Day 65 - Cairo Again Again
Trip Start Aug 07, 2007
68Trip End Nov 07, 2007
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Distance Driven: 8,980km
Frame of Mind: Itchy
Day 65 - Carry on Up The Nile
It's about 500km from Hurghada to Cairo. The first 200 was horrible and v treacherous: the wind was so strong even the government had noticed and put up some enormous wind farms. It reduced my cruising speed by a good deal and my fuel consumption too to 20km per litre. However at less than a quarter of a dollar per litre for the 'quality' stuff I sat in fifth at 9000 revs and sodded global warming.
The next 100km were great: twisty coast hugging roads with the crystal clear blue water to the right and imposing wind-blocking mountains to my left. I was so close to the sea that at points the it was actually lapping at the tarmac. As I got closer to Suez the coast seemed no less beautiful but the luxury resorts had the slightly unusual backdrop of supertankers and cargo ships queueing up for their turn at the canal.
The last stretch was across the desert, back to the nile and Cairo on an empty six lane toll highway. I relaxed and cruised and only once had to wake up to dodge a police car coming the wrong way up the motorway, straight towards me. Not even on the hard shoulder. He couldn't be bothered I guess. Fair enough. I'm sure he would have swerved had I not.
Upon hitting Cairo it got more interesting. There is a standard conversation amongst African
I spent quite a long time on the ring road. Not that I was enjoying it just there didn't seem to be any exits. I was getting dizzy and no closer to where I wanted to be so I got brave and dived into the little streets of the old town to try and get across the city. The Islamic quarter is a very atmospheric, shady, cool, breathable, pretty and aroma-filled area. I'm glad I stumbled across it and had to drive all the way through its narrow mosque and stall lined streets. I thought Cairo was a polluted bland city but this part had real spirit. Two and a half hours after getting into greater Cairo I arrived at the flat at which I was staying. That's slow even compared to the London Underground.
Days 66 - The National Museum
I did make it to the National Museum. It's a huge place with a mind-boggling number of artefacts. All dumped seemingly randomly without explanation or reason. It is a big warehouse that they charge 12USD to get into. The only thing missing is the pallette trucks. Actually, no, I think I did see one of those.
However the Tutankhamen exhibition with his cursed gold mask was pretty amazing. He knew how to waste money. Lots of bling.
I was quite surprised at what I felt about the hall of mummies. I had read in the LP that this had only just opened due to the Muslim distaste of displaying the dead. Indeed the sign on the door urges "SILENCE". I scoffed when I read both of these, after all these mummies are thousands of years old, but when I went in and look at the dozen remarkably preserved human bodies in this room I changed my mind completely.
At the Luxor Museum they had mummies and it was fascinating, eerie but...cool. Here it was just sad. Maybe it was the number of bodies, or the fact that here there was none of the reverence that existed in the Luxor Museum (just a bustling queue of ogling tourists), but it definitely seemed wrong. How much time needs to pass to turn a human corpse from a respected thing to an object of simple curiosity. Four thousand years isn't enough.
Later on I went to the pyramids to see the sun set and the (melo)dramatic 'Sound & Light Show'. Missed both as we were pressganged into riding a horse several kilometres from the pyramids until it was dark. Then the show was in French.
Day 68 - Get A Job Clark
Day 69 - Pride and Prejudice
I watched the rugby. That was quite nice. I do hate the English though. Most of them.
It was the RWC semis. France vs England. There were a couple of surrender monkeys in Harry's Pub at the Marriott hotel and I got a bit of persiflage going with them. Nice chaps. Sadly there were also a large number of my compatriots there. If I had to guess I would say Chelsea supporters but one thing is for certain the pub won't be showing rugby again in a hurry. After the game was over and the security guards had removed the idiots I slunk off embarrassed, thinking perhaps I'd pretend to be American for a while.
I returned to the pyramids to see them up close. Except they were shut. It was 3:30 on a Monday. So I waited around for the sound and light show which was hilariously camp but quite entertaining. The best bit was when a Scots pipe band randomly came on dressed as Egyptians. I suppose they may have been Egyptians...they all looked like dad and didn't play Scotland The Brave.
I still need to actually see the pyramids. So that'll be another visit
Day 71 - Hot Haut Cairo Culture
Went to the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art this morning (weel, it actually turned out to be afternoon when I got finished with Jamie Oliver's Winter Garden but let's not be pedantic) which killed a couple of hours. There was lots of stuff there, some good, some not. Most of it looked 'heavily influenced' by other artists.
In the evening I went to the ballet. Something called Tango Reve by a random and Ravel's Bolero. I had to wear a jacket and tie so that needed to be borrowed but I wore trainers so the effect was somewhat spolied. I can still remember how to tie the ol' windsor after three years. The ballet was OK but I reckon I could make it into the Cairo Opera Orchestra. A fair few squeaks were going on. I probably couldn't make it into the dance company but then again I have been watching quite a lots of So You Think You Can Dance.
Day 72 - Live Pyramids of Die Pyramids with Avengence
You go along a large rough hewn tunnel for 20 or so metres (rough because it wasn't the Egyptians digging this one, it was the tomb robbers - sorry egyptoligists) then for about 25m up a 45 degree incline in a regular tunnel no more than a metre square. Very scary. I had a few 'moments' here. It is too narrow to turn round in and you have to scuttle up it hunched over. You emerge into a surprisingly large (40m x 5m x 10m high) vaulted ceilinged chamber that contains a staircase leading up to another small tunnel and the burial chamber incomplete of treasures but still retaining Cheop's stone sarcophagus.
Oh yeah, little thing...in the centre of Cairo I saw a scene that I though was the preserve of cartoonists and pre-talkies slapstick: a man dismantling some scaffolding whilst still standing on it. I had to chuckle. Sadly didn't stand and watch the outcome. or video it for 250 squids.
Oh, and that chap Imotek from The Mummy (the new one, not the old one...although he might be in the old one too I suppose....) did exist. But he was an engineering geek (invented the pyramids apparently) rather than an all powerful ruthless killer. I'm not sure if the rest of it happened though.