Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
I'll never be accused of having a high level of patience. In fact, more often than not just the opposite is true. Funny how in one situation a person can be considered patient..in another a procrastinator.
As i sit here trying to write something about my vacation 3 weeks ago, i like to place myself in the patient column, not procrastinator column. 3 weeks ago i spent a week in Egypt with a good friend of mine from the states..some diving, some good eats, good scenery, some camels, lots of sand, pyramids, there is just too much to describe without boring everyone to death. Aside from the shear volume of what we did, the biggest problem is immediately after my vacation i headed to the states for a 2 week work trip. I'd like to tell you i spent the last two weeks slowly compiling a blog on a (most likely) once in a lifetime trip, but that would be a lie. I thought about starting one, does that count? Maybe i really am a procrastinator.
Anyway, the vacation kicked off by slowly winding our way from Zurich (or Boston in Bonnie's case) to Sharm El Sheikh (via Cairo) for some diving. Red sea diving is considered some of the best in the world so i had high hopes. The biggest surprise was the water temp, it was cold! I hadn't even considered this risk so i arrived with nothing more than a dive skin. I mean come on, this is Egypt, I assumed the water would be like bath water, i even brought soap! Luckily the dive shop anticipates this sort of thing and has wetsuits available. Just how cold is the water? Well, some people were in dry suits if thats an indication.
Following Sharm it was a short flight back to Cairo for a few days of site seeing in the city. Cairo was pretty much everything i expected...noisy, crowded, smelly, dirty, but i mean that in both a good and bad way. If I visited Cairo and it was like any number of other cookie cutter European cities I visited it just wouldnt be as interesting. Once in Cairo we of course visited the Pyramids, hit the Bazaar and really just enjoyed the city for a few days. 3 days was enough though and when it came time to leave i was ready to head back to my cookie cutter European city.
That's a really short recap but below are some pics. They tell a much better story than i kind. For anyone considering visiting, i highly recommend it but here are a few things to keep in mind.
1-People are extremely friendly. Too friendly in fact because they are all selling something. I'm not exaggerating, they've all got a friend who runs camel tours, sells papyrus, drives a taxi..something. When i saw a cab driver tip a cop for passing some business his way, the reality of the economy really dawned on me. We ran into 1 guy who was truly friendly and not looking for something..if anyone visits i can pass on his contact info cause i'm pretty sure he's the only one.
2-Americans are a rarity. If you're sheepish about this, tell people you're from the UK. If not, you'll get some pretty interesting comments which might include;
-“Now we kidnap you. Just kidding!” from a friend of the above mentioned nice guy who gave us a ride.
-”I don't like bush” what can you say to that, except “umm...ok”
-”Hi hi silver!” From a camel jockey. I'm not being derogatory, it was from a guy riding a camel.
3-Pay for things in Egyptian pounds. The exchange rate is between 6 and 7 pounds per dollar..its easy to forget about the exchange rate and overpay.
4-Pay 50% or less for anything you want to buy. It's all negotiable, and most of it's junk anyway.
5-If someone offers you tea, its rude to say no. But rest assured, they will try to sell you something. Most likely perfume or some other “local”product. Note: if they start to make the tea from tea leaves...just leave. You're about to get royally screwed. And not in a good way.
6-People pray allot. Don't walk on their mats.
7-You need to be open minded. Particularly when it comes to things like what constitutes a bathroom.
8-Taxi drivers are insane. I'm not being funny, I'm pretty sure they are all mentally insane. You must be to drive in that craziness. No lines on the roads, no lights, no cops...just lay on the horn and go. When we asked someone about speed limits and traffic laws he just laughed and said “the cops have more important things to do”. That part, well, i could actually probably get used to that. I came home to 2 fresh speeding tickets in my mailbox. Don't worry ma, they weren't bad, just 6 and 8 over. Side note...anyone out there who supports speed cameras keep that in mind, there's no negotiating. 4 over? FU, pay up. 6 over? FU, Pay up.
Well after all that does anyone still want to go? Hopefully you answered yes because its well worth it. Except for leaving my camera in a cab the whole trip was great. Would i go back? Probably not, but I've already seen it. There are far too many other places to see!