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Published: February 22nd 2012
After a pretty uncomfortable 7.5 hour journey, where some guy insisted on leaving the window open all the way meaning no sleep was had, we arrived in Siwa at about 5.30 a.m. There were two Chinese and a Japanese also on the bus and I managed to share a taxi to the hotel with them. When I say taxi, I mean a trailer with 2 benches attached to the back of a moped.
After the night before I slept on until after 12. I was woken up to the sound of gun fire and the noise of a crowd. I had been lead to believe that this was a small, sleepy town but when I got up and wandered around town there was a stage set up in the main square, which was packed. There was also a guy at one of the markets letting off several rounds from a Kaleshnikov at random enough times.
I went to get some lunch and discovered that the governor of the Siwan district was in town and had organised some rally to get the people's thoughts on the new Egyptian parliament. I later went for a walk up the old Shali ruin,
from the top of which you cuold see right past the oasis which surrounds the town and right into the desert. I later joined the Chinese and Japanese for dinner and after some tea. Siwa is a completely dry town so, it was an early enough night.
The next day, I hired a bike and went out into the oasis. Once you get out of the town it genuinely is like going back 100 years. You pass more donkey carts than you do motorised vehicles. I passed the temple of the Oracle, which Alexander the Great is supposed to have visited, the ruins of Amun and finally I got to Cleopatra Springs.
This is a 4m deep natural pool of water, where warm water comes from the ground making it 30 degrees. I met an English couple there who are also overlanding it like myself, as far as Ethiopia. There are a couple of cafes there and I went for a drink in one of them and got chatting to the owner who was from Alex, but had moved out to Siwa 6 years before to start farming.
Later, I went for dinner with the English couple.
We all ordered a half-chicken and it took that long, that I genuinely think they may have gone to kill the chickens first. Afterwards, I went for a sheesha and met up with the Chinese guys (different ones) that I would be doing the desert safari with. They were telling me how in China the government have stopped any news of the Egyptian revolution getting into the country. What makes this worse is that there are lighters for sale commemorating the 25th January Revolution, but they aren't made in Egypt....Made in China!
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