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Offline michnus

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Re: Hello Africa tell me how you doing?The comprehensive report, more pics
« Reply #460 on: February 02, 2015, 01:16:59 pm »
Luxor is home to the Valley of Kings, the temple of Karnuk and the temple of Luxor. For overlanders there is one place to stay in Luxor and it is Rezeiky camp. It is run and owned by a very friendly and helpful Coptic Christian, Mr Rezeiky. We made it our base for a few days while we visited most of the temples. One utter stupid thing about the major attractions is that they do not allow any photos to be taken of the temples or inside the tombs. So we can say we were there but we have not a single photo to show for it. And beware, to visit all the temples will shrink a budget traveler’s budget in no time at all.


Busy Hurghada next to the Red Sea. Those expensive ferries stop to run the route with the Arab spring.


The entire coast are the playground of the Russians. Most business signs are in English, Russian and Arabic. Not to mention the hideous  looking fronts of business bars and restaurants


Every morning cheap breakfast with the locals old folks at a small cafe. Breakfast cost no more than 2$

Back in Ethiopia my front fork seals took a beating and both pissed out most of the oil. I was in no mood to fix it in the heat of Sudan and as such carried on all the time while oil pissed out onto the front brake, over my bike and to Elsebie’ horror my pants. We took this opportunity to get them fixed. Fork oil is not something that is readily available in Luxor. The owner none the less sends his help to fetch me some fork oil. What he brought back was something more with the consistency of rusty murky water, but it was definitely not fork oil.


Rezeiky camp in Luxor. Owned by super nice Coptic Christians.


Overhauling front forks again. Seals just do not last.



What went into the forks looks like brown oil but I suspect it was old oil from fries or something mixed with sewage. As it was impossible to buy fork oil or even hydraulic oil they brought me that mix in a 2l Coke bottle.

At least there was a pool to cool off.

If that is it then, that is what will have to work in this bike till Europe. In any case the nice off-road riding was a thing of the past for now.

It was in Hurgada the sea side holiday resort town that our trip got halted with a sudden urgency. We booked into a cheap dodgy establishment which was only good for poorer bottom of the barrel scraping travelers like ourselves. It was clean and…………well, it was clean let’s leave it at that.



Small shops pressing sugar cane into plastic sachets mixed with Lime juice Costing like .2$cents. Fuck Red Bull this stuff gives you wings!

« Last Edit: February 02, 2015, 01:22:49 pm by michnus »
 

Offline michnus

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Re: Hello Africa tell me how you doing?The comprehensive report, more pics
« Reply #461 on: February 02, 2015, 01:37:36 pm »
After our accident in Sudan, Elsebie nursed her knee for 4 weeks and it looked like it was healing albeit slowly. The injury from our view point did not look to be too serious. A few days before, an Egyptian pseudo-ointment quack tried to swindle us into buying his toxic potion made of white pig lard, cow shit and other unholy ingredients which yet had to be named by science and which does not exist on the Periodic table.


Some nice night bars in Luxor. Got a bit of a cheesy grotto feel to them but it's got a nice vibe.


Get going to Cairo
In any case this quack saw Elsebie’s knee and before she knew what hit her were made to sit on a small 3 legged chair and he rubbed this shit into the wound, she stopped him and try to get out as much as possible. We could only surmise that, that must have been the root of the infection as her knee showed healing in the 3 and half weeks prior to this.


As in Ethiopia the cars, trucks and whateverdefuck uses the roads just shed parts and pieces as far as they go. It's just like horses just shit as they trotting along, except these auto's shit puncture opportunities.

Her knee did not look well, it was swollen with the typical signs of infected red flesh. Only option was to see a Dr and since it’s a big town they would have a hospital. She left us at a coffee shop while she went to the hospital. Two hours later she called and informed us the Dr wanted 8000usd as deposit and that he wants to operate the same.


Not the Engen One stop on the N1 but these roadside stops are always busy and food is cheap.

It left us between a rock and a hard place. There were no way we would give a Dr 8000usd and that as deposit. We have learned from our mistakes in Egypt and that would only result in more horror extortion afterwards. Also even if she did get an operation in Egypt we cannot stay for months for her to recover. We decided to leave the bikes in Cairo and fly back home the next day.


Wild camping close to Cairo

Antoine offered to ride her bike for me to Cairo and she and Carlene will use a rental car to get to Cairo. I called the South African embassy in Cairo and Johnny one of the higher up managers immediate told me that we could leave the bikes in the basement in the embassy until we return. This was the first time I have ever experience this kind of help from any government department and people.

Needless to say, the next day with the bikes parked we flew back to South Africa.

Offline Would I?

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Re: Hello Africa tell me how you doing?The comprehensive report, more pics
« Reply #462 on: February 02, 2015, 07:21:26 pm »
That's a rude break in a nice trip.........
You either make dust or you eat dust.
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Offline michnus

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Re: Hello Africa tell me how you doing?The comprehensive report, more pics
« Reply #463 on: February 03, 2015, 06:29:36 pm »
Ye man, the worse is the damn Egyptians. Not nice people :D

Offline michnus

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Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #464 on: February 04, 2015, 12:18:58 pm »
With a 200% deposit on a Carnet de passage just for Egypt we knew the slow wheels of bureaucracy in Egypt will test our patience. The day we landed in South Africa while Elsebie went to book into hospital for her knee, I went to the Egyptian embassy in Pretoria. I wanted to inquire about the process which we have to follow to keep our bikes legal in Egypt until we get back.



Needless to say, the Egyptian embassy in SA was not only very rude but also not helpful at all. We have been to many embassies for visas but to date have never experienced an embassy like this. One of the people working there looked at our paperwork and translated the Arabic to: the bikes had to be out of the country by 15th of May! Now take into account you get a 30 day visa and we told them at the border we will be traveling for a while in Egypt.



I met with the ambassador who informed me that he was only dealing with high people and do not deal or give advice on such trivial matters, tourist or no tourist. The best advice they could master up was for me to have letters stamped and notarised by the master of the high court in Bisho or Grahamstown in which I explain what happened.

Then have those letters stamped by the Minister of International relations and the Minister of Health. And in the end pay somebody that is approved by the master of the High court in Pretoria to translate it all into Arabic.



This took us some time, a lot of courier costs and fees to get all done. All the while we wondered if it was a futile exercise. Customs officials the world over are not the most upstanding of citizens and I was not optimistic that these letters would convince a border official wanting money.

With all our paperwork ready and new parts for the bikes, we flew back to Cairo 5 month later to try and get the bikes into Europe with the least amount of damage to our pockets.


Cairo old city is stupidly busy, always. Okay not 3am but the rest of the time it's like a beehive.


Yes, the Cairo National Museum is suppose to be shit hot place. It is, except it looks like a badly run overstock pawnshop.

The plan was to make it for Jordan, spend time at Petra, then Israel and then ship over to Italy from there. Shipping out of Egypt was our last option. There are too many horror stories of having to pay bribes and Baksheesh and then still having to wait for the boat which may or may not arrive within a week……or not.

We had our Shengzen visas and our Jordan visa’s in hand.





At least we had the time now to see the pyramids of Giza and the museum in Cairo. With some luck we got into a dodgy, small but cool hostel in the middle of Cairo. For about R180 per night per room, they even picked us up at the airport.



Driving in Cairo can at first be petrifying and very intimidating. But then although they drive like real hillbillies it’s a slow bumper to bumper affair with lots of hooting and screaming. Not much that can hurt you if you take it slow and just stay out of others way.

Johnny the Consular at the South African embassy that helped us since the start, again went out of his way to help us. This time had the driver took us to the traffic department to get the licenses renewed for the bikes as we would not have been able to find less talk to the people there.


But all was not that rosy, apparently in Arabic it stated on the papers we had 3 days to get the bikes out of Egypt or have higher penalties that we had to pay. We were still in the dark as to exactly how deep the trouble was and if, how much penalties would have to be paid for renewal of the Egyptian number plates and for customs.

The worse was we had 3 fucking days to get the bikes out of Egypt!




Battery hunting.

Some people told us they can not see it on the papers that got issued to us but we must rather not take a change. And as luck would have it the newest (7-8 months old) of the batteries was completely dead. The older one was also near death’s door, but luckily we brought 1 new battery with us. This resulted again in Johhny helping with the driver to track a bike shop in Cairo that would maybe with an off chance have a battery for a Dakar.


Full of dust from living in a basement.


Trying to force a 1200GS battery into the box.

BMW the ever keen design engineers they are, love the concept of using special type of parts which you will never find outside of Germany, as is the case with the Dakar battery. In the end and after a long day running around we tracked down the equivalent battery for a 1200GS. I knew it would be too big to fit the battery box of the Dakar but that would just had to do the trick.


Time to hit the road to Jordan..

Offline Heimer

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Re:
« Reply #465 on: February 04, 2015, 12:49:11 pm »
Unbelievable bureaucracy

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Offline DirtRebell

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Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #466 on: February 04, 2015, 01:03:14 pm »
Awesome report, Michnus
What an experience - not for the fainthearted though.
 

Offline michnus

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Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #467 on: February 04, 2015, 01:31:04 pm »
Heimer, from every country we have ever travelled the utter stupidity, incompetence, Baksheesh and bureaucracy, Egypt win by miles. They have fucking forms for other forms to fill in for other forms and all in Arabic and stamps for every form and everybody except the floor sweeper must sign it. They did not just take my bike frame number. They take a small piece of paper with a pencil and scratch the number onto the paper and that gets put in the file. Engine number no problem...only steal frames/chassis.

Going into Italy, the customs people just said go, go, go!! No paperwork, I asked. No..fuck off! Go. I said but I want a stamp! Any stamp, I come from Africa, we have fucking stamps for everything, I want a bloody stamp!! I don't care what stamp it can be your middle finger arsewipe as a stamp but I want stamps!! Well, no go! They said. Worlds apart wrt efficiency  :lol8:

And I am not exaggerating.

I still have this perverse agro  to hit every Egyptian official with a shovel in the face.  :lol8:
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 01:34:20 pm by michnus »
 

Offline Sláinte Mhaith

Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #468 on: February 04, 2015, 01:42:28 pm »
 

Offline J-dog

Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #469 on: February 04, 2015, 01:44:42 pm »
Michnus, I worked in Cairo and Luxor for 5 years as a consultant to the textile industry. I agree with your sentiments. You should try WORKING with them. That's when the real nightmare begins.

However, I quite enjoyed the city. Lots of fun to be had if you integrate with a local crowd  :thumleft:
 

Offline michnus

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Offline michnus

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Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #471 on: February 04, 2015, 02:11:15 pm »
Michnus, I worked in Cairo and Luxor for 5 years as a consultant to the textile industry. I agree with your sentiments. You should try WORKING with them. That's when the real nightmare begins.

However, I quite enjoyed the city. Lots of fun to be had if you integrate with a local crowd  :thumleft:

Agree with you. Some of the more middle class and more educated are on a better and normal level of life. We met some really cool Egyptians and Nubian people though. Maybe it is the same as dealing with our own governmental officials. In general and in the tourist places getting fucked over is just normal. It is not if you will get shafted it is just how hard. I generalize of course.   

In all Egypt and the inner city of Cairo is weird, cool, excentric all in one. Still will go to the bottom part of my list of likable countries  :biggrin: :deal:

Offline michnus

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Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #472 on: February 05, 2015, 11:33:32 am »
We decided the next day, come hell or highwater we will go and see the pyramids and museum and then the next day ride over the Suez Canal, or under it, as there’s no bridges over the Suez. Then head for Nuweiba at the Red sea and take the ferry to Jordan. If nothing else goes wrong we would be there on day 3 to clear customs and take the shit that will come with having the bikes exceeding their issued time limit.


Cairo business centre from across the Nile.


And then during day time Cairo is another beast.

After another taxi driver screwed us over and paying too much to get around, the embassy staff arranged for a taxi driver to drive us the following day to see what we had to see. They said on the bikes it would take to long for us to try and navigate and would not be able to see everything – which is so true.


Met some really cool young Egyptians. They have quite a different view on religion and turmoil in Egypt. Hopefully they will help turn Egypt in the future.

Through www.ADVRider.com website I met a guy named, Heeso, who not only helped us to find the battery for the bike but also invited us out to meet his friends and fellow-bikers. We spend a memorable evening in a rooftop restaurant.

The pyramids sure are a sight to behold. The sheer tenacity of the old Egyptians to build such structures is mind boggling. We took the option of riding on camels around the pyramids. (Do the tourist thing!) Something in hindsight we were really glad we did. The camels’ track is left to the main strip and one miss all the tourist groups, busses, curio sellers and hordes of people climbing over one another.

We are not really stuffy museum dwellers but decided to visit the popular Egyptian Museum. The artefacts are very interesting although not very well documented and it will probably be to your benefit to use a guide. The jewelry intrigued Elsebie and the details on most of the ‘older’ artefacts were fascinating.


Compulsory convoy across the Sinai from Cairo to Dahab. Hip!:)

The next day we left Cairo early to head for Nuweiba. The Suisse Canal can not really be accessed and there are roadblocks everywhere so we had to do with riding through the tunnel imagining how it looked above us. Just outside the tunnel all foreigners have to wait and travel in convoy – from slow petrol tanks to bikes. It took us most of the day to travel the 200km stretch to Nuweiba.


We were suppose to follow the convoy of tourist busses and trucks but after a while of riding 60km/h in 40'c heat we ditched them and went ahead. The police and army were not impress. :lol8:


Look if you want your army to look all war and fierce do not dress them in tight stove pipe pants.

We spend a night under a grass roof right next to the Red Sea. Spectacular, and were able to wash off the last of the Sinai desert in the mellow ocean. Heeso’ friend and partner was vacationing in the area and met us later for some sweet tea.

With his help and a bit of last minute reading it become clear that it will be much easier for us to cross the border to Israel at Taba instead of taking a very expensive ferry over to Jordan. A few phone calls to friends also made it seem that we will not have too much trouble at the border with the motorbikes – it turned out our Arabic paperwork stated we had 15 days to get over the border, not 3 … well, we can only wonder ….




The Sinai desert is truly a very beautiful place.

The Egypt border at Taba was a surprisingly different setup as the Aswan one. Neater and with even baggage scanners (maybe they’re keeping up with the Jones’ next door…). We approached the not so well English spoken customs official with all our paperwork and waited for about 20min for him to try and figure things out.


Our last night in Egypt we slept in the grass huts on mats. Could easily spent some time chilling there.


Early morning and time to leave Egypt!!!

Not very friendly, or patient to listen to our story, he ‘lost’ one of our important papers in his register and started waving at Elsebie for not giving it to him. We searched high and low, even checked the garbage, just to when he turned his back to find his boss, for Elsebie to search his desk and to find it. Still waiting for the apology …

Now here it comes … a long story short …”It is easy, Madam, Sir, you pay EPND5540 (about R7’800) or leave your bikes here”!!!! Not even tears would move this mountain … so we had to find an ATM and cough.

Hallo, Israel, here we come!!!!
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 11:39:49 am by michnus »
 

Offline dirtyXT

Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #473 on: February 05, 2015, 11:42:54 am »
 :thumleft: fantastic. well done and glad to see you leaving that place. doesn't sound fun but amazing sights.
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Offline EtienneXplore

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Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #474 on: February 05, 2015, 11:45:29 am »
I have been following this thread with keen interest.....   ;) ;)

Lekker man!!

Thanks for all the info and the great stories, truly an inspirational read!

Offline brianw

Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #475 on: February 05, 2015, 12:30:36 pm »
'Still will go to the bottom part of my list of likable countries  icon_biggrin deal'

Michnus I agree with the above
 

Offline michnus

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Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #476 on: February 05, 2015, 12:41:33 pm »
BrianW, and you know we really do not want to say a place is on the shitty side. When we enter a country we are completely open to whatever we encounter, no bias, no preconceived ideas even if other travellers talk negative about a place we will give the benefit of the doubt to the country and find out for ourselves.
I think what makes it worse for South Africans is that we are not used to that kind of utter stupid bureaucracy and baskshees. I am sure if there was any better alternative around Egypt they would have nearly never seen any overlanders.

Heeso and some other adventure riders there are really cool people, the people at Rezeiky camp all great people. Maybe someday again but not soon.  :lol8:

Offline michnus

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Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #477 on: February 06, 2015, 01:27:29 pm »
The border post from Egypt to Israel is no more than 30 meters, but the difference is enormous. One moment you are in Africa and 30 meters later you walk into Europe. Well not really, but that is how big the differences are between these countries.

The Israelis are seriously “paraat”* unlike the Egyptians and other African countries that looks “paraat”* but are more paranoid than “paraat”.

(*Paraat:  Ready/preparedness )


For the first time in our travels we lost data on camera cards. We lost all the pictures from Israel, these were some we were able to recover using recovery software.


Taba border post between Egypt and Israel

We got stopped behind stainless steel big pop up barriers with a soldier a few meters back clothed in Nike running shoes, cargo pants, golf T-shirt and a pair of Oakley sunglasses. To finish off his cool army look an assault rifle hanged from a strap around his neck. A real casual American-Desert-storm look. Well build, tall and with a short brush cut hair style, he never turned his back on the border entrance. He never stood still at one spot for more than 5 minutes, then walk backwards to his next spot, continuously having his gaze pegged on the border post.

Another security guy approached us with a smile and apologized beforehand that we might need to wait a bit for the customs officials to escorts us to have our bags checked. And then proceeded to offered us some water, ice cold water … Now that was a first for us! Just coming from a country where if you are not careful, you’ll get charged to take a breath, we were speechless.



Three very friendly customs’ women clothed in white shirts and black pants approached us. Good looking with black hair and the top of their shirts unbutton (well that is how I remember it …). We looked at each other in amazement … Was this Israel or some harem we just rode into?

Everything had to come off the bikes, but for us this Utopia we did not mind. A customs official/engineer rode our bikes through a big scanner to scan the entire bike. All other stuff and ourselves were scanned inside the air conditioned customs office.



Once inside, waiting for our passports to be stamped, one of the customs ladies asked me to wait as they had to do a check on my passport. That said, Elsebie’ and my passport are almost exactly the same, down to the visa stamps inside the book and the pages. Hers got stamped but not mine. I got asked to join one of the ladies in an interview room. “Where did you come from?” “Where are you going to?” “What were we doing in Sudan?” …………. aaaah!, it then hit me, and I realized what was up with the seriousness!


Camping next to the Red sea and main road to Taba. Jordan lights in the distance. Closest we were able to get to Jordan.

I quickly explained we had to travel through Sudan to get to Israel. Not because I am Muslin, or Al Qaeda or on a mission to seek 70 virgins. Israel and Sudan do not have your average cosy relationship. The one is extreme Muslim and the other Jewish, well mostly.

If you travel from Israel to Sudan, you will not be let into Sudan if there is an Israeli visa stamp in your passport. The Israelis are quite decent about this and will not stamp a passport if they know a traveller will be going to Sudan. Israel though allows people coming from Sudan to enter Israel.


Border in Sinai between Israel and Egypt.

Elsebie also had a Sudan visa and stamp in her book but the Israelis customs officials must have though she does not look as dodgy as me. They stamped her book on entry. The customs officials were friendly and courteous at all times, serving us ice-cold water all the time. A completely different attitude and scene to the Egyptians and most of African customs officials.

Two hours later and we were outside paying for full cover insurance on the bikes. A whopping, cool R2000-00 (200Euro’s) for the bikes for the week we will be in Israel. They demanded full comprehensive insurance cover for us and the bikes. We were initially planning to go to Jordan and not spend time in Israel. But with Jordan being anal retentive for some reason about bombers or spies on bikes and motorcycles we had to stay in Israel until the ferry leave for Italy.

It quickly dawned on us in the land of milk and honey, the milk and honey are super expensive. Petrol was around R22-00 (22Euro’s)per liter and everything else even in Supermarkets was much more expensive than in South Africa. Hostels and backpackers with very basic rooms go for around R450-00 (45Euro’s)per night for room only. One bit of luck was than we were able to wild camp about everywhere, and that in a country where there is war all around you.



The strange thing about Israel is that there is absolute freedom of movement. There is war all right, make no mistake, but people go about their business and lives as if in Europe. No road blocks or paranoid soldiers as we found in Africa and especially Egypt.

Everything is from the US army, the Hummers, helicopters, most attack planes, rifles the works. Israelis if they could choose, I think, would be in America, their love for the American lifestyle is evident everywhere.

We slept the first night just inside the border of Israel near Taba on the beach. There was a buzz of people who were camping on the beach for weeks on end. Diving establishments were strewn out next to the coast line. People left their belongings in the tents when they went to town or diving. It did not seem that theft was an issue in Israel. I am sure petty theft must happen though.


Wildcamp Arava desert

We worked our way up north Sinai next to the Egypt and Israel border to get more into the desert. The idea was to get away from the normal tourist route and at the same time see what this beautiful desert has to offer. It did not disappoint. Mountains, dry valleys and different coloured sands greeted us.

There’s nothing boring about it and with the many small paths leading off the main road into the desert we wish we had more map information to follow some of them. The road eventually leads us to Mitzpe Ramon a small town in the Negev desert of southern Israel. This was the first and last time we filled with petrol in Israel. The petrol is just too damn expensive and our speed dropped to 80kmh.



On our last night in the desert we ended up late the evening on a mountain top with the road snaking down the side of the mountain towards the Dead sea. It was a stunning view over the desert with mountains and the setting sun over the Dead Sea in the distance. We were uncomfortably close to an army base.

Helicopters were passing over head every two hours as they circle the army base. We figured if they really did not want us there they would come and chase us, until then we camp. The amount of money wasted on fuel with helicopters circling an army base 24/7 must be exorbitant.


At about sea level with the Dead sea 400m below

Offline mox

Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #478 on: February 06, 2015, 02:04:09 pm »
Egypt sounds like it is full of Vogons !

Really enjoying this RR.
 

Offline michnus

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Re: Round the World - Do you have beer we are coming to visit?
« Reply #479 on: February 09, 2015, 10:46:53 am »
The Dead Sea is 400 meters below sea level and made for a great view as we descend the mountain road. At first there were a constant white haze hanging over the place, but at some point it cleared and we were rewarded with a view of Jordan on the other side of the Dead Sea.



Our camp for the next few days was at Ein Gedi. It is a wonderful small camping and swim spot halfway up the Dead Sea. There are ablution facilities that are not too shabby, trees and a small shop managed by a South African dude with long hair.   








Shrines for bikers who ran out of talent while superbiking down the curvy road to the Dead sea.
   
Motorcyclist memorial statues. They build some elaborate memorials for the fallen nest to the road. We got told Israel has a very high motorcycle accident rate. That’s why we had to take out such expensive insurance.



Some weathered ‘Jesus’ look-a-like souls were wondering around the place living in tents that’s most probably been there since the 1960’s. We were convinced they tried to live the life of Jesus. Living of the land and the goodness and handouts (which obviously did not include razors) from strangers.







This was not a typical sea beach and people were draped around and over the rocks like seals bathing in the sun. There were a mix of locals and tourist drifting around in the Dead Sea. Swimming, or for a better word drifting around in the Dead Sea is a wonderfully weird experience.

The salt water burns the hell out of your eyes and taste is of over saturated salt water. It leaves a soft oily feeling on the skin well until it dries! Clean water is a must for dousing the eyes and mouth every now and then. It is impossible to sink or even try and go under water no matter what you weigh. It is the same as a wine cork in water just bobbing around.



The funniest scenes are when people turn on their stomachs and their asses pop up into the air. Nothing sexy looking about it and not much one can do about it.



Jerusalem waiting. We still had a week to spend before we had to board the ship to Italy.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 10:47:39 am by michnus »