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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 11: 5 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysRon tells me at breakfast that when his watch alarm went off on deck last night a lot of people woke up and started to pray. I had noticed yesterday that the deck passengers, who have very few belongings, do sport some impressive wristwatches. These are not only prestigious, but very practical for those who must remember to pray five times a day.

Apparently one is not advised to wear shorts. The sight of my knees would be frowned upon. I shall just have to get hot, secure in the knowledge that there is only cold water in the shower. And no towels.

There are four Arab women and a dozen men in the first-class lounge this morning. A video of expensive cars, prominently displaying 'Rothman's' signs, on some glamorous rally, plays in the corner. A group of children are chasing each other around the tables. The Arabs love children and when I show an interest in them there is a smile of contact from the parents. But that's about as far as it goes. Yesterday I had met some people on deck who were quite chatty. This morning with the camera about it is very different, and I sense a chill of hostility. A slim, intense young man with a beard and a brown third-world suit reads his Koran and very obviously avoids us. His attitude seems to affect a lot of the others.

The deck passengers all wear traditional clothes - tarbooshes or takaias (the white skull caps), jellabas and sandals and have no interest in the small duty-free shop below with its VHS cassettes, lingerie, Lacoste shirts and bottles of 'Poison' eau de toilette.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 11
  • Date: 5 October
  • Country/sea: Red Sea
  • Place: Gulf of Suez
  • Book page no: 48

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