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Road Safety Measures

ISSUE 9 ARCHIVE - SHARM DOS AND DON'TS - TRANSPORT

Traveller

Transport Dos
Do Expect your taxi driver to text on his MobiNil cell phone. He will do this at times when his clunking cab is doing its maximum speed on a windy road. The Arabic text is hard to do and read, so please expect the sides of the road to act as a directional barrier. Either that, or rocks. Any attempt to get him to keep his eyes on the road will be met with frank insolence.

Do Remember that Sharm cabs are blue and white. In Hurghada they are orange and black. Either car in the other location is obviously lost. Do not take it. The driver obviously has as much sense of direction as Gordon Brown's spin doctor and should not be trusted.

Do Leave at least three days before check in from Sharm airport on the way home. Unless you have shoulders as big as Arnie, it will take that long to barge your way onto your cheap flight back home, passport control and whatever queue the locals have invented at the newly designed airport terminal.
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Do Pretend it's your first time in Sharm on arrival. The minibus 'orientation talk' will appear that much more interesting. There's nothing worse for the poor bloke trying to big up the area for newbies than, 'oh, it's my tenth time here mate and you are FoS when you tell them that the water is from local springs and can be drunk from the bath'. Humour him and go to the 11am hotel orientation as well. You may pick up a Bedouin Night under the Stars for a couple of hundred euros. Bargain if you like goat kebabs and hypothermia.

Do Use your Britishness at police roadblocks. There's nothing that gets you through a potential arrest situation, as your cab is unlicensed and not roadworthy than... 'Do you know from which country I come? Do you want to suffer the wrath of foreign minister Miliband?' That gets them every time and you pass through with a cheery wave and a smile.

Do Check the flight times of visiting dignitaries to Sharm. The Egyptian President has a habit of meeting them off the plane. Security precautions then necessitate the cancellation of all flights within a two hour window of the red carpet. Three hours if it is Islamic peacenik Tony Blair. With a flight every ten minutes the backlog of tourists will stretch as far back as the Hyatt, five miles away.

Do Play 'Boot Roulette' at the taxi rank and if you are that bored. Ten points if he can open it. Another ten if it is clean. Lose ten if there are any animals sheltering beneath oily rags. And max out with fifty if there is another human residing there. Add fifty for any other people. A hundred and 'game' if there is C4 and you have just averted a terrorist attack.

Do Wryly smile at the liberal use of the word 'limousine'. In Sharm, any car that is not a creaking old Peugeot and is in black is called this. The other factors for the L word are... functioning electric windows and not smelling of sheep. Being a limo driver allows you to make up any price for any trip and park right up to the hotel doors. Non limo drivers have to park ways away from the five star palace so as not to scruffy up the entrance with carbon monoxide and toothless haggling.

Ralf Tech
Transport Don'ts
Don't Think your taxi driver is a well versed local. Oh no. These jobs have kudos and are highly prized. Your driver will not be a Bedouin from the mountain over yonder. He will be a Cairo heart-lung transplantologist with a degree in anthropology too. My last ride back to the hotel was peppered with bookish convo. It turns out that he was runner-up for the Nobel Prize for literature in 1997.

Don't Make any cheesy comments about the dangly stuff the driver has on his rear view mirror. Remember he sits there looking at it every minute of his working day. His Mum probably gave him the beads. His Dad the doggie thing and he treasures the 'All Seeing Eye' more than life itself. So comments like 'tatty crap there mate' will be understood and you may even end up at a slightly different destination. Like the Old Town. Like being dropped in Harlem when you thought you were going shopping at Saks on 5th.
Don't Be a girl alone. If you have a tan you will be met by such lines as 'you look dark, do you have any Egyptian in you? No! Would you like some... ahhhiiihahahaha'. It is impossible to be of a different gender to the driver, tout seul and not be passed at. Mind you, if you are a twenty stoner from Droitwich that might be a good thing. Use your common sense I say. Just pretend you are a bloke ladies. Though that didn't put Ahmed off the last time we were marooned out of petrol in the desert for two days.

Don't Fly Club Class from Sharm to Hurghada on Egypt Air for the extras. No lounge, no better seats. Just a free guava nectar in a roped off area at the terminal. I could have bought that for 50p anyways and saved the tenner on the upgrade.

Don't Bother trying to get the ferry from Sharm to Hurghada. It does exist (apparently) and they will sell tickets for it. But blow me... the excuses they will use for its eventual cancellation. 'There is wind'; 'There is too much waves'; 'There is more water than we expected in the sea'. I reckon the skipper charters it out to anyone for a few quid and woe betide you if that happens to be when it is supposed to be a ferry. We had to get a taxi inland to Luxor and fly to Sharm from there. We saw the ferry below us being used as a disco boat for Russian teens.

Don't Try to get a regular taxi from Sharm airport. There's a mafia thing going on, the Big Boss strolls around and makes his price. All cabbies have to agree with it and give him his cut. For real! We bartered a reasonable fare only to be told that this fat bloke with gold teeth had doubled it for us. It wasn't even his cab. Mind you I'd like to see him take on some Russians at that. A real polar bear vs tiger cage fight that'd be.

Don't Get the golf trolley to your hotel room. Lawks a lawdy, that is really for the fat and emphysematous. And golf bags. If you are rich enough to stay in one of those places that are sooo big, you need transport to your room, then you should spend some money on a personal trainer. Leave the electric buggies for the kids to hot wire when they're back from Pasha at 5am.

Don't Expect air con on your little minibus back from the dive site/port. It is there, but unusable. Go on try next time. Shut all the windows on the van and slowly begin to fry as the clunking A/C spews out even hotter air for the next twenty minutes. Sauna time. It will work, but just as you all have to get out back at the hotel. Just use the slidey windows like all the good Palestinian construction workers who build our five star palaces.
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