I decided to go into Hurghada today and to do it on public transport - with Jody. There is a bus service round the corner that takes people to Hurghada. And Cairo if you so wanted...Since information is power, I double checked with the driver if he's going to Hurghada.
"Yes" was the reply.
"To Senzo Mall?" I said.
"45 minutes" he says with a twisting of the wrist to indicate the universal hand gesture for more or less.
Senzo mall. I've been there - it's safe, clean, well kept. "Good" I think to myself. Hop on the bus, 45 minutes and all is well right?
Firstly, this bus has no air conditioning and only cools when there is air moving through it from a moving bus. But about 27 stops along the way makes the air not-so-moving. And forget actual bus stops, just stop for anybody who waves. Fine. whatever. It's bearable. Jody is excited at first but loses his fight to the heat....
We bumble along at the back of the bus merrily looking at all the hotels along the way, catching glimpses of that unbelievably turquoise sea, when the bus comes to stop and the driver yells something out to which about 20 pairs of eyes just turn around and stare at me.
"Senzo?" I say thinking I don't see anything that even represents a mall.
"Ya...ya" he points and mutters something. I wake Jody up, pick up his buggy and hurry off the bus onto the street in front of this huge mosque. I quickly figure out that it's taken 45 minutes to get to the "Senzo shuttle", which is on this side of Hurghada, with Senzo being...that side of Hurghada....
Luckily there's a timetable 'n everything - shuttle bus leaves at 11:02 (why bother with the 2 right?) Anyway, half an hour to kill. I visit the mosque. Beautiful, actually, and in pristine condition. Especially compared to its surroundings...The curator, for lack of a better word, shows me around. "This is the men's section. And that is the women's section". The women's section being much smaller and much less aesthetic "This is the women's entrance"...The cultural differences are still strange to me.
Coming out, I see a bridge and just over that bridge, the sea. So I go take a look. You can imagine the looks you might get: A white guy pushing a buggy around in the middle of a very Egyptian city. Anyway, I can see this resort type place - kids park, pier out on to the sea etc. Asking at the gate what it is, I get looked straight in the eye - "This is a beach for Egyptian men". Back to the shuttle stop for me then.
At least the shuttle bus was air conditioned. But don't sit just behind the driver - you become a money and ticket handler. #notengland. Good thing this thing is air conditioned, because I swear it spent an hour going around every possible corner in Hurghada and stopping, well, anywhere to pick up travelers.
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You won't believe what a good sight that damn mall is. Nothing more to say about that other than I'm already thinking I have to do this journey backwards to get home. Oh! And also this guy whom I believe is bringing sexy back:
With sauna effect? Just get on the bus....
So it's back to the shuttle bus - we head straight to the back. After about 15 minutes we move to the middle because any vehicle without shocks gives you motion sickness. Still very warm though. Jody loses his fight with the heat again.
We get dropped back at the mosque just in time for prayer
Only to find that the stop I need is waaaaaay over there. I get on this bus and see this:
Expecting the bus to go any minute, we wait, at the back of the bus, and it's like a sauna - honestly. The heat comes in and doesn't escape. The sweat was running down my forearm. I see it's me that's the unacclimatised anomaly as the rest of the passengers just sit there - wearing their long trousers or burka's. Jody and I had to get off and stand in shade of the bus and the breeze, me dousing him with water...
After fiiiinaly leaving, we make a few more random stops along the way and turn into El Gouna. Whether by coincidence or not, I'll never know, but Jody starts clapping....
Can you imagine going to Cairo like this?