It helps being a rude mother f$cker sometimes

Trip Start Apr 21, 2008
Trip End Apr 20, 2009

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, October 24, 2008

I got to the train station at 715 am. When I got there, a porter wanted to look at my ticket but I just walked right by him thinking it was another Cairo scam. Turned out I was right. I ended up meeting 3 English people who told me the same thing happened to them. They showed their tickets and the guy directed them to the right platform. They knew where they were going and didn't need hid help. Of course the guy demanded money for his help.

I arrived in Alexandria at 11 am. I found a decent place to stay that was right by the seafront. I got a decent deal- 50 pounds a night.

Once I checked in, I walked around the city. I really liked Alexandria although it was quite dead as it was Saturday and most people were at the mosques praying. Alexandria is really different from Cairo. The people here dint hassle you at all. It is really relaxed. I also enjoyed breathing in fresh air for once. The air in Cairo is disgustingly dirty.

I ended up walking around for 5-6 hours. Most of my walking was by the sea as it was a nice day. I did visit the citadel and walked around a small amusement park. What was funny about the amusement park was that all the rides were manual. None of the rides worked on battery or on electricity so you had men spinning the small ferris wheels and fake pony rides. The last thing I went to see was the city's main library. It was newly built and quite famous in Egypt because it was so massive. Clearly it was a sight that the country was proud of. A poster of President Mubarak was nearby. You see posters of him next to all of the famous sights. I guess it helps his image if people make a connection between him and these sights. The library also had security guys in suits all over the place.

When I walked into the library, something very surprising happened to me. A group of Egyptian girls started flirting with me and started whistling in my direction. I was too embarrassed to turn around. I could hear them guessing where I was from. I heard one of them guess that I was from Brazil. I never got that before. The same thing happened while I was outside. I sat on a cement platform taking photos and a group of local girls sat next to me and started whistling to get my attention. This time I looked in their direction and whistled back as a joke. An older Egyptian man saw what was going on and immediately told the girls to leave. Before they left, the girls turned to me and said that the guy was stupid and that I should ignore him. I guess the weight loss is working. Someone later told me that the library is used for people watching or to hang out with your partner in peace. I was also told that the University of Cairo had 300, 000 students enrolled there and that most people just went there to try to meet a girlfriend or boyfriend. It was one of the few places in Egypt where you could meet people of the opposite sex.

At night time the streets came alive. I walked for another 4 hours through the busy streets and bazaars. I went into a few take away restaurants and the workers there were super nice to me. It was nice to finally meet some friendly people in Egypt. It really is difficult in touristy places like Dahab and Cairo as everyone there is just out to get your money. The people in Alexandria were nothing like this. They were super nice and were genuinely interested in knowing about me.

It is too bad that Egypt has such a bad reputation when it comes to getting hassled by the locals. I was warned by so many travelers in the Middle East that I should expect this and that I should try my best not to have them ruin my time there. I have been hassled a lot but I can say that I really do like Egypt so far. I really like Alexandria so far. I liked Dahab for what it offered. I liked Cairo a lot even though I was hassled a lot there. I did get used to it as time went by. I think the fact that I have learned to be rude to the shop keepers and other scammers has helped as they become less aggressive with you. A polite smile gets you nowhere with them. For example, when I walked around the souq tonight, I noticed a seedy guy looking at me from he corner of my eye. The guy said something at my direction but I didn't look directly at him. I took about 10 paces and then looked behind me to see if he was following me. This was a mistake. As soon as he saw me turn around, he ran towards me. He took me looking at him as an invitation to talk. He wanted to know all about my business. He wanted to know where I was staying, how long I would be in Alexandria, where I was going, etc. Just like that he expected me to give him answers to these questions. I was cold with him the whole time and didn't give him any answers. He then asked if I wanted to buy some drugs. AT this point I turned to him and told him to get lost and he did. As I said, being nice gets you nowhere hear. I learned that showing a bit of aggressiveness really works wonders when dealing with these touts.

Dino Vagabond
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