Published: January 14th 2012January 12th 2012
Today made for an interesting day. Tareq and I had planned to visit one of the world’s greatest wonders – the Pyramids. The original plan was for him to come to the hostel, and both head there together, but since he lived quite close to the Pyramids, we agreed to meet there instead.
I got a transfer driver from the hostel to Giza, and it took nearly an hour to get through all the traffic. When I finally arrived, I headed towards the entrance, but not without being greeted by several street vendors offering to guide me, give me camel or horse rides through the site. I told them I was waiting for a friend. One of the tour guides supposedly assigned to me, or you could say self-assigned, waited with me. I told him I wasn’t going to need him, as I was going into the attraction with my friend. Of course, he asked me to give him a tip for waiting with me. This is very common in Egypt from what I’ve read about, and this is the day I’m going to experience it in full force.
Tareq showed up and we headed inside. We were greeted by another tour guide, self-assigned to us of course. We had already paid the entrance fee to get in; now this guy was demanding a greater sum of money to take us through the attraction on camel. We said we just wanted to walk around – but it looks like you can’t do that here. He told us that walking would cost us three times as much – and of course I wasn’t going to believe him. He seemed very desperate to want us to ride his camel.
We were about ready to walk it ourselves, to which the tour guide then promptly asked us for three times the amount. I said I will pay when I get up there. But this tactic didn’t seem to work; he agreed to take us onto his camel for a lower price. We accepted that offer - so I guess we bargained.
So off we rode, through the ancient site, up and down the desert hills surrounding the Pyramids. Again, the tour guide asked us if we would like to take the long route or the short route – the long route costing another rather expensive sum of money. I said no – short trip. Although every minute, he found a new excuse to get us to do the long route, until eventually we bargained again and brought the price down. This was annoying; I wasn’t getting along very well with the guide. Tareq didn’t have that much money on him either, so I had to help cover the costs.
Once we finally got to the top, at the base of the Pyramids, it was time to dismount the camels and go off on our merry way. Or so we thought. The guide asked for one final sum of money, which I ended up arguing over with him about. As fantastic as the Pyramids are, this part is a major turnoff. I’ve learnt that you cannot explore the Pyramids in peace, and my only hope is that the Pyramids is the only place that this will happen.
Of course, that was not the end of it. As we were walking down, another two people with camels opened conversation with us, we were forced to get on, even though I said no. They literally lifted Tareq up and placed him on the camel, and I had little choice but to partake. I should have asked them to get him down, but I guess I will use that tactic next time. You need to have a strong way with words – and it’s not just that – these people don’t listen. They pretend to not understand.
In the end they forced us to pay another great sum of money, and we tried to escape it. We told them we wanted to see the Sphinx first; so they took us, and had one of the guys stand at the entrance to make sure we don’t leave without paying. We looked for an escape route, but there was none. We had another guy start using our camera and taking pictures of us, demanding a tip after. This was insanely annoying.
As we tried to escape, the vendors made sure we didn’t get away with it. They followed us to the exit, even further, and around the streets, demanding their money. I was very angry, and decided that Tareq and I should make a run for it. Of course, we ended up in a dead-end alleyway, and they caught up to us. It was this moment that finally settled it, and I had to hand over $25 for them to leave us alone. I threatened to take them to the police station, but they pretended to not be scared, and refused to come with me. This day has taught me something valuable, and has also given me a confidence boost, which made it somewhat worth it. If I was going to have to pay them for something I did not want, I made sure I got my money’s worth out of it. I must admit, it was fun. And an experience. It was a day to live. A day to remember.
That was that. Tareq and I got the transfer back to Cairo and my hostel, where we stayed the rest of the evening and chilled out. We had fun talking about our exciting day to others.