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Blurred memories Memoirs of a lost and bewildered Australian chick through Europe.

Walk like an Egyptian- the initial maddness!

EGYPT | Thursday, 19 March 2009 | Views [780]

Egypt, first impression- this place is absolutely mental. We arrived in Cairo excited about what was to come. We were met at the airport by a really helpful guy from Geckos who helped us get our visa and then went to get our luggage. My bag, of course, was practically the last one out. It was whilst waiting at the carousel that I realised how very different the rules are in Egypt. We were waiting, as were many people because it wasn’t the quickest baggage handling on the planet, when a few guys, sick of waiting, jumped through the flaps where the luggage came from, went I suppose “out the back” found their bags, jumped back through over the conveyer belt and wandered out. No one battered an eyelid that this could be anything out of the ordinary and this prompted other people to stick their head through to see if they could see their bags as well! I couldn’t believe it! In any other country I have been to people would have been tackled by this stage by security!

 

When my bag finally came out we were walked to a waiting car and then had a terrifying (but exhilarating) drive to our hotel. Our driver obviously thought that road rules only applied to other people. He sped, didn’t have his headlights on (it was about 7pm and quite dark), any time he did catch up to another car he would flash them repeatedly with the high beams and honk his horn if they didn’t move. Lanes were optional extras obviously because while the road was marked with 3 lanes each way there was at any one time at least 7 or 8 lanes across the entire road.   People were forever trying to find a quicker way- which inevitably resulted in complete chaos! Horns honking, lights flashing, people yelling at each other, and more near misses than I have ever seen! And to add to all this there was donkeys everywhere pulling carts and all these old guys whose job it seemed to be to sweep the dirt at the edge of the road. I was very glad when we reached our hotel!

 

After dumping the bags in our room we headed up for a meeting with our tour group, I must admit that I was mildly disappointed that of the 9 people in the group there was only one guy (not including Khaled our guide); he was looking a little shocked at the situation too. Also, of the 9 there was only one non-Aussie- Lisa, who was an American- she was immediately christened as an honorary Australian. After the usual do’s, don’ts and directions my stomach was rumbling and food beckoned. I had a traditional Egyptian dinner of a twister combo from KFC. Pretty ordinary hey! But no way- it was brilliant! Here’s why: the KFC which was close to our hotel was completely staffed by deaf people. It was absolutely amazing! When you walk in there was a sign saying that the restaurant employed all deaf people or people with disabilities as part of a special program. The guy who served us pointed to a menu in front of him and you had to point to what you wanted. He even managed to suggestive sell desserts. It was absolutely amazing and absolutely brilliant. It was the quietest KFC I have ever been in! It was all run very efficiently and the staff was all lovely. I feel mildly arrogant saying this but I would have never expected something like this in Egypt! You kind of expect it to be a little backward as compared to western countries like England or Australia but I certainly haven’t seen anything like that anywhere else in the world so yay for Egypt!

 

One other thing that happened on this little trip was less pleasant. Before we had left the hotel we were warned about all the people that were about that would try to rob you or rip you off. I consider myself moderately street-smart and quite well travelled so I arrogantly assumed I would be too smart for something like this to happen to me. Emma and I had just left the hotel after being given directions by our guide on how to get to the bank and then KFC. We got as far as the first corner and were discussing as to whether this was the one we had to turn at (yes, we have a bad memory and a horrible sense of direction at times) when this young guy came up to us to ask if we needed help. We said simply that we were going to KFC not wanting him to know that we were heading to the bank. He said we had to go one more street and then turn right. We both had kind of thought we had to turn there but thought we must have been mistaken and followed him along the block. He chattered away very friendly like and said he had a shop just down the way and proceeded to unlock a door of a very little store and practically drag us in. There was tacky tourist merchandise everywhere in this little room and he made us sit down and started trying to convince us to join his tour. We kept on saying we were already on a tour thankyou very much, so then he tried to sell us stuff saying how everybody else tried to rip you off but he was really honest don’t you know. I was really, really nervous and bloody angry with myself for letting myself get in this situation- I was so glad that Emma was with me otherwise I would have been terrified! He kept on trying to give us drinks (which we politely kept refusing saying we were on our way to KFC and really should go). Then he gave me this folder thing to read with all these testimonies from tourists saying how honest and helpful he was- honestly I didn’t give a shit how honest all these people said he was, I just wanted to get the hell out of there and have some dinner! After much polite argument and ever so sincere promises that we would be back we managed to escape and practically run back the way we came and to turn down the street we had initially intended to. We got to the bank safely, and then went to the awesome KFC. You’ll never guess who was there…

 

We managed to get back to the hotel without being accosted again and were embarrassed that we had been so bloody stupid!

 

Tomorrow we explore Cairo. Hopefully there will be no more troubles!

Tags: egypt

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