AfricaEgyptCairo

There and back again or “You come to Egypt to buy water?!”

Cairo Travel Blog

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A single move you make has the only one consequence- you sweat 3 times more than you drink. However, once Ra begins His journey to the Underworld (or in plain English- once the sun starts to set), that little dash of life becomes a huge stream. A stream, which us, non-Egyptian people wouldn’t want to get into. It will consume you. The stream is people. Its waves… Bargain! Bargain! Bargain!         

I arrived in Cairo at 3 o’clock in the morning.

There were two things waiting for me: the wave of the heat and sweat (I was still wearing jeans and a jumper; It was raining in Dublin when I left; it was still raining when I came back; it is still raining while I’m writing this; a wild guess- it’s probably gonna rain tomorrow as well) and about 14 taxi drivers calling and screaming to me. After ‘some’ bargaining I was led to my taxi. The leading guy barely spoke English, just the main thing, I suppose- numbers. Oh yes, there was one more clear sentence in English just before farewells: “You give me a tip!” 

 

I was shocked how busy the city was. My hotel was far away from the airport (in Giza), so I got the chance to get through the whole city. At 3 o’clock in the morning I actually got stuck in the traffic jam! The streets were full: men, women, children… Everyone just hangs around in the city.

City never sleeps. People are eating, drinking, shopping at night. Like I said, it’s just too hard to get anything done in the heat of the day.    

 

My hotel was suppose to be somewhere near pyramids, or so it was described at the website, but I didn’t see anything in the horizon of the night. The first thing I did in the morning was getting all the lightest clothing from the dept of my backpack. Then I opened the curtains to have a smoke. And there it was. One of THE reasons why I came here. They just stood there. Surrounded by the city and millions of tourists. The pyramids. I can’t say I was disappointed. I knew that the pyramids are no longer somewhere in the distance of the deserts, but almost the in city. It wasn’t even a feeling of relieve or achievement, even though it was the place of my dreams for long years.

I was there. I stood in front of those giant hand- build things and I knew- it’s not the end of the journey, but just the beginning. (Ok, fine: maybe it’s the Alchemist’s influence, or maybe it’s just the way I really felt:)

 

And so we took off. Straight into the desert. And so were the first couple of days of the trip. Comparing one side of the desert through the window with the other one. Camping and sleeping under the stars. The idea of the trip organiser (Kumuka) was for us to see and to experience all the ways of living and survival in Egypt. In was absolutely brilliant experience- cooking and having dinner in the desert, sleeping in that ocean of sand, waking up with half of it in your hair, ears and nose, satisfying your nature calls behind hills of sand… It was fun getting drunk, maybe too drunk, it wasn’t such a fun waking up with the huge hang over. I’m telling you, the hang over is just not the same in the desert as it is in normal environment.

Look how small I am...
Some of us even heard and saw a train passing by in the middle of the desert. Reality? Mirage? Drunkenness? Who knows… The Black Desert.

 

Ever been to the moon? Wanna know what’s it like? Visit the White Desert. An amazing place with all the strange surfaces, stones and shades it does look like the moon. You don’t talk much about the places like this, you just have to see it. Just don’t let it swallow you… 

 

After spending few days in the desert, on the way to the Luxor city, we passed couple of small oasis: there was one, where we visited an artist living and creating in the middle of the desert, which was pretty amazing and it just shows how little does the art need to be born: just a little sand and stones, and how a person can create even in the middle of nowhere.

Desert...
And there was the other one where we slept on the top of the guesthouse roof, with cold Pepsi, cold beer, and a shower!!! Oh yes, there was a huge abandoned mud-brick village as well, people left it long ago forced out by the raising sand (It was unbelievable to walk in it, knowing that long ago it was the centre of everything, full of people, shops, life…)

 

And then we got to Luxor. And it shall always stay in our hearts! Because we stayed in the hotel with a swimming pool!!! ;) Sure The Luxor Temple and The Karnak Temple were just unbelievable as well J But again, that’s one of those things that you do not talk about, but see.

Black Desert

 

Hurghada was the next city on the itinerary. The city at The Red Sea is well known to the divers because of the coral reef places named the Aquarium. The name says it all. And I had a chance to dive for the first time in my life!!! Man was I nervous! Then again- who wouldn’t be entering the other world, and trust me, it is completely different world down there. After soaking in the extremely salty water, the next thing on my “to do (for the first time)” list was hot air ballooning over The Valley of Kings and Queens, the place where all the famous pharaohs, kings and queens (famous mainly because of their tombs) where buried. Being the only one to be crazy enough to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning to go ballooning, I had to wait for the rest of my fellow travellers for about an hour an the main entrance street, and trust me, it wasn’t fun. It felt like being in the ocean surrounded by sharks.

More desert...
Referring to all the salesman, woman and children, who will not let it go, until you buy something from them. Which I didn’t. For this whole hour. Fun, fun, fun. Anyway, the day was looong, under the bare sky and the heat, or deep under the hills inside the tombs. I might sound as if I wasn’t interested or didn’t enjoy (I truly did), and it’s just because I was really sick that day, but I guess it’s just something we all have to go through being in the Middle East.

 

Aswan with the beautiful Philae Temple in a small island and of course Abu Simbel, just at the border to Syria were outstanding. It is beyond amazement when knowing that the entire Abu Simbel temple with the entire mountain was moved because of the flood of Nile. The ride to Abu Simbel was a very long, we all had to wake up at 3:30 o’clock in the morning, and as we got back to our nice and cosy air conditioned hotel, some of us went to sleep, and some of us (me, me, me) had another thing on the to do list- Camel ride! That was cool! Although not as easy as it seems in the pictures…

 

From the Camel- straight on felucca! A felucca is a traditional Egyptian sailboat and we had a brilliant chance to experience it for 2.

A little oasis
5 days. Sailing from Aswan back to Luxor (well, half way to Luxor, we did the other half in the minibus;). It was everything from annoying (sailing in circles, or floating in one place), to relaxing just listening to the music and enjoying the moment, and to exciting seeing the shores of Nile, the river that gave the birth to Egypt.

 

One of THE events of the trips for me was visiting a Nubian tribe village when striking the sail for night. A bunch of village children welcomed us asking for pens (it is common when visiting a village in the desert bring pens and cigarettes as gifts; the two most missed things in the desert. Well, we all understand the cigs, but pens- surprising, isn’t it? It is difficult to get a pen living in the desert, and children need pens to learn), money and some even hitting us, but that’s not really a pleasant story.

Anyway, a gorgeous dinner was waiting for us with obviously traditional Nubian dishes like fried chicken and beans (mm, where else in the world could you have this?!). But seriously, it was gorgeous! After dinner there was traditional dancing, singing… and all just for us! It was really magnificent and that experience is really unforgettable, at least for me. The felucca was the ending point of the trip, after which we caught a train back to Cairo. But before that I just had to do one more thing on the to do- swim in the Nile!!! And I did! And I’m still alive, despite to obviously a myth that it is too dangerous to swim in this river because of high risk of infection or allergy. Sure I’ve been itchy couple of days now, but I’m sure it’s the bloody rain in DublinJ)

 

Egypt is a bit annoying country.

The heat, the constant bargaining, tipping… My advice- do not go alone, always join a tour or a group. It’s the way it has to be done, whether it’s travelling from one city to the other by joining convoy (you can’t do that alone), or going shopping (you can do it alone if you dare). It’s a great fun as well. Bargaining is a part of their culture, a part of who they are. The things you will hear at the market places to attract your attention- “Everything’s free!”, “Come I have a gift for you” etc are just hilarious. As we went trough the market in Aswan (city which is the craziest about bargaining) to buy some water (you don’t drink tap water in Middle East, and that’s not a myth), salesman were shouting for us to come to their shops, and we would say “no thanks, we’re fine” pointing at the bottles of water “we got what we need”, we got a reply which became a motto of the trip “you come to Egypt to buy water?!”

 

It’s been the best trip in my life yet.

Of course, it’s gonna be so much more, as I said it is only the beginning. And it’s really sad now having to go back to the everyday life. It seems as if my body is here, but the rest somewhere far beyond the horizon. Some might say I left my heart in Egypt. I would say no. I left my heart in the journey. 

 

SheLuvz2Fly says:
Great blog. Well written. Thanks for sharing!
Posted on: Sep 15, 2008
PaulT says:
Hey Mickey! I knew its u! :) Hows going? Yeah, well, shall the train be yet another secret of the desert ;)Glad to hear u liked my blog. Working on blog from Uganda now. Just got back. Was awesome. And answering your q about Costa- u can see my future travels. Going to Ecuador soon for 4 months, then another 5 months around the rest of South America. How are u keeping?
Posted on: Oct 25, 2007
tj1777 says:
Hey its good fun to read your describtion off the trip - makes me think about actually putting something down myself.

Only thing when you write about the train in the black dessert - nobody had gotten around to stocking up on alcohol in Cairo - hence people were not really all that drunk, I think the reason somebody did not hear that very loud and annoying train in the middel of the night was simply general fatigue from the day and the heat.

Mickey :)
Posted on: Oct 25, 2007
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Look how small I am...
Look how small I am...
Desert...
Desert...
Black Desert
Black Desert
More desert...
More desert...
A little oasis
A little oasis
The White Desert
The White Desert
Our truck
Our truck
The Cave
The Cave
Just don’t let it swallow you…
Just don’t let it swallow you…
Cold beer in the hot desert
Cold beer in the hot desert
Enjoying the sunset
Enjoying the sunset
The artist of the sand and stone
The artist of the sand and stone
The house of the artist
The house of the artist
The abandoned mudbrick village
The abandoned mudbrick village
SWIMMING POOOOOOL!!!!!!!
SWIMMING POOOOOOL!!!!!!!
Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple
Karnak Temple
Karnak Temple
Inside a Tomb
Inside a Tomb
Sunrise over the Valley of Nile  f…
Sunrise over the Valley of Nile …
Sunrise over the Valley of Nile  f…
Sunrise over the Valley of Nile …
Red Sea fun
Red Sea fun
Reefs
Reefs
Through the window of your beautif…
Through the window of your beauti…
Hot Air
Hot Air
The Valley of the Kings and Queens
The Valley of the Kings and Queens
Really hot under the bare sky
Really hot under the bare sky
Entrance into a tomb
Entrance into a tomb
Tuts tomb
Tut's tomb
Looks a bit like Petra, doesnt it?
Looks a bit like Petra, doesnt it?
Philae Temple
Philae Temple
Inside the temple
Inside the temple
Not as easy as it looks...
Not as easy as it looks...
The hotel
The hotel
Philae temple
Philae temple
Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel
Unbelievably huge
Unbelievably huge
The shores of Nile
The shores of Nile
The Nubian village
The Nubian village
Children
Children
Nubian guesthouse
Nubian guesthouse
The Dance
The Dance
Beautiful
Beautiful
On the felucca
On the felucca
If he can swim in the Neil, why ca…
If he can swim in the Neil, why c…
Trinity of feluccas
Trinity of feluccas
Kom Ombo temple
Kom Ombo temple
Edfu temple
Edfu temple
The map of the tour
The map of the tour
Sunset or surise?
Sunset or surise?
Sponsored Links
Cairo
photo by: vulindlela