Cairo - Beginning a New Adventure

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Thursday, October 23, 2008

 We gained two very different images of Egyptians in the first hour.

The mad cacophony that is Cairo traffic surrounds you at every moment you are outside. After a stress free pre- organised airport pickup (essential when you have been 25 hours in airports and in the air) we had breakfast then went out walking to orientate ourselves. Our room would not be ready for a couple of hours so we would take in the sights and sounds in the meantime. 

The least said the better of the 25 hours of airports and in the air. Malaysia Air from Perth to KL, Egypt Air from KL to Cairo, with a tarmac stopover of 1 hour at Mumbai, India to drop off and pick up.Travel time to be endured for the benefit of adventure.

So to our first impressions of Cairo. We were out quite early so caught some poor asleep on the street and workers cleaning up last nights litter. Our hotel seems to be in the middle of an industrial area and we were amazed that just about every third shop sells fire extinguishers and safety gear. Quite bizarre! 

Crossing any road in Cairo is an adrenalin rush but anymore than 2 lanes and your survival is in the lap of the Gods. We were waiting for an opportunity to cross a road when a bus overloaded to the point of bursting stopped and spewed out 2 people. A male appeared to be the conductor (whose job it is to hang out the door calling the destination of the bus and touting for impossible to fit in customers) and a female who it was apparent was blind. While we stood and watched, the conductor grabbed a ditch digger working in the centre of the road, handed over some baksheesh (money for bribe or tip) gave some rapid instructions then sprinted to catch up with the bus that had already moved off into the belching traffic.  The ditch digger headed off with the blind woman on his arm to deliver her wherever she needed to go. What a wonderful first impression of Egyptians - the people.

Less than half an hour later we had a more disturbing glimpse. Avan was photographing street scenes when a rather agitated elderly Egyptian man came up to us and demanded to know what we were taking pictures of. Avan tried to explain that there were wonderful colours and action that was different to our country and we wanted to remember it, but the man got angry and said "You must only take photos of beautiful things and this is not beautiful". He threatened to tell the Police we were taking pictures of things not allowed. We put our cameras away in deference to his opinion but it reminded us that we have come across this attitude before in our travels where the citizens appear to be concerned that the tourists may be taking the "mickey" out of them. 

So within the first hour we gained to different insights into Egyptians. Cairo is big and bustling but not as much hassle as cities in India....yet. The young ones are moving towards westernisation but with an interesting compromise in the way they dress. The young women where skin tight tops that fully cover their arms, with hot pink being the favourite colour, then put western clothes over the top. Quite a different look! 

Footnote: Historic Cairo is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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