Films Middle East & Africa 2009 The Film

From The Cutting Room Floor #4: Cycling from Aswan, Egypt, to Wadi Halfa, Sudan

This scene recounts all the chaos of a classic experience which all who head down Africa’s east route will negotiate: the weekly ferry crossing of Lake Nasser, from Aswan (of Dam fame) in the south of Egypt to the tiny port of Wadi Halfa in northern Sudan.

Deep within the historic region of Nubia, this is the only overland route between the two nations, who are still unable to agree on who actually owns the inhospitable tract of empty desert in between.

The ferry sails just once a week, and tickets can only be procured by visiting the agency in Aswan in person with the valid Sudanese visa you obtained from the embassy in Cairo. To ensure that I wouldn’t be waiting around in Aswan for days on end, I hopped on a train from further up the Nile, bought my ticket and was back with my bike the same day, in order to continue enjoying the fantastic experience of cycling the Nile Valley.

Some who’ve seen the full film might recognise segments from this final deleted scene in the series (here’s #1, #2 and #3). A deleted scene isn’t wasted if it reveals material that works better elsewhere!

I’ve heard that the route south from Wadi Halfa has been fully paved since I crossed it in 2009, transforming northern Sudan into some of the easiest riding in East Africa.

And that’s the thing about travel — no matter how far you go, all you’ll ever see are cross-sections of places as they existed for one brief moment.

Middle East & Africa 2009 Photography

Egypt As You’ve (Probably) Never Seen Her

Now for something less cringy than a film about myself: another photo round-up from the Middle East.

While following the Nile from Cairo to Aswan on my bicycle, I was continually struck by the complete absence of other travellers. I’d always thought Egypt was supposed to be one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

Camping in the Sinai

Middle East & Africa 2009 Photography

Stunning, Stormy Jordan

I got stoned in Jordan. I also got tomatoed, window-framed, slapped and sworn at. When you’re alone, language-less, and unable to understand why you’re on the receiving end of several daily doses of hurtful xenophobia, it’s pretty tough on morale.

First wild camp in northern Jordan

Middle East & Africa 2009 Photography

Look at Syria

Apparently some bad stuff has happened in Syria recently. I hope that those I met and who helped me so memorably on my ride through the country are doing O.K. — but then they’re the probably the lucky ones, living in the rural regions rather than the political hot-spots.

The Syrian-Turkish border

Middle East & Africa 2009 Photography

The Ravaged, War-torn, Peaceful, Gentle & Stunningly Hospitable Country of Sudan

In my last post I asked what readers wanted to see more of. At the top of the list was more photographs.

An excellent choice, as I’ve recently been reviewing my raw images from the road. And no other month in my life was more eye-opening than the one I spent trundling through the sun-baked deserts, Nile-side hamlets and roasting savannahs of Sudan, from Egypt in the north to Ethiopia in the south-east.

Unfinished road in the Nubian desert, Sudan