?Sea rocks. Barrier reef – 20 hour flight, OK. Caribbean – 9 hours, mediocre. Mexico – 10 hours via Houston, mmmm could be better.

Sharm – 5 hours, freakin’ awesome. It’s a no-brainer for any diver. As long as EasyJet haven’t got an engine problem. You’re there door to door in the time it takes to get Sky to answer their 0800 complaints line. And cheaper as well.

Do Change your dietary ?habits often. We all get bored of pizza, Chinese and Mum’s organic roasts. There’s just not enough Arabic food in Blighty. Time to sample the delights of fresh coriander, lamb, shish and decent bleedin’ hummus. The stuff here is rubbish. You need a Bedou grinding chick peas with that peanut oil fresh that day. Not that guff that Tesco knock out with a shelf life of two months.

And the coffee. Proper coffee. Mmmm. Thick, black with that crunchy sludge at the bottom. CostaNeroBucks is a joke. Timid, weak and Westernised, it’s like Typhoo compared to what the Chinese really drink. For the sake of your olfactory and taste system, and the fact you only live twice – if you wanna be James Bond – get out there.

Do you remember your first kiss. I try to forget mine. A messy salivacious affair with a lot of teeth knocking. My Gran never forgot it either.

But some life events just stick in the psyche and we can never shake them. Ras Mohammed is one for me. It’s?up there in the top three dives I have ever done. And?that includes Stoney. Big blue. Big fish and, technically interesting. And what better than the happy khasi photos at the end. It’s the only dive still where a passport is needed. Ras Mo was one of the first national parks in Egypt and if we want more of their reef preserved we have to get out there more and make the case by locals seeing what a benefit it is for them to keep it pristine for the diver and not raped for other commercial interests. I’ve dived Ras more times than I’ve been slapped for suggestive comments when the lights go on at a disco, and every time it is completely different. Several entry and exit points; the best light ever for photography and everything from sharks to a trillion little orange fish over beautiful coral heads. Did I mention it’s only five hours away plus a short boat trip? Probably.

Do Dive the Thistlegorm. I don’t think our forefathers kicked the Hun’s ass and Monsewer Cousteau went a discovering this plenty fine wreck for you the diver to never go and see it. Steeped in more history than Salisbury Cathedral, and more magnificent than our future Queen’s sister’s butt, it is a life box you have to tick. It is my yardstick for one of the ‘1001 things to do before you get hit by a bus’ books. If diving the Thistlegorm is in it, I buy it. If not I take it to the counter at Waterstones and recommend pulping that edition. Proper wreck diving is the Big Thistler. Top deck – good for beginners. Bottom – great for advancies. And if you are into penetration then there’s military hardware to be found. Like a holiday in Aldershot, only underwater. You haven’t wrecked lessin’ you have dived this one. Forget cruise liners, you can’t fin around an upturned casino if you take yourself seriously. Motorbikes and eels. That’s what pulls the birds down the pub at club nights.?For real.

Do You ever get the same medical problem as I have since diving? It started on my first dive holiday,?but comes on every time I dive abroad. It’s this funny whiny noise in both my ears. Constant in the day but only seems to be relieved when I am underwater.?I saw my dive doc, who?– tinny, ringing, a hum, asked me what it sounded like? that sort of thing. I told him the noise sounds like a “whydoyouhavetogodivingeveryday” then follows with?a “thisholidaysforbothofus” sort of screech, ending with a lower drone that goes like “letasdosomethingthatIwant- todothistime”.

I wanted antihistamines, however the doc prescribed a divorce for me. But diver... I have a better solution. Where else can you dive with so much to do along side? If you hear these funny noises, just pack your partner off to Luxor/ the Pyramids/St Cats Monastery or star gazing. It’s got it all there. And if you need an excuse not to go, so you can get another days diving in, my dive doc supplies sick notes that state: “This patient suffers archeologitis, and must not go near dust or tombs. His best environment is rubble free and wet”.

(Don’t) worry about the airport – it’s fixed. The heat – Britain is piss miserable cold.?Football violence – there’s no team in Sharm. Illness – they don’t have to get flu shots. The rubbish beer – it’s probably about time you drank a bit less.

Let’s go!

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