Friday, April 24, 2009

Oyun Musa Fortified Firing Position Sinai

For anyone wondering what lies up on that hill, and what is beyond the huge camouflaged helmet on your right as you drive South towards Ras Sidr, it is well worth a visit.

On 5th -10th June 1967 when the Israeli Army invaded yet another one of it's many neighbours namely Egypt and occupying the Sinai, few people would have guessed that the constant aggression shown by the Israeli's to it's middle eastern neighbours, and in particular the cruel and inhumane treatment shown to the original owners of occupied Palestine, the Palestinian refugees would today have escalated into International terrorism on such an unimaginable scale, with suicide bombing now rife in the region
and beyond.

Zionist aggression with the help the of the US military war machine, completely destroyed in a surprise attack on the undefended Egyptian people, the Egyptian Air Force in a raid that led to the invasion of Sinai and it's occupation for 6 years by the Israeli Army.

Oyun Musa Fortified Firing Position was a military stronghold used by the invading Israeli's to launch attacks on the civilian population of Suez, it's oil wells and the Sinai infrastructure. The railroad in Sinai was destroyed by being lifted and used to reinforce the Israeli bunkers of which you can see in some of the photographs leaving Sinai with no railway lines.

The bunkers were heavily fortified and have sliding metal doors which were swung closed after every rocket launch to avoid detection by the Egyptian army at Suez ( also seen in the photographs ).

1973 saw the retaking of the Egyptian land again from the aggressors and Egypt's Sinai was once again returned to it's rightful owners.

The Oyun Musa Fortified Firing Position remains as a reminder of the Egyptian victory against the invader, and today Egyptian soldiers act as guides, showing visitors around the site for a very small entrance fee.

There is a visitor centre with Israeli soldier artifacts, an observation deck with high powered binoculars which reach to Suez, bunkers and military hardware on show.

Pharoah's Bath / Hammam Pharoun Sinai

In Egypt there are 19 recognised Thermo Mineral springs.

Any water spring with a temperature exceeding 35 c/ 95f is considered a thermal spring.

The Pharoah's Bath Thermo Mineral spring with a year round temperature of 72c in Sinai is probably considered one of the more famous, and many visitors descend on the area each year to bathe in it's mineral rich mud and waters.

Pharoah's Bath or Hammam Pharoun as it is locally known lies approximately 100km from Suez on the Sinai peninsula. Getting there is relatively easy for the tourist.
Pass the Ramada and Moon Beach Resorts 90km South of Suez and on the right hand side of the road you will see a yellow and blue sign signalling the entrance to the 'Bath's'.

Drive a few 100 mtrs along this side road towards the mountainside and the overpowering smell of sulphur leads you to a rocky escarpement along which a road has been built to allow travellers access to the mineral rich sandy beach, the springs and the man made caves which visitors have hewn from the rock creating small sauna's.

There you will find the odd tourist bus, locals and passing visitors lying in the warm sands enjoying the 'free spa', and mineral qualities of the spot, said to cure many ailments including skin diseases and afflictions, rheumatism and arthritis, lung ailments, diabetic sores, and kidney diseases.

Entrance is free.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ras Sidr Hospital Sinai

The old Ras Sidr hospital, has now been replaced by a new state of the art Ras Sidr General Hospital, in the town of Ras Sidr Sinai.

The hospital is clearly signposted from the main Ras Sidr turn off.

Directions to the hospital are as follows:

Take the turn off for Ras Sidr town at the Mosaic Fish Statue. Follow the road through the souk area over the first roundabout, then turn right at the crescent hospital sign. 50 mtrs along this road will bring you into the rear of the hospital complex.

The hospital is situated between the corniche and the villa complex at the 'Flower Basket' roundabout.

The hospital grounds also house a beautifully designed mosque and visitors accommodations.

Hospital Numbers:

Tel: 069-3400214

Tel: 069-3401774

Oyun Musa Moses Spring

It is said that during the Israelites flight from Pharoah in Egypt across the Red Sea, ( Sea of Reeds )to Sinai, Moses led his people from the Land of Goshen to the Sea of Aqaba.

Exodus 15:22-26 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What are we to drink?" 25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. 26 He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you."

The land of Goshen, in ancient biblical times also known as Avaris, then Pi-Ramees, and today as Tanis in the Governerate of Sharqeya in the Egyptian Delta, was the starting point of the journey which took according to the biblical texts 40 years.
When Pharoah Ramsis II banished the Israelites from Egypt, across the Red Sea, it seems from historical legend the route they took was from Modern day Ismailia, across the Red Sea and landed on the Suez Gulf shore of Sinai in the region of Marah, now known as Oyun Musa, because it was here that Moses tried to find drinking water for his people and when he pleaded to God for intervention, God asked Moses to cast his wooden staff into the bitter springs, and they became drinkable.

Oyun Musa springs today is a fertile oasis some 20 km from the Suez crossing at the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel.
Undeveloped and much as it would have appeared in Moses time the springs are situated through the bedouin settlement approached prior to the Oyun Musa Checkpoint, past the village houses in between date palms which thrive in the moist sandy terrain.
During the few minutes drive through the village to the springs, visitors will see the bedouin ladies washing their goats and sheep, and tending to their flocks in the warm sunshine, and the bedouin children will be vying to accompany you to the springs and tell you of their God given powers of healing everything from Rheumatism to Dandruff.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bedouin Tribes of the Sinai Peninsula

Aleiqat: This tribe was one of the first that has settled in Sinai (at the time of the Islamic conquest of Egypt). Originally they came from the Egyptian province of Sharqeya, parallel and East of Ismailia and to the North of the capital Cairo. Their territory is now on the west coast of Sinai in the Ras Sidr Region. The biblical Joseph lived in Sharqeya. Mentioned in the bible as the land of Goshen, ( Genesis 46:34 “Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians” ) .Later called Avaris, then became the city of Pi-Ramees during the rule of Pharoah Ramsis II, and today known as Sharqeya.

Aquila: A small tribe inhabiting the Mediterranean coast, between the Sawarka and the Laheiwat.tribes.

Ayaida: North Sinai, next to the Channel of Suez

Gebeleya: These are the people of the mountains. As probably only about 1,500 people they have a very small tribal territory around Mt. Sinai. They are not of Arab descent but are descendants of Macedonian people sent by Emperor Justinian to build, protect and serve the Monastery in the sixth century AD.

Laheiwat: This tribe is split into 3 geographical areas: one in South Sinai (east), one at the Mediterranean Sea, and another one right next to the Channel of Suez.

Muszeina: this is the largest tribe in Sinai. These Beduines are living in the most southern part of Sinai and visitors of Sharm El Sheik will most probably see them on their visit to Sinai.

Suwalha: 3 clans in 1 tribe

Awarma (Suwalha)

Awlad Said (Suwalha)

Qararsha (Suwalha)

Tarabin: The Tarabin, who have tribal territories, in the North and South Sinai, and it's Eastern border with Jordan are of Palestinian origin.

Tiyaha: This tribe occupies an enormous territory in central Sinai; they originate like the Tarabin tribe from Palestine

The Sawarka are the most numerous of the bedouin tribes, They inhabit Northern Sinai, on the Mediterranean coast centred on Al Arish.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The region of Ras Sidr in Sinai

The Ras Sidr region in Sinai stretches from the Oyun Musa settlement, down to Abu Ruweis, covering approximately 95km in length.

The red area indicating the said region on the map courtesy of Wikimapia.

Driving along the coastal highway South, the double lane highway for the greater part has vast expanses of open desert, dotted with Eco farms to the left, and to the right southwards well spread out holiday resorts with the occasional bedouin village settlements, and the town of Ras Sidr to the Northernmost point of the region. The coastal highway runs the length of the seafront with no part of it more than a few km from the white sandy beach resorts and public beaches.
This region is home to the Aleiqat bedouin tribe, one of the 10 bedouin tribes which inhabit Sinai Egypt.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ras Sudr/Sidr Sinai getting there.

By Car:

Getting to Ras Sudr from Central Cairo takes around 2.5 hours. 3.5 hours from the West/Giza end of Cairo.

Visitors should take the Cairo Ring Road to the Suez Road junction then drive along the Suez Road and approximately 95km from the Suez Road junction, you will pass through the Suez Governorate checkpoint arches ( no toll ).
Foreigners may possibly have passport checked at this checkpoint.

Through the checkpoint drive 500mtrs and then U Turn back along the same road and then take a right turn at the (boat). This road leads to the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel. From the boat it is about 20km to the tunnel.

Foreigners will have to have a valid visa in their passport to travel in Sinai, and Egyptians travelling in the same car will also have to show id.

Tunnel fee is 2le for cars and is approx 4km long under the Suez Canal.
Through the tunnel, take a right and follow signs for Sharm el Sheikh/El Tur.

Ras Sudr town is 60km South of the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel.

By Coach:

Coaches can be boarded at the Ramsis Coach station beside the Ramsis Hilton Hotel downtown, or from the Cairo Gateway/Turgoman Station Downtown.

The coach companies running to Ras Sidr/Sharm el Sheikh are Superjet, and East Delta. Superjet have red, black and gold livery, East Delta have white, orange and yellow livery. Both prices are similar but Superjet takes approx 1 hour shorter to reach Sharm.
Both have movies or LOUD music playing day and night so take ear plugs.
Depending on time of travel they both stop twice or more for short toilet breaks.
Foreigners will also be asked to show passports at Oyun Musa Checkpoint in Ras Sidr district. 30 km from Ras Sidr town itself.

Turgoman Station has recently been revamped and is now part of the New Cairo Gateway Plaza downtown.

If you are asking for a taxi to take you there just say Turgoman, or you can take the Metro Helwan line to Orabi station, and the New Cairo Gateway Plaza Mall is 500 mtr walk from the station.

Walking to Turgoman take Shar'a Ramsis downtown following signs for Gateway, until you reach Shar'a Emad El Din. You will then see the Venus Hotel facing you. Cross to the Venus and head towards the overpass and go under it, carry on along this narrow street with shops on either side until you see the New development of the Cairo Gateway Plaza. The bus station is in the Mall which is still under construction.
Tickets to Sharm are approx 70le and 35le to Ras Sidr.