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August 16th 2012
Published: August 16th 2012
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"...I was washing my toothbrush with that water?" that's what I was thinking as I seen the river in Cairo, Egypt.

Hello everyone for yet another blog. The rest of Istanbul was nice - I even got to take a cruise to the Black Sea, and you'll be glad to hear that noone was stabbed on that ferry. I also got to try "Raki" which tasted alot like Sambucca, but with 20 times worse the headache the next morning. And that was just one shot and sipping it over 40min! The day of my flight was hectic. I had maybe 4hrs sleep from the night before, a headache(Raki), rushed to hospital to take the stitches out(for free), then rushed to airport, ran to the plane as I seen "FINAL CALL" in big red letters.

So to explain a little, I was couchsurfing for the last 2 days in Istanbul. It turned out the guy was a doctor! He said he'd take the stitches out and was a pretty funny guy. It was the first time someone had said that to me after asking where a doctor was: "Oh I'm a doctor!". The only time he had was the morning of the flight as he was busy the day before. I had gotten back at 5:45am after going to see the "Taksim" nightlife, on the last night in Istanbul. The public transport to the airport was easy but slow, the ferry was the slowest. When I got to the airport and checked in, I had an hour left. But the Passport Control was directly before Customs and the line was massive. So I thought to save time at customs and put everything in my bag so I wouldn't of been emptying my pockets or taking off a watch while at Customs! So I sort of lost track of time in a boring line and just slowly waited to get past Passport Control. As soon as I got past Customs, I checked the DEPARTURES board. As soon as I seen "FINAL CALL" my legs just started running automatically. I didn't even manage to barge any poor bastard over that was walking slowly! It was a good 5min of sprinting and dodging. I got to the gate seeing no people and screaming "OI!!! WAAIIITTT!!!". The guy looked at me strange, then said "no problem no problem. Just mistake. No final call". That didn't change one thing. My heart was still racing, hands shaking, and "touching cloth" as Lil Ben would put it haha.

At Cairo airport, I was welcomed by the bus driver of the hotel picking me up, yanking my passport from my hands to see my visa. As well as saying something pretty close to "you want to change money? Ok, I give you money now and I tell you how much you pay me later". I seen my trust factor in my head steeply plummit like the stock exchange of a newly announced bankrupt company. I also waited 2 hours for my bag at Baggage Claim. It took 1 hour for the first bag to come out and then one more would come every couple of long minutes. You can read this and laugh or might have an idea about what it's like in countries - but to experience it... That's travelling for you. A million thoughts and questions running through your head as it happens. Not knowing what's coming next.

The bus trip to the hotel on the highway was your everyday usual driving. The usual you know? Things like... Motorbikes with 3 people(no helmets). Rusty old buses packed with people looking like it will fall apart at anytime. Sand, dirt, rubbish, broken down cars, people waiting, ALL on the sides of the highway. 95%!o(MISSING)f buildings with unfinished roofs. No road markings for lanes. Cars, motorbikes or trucks swerving through traffic. I can explain it like this. Play: GTA San Andreas and put the "riot" cheat in. Now play and drive a car and imagine it being reality. The highlight of the day, was after experiencing all that, checking in, going to my room and meeting Anna. She pretty much asked me the same thing I was thinking "Oh man, how was traffic coming here?". After meeting the tour guide and listening to our itinerary in a room without air conditioning, we had dinner then bombed the pool. The hotel was also a 4 or 5 star, so it was classy. Heated pool, big room, free soap/shampoo to tax(take). The tour group is something like 10 Kiwis(New Zealand), 6 Aussies(Australian), 1 Bavarian, and 1 South African. Kiwi's out numbered everyone! We were mingling with others on the tour, while smoking a Shishpipe/Nagilla. A waiter then came up and said "Hashish?" very quietly. A kiwi replied a bit loud "Hash? Aw yeh bro!". The waiter was sweating and looked like he was on something. He was dropping the heated rocks, and amber was almost landing on people's legs. Anyway, he brought the goods and a couple of the Kiwis soon had bloodshot eyes. The waiter actually came back twice to sample the hash. I also realised while sitting, that I had ripped my pants on the bum. It was the original rip plus an extra big rip. So, can anyone guess what happened next? After realising it, I instantly roll over and try and hide it from others(normal yeh?). Too bad a guy came along saying to the group "oh why you drink? Why you just relaxing? You're wasting your life. You need to enjoy life. Not sit. Come. Dance.". So as he was trying to convince us to get up and dance, he starts to walk off but he grabbed someone to join him. That person was me. Getting up, I knew I had the biggest rip in my pants that you could see my undies and bare legs. Not caring, I joined the man in an Egyptian dance off or something, while other Egyptians were doing the rolling of the tongue scream "yelelelelee" and clapping. A couple more kiwis joined in on the laugh and later sat back down. I later cut my longpants to make them shorts, and still kept the ripped shorts to sew, even after I told Anna I'd throw them out. That was how the first day in Egypt went. The next day, Anna accused me of having dirty hands and feet. It took a bit of convincing that it was actually just my tan. On the next day we seen the big step pyramid, the Giza pyramids, and the Sphinx. Man oh man, how can I explain how annoying the touts are? The people selling scarves, postcards, hats, souveneirs etc. Ok the first stop was the Step pyramid. We got off the bus and walked to the site. A couple of guys followed us and waited for our tour guide to finish. Afterwards, the tour guide said to us "guys, these men are selling... 10 for... 5 for...". After the tourguide told us how to reply, everyone said "no thanks" and kept walking. Too bad they kept following us and saying "Hey! Where you from?" or "You want a ride on the donkey?", or simply "You want photo?". Of course, everything was free. It's just hopping off the donkey, or getting your camera back costs a price. We'd been warned so noone was stupid enough to fall for it. I found it annoying just there. There was no peace and quiet. You couldn't take a photo without some dickhead jumping in the picture saying "Hey take picture of Egyptian! Free!". That was only at a site with a couple of touts, which was probably a warm up for things to come. The strangest thing we seen at the Step Pyramid, was a camel sitting down. An Egyptian was picking it's arsehole, and then throwing the dry flakes of shit in a bottle of water. Still as I write this I cant help but to laugh and think "oh man that's so wrong". He must of been making a Camel shit cocktail or an Egyptian protein shake haha. The touts at the Giza pyramids? Worse. After I say "no" 3 times I would think they would of got the idea. Nope. It was almost impossible to have 3min without someone coming up and trying to sell something. Alot of the times it was the same person from 5min before! They even wait at the bus doors and ask if you want to buy a hat even if I have the exact same hat on, or scarves if a woman has the exact same colour and scarf. By the Sphinx they had REALLY got on my nerves, that my reply was just a strong "NO!!!", and they only came up another 2 or 3 times. I even got called a rascist for my reply of "Egypt", to all of the guys' questions who asked "Hey friend where you from? ...and her? ...and them?". He got aggressive and called me a rascist after I refused to shake his hand. I guessed it was a scam or fresh from a camels bum. Stuff that man. Anna keeps getting called Shakira. We also hear alot of "Welcome to Alaska!". I have no idea where they get their vocabulary from but it's interesting. "cola cola cola cola cola cola", I thought a kid was freestyling or in a fight. The touts at the Valley of the kings were the worst so far. They jumped on the cart that we took and never gave up. I thought I had a bargain when a guy had nice cashmere scarves for 5 EGYPTIAN pounds, then managed to bargain him 2 scarves for 5 EGYPTIAN pounds. Again, he agreed on 5 EGYPTIAN pounds and asked Anna to pick out 2 that she liked. When we pulled out a 5 Egyptian pound note, he snatched the scarves back and said "NNOOO. I said English pounds. 500 Egyptian pounds". I'm not sure if he knew the exchange rate, but 5 british pounds are still only 50 egyptian pounds. What did I write earlier in a blog? If it sounds too good to be true, then...

All the hotels have been probably 5 stars. And very empty. At the moment we are the only people in the hotel. It's been really enjoyable. We have also enjoyed the sights, and meeting everyone on tour. Touts are touts. What can you do? I now just look straight ahead and close to Anna. If they get in my face then reply "NO!" and keep walking. They do like to touch your arms or anything, so it's important we just shrug them off.

When we were at the Valley of the Kings, you can't take a camera because tourists kept taking photos with the flash. That's bullshit. Every tomb we walked into, the guy at the entrance would follow you anyway. Then as we would stop, he pulled out a torch and would shine it on the Hieroglyphics and say what it was, then hold out his hand for a tip. Or open a locked gate where you were not allowed to go into, then try to lure you in for.... Yet another tip. But no, it was the tourists to blame.

You also need in every case, a wallet full of 5 egyptian pound notes. It doesn't work when you bargain them down to a price, then pay and expect 10pound change. One word that ISN'T in their vocabulary is "change". They will just take the money and walk off. It's worked a couple of times, but other times they annoyed us so much to buy something else that we just walked off.

After seeing the pyramids, sphinx, abu simbel, philea temple, and the valley of the kings... what was my favourite thing? A donkey ride. Yes that's right. I need to buy a donkey as a pet back home. We rode donkeys for a part of the way to the valley of the kings. Everyone grabbed their donkey and sat on. As soon as we were off, the donkeys were crying from the pain, some shitting on the street, thongs falling on the ground and people turning around & yelling for kids to grab their thongs. It was all too much for me. I was in tears. I was trying to keep mine slow to go with Anna, but it was a hopeless case. That donkey was going to get to the finish line as fast as possible. I was too busy laughing the whole time. Mine kept yelping because I was probably too heavy. Seriously, it was so funny. I ended up just kicking it, and making a noise to get it to run faster. Me and a kiwi ended up in a donkey 1/4 mile drag. They were in a gallop and another 10min of my ass bouncing up and down, and I would have a serious case of chaffing.

If you're a girl - enjoy the stares! The men here will try and take advantage of any woman if they would be alone. Noone should be worried as well about situation in Egypt - the tourist government decides what's safe for tour companies. So far the part of Mt Sinai we visit is safe. I could write so many stories of touts, but I'm not wasting my time on things that got me frustrated. It was always the same. Walking with 6 girls "Hey Lucky man! You have many wives. can I help you?", or just so many things they do is unbelievable. They also have no literacy with numbers or mathematics. Just make up numbers for a price... then go lower higher as they bargain. It's absolute nonsense! Noone has been sick yet. But I did see a dead cow ready to explode, or the dirtiest rubbish, all in that river, that is the water supply. And we were washing our mouths with that crap when we brushed our teeth? I'll leave it on that.

I'm going back to relaxing in pool! Til next time 😊 Jason & Anna

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