Walkin' Like An Egyptian

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July 16th 2008
Published: July 16th 2008
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Egypt - Day 1

The land of sand, sun, and people that want your money. No matter what they do, or ask, it is all about those hard earned/swindled dollar bills.

Our flight from Paris this morning wasn’t a problem, but when we left Rome to head to Egypt the take off and the landing parts of the journey were brutal. The plane seemed like something out of the 1980s, complete with cigarette holders. I motion we all join together and give some extra money to Italy for some new planes! And, oh yes and the puking girl that was ahead of yes on the plane made the trip extra yummy.

My favorite part didn’t even involve the planes, it was bathrooms. Whether they are on a train, a plane, or a terminal… people smoked in them. The worst part is that they made no qualms about it. They’d stand in there for upwards of 5 minutes smoking away letting all of us wait. Despite the no smoking sign on the door I might add. Seriously people, your nicotine addiction has become a problem when you can’t wait until you arrive at your destination.

Now to Cairo…

The heat here was a different story. Canada, yes, has some hot days with humidity… Egypt puts us to shame, in Cairo it is already 35 and they say that it will only get hotter the deeper you go south! Night did not provide much relief… but our AC unit did!!!

There are some interesting people on our 15-person trip, a nice couple from Australia, a couple of single guys (that are here for a good time I guess). I am sure we’ll see more characters as time passes…

Went out for a nice Chicken Swarma for dinner with some of the group and returned from the scorching air to relax in the AC before the big day tomorrow!

Egypt - Day 2

This morning started well; we both had a good nights sleep and woke up ready for the day. Had a quick breakfast (Egyptian omelet which is a Canadian fried egg) before embarking on our GAP adventure tour.

We started the day on the Giza plateau, home to the Great Pyramid of Kfufu and his son. The Kfufu’s tomb is 180m tall! It is much bigger than you could even imagine! We walked around the grounds and learned a lot - for example, at the pyramid the large pyramid belongs to the King and the two smaller pyramids adjacent belong to his wife and child. Besides that there are two temples on the site, one for washing and praying on the body and the other for preparing the body for the tomb. Mummification is part of this process.

We then headed down the road to the Sphinx, which has controversial meaning and place. There are debates as to whether the king had it created after he died, or had it modified from its potential lion original state into what it is today. Personally, I suspect our king had a bit of an ego complex and built this Great Sphinx as a sort of street marker so everyone knew it was the resting ground of him and his family.

After the Giza plain we headed into a purfurmery in town. They made the essence, which is what perfume is before they add the alcohol to it. Because Egypt is Muslum they don’t use alcohol at all, even in their toiletries! It was pretty cool to see, especially because this specific fellow creates the essences for Body Shoppe, Drakkar Noir, and Davidoff Cool Water.

After lunch we visited the Egypt Museum which was totally awesome. The spoils of Tuts tomb were on display there and were absolutely mind blowing! This jewelry room alone (and he was 19 when he died) could put Mr. T. to shame. The mask that Tut had over his mummified body was 11 kilograms of solid gold! It slid over his head. Wow.

Driving in Egypt is special, a few examples ---- there are no crosswalks, so people go whenever they want to, and play a big game of frogger with the cars. Next, the main highway from what I saw was driving with cars in 3 lanes, but there are only 2 lanes for it. Third people are only worried about getting to where they are going, so cutting each other off isn’t that big of a deal here. There is no such thing as a non-dented car.

Scammers/Businessmen, both could be seen as the same, out to make some money from any person they can. So the Egyptain people would could up to you and ask you hello and where are your from, so of course you say, then say “Oh, Canada Dry”. Then they will give you something in your arms and then begin to walk with you and talk to you like they you were cousins for 20 years. Then it was the price, it started at 100 Egyptian and then down gradually it went to whatever you wanted to pay.

Now we are on our overnight sleeper train. Hopefully this won’t be too bad, as Rene and Christie’s horror stories have left me a bit skeptical! So far, so good (we are an hour in… watch me eat my enormous sun hat by the end of this journey).

Egypt - Day 3

The train ended up being an OK experience; it took a while to fall asleep to the clanging of the cars, but once asleep I slept well. Breakfast on the train was rather… special… 4 flavours of stale bread… take your pick. Stale bread seems very popular here, why I do not know.

Arrived in Aswan, where I quickly realized they weren’t kidding when they said it was freakin’ hot. Because our hotel offered a beautiful outdoor pool overlooking the Nile I opted out of the mid-day trip (there seem to be ‘added trips’ every day). The pool was awesome.

After we lurked around the markets. You wouldn’t believe how beautiful the spices looked and smelled around the bazaar. It was like a feast of colours! (And of course an equally lovely feast of depreciating comments; I made a list of things we heard the men bellowing, giggles all around).

Late in the afternoon we boarded a felucca (small river sail boat) to journey to Elephantine Island (which was like 200m down river). There we rode camels through the desert. My camel belonged in BAC, while Tim’s would be rather successful on his track team… it was cool though… especially when the decide they want to sit down.

Following the camel ride, we reboarded our boat bound for a Nubian Village (nomadic tribe) for a feast at a local family home. The food was awesome and the village was exactly what you would expect their village to look like - narrow streets, barnyard animals next to their homes, cute children running around in saris of all colours…

Egypt - Day 4

Willingly woke myself up at 4am to take a three-plus hour bus ride to a temple. Now before you start wondering what drugs I’ve been smoking here, let me inform you that the temple of Abu Simbel. It was the temples belonging to King Ramses II and the one he built for his favorite wife, Nefrtari. While the tour guide suggested this temple was built as a gift of love for her, I suspect it was actually built as a peace offering once she found out about his 170 children! The temples were beautiful, and it is difficult to believe that they have been moved to avoid destruction by the new dam.

Stopped at an Egyptian jeweler on our way back where I discovered that my bartering skills are still terrible. Seriously though, if what they want me to pay sounds reasonable why argue?

Since arriving back we’ve lounged by the pool, broken our five-year stint being pollution (McDonalds) free, and vegged like it was our job. Tim is napping next to me as I type this… I too should get on with the napping, all this typing is making me look far too uptight for the poolside!


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