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Travel » Destinations » Charm-of-sharm-070810
 
The Charm of Sharm
 
At 3.30 am, yes, AM, my friend and I boarded a mini-bus heading for the quad-biking centre. The roar of quad bike engines certainly woke me up! Nasser, our friendly guide, advised us to cover our head and faces with the traditional checked Arab headdress so as to not suffer from the dust and sand clouds that were sure to be thrown up between twenty riders. I already came armed with my headscarf and looked feminine whilst my friend looked more Ninja than Arab! About a minute of circling each other on an automatic setting our 'training' was completed and then, 'vroom!' Twenty minutes of following Nasser through the Sinai Dessert towards the mountains in the dead of night. I felt like a racer, although there was no race to be had, it-felt naughty and free.

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We stopped at the foot of the mountains by a Bedouin shack. Corrugated boards for walls and thatch for a roof, this single room was decorated with bright, heavy hand woven wall coverings. There was a mattress, a blanket, a few pots and pans and some jars of dried tealeaves. We were introduced to native Bedouin dwellers, Sibeera and her husband, a sprightly, welcoming couple in their fifties. They ushered a handful of us inside and offered tea that Sibeera was making squatting at her miniature gas bottled stove. As I looked at her careworn face, I realised that she was the first (one of the very few women) I had seen so far. All the tour guides, shopkeepers and hotel staff were male. I practised some broken Arabic on her to which she smiled politely. It was amazing that these Biblical like people existed not even 20 miles away from the sprawling hotels in Sharm El Sheikh.

As we emerged from the shack, Nasser ushered us to some mountable rocks. We all clambered to get a 'good seat'. "Wait patiently, my friends" announced Nasser "The sun will rise soon, you will never forget this beautiful sun over our country" he said proudly, rather like a compere. Sure enough, at 5.56am, the sun, unobliterated by clouds or buildings rose majestically. The gorgeous reds and oranges illuminated the desert before us and revealed the gold of the mountains around us. There was an amazing sense of peace that welled up within us all.

Our holiday also featured a trip to Cairo and the Pyramids, a vigorous climb up Mount Sinai to view another spectacular sunrise and more blue skies and water. Sharm El Sheikh, City of Peace showed me that my peace was found not necessarily by lounging on a beach, but by experiencing all its colour, natural landscapes, deep history, tradition and genuine warmth of the Egyptians.
 
Raveen Sandhu
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