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Bec & Simon

Cairo, Egypt

EGYPT | Thursday, 5 November 2009 | Views [1085]

Bec finishing off the pyramid

Bec finishing off the pyramid

We flew into Cairo not really knowing what to expect from our tour, only knowing that it would be good to having someone else looking after us for a while so that we could relax and not have to worry about anything. True to their word, Muhammad (everyone that worked for the company was either Muhammad or Ahkmed...no joke!) was waiting in immigration for us to help us through. I think he was a little thrown when we didn't need help and could carry our own bags around, not the clientèle they usually get

They drove us in to the city to our hotel and we caught a glimpse of the pyramids at sunset along the way just so we really knew where we were. Bec was more than content with the hotel. It was a thumping big 5-star hotel with pools, bars and restaurants overlooking the pyramids, definately un upgrade to our usual digs.

We started bright and early the next day to meet our personal tour guide (Muhammad) and driver (Ahkmed) and our private bus. A little overboard but we've earned it. Took us first to the ancient capital of Memphis which wasn't overly exciting but i think they were building up for later. Only thing left in Memphis is a few columns and one enormous statue of Ramses II. Ramses II has statues EVERYWHERE, I think if you found one these days you couldn't sell it or give it away because everyone has a couple. The Necropolis of Sakkara was next and again not too exciting because all that was left was a semi-crumbled walkway and stepped pyramid. We did get our first taste of the local hassling here though. Every five steps someone was trying to sell you something, take a photo of them and their camel (for a price) or just give you money, they were quite forceful about it too. Fortunately having Muhammed around helped protect us a bit plus we didn't look like as big of a sucker as most of the other tourists around.

We were taken to a papyrus factory for a demonstration with the expectation that we'd buy something, luckily for them we actually did want to. We bought up big and even after some haggling we're pretty sure we got royally screwed.  

We then headed to the pyramid to stand and gaze with the rest of the tourist masses and to be chased around by men on camels demanding that we take a ride on one and then asking "why not? you know how much?". They're freaking enormous and awesome to see up close and wonder how they built them 4,000 years ago. The tourist police that were guarding the pyramid were even nice enough to let people climb all over them for a small bribefee. We went up to the view point to get the standard trick photos. Finally they took us to a perfume factory for a song and dance and trying to get us to buy up a storm, we bought very little and I think they weren't too impressed at the factory.

We flew to Aswan and checked in to the cruise ship. It was fairly flashy but so were the 30-40 other cruise ships docked along side it. We took a feluca ride...this is where the tipping frenzy began! Our guide informed us on all the people we were expected to tip and how much. It was normally only $2 to $4 but it was non-stop and ended up costing us about 80% of our spending money. We were giving money hand over fist to anyone who just helped for a minute but nobody seemed to be grateful and the first thing they'd do was to hold up the amount and look at you as if to say "is that it?" even though our guide had told us that our tips were more than generous.

The cruise along the Nile was cool if a tad touristy. We stopped along the way at Philae, Kom Ombo, Edfu and then docked in Luxor for a few days to do Luxor, Karnak, temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the Valley of the Kings. Each temple seemed to be better than the last and the photos didn't really do any justice. The workmanship was amazing and it would have been crazy to see these place in their prime all painted up. The valley of the Kings was the only place that still had its colours but no photos allowed.

We had a full day to ourselves in Luxor which was heaven considering we'd been up at 5am every other day to start the sightseeing and we got some shopping and sunbaking in before flying back to Cairo. 

After a leisurely one hour and a half drive to cover the 18km's back to our hotel (yes Cairo traffic is that bad) we settled in with some junk food to recover before flying out of Egypt to jolly ol' London.

Don't know what I think of Egypt yet. The sight are incredible but the people in general were appalling. Constantly trying to sell and rip you off. Claiming that you owed them money for nothing. Harassing Bec and touching and grabbing her. I was pushed and even punched in the back once because I didn't want a bottle of water, i was already hold tow 1.5 litre bottles. There's tourist police everywhere but they are normally asleep in a van or taking bribes to let people in protected areas. The stories from all the other tourist were unfortunately the same and we met a few that were packing up and leaving early because they'd had enough.

Hopefully soon the people or government will wake up and do something about it because if they did it would be an amazing place to come back to. As it is I don't think we'll be going back again.

Tags: cairo, edfu, egypt, karnak, kom ombo, luxor, pyramids, sphinx


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