Cairo Travel Blog› entry 2 of 15 › view all entries
Just for the record, in case you didn't already know... I'm in Egypt.
Cairo is pretty damn nice. Not as amazing as Istanbul, but nowhere near as horrid as Tangiers. It is cleaner and less visibly Islamic than I expected, but I'm still woken every morning by the Muezzenin around the corner from our hotel. A comfort, then, for small mercies...
The past couple of days have been pretty hectic.. we've done the crazy big bazaar at Khan al-Khalili, and went to the Egyptian Museum today. I met some archaeologists and they've invited me to do stuff and conserve really freaking old artefacts with them, which I shall do when I get back to CAiro at the end of our trip. This makes me rather pleased.
Went into the Royal Mummies room there... saw some of the greatest rulers of the ancient world.. Ramsses, Hatshepsut etcetera.. Saw the treasures of Tutankhamun, but as I've never had feeling more than "ooh! Shiny!" for Tut's stuff, Akhenaten was way more impressive.
Speaking of which, I had a dream about Akhenaten last night. Am dreaming more vividly whilst here, and can actually remember what they're of.. I was a call-girl (I blame Belle du Jour for that!) and had to "service" Akhenaten.. but upon meeting him, I told him that he had a funny lookin' derriere, and he sent me away. I then took out a feather duster and dusted down several other Egyptian Pharaohs, adding a bit of polish to their noses, the usual... Odd. Somewhat mental.
But I digress...
The men here are pretty pervy though. Moreso than in any other Arabic country I've visited. It's strange though, as I'm very modestly dressed (loose, baggy clothes with arms, legs and chest covered) and look rather a fright, so I hate to think what forms of harassment those scantily clad German and American girls are copping. Frightful really.. I honestly don't understand the mindset. You are visiting a conservative Muslim country, so why feel the need to parade around the streets half naked? As a fellow tourist I find it to be not only inappropriate but offensive and obscene. I, and I'm sure all the other Cairennes have no desire to see your bum flapping out from under your shorts. What exactly do you achieve by exposing nipples up the wazoo?
I know I shouldn't really care. The thing that is making me a sour is that I think this is the the reason I'm getting hassled and groped at every corner. Maybe because I'm the concept of a "modern western woman", but I'm dressing to a standard that the men are comfortable enough with to approach. They seem to be assuming that because I'm not Egyptian//Muslim, I won't mind having my breasts or bum fondled publically by strangers, because surely all Western women are sex mad?! Perhaps the secret in Egypt IS to dress like a prostitute? Maybe then they'll leave me alone?
Time is up! Gotta go! Giza/Saqqara/Memphis tomorrow! :D
Visited The Egyptian Museum today. We went early, but still didn't miss the tour-bus crowds. Walked across the bridge from El Doqqi and then thoroughfared through the Nile Hilton, which is pretty much adjacent to the Museum.
The museum itself is French built and the exhibits are very poorly organised. It's like all o the exhibits that aren't as important of famous as Tut and the mummies have been crammed in wherever they will fit. There are no signs explaining what the vast majority of artefacts are and the wholething is terribly disjointed as far as chronology goes. Apparently the new museum (to be built near Giza) will be bigger and a lot better. I recall seeing ads requesting museologists and curators in a few archaeology forums a little while back... Fingers crossed for something better anyway! It's kind of disheartening to see so many amazing artefacts and relics displayed in such a congested and haphazard manner.
Anyway. Tutankhamun, the exhibit that everyone goes to see. His stuff is shiny. Like, crazy shiny. Somehow I managed to push through the crowds to see them up close (I have a feeling my extensive interest in all things Egyptian as a child helped here as I was then able to inform other less informed visitors on the use and significance of various objects). Very little is explained - just displayed behind heavily fingerprinted glass. Still pretty neat though.
The Royal Mummy room was awesome - beter put together as far as labelling, and fewer people due to the additional LE100 charge per person (hence, no tour groups who seem to go directly to Tut and then directly out again). Seeing some of the greatest rulers of the ancient world - just there, right in front of me. Imagining them walking and talking c. 3000 y.a. is just kind of overwhelming. I mean, I've dug up people before for work and the whole mummieifed body thing doesn't freak me out at all.. rather, seeing people like Ramses the Great, Hatshepsut (who was apparently rather overweight, btw, according to her mummified remains) and the various Tuthmosis was quite a humbling experience. They might have not been good people (I think very few rulers were in those days), but they certainly were great.
But of everything that was there, Ahkenaten's exhibit was the best. To me anyway. He's always been my favourite Pharaoh as he was just so zany. A violent revolutionary, shaking religious conservatism up a little for the Egyptian populace! Seeing his statues in there was so very very super.
In the room next to Ahkenaten's, I met a few conservation archaeologists which was wonderful. We echanged stories, experience and emails. They've invited me to come and help them out at the end of or trip (!!!) and gave me permission to take photographs (something not permitted inside the museum). It's great having a profession that opens avenues of opportunity like this!
Bak to el Doqqi for dinner tonight. There's a local restaurant near our hotel which looks wonderful! We're going to have a point-and-eat dinner!