07.10.2007 - 13.10.2007 34 °C
Zai ark (Hello) everyone, it's Krystal typing.
Having a ball in the middle east, can safely say it is like no other place we have been to and far more different to what we imagined. It is crazy how poor these people are, worse than thailand, and the religious influences make the country so different to the west.
Anyway I'll get straight into it.
Sunday 7th October
The morning after Contiki we headed back to Olive's again to store ever more stuff! Picked up our air line tickets and we were off again. Had some Chinese that was actually cheaper than eating in Australian and wasn't dodgy at all. We're starting to think if we're half smart (which might be difficult for matt :p) about our money while in London should be able to save a little.
Next we caught the tube to the airport and were asleep on the waiting room chairs by 10pm.
Monday 8th October
Woke up early for our 6:15 am flight. Had to board at 5:30am but we both totally forgot it was an international flight and were still sipping our hot drinks at 5:25am until the penny dropped! We ran around like headless chickens pushin to get through customs but luckily our flight was delayed from bad weather. Pretty stupid by us!
While checkin in the couple in front of us was 55kg over on their check in luggage. At a rate ot 27 pounds/kg you do the maths! Crazy! We are not shopping!
Our plane landed in Zurich and because our flight had been delayed it was touch and go whether we'd make our connecting flight to Cairo. We sprinted from one end of the airport to the other and made it 5 minutes before scheduled departure. They let us board and 2 seconds later they said this flight would aslo be delayed as there were waiting for connecting flight passangers from Heathrow. Lucky we ran! (Yes you are a stalker Amy!) Thought holidays were meant ot be stress free?
A few hours later we landed in Cairo. First impression of Egypt was stench, heat and a sign saying drug offences result in death by hanging. Just a slight bit different to Amsterdam! We walked outside and were bombarded with taxi and limo drivers want to 'help' us out in anyway they could. We knew we were getting wripped but we jumped in a limo (oldish car with AC) and headed to Alexandria as we just wanted to get there before it got dark. Paid about 60 australian for the two of us. Still not bad considering it was a 4 hour journey.
We soon realised after about 20 minutes of being stationery that Cairo has the worst traffic in the world! After an hour and a half of moving 10km we made it onto the freeway where the limo driver (Abu) stepped it up a knoch. I have never feared for my life more!! The driver was driving without any lights darting in and out of traffic at speeds of 160km/hr + (in a 100 zone). Rest asure most of the time he only drove at 150km/hr tho! For 2 a half hours we listened to the sound of beep beep beep beep as he had his speed indicator set at 120km/hr. Go figure? We both arrived safe and sound thankfully and headed to our room for some room service and sleep! Think we will be looking at another form of trasnport for the return trip! Far too much stress for one day!
Tuesday 9th October
After a much needed rest we rolled out of bed and headed to the bank to try and get some US dollars for our tour that was begginning in a few days. I thought I better dress conservatively since it was our first day and didn't know what to expect. Had 3/4 pants on and a t-shirt that sort of dipped a little (not much!) at the front, and for some how I managed to feel like a tart! All the other girls were covered head to toe. And for some reason hardly anyone knew how to use the ATM, most needed help, I think alot of them can't read maybe? Anyway the bank manager spotted us and brought us round to the back of the tellers, skipping the really long lines and gave us all his attention like we were celebrities!
Next we wandered down the street to see what this place was about and grab some lunch. We soon realised after a couple of kms of walking that everything was closed coz of ramadam (to those of you at home we don't know much at bit either apart from Muslims can't eat or drink between dawn and dusk for approx 1 month). We finally found alittle mini market shop (if you could call it a shop) and stocked up on 2 minute noodles and headed back to the Sheraton to cook them in our room with the kettle!
While in town I had stray looks from everybody. Even a little boy stopped to stare his Mum had to pull him away! I think long pants and proper t-shirts will be my new best friend while in the middle east!
We had a buffet dinner at the hotel where we were introduced to some beautiful local food, the best being kofta (minced meat blended with herbs made into a roll).
Wednesday 10th October
Today we had another sleep in and then headed down to an internet cafe to get our blog ip to date. Internet was about 40 cents Australian an hour! Gives you an idea of how poor this county is.
We then headed to the mall, had to walk through metal dectors (our hotel also has some) to get it in. We went into the supermarket to get some drinks but all we could find was booze free beer!
After a little wander we headed abck to the hotel for dinner and then to bed for a movie, as there wasn;t anything else to do.
Thursday 11th October
Today we though we better actually do some touristy things rather than just relaxing. We hired a car with an english speaking driver for about 10 dollars australian an hour. Could have got a local egyption speaking taxi for much less but I was a little nervous as we seemed like a tourist attraction ourselves.
Went to the old light house sight which was one of the original 7 ancient wonders of the world. It no longer exists though, and instead has been replaced with a fortress, Fort Waitbey, which was built in 1480. Was pretty cool to be able to compare this fortress to the one we swaw in Dubrovnik. This one was much much smaller and the walls were only about 1.5 to 2m thick rather than Dubrovnik's 5m thickness. Was still pretty cool. The tourist police were nice enought to show us around (for a tip of course!)
We then went to the main mosque in town, had a little walk around the outside. The building was pretty impressive. AAlso went ot the Catacombs of Kom Ash-Shuqqafa (you know him? I don't!) which dated back to 2 century AD and would have held about 300 corpses.
We stopped at the Alexandria National Museum, which was okay, gave a little history of the place but the funny thing was we had to pay 15 times more than wat the locals do to get in! Was written clear as day on the sign at the entry.
After the tour we headed back to the hotel, Matt had a little swim and I sat fully clothed reading a book as wasn't that keen on getting into my binkis! We then walked across the road to the beach to watch the sun set. What a lovely beach! :|
Friday 12th October
Today we had to make it back to Cairo, this time we decided to get the train. It was only about 12 dollars australian for the two of us to ride first class, and took nearly half the amount of time the limo took. (and was a bit more on the safer side!) Made it to our hotel, which was a lot nicer than what we were expecting and had dinner there. Everything seemed to be closed again!
Saturday 13th October
Today we woke up with plans to buy some more tshirts by heading to the mall. But our dodgy cab driver convinced us the mall was closed (even pulling up to it and showing us). It was pretty believable since everything else in the last couple of days had been closed because of ramadam. Anyway he managed to convince us to go meet up with someone to talk about maybe doing a pyramid tour.
We got to the place and a guy came out claming to be from the goverment (obviously not) and said for us to come into his shop to see a map and discuss what we could do for what price. We walked in and he opened a big draw full of sand with 3 pyramids sitting on it. That was his map. I was biting my cheeks trying not to laugh in his face. Anyway after abit of disussion and barginning we decided to do a 1.5hr tour of the outside of the pyramids and look at some tombs. All by camel.
The camel ride was really really good, we got to go in to the site of the pyramids through the back entrance where there were hardly any tourists and see the pyramids as they came over the horizon. Was absolutely awsome, as you can see from the pic.
After going around the pyramids and jumping off for a touch the tour guide took us to the tombs. He lifted a barbed wire fence and let us in to the 'new excavations'. Some how I don't think we were meant to be in that area as while we were in the tombs he kept ducking his head out to see if anyone was coming. So yeh that was pretty cool to be able to see the tombs of the engineers and workers. Over 100 000 people died building the pyramids.
All of this cost us about 60 australian for the two of us inlcuding tips, and it was worth every penny. I thought we were getting ripped but I didn't care one bit, but as it turns out a girl on our tour paid about 120 just for herself! They are good scammers.
We asked our tour guide if the mall was open today and he said yes. So we got our cab driver (the same one as before, he had waited for us) to drop us there. The place he dropped us off at was a totally different place he had taken us to in the morning when he claimed it was shut. Dodgie little bastard! He also stopped off at a rug museum on the way saying he wanted to say hello to his daughter and said there would be drinks inside as we were heaps thirsty from the pyramids. Instead we had men trying to make us buy tickets to get inside, and no drinks! We asked the taxi driver what happened to saying hello to his daughter and he claimed she was busy! We had a little go at him, and he started to say he had to go coz his wife was sick (after we actually made it to the mall). Anyway he got no tips and we didn't pay him the full amount. He didn't seem to mind tho.
Made it back to our hotel and played cards for awhile while ordering drinks from room service on our balcony which over looked the nile. We then had our pre departure meeting for the tour, and headed out to dinner in town with them. This time EVERYTHING was open and there were kids on the street everywhere. Ramadam was over and it was like new years ever for them. Was a pretty cool atmosphere.