Published: June 8th 2006May 19th 2006
As I was riding my camel the thought struck me..."is this for real". The pyramids were ahead, the Sahara desert was to the left, and the city of Cairo to the right. I looked out at the Sahara and saw galaping horses kicking up dust, and when i looked towards Cairo i saw a large city that faded off into the grey of the horizon. The main site was not to the right or to the left though...it was the pyramids that date back before the birth of Christ. Riding my camel, with the pyramids in front of me is when I really had to pinch myself...Actually all I had to do was look back at Dustin to know it was indeed real.
My camel was a onry beast...when I first got on him, he grunted, and rose before I even had him fully straddled...I hung on though and got my revenge later.
We had two guides, one was your classic looking Arab, the young hip kind, he was sporting the shades. The other guy had one job, to make the camels go faster...he would wip them from behind and yell something at them in
Arabic...This guy also enabled me to get the revenge I mentioned earlier ...he gave me his rope and told me to wack away...and I did so joyfully (the camel was not hurt).
Our guide...the cool one riding the horse took some videos for us...his accent is vintage Arabic...and we will have fun showing all of you the clips when we get back. The pyramids were everything I hoped for and introduced as to our first real, Egyptian experience which was entirely different from everything we had seen in SE Asia.
We Spent two days in Cairo the first was pyramid exploration, and the second was spent visiting the famous Cairo Museum. The second night we took an all night train to the city of Aswan, from Aswan we barded a Faluca and then spent the next two days kicking back on the Nile.
We had some excellent shipmates, two Kiwi's and a group of four from Australia. Everybody on the boat was fun, and we entertained ourselves with games, stories, swimming, and really good food. Our Captains name was Mohammed (classic), i will remember him for always saying "why not". Everything is possible in
Egypt...and I believe that...I mean one day I see the pyramids and the next day I am floating down the Nile. And FYI I did have that "Walk like an Egyptian" song going through my head a couple times...
Well we really weren't planning on heading out this direction but its really cool that it worked out this way. We caught a late night flight to Cairo and arrived at 8 or something in the morning. The tour agencies at the Airport tried to "help us out" by giving us "great" deals on accomodations and transportation but we had to disappoint them sadly and leave without making a deal other than a taxi into town through them. The place we stayed at was pretty friendly if not a little expensive. In order to make the most of our time we arranged a tour through them that kept us moving every day.
We even started out our first day by heading out to the Pyramids with a guide (not really necessary) to tell us that in fact the tombs we visited were the only ones worth visting and that there were some old carvings
on the walls, sure glad we had him along. We also had our first encounter with the Baksheesh (tipping) and how everyone seems to deserve one just for being there AHAHA but yeah. In the end you learn to just NOT go with anyone beckoning you because they will show you some special rock they found around the corner and that entitles them to a tip for being your tour guide. It definitely was a new experience and once you get used to the hands out wanting some money its not a bad place. Everyone tends to seem mad but generally they are pretty cool people with lots of hand motions and raised voices.
We hopped on some Camels (that looked pretty out of it) and toured across the sands through a hole in a gate out to the Pyramids. Surprisingly there weren't very many people at any places we visited, even the guides were a little surprised at how empty all the parks were. Oh and camels really aren't that comfortable but you get used to it after about an hour if you put your legs the right way. When we had them run for a little while,
any grace goes right out the window because there is no real way to stop yourself from bouncing a little.
I think the way we looked at that point was to our advantage because from the sounds of it the people trying to sell us things lowered their prices enough to where it looked like people like us would take the bait. Other richer looking people ended up paying more than even the first prices we were quoted for things like the camel ride.
The Museum was pretty impressive, just in the amount of material they have all over the place classified into huge sections throughout the museum. Its almost hard to appreciate because of the sheer volume of it all in one place. King Tut's exhibit though was quite impressive, mainly for the solid gold sarcophagus. Super ornate and it was amazing how much work and gold had to have gone into it. There are plaques everywhere giving little while giving some history on an object but for every oject with a plaque there were loads without. By then end you get a little callous and end thinking "oh thats kind of neat" even though its a
couple thousand years old and super intricate and has lasted this long. Its just that there are so many amazing things that like I said, its hard to put it into perspective or imagination by the end. Its like they dug up every person with a sarcophagus and put it on display, there are racks and racks of them as well as ornaments and from 1 to around 20 foot statues or pillars all over the place. Also there was actually a pretty neat section with a mummified monkey and dog in the exact positions they were found as well as a crocodile that must have been around 15 feet long.
That second night though we caught a train to Aswan and hopped on a Felucca to sail up the river, the food was awesome and we had enough, every time anyone asked for more food the answer was "why not?" It was pretty relaxing though and the nile was pretty refreshing, though we all were joking about flukes, who knows maybe it might not be so funny in another month. The days were great and relaxing and the nights were kind of cold but the beds were atleast
comfortable. Pretty good experience over all even without good sleep.
The place is chalk full of history though and just to be in an area like that gives you a good feeling just being surrounded with as powerful and well known history as that. Plus it was neat to make a new plan out of Asia and see another wonder of the world. We left after only 2 days in Cairo and another couple on the river but the main things were very impressive. So the moral of the story is.......grow a beard, don't take too many showers and you'll be able to travel longer because hey, everyone knows people like that don't have money so they won't ask for much of it.
There are more photos below