Dive instructor, Terry Axam, shares his past.
I remember a time when you could jump into the back of a pick up truck and go anywhere for 3LE (30p) regardless of how many people it was carrying. I remember living in an area called Hey El Nour thinking I was doing really well because I had just come from a guest house (if you could call it that!) called the Pigeon House. At the time I had opted for the slightly more expensive 50LE per night room because it was a proper room with fan, not a bamboo hut! I still had to use the communal bathroom, but even this I considered better than another area of Sharm called Hadaba. It had no roads, no lights and you really took your life into your own hands if you were taking a trip there. If you fell down one of the numerous holes, you'd never be found! I remember shouting up to the roof to my flatmate to give our satellite dish a kick just to get a fuzzy BBC world picture that we would watch because we were too broke to go out. I remember getting my guests on a Monday and diving with them for 6 days solid. A night dive and trips to Dunraven and Thistlegorm were regarded the normal itinerary for the week. Divers checked out on Saturdays and we blew the tip money in "Camel" that evening and recovered on the Sunday.
Whatever happened to the 'good old days'?
Things change over time and so too has the 'nature of diving' in Sharm. We now accommodate a wider range of people - we run half day boats for people with young families. For the adventurous we have overnight trips to Tiran for shark hunting (fantastic), overnight trips to Thistlegorm to night dive the wreck (awesome) and this year we'll be doing overnight trips to Ras Mohammed to do early morning dives on Shark Reef and Yolanda (spectacular).
The Emperor staff are all seasoned professionals with years of experience. Our 'old' guests come back time and time again. They love seeing familiar faces and there is a real sense of belonging at Emperor; it is a great company to dive with. New guests are quickly put at ease and feel they are being well looked after and, as such, they become our 'old' guests! I love working here. We run more smoothly, our boats are better equipped and our staff are more experienced than in the so called 'good old days'.
So has the nature of diving changed in Sharm? Yes, considerably! Is it a worse place to be? Certainly not! It is different but I like it!