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February 28, 2006

Sushi in Narita

Filed under: England,Japan,Travels — stephane @ 6:10 am

I’m in Narita Airport now. I was travelling in Word Traveller Plus class (British Airways) and managed to apparently get some decent sleep during this 11h flight, the additional leg room and seat pitch was welcome. Lunch/Dinner was average, so was the breakfast compared to my previous flight Cairo-London. We left a bit late from London and the crew messed up the movie selection as they probably were in a hurry, (we had the “TO UK” selection instead of “FROM UK”). I pointed it to the crew in the first 2 minutes (hey, I was just getting from a “TO UK” flight !) and they canceled it and changed it immediately. Impressive !

Speaking about customer service, I checked in at the American Airlines/Japan Airlines desk in Narita airport to get my tickets and I’m impressed by their service to make my flight better. Each time I have been assigned an aisle seat (my registered preferred seat) and been asked if I wanted an emergency exit. I was even signaled that there was an infant so they moved me somewhere else. All that with a smile to die for and a couple of nice words of encouragement as they noticed my long journey.

I took a shower at the Narita aiport facility (500Y/$5) and it feels great after a bus trip + 2 flights. Wireless in Terminal 1 is 500Y(5$)/day and there are plenty of “computer desk” available. Now I have a good 6h to kill. I will try to find a decent sushi place, that would be criminal not to give it a try here :)

February 27, 2006

Heathrow airport..courtesy of T-Mobile HotSpot

Filed under: Egypt,England,Travels — stephane @ 3:48 pm

Egypt being Egypt, I was fooled into an outdated timetable and a non-existing 20:30 bus…so I had to take the ‘real’ 22:00 one to Cairo. I was wondering during the trip if I would be able to make it to the airport in time but fortunately, the bus arrived at the first stop in Cairo around 06:30. Time to jump into a taxi and go past security screening that looked for 15min for the lead weight of my underwater housing (it looks like a black rectangle on x-ray). Cairo airport British Airways manager was extremely nice to me as I had to wait a little bit so that they could sort out flight issues, he gave me access to 1st Class Lounge. Flight was uneventful, the selection of video and sound quality pretty mediocre but inflight breakfast was great.

Heathrow is bit of a mess right now, it took me a while to connect from Terminal 4 to Terminal 1 with the bus, and the queue for the security screening was massive. Basically a full hour of connecting + queueing. On my way to Tokyo now. Will try to get some sleep as I slept intermitently during the bus trip and London flight.

February 26, 2006

Travelling fun

Filed under: Egypt,Travels — stephane @ 5:12 pm

I’m leaving Dahab in the evening after about 2 months mostly spent with great people such as Fred Stone, Annelie Pompe, Sam Still, Andy Gueldner and Youri Vlag. A bunch of us will have dinner at the best restaurant in town, the italian-managed El Dorado (pizzas, home-made pasta, tiramisu, panna cotta and hot chocolate to die for).

Then, I will jump on the 20:30 bus to Cairo. Around 05:00, I should be in Cairo, take a taxi to the airport and get on my BA154 flight at 08:45 and arrive in London at 12:10. At 14:35, I will board BA7 flight and arrive in Narita (Tokyo) at 11:05. I will take advantage of the 8h transit to take a shower at the airport and maybe get some more sleep. At 19:00, I will get on AA154 flight to Chicago and hopefully land at 15:35 in the best entry point in the US to get past security screening, customs and immigrations, and all the paranoia. At 18:02 I will jump in AA1940 flight to Miami. I should make it at 21:59.

If I’m still alive after sampling coach class for that long (and if my baggage make it as well), I should be sleeping for a long time to recover. Which is why I decided to stay in Miami for 3 nights before going to San Pedro Sula (Honduras).

Before some genius comment about why I’m going eastward rather than westward which is obviouslly the shortest way, I will answer there is an hidden reason behind and will leave it at that for now :)

February 24, 2006

Last dives: The Bells/Blue Hole and Abu Helal

Filed under: Egypt,Travels — stephane @ 7:28 pm

Joel and I decided to go to diving The Bells/Blue Hole and Abu Helal. The Bells entry point is always interesting. It is basically a small crack in the ground and divers have to go through some kind of naturally carved vertical tube to go down. There are 2 main exits at around -14m and -28m. The Bells is named after the sound produced by aluminium tanks when scuba divers hit the reef. We went down up to -42m to admire the magnificent soft corals (Dendronephthya specie) of bright colors that grow under ledges. We took our time to drift to the Blue Hole and had plenty of air left to do a full 540 degrees. As for Abu Helal, it was a bit boring, too much hard corals and not much variety to look at. Still a very good dive.

I’m basically happy to finish diving with these conditions. I had fantastic dives with Joel, certainly the best I ever had in Dahab. I could show him lots of things around, including unusual stuff and things that unfortunately few people in Dahab care to look for. For me, it was an opportunity to go diving with someone who really wanted to dive and see things. I was only paying tanks and taxi on this one, basically a 2-day dive cost me 25$/155 EGP (4 tanks at 3$ + 80EGP taxi) which is far more than OK.

Splendid soft coral formation around -40m close to The BellsSplendid soft coral formation around -40m close to The Bells
Splendid soft coral formation around -40m close to The BellsSchool of fish passing by
Scorpionfish laying on violet coralCamel passing by Canyon
Bedouin at the Canyon restaurantUndetermined goby-like fish on coral. Fantastic colors.
Inquisitive Lionfish

February 16, 2006

Honduras…soon

Filed under: Egypt,Travels — stephane @ 12:29 pm

I’m right now organizing my journey to Honduras. I will get to Miami after 35h of flights and 14h in transit, not counting the 9h bus trip to Cairo and 8h of waiting at the Cairo airport. I will stop in Miami for 2 or 3 nights to get a decent sleep and recover.

As of now, I’m also doing strictly nothing at Dahab, but reading. Most people are gone or on their way, so it starts to be a bit quiet. I have been 2 times to the doctor in Sharm El Sheikh in the last 2 weeks to check for a right ear problem. I’m suffering tinnitus (continuous whisthle) for a month now which was apparently initiated by an inflammation in mid-january. A very soft sinus/ear congestion is on top of it for several weeks and has certainly be aggravated by a possible barotrauma when doing free-diving/scuba-diving even though I haven’t been doing that much.

I have stopped diving as a precaution for now to see if there will be any improvement. Reading through DAN Medical Q&A about tinnitus and diving is not really encouraging nor is the extensive collection of articles available on the internet. I’m not thanking my diving insurance DAN Europe for not having bothered to reply to my concern regarding this.

While visiting the Dahab Recompression Chamber managed by Deco International a few weeks ago, I have also learned that DAN Europe did not pay anything back to the chamber to cover the cost of a DAN Europe insured diver who was treated with a severe decompression illness involving spinal embolism and paralysis of the lower body after shooting up accidentally from 105m to the surface missing a full hour of decompression. The diver received an initial treatement of 11h in the recompression chamber and 5 subsequent days of 2 x 2h15. The whole treatment cost was about 15000EUR and the diver recovered fully. Accident happened on November 2005.

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