There wasn’t much to Dahab when I dropped in on my way up to Jordan and the old Nabatean ruins at Petra.

The accommodation was basic. There was only a handful of places to eat. And because I visited in the depths of winter, it was way too cold to go for a swim. 

The local Bedouins offered camel trips out into the rocky desert behind, but most of the time I just hung out with my fellow backpackers.

I fell in with a bunch of travellers from the US and Britain.

You could tell where we were from by our haircuts. I was the only Aussie and the only one with a mullet.

Our favourite ‘restaurant’ was a local Bedouin place, set up in a tent. There were cushions on the floor, low tables and a fire in the middle.

Most nights we ended up sleeping there, huddled around the fire, waking to find the dishes from our evening meal cleared away and breakfast waiting for us on the table. 

Dahab 1989

In the end, me and the Brits moved out of our rooms and spent the rest of our nights there.

Rooms in Dahab at that time were simply mattresses on a bare concrete floor, so this struck us as the height of sophistication. And it was free

Well, in a manner of speaking.

We rarely ventured far so the dollar a night we were saving went straight into the restaurant’s coffers.

Regardless, Dahab, as it was then, remains one of my favourite travelling experiences.