Pyramids, Sphinx, camels, Nile and King Tut

Trip Start Aug 30, 2006
Trip End Jul 16, 2007

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Saturday, May 5, 2007

Day trip to amazing Cairo

Pyramids, Sphinx, Sahara desert, camels, cruising the Nile, King Tutankhamun's treasures, Cairo bazaar, noisy streets. Ahhh Cairo - so much history, so much life. What an amazing experience.

Early wake up at 6:20am. But too excited to worry. We were off to Cairo today.

Had a bit of a dilemma. What to wear? We had heard warnings about covering our arms and legs so as not to offend the Muslim culture. But we had no clothes to wear and it was going to be too hot. What a dilemma.

Finally decided to cover up - which was a good thing as most people in Cairo had covered up.

We were picked up at 7:55am, 10 minutes late, though they didn't seem too worried. We picked up the rest of our group (Tracy (UK) and Andrew (South African) and Silvania and her two young sons Francesco and Frederico (Italian)).

Our flight was at 9:50am whilst the others were at 9:40am. 45 minutes later and we were in Cairo. We literally took off, ate our meal (2 rolls and some nasty Guava juice) and then landed.

IMPRESSION: Cairo was 22 degrees - much cooler then in Sharm. And dustier.

We were met at the airport by our guide Shariff who was really knowledgeable and friendly. Shariff told us that as our flights were late (normally the tour takes the 6:30am flight) we would change the itinerary and visit the Pyramids first.

IMPRESSION: Donkeys pulling carts loaded with people. Beautiful mosque temples. Women wearing traditiona scarfs and burqas. Lots of dust. This was my first time in a Muslim country so it was so amazing to see.

We arrived at the Pyramids in Giza. What a sight! At first glance I thought they looked quite small. But then when we got closer and saw the people on the lower steps it really puts their sizes into perspective. They were HUGE. I can't believe we were here. It was such an incredible feeling to be standing at the Pyramids.

If you look closely in the photos you can see the people at the bottom - this gives you an idea how HUGE the pyramids are.

We drove to the smallest Pyramid (had to drive as to walk between them would be too hard in the dust and heat). Fiona and I paid 7 pounds to ride a camel to the beginnings of the Sahara desert to see all 3 Pyramids together. What an experience. Though the dust started to play havoc on my contact lens. My eyes started watering madly. Luckily I bought my glasses just in case this happened.

IMPRESSION: Before we arrived so many people told us horror stories about Egypt. One was not to ride the camels near the Pyramids as they charge you 1 pound to ride the camel. But then when you want to get down, they charge you 50 pounds!! haha. But luckily we had our guide Shariff so only paid 7 pounds.

My camel's name was Mickey Mouse, and I've forgotten my camel boy's name as it was too long. He was really funny - kissing the camel, making me do silly poses for the camera and dancing and singing.

A real charmer. But then in the end all he wanted was a tip. I didn't have any small change but they were trying to insist I pay and they would give me change. Yeah right! I ended up just giving him a little bit tho.

While we were on the camel this old guy tried to give me a drink. I refused but he insisted. I refused and told him I was diabetic and cannot drink sweet stuff :) So he gave the drink to Fiona. When we got off the camel though the old man wanted money for the drink. When Shariff saw this though he told them off. Lucky for Shariff!

We then drove to the second, bigger, pyramid. I decided to go into this one. It was very steep and narrow. You walk for a few minutes down, then up. It was very hot and claustrophobic. Ended up in a small room, which was an empty tomb. The person who discovered the tomb had written his name on the wall. And that was about it - nothing else. There was a Egyptian guy who was behind me on the way out. He kept putting his hand on my back and I would tell him "I'm fine. It's ok". But he kept putting his hands on my back. Then he got brash and put his hand on my stomach to which I snapped "DOn't do that. I'm fine!" And he got a bit of a shock and stopped. My friend later told me that if I complained to someone he could go to jail for doing that as their laws are very strict for stuff like that.

We then drove for a few minutes again. This time to the Sphinx. THE SPHINX!!! By this time though my eyes were very agitated and I could barely see. But I was so excited. I kept squinting up to look at the Sphinx. Did I mention that it was such an amazing experience? Just to be in a place with so much history. Spine-tingling.

We then drove to the Papyrus shop. The mandatory stop for tourists to get us to spend. I couldn't handle it anymore and took our my contacts and wore my glasses. Ah much better. I did end up buying a papyrus painting - Queen Nefertiti's coronation.

Then it was a late lunch. By this time we were all starving. We went to a restaurant along the Nile river. We had a buffet - I had veges and fish. Food in Egypt is really average. The view was not much to look at from where we sat (all city buildings), but it was great to eat along the Nile.

Next stop in our busy schedule - a trip to the Egyptian Museum. And the star attraction - King Tutankamun's treasurs of course. I have a fascination with Egyptian history, so to stand in a room full of King Tut's treasures and to look at his famous gold funerary mask was such a thrill. The only drawback was I had my glasses on so couldn't see as well. Shariff took us around to the main items and explained the history behind these. He was really great and very knowledgeable - Andrew said that the tour guides in Cairo have high qualifications in Egyptology.

IMPRESSION: The guides and locals in Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh impressed us with their fluency in multiple languages - Italian, French, Russian, English, German to name a few. To be a guide or to work in Sharm El Sheikh is considered fortunate so they have to have a high qualification in Egyptology as a guide in Cairo or fluent in multiple languages to work in Sharm El Sheikh, which is a resort town filled with tourists. Mainly Italian and Russian tourists. Fiona and I were the only two Aussies.

We then had time to take a cruise down the Nile. We boarded our boat and cruised for about 45 minutes with Arab pop music at full blast. So cool. We'll long have memories of cruising the nile to "habibi habibi amoura" - My Love Your Eyes ...

Then we stopped for 45 minutes at the Cairo bazaar market. It was a loud and bustling market. Shariff dropped us off and we were left to our own devices. It was so overwhelming.

Again only men were working in the shops and they kept yelling "hey beautiful. what you want to buy. come inside my shop and sit. come. how much". The bazaar was next to a huge mosque but we didn't have time to go in. Also we had to cover top to toe to go in.

IMPRESSION: Cairo - Crazy and noisy. Dusty. Beautiful and colourful. Arabic language and traditional muslim clothing. Mosques and call for prayers. Amazing and full of history and life.

IMPRESSION: While driving through the streets it was a funny site to see the illegal street stall sellers running away from the police - one by one, like a chain reaction.

IMPRESSION: Dodgy Egypt. To get cheaper tickets the tour agency booked Andrew and Tracey's ticket as children. And my ticket was written as "Mr" Beverly chan. I walked through the security in the airport and it beeped, but the guards had no reaction so I kept walking.

After a long and very jam packed day we were off to the airport and back to Sharm El Sheikh. Phew. Back to our hotel at 11:30pm. Exhausted and happy.
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