Monday, February 2, 2009

Red Sea Adventure

SO. What would you do in our situation?

A) Land in Jordan and look for an apartment right away.

B) Land in Jordan and Scuba dive in 80 degree sunshine in the middle of winter.

Hmmmm... Let me draw a picture for you...

SCUBA BABY!!!!!!!!

I particularly like this photo due to my Kim Jong Il hairstyle and Elodie is actually smiliing. If you look at the other 50 photos of us underwater elodie has no smile and looks as if she swam next to a dead body (One of these photos is in our facebook album).

That's right folks. Our true colors show and you now know where we hold our priorities.

After living in Seattle-like winter conditions for the past five years in Paris we decided that we should hit the beach and flip the bird towards Europe.

Getting down to the Red Sea was quite an experience in itself. You really feel like you are in a different country as soon as you start taking the public transportation. The bus was actually quite modern (no chickens flying in the back) with built in AC. It felt like any other bus really. There are some differences of course. The women next to us were completely veiled (called a 'Niqab'), the TV was playing an arab action film with the middle eastern world's version of a Keanu Reeves, and the children were completely well behaved. How is it that you have a four hour bus ride with well behaved children, while on European and American transport the kids are running and screaming everywhere?

Elodie and I were really rolling the dice on this voyage because we bought our breakfast off of a dodgy street food snack vendor just before boarding a four hour trip non stop bus. Not the ideal place if you have to do multiple #2's. Thank god Hommous is like quick drying cement for your digestive system.

Upon arriving in Aqaba (the main resort town on the Red Sea), we were mobbed by ruthless taxi drivers. Try this for fun. Get two taxi drivers, then get them to bargain against eachother in a bidding war. I don't speak Arabic, but it sure seemed to be some colorful language from the taxi driver that lost!

I hate being new to a city and only having a lonely planet. The advice is always outdated and often sucks. The french have 'Le Guide de Routard,' but I prefer to call it Le Guide de RETARD. Elodie insisted on getting 'Fresh' Seafood off of a boat from a recommended restaurant. We took the taxi to a rusting tugboat with no customers and homeless people camping around it. Great. We fell into the next trap which is asking the taxi driver for a recommendation. Mistake number 2. He dropped us off at some hole in the wall and said he will come out to say hi to his 'friend.' Realising that we had been duped we just freakin' walked around town to find a restaurant. Go lonely planet... yipeee.

We decided on taking our hotel at the coral bay since it was the furthest from civilisation and had its own dive center. This would most likely guarantee the healthiest coral and sea life. After dropping off our bags, we went out to the beach and jumped into the water to the bewilderment of many amazed arab guests (80 degree weather is like winter for these folks). It was indeed some of the cleanest water and healthiest coral life I've ever seen. I can attest to that because I swallowed the water 3 times accidentally and remarked to myself each time... wow THATs clean water!!

For scuba diving, I would highly recommend the outfit that we had found. We originally tried to go with the Royal Diving Center, but the service and attitude ROYALLY stunk. We found the Red Sea Diving centre and they were so welcoming and open we felt like part of the family. They busted out photos of their father teaching scuba to the king of Jordan and pumped us up full of arabic coffee.

Red Sea Dive Center
Abdullah Al-Momany
+962 (3) 202 2323

Our dive was pretty amazing. Like aquarium amazing. We hit the most famous spot called 'Japanese Gardens' and found ourselves swimming around dozens of puffer fish. Is it called Japanese gardens because its all the fish that japanese like to eat?

I really enjoy scuba diving around coral reefs and this was an exceptional chance to see the reefs in full healthy form. Evidently they have sold every beach front property to mega hotels, so I think these fish and coral will only be around for another ten years before it gets too crowded and beat up. You won't catch me swallowing the water in those times for sure.

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