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January 18, 2006

Lagging behind

Filed under: Egypt,Travels — stephane @ 8:42 pm

I’m lagging a bit behind concerning entries as I’m not diving very often and not focusing too much about taking pictures. I’m following a divemaster course (1st professional level) which is taking me more time than I expected as I’m not really focused and my mind and thoughts are wandering somewhere else most of the time.

Once it is finished, I will spend some more time in Dahab doing some fun diving (photography) , some freediving as well, as I’m just curious to see where I stand without any specific training at all. It goes without saying that I will spend more time than in vacation than originally planned.

I’m mostly hanging out with Annelie Pompe (#2 Swedish freediver), Fred, Sam Still (#1 UK freediver and World Champion Static Apnea and also unofficial world record owner with a 10min+ without breathing !), my instructor Youri and his girlfriend Samantha . All those people (plus others) are having such a diverse background (Software, Hardware, Marketing, Advertising, Marine Biology, Antiques, …) that I find it captivating. Having been talking to Sam Still for a couple of hours about freediving training, I find the topic of freediving and physiology even more interesting.

Oh, and for a couple of days now, I’m enjoying listening to Beth Orton. Her song ‘Stars all seem to weep’ from her Central Reservation album is a jewel.

January 6, 2006

Freediving in the Blue Hole

Filed under: Egypt,Travels — stephane @ 8:16 pm


Pictures were taken on a mix of freediving and scuba diving session in a dive from Bells to Blue Hole. Annelie and Anthony (freediving) were following Youri and I (scuba diving) on a dive along the whole. Depth was mostly shallow, in the 10-15m range
and this was mostly planned as a freediving photo session.

Freediving training in the blue hole
Entry point of BellsAnnelie Pompe freediving with her monofin
Annelie Pompe (monofin) and Anthony at the surfaceAnnelie Pompe (monofin) equalizing when going down. Anthony staring at the surface
Annelie Pompe going downAnnelie Pompe going up to the surface
Annelie Pompe in mid-waterAnnelie Pompe (monofin) and Anthony at the surface and a large school of fish covering the reef
Annelie Pompe going down and equalizingAnnelie Pompe hovering close to the reef
Annelie Pompe hovering in the middle of a large school of reef fishAnnelie Pompe playing with her monofin in the blue hole

January 3, 2006

Digitally Imported

Filed under: General,Software — stephane @ 10:59 pm

A couple of months back, I was reading Yoav’s blog and in one of his entry he was mentioning Digitally Imported which I did not know about. I was not really listening to Trance Music since say year 2000 and since then slowly derived into the world of Chill out and Lounge music such as Hotel Costes, Buddha Bar, Cafe Del Mar, and such… but for a couple of months I’m hooked again and it is the best way to keep myself in my own bubble compltely isolated from external interferences… It feels even better to listen the radio stream while replying to emails in a cybercafe in the Sinai peninsula. ;)

Thanks Yoav !

January 1, 2006

St Catherine’s monastery and Mount Sinai Sunrise

Filed under: Egypt,Travels — stephane @ 9:59 pm


I went to St. Catherine’s monastery on new year’s eve along with Annelie and Carl. None of us being some kind of a party person, we thought it was interesting to take the opportunity to get away and do something reasonably different for a new year. At least, you remember that 2006 was the year you went on top of Mount Sinai rather than the nth year where you went to a restaurant and ended up in a bar half-drunk with 2000 other people. I had some interesting proposals to stay in Dahab and hang around but thought it would be nice to be something ‘different’. Note that there is absolutely nothing religious in our trip.

Initially the plan was to climb around 22:00 to get on top of Mount Sinai and celebrate New Year and come back before sunrise and look for rock climbing spots. In the evening, after some food and beduin tea around the fire at Fox Camp, we changed our mind and thought it was better to get some sleep, wake up around 02:45 and climb to see the sunrise. Which we did. After some good walking from the base camp (altitude 1500m), we had to cope with 2 steep sections of about 650 and 100 stairs to end up the climb and wait for the sunrise on top of Mount Sinai along with a handful of Americans (where were they coming from ? there are none in Dahab !), Colombians, Japaneses, Koreans and many other nationalities. It’s hard to give a numbers but I would say at least over 200 people.

The climb was not cold and I was fine by wearing a traveller pant, a t-shirt, a light sweat-shirt and another sweat on top. Annelie was freezing by wearing 4 layers of tight technical clothes which makes me wonder whether she is really swedish or from somewhere else (note that she was still ‘freezing’ (her own words) at the base camp in the morning when the temperature was around 17C with no wind at all). You would sure get a bit cold by staying still for a couple of hours, so YMMV. Keep in mind though that Mount Sinai is not exactly empty. You get “shops” full of chocolate bars, water, soda, tea and such on the way a s well as at the top. At the top you will also be able to get mattresses and blankets. Everything is of course at rip-off tourist price, egyptically speaking.

We left from the top at around 07:00 and slowly made our way to St. Catherine’s Monastery that we reached around 08:30. After a well-deserved breakfast, we went into the village to try to locate the place used for rock climbing, so that Annelie could come at a later time to get quicker access and probably setup rock climbing expeditions from Dahab.

There is a couple of nice pictures of Annelie (aka Annelie Pompe). She is well known in Sweden. Apart from being a personal trainer and having a website where she does online personal coaching, she’s a sport addict and hyperactive person who does everything which involves jumping around: ninjitsu, yoga, mountain biking, running, rock climbing, freediving, scuba diving and a hundred of others things. The most annoying for a normal person is that she’s good at everything. She’s working at Desert Divers for 3 months now as a yoga teacher, rock climbing instructor, freediving instructor and divemaster . She’s also training for the freediving world championship next year. At the moment, she performs around 5min30s in static apnea (breath holding) and freedive to 50m. Beside being blonde, swedish, cute, and proficient in a lot of things, she’s a very nice person to hang with and she likes Banofee pie, Snikers and Mars bars as well as Nutella (I have very compromising pictures, should it prove necessary ;) ).

If anyone is interested about rock climbing, freediving, scuba-diving, desert trips, they can get in touch with Desert Divers and ask for Annelie.

As for Carl, Carl and Annelie went to school together a couple of years back and lived 300m from each other in Sweden. They somewhat managed to bump into each other in Dahab by pure accident. Small world eh ?

Ste Katherine Village from Fox CampEl Nhabi Aroun cemetary, On the way to Ste Catherine Monastery
Around St Katherine monastery
Ste Katherine MonasteryWall of Ste Katherine monastery
Annelie Pompe and her best smileBeginning of Mount Sinai hiking path
Sunrise from Mount SinaiOn top of Mount Sinai waiting for sunrise
A group of people looking for the sunrise on top of Mount SinaiAnnelie looking for the sunrise. Despite the appearance it is NOT that cold
Annelie and Carl on top of Mount Sinai
Going down Mount SinaiBeduin sitting on top of Mount Sinai signs
Camel close-up in the "coffee-shop" stop on Mount SinaiCamel in the "coffee-shop" stop on Mount Sinai
Ste Katherine MonasteryCamels on the way to Ste Katherine
Annelie trying to figure out the bits of the rock climbing mapsAfter wandering around and asking people, we managed to find one of the rock-climbing area. Annelie posing for posterity
Annelie walking down Ste Katherine and taking picturesAnnelie and Carl waiting at Ste Katherine round-about for the East Delta bus to Dahab

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