5 – A date in Siwa (locally made).

1st Dec 11pm, Yousef Hotel, Siwah

As nua as I am tonight, I’d better write this before I go to bed. I am in Siwah oasis, located near the western end of Egypt, a nine hour bus ride from Alex. At the El Maukaf El Gedid station (which is in Moharrem Bey area, and replaces the existing one at the15th of May bus station (LP not updated). Buses depart to Siwah (West and Middle Delta Bus Co, 35 EGP, 9 hrs) at 8.30am, 11am, 2pm and 10pm.

Out of Alexandria, the terrain changes dramatically. We go east along the shoreline, so on one wide I can see the Mediterranean, on the other side, desert. After a halfway point stop at Marsa Matrouh, we go inland and its all desert. The locals are different too, the local berber population in the distinct garb are more obvious the further we go towards Siwah. There was one interesting stop, at Cafe Choop Amoo Said (sic). It is located by the roadside, a single building in the middle of nowhere. I looked around, beside the cofee shop, our bus, an outhouse and a surau, there was nothing else out there, just desert. Took some fantastic shots, and off we go.

Reached Siwa in the evening, about 1730hrs. Saw more and more trees as we approached. Everything is sand brown; the buildings, the sand, more sand, the fort, and more sand. The main highlight of the place is the 13th century fort (shali) setting itself as the background of the main square of the town. The entire place feels so laid back. Donkey carts with “Taxi 4×4. Welcome to Siwa” written, desert trekking and tour companies, cheap eateries (Abdoo’s is great). Adding Siwah to my list of places to just chill and watch the world go, (right now that list includes Pai and Vang Vieng, pre-commercialisation). There’s quite a bit of independent tourists around. Met an Eba at my hotel (the hotel is basic, clean and 20 EGP!) He’s Japanese and a frequent solo traveler. Egypt is his last leg having come from Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. I’ll probably do one of those packages with him tomorrow provided I can find him. After dinner together i forgot to ask for his room, no way to contact him now.

I’m going to wake up early to catch the sunrise on the lovely rooftop. Night.

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