Arabian Nights

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Monday, March 28, 2011

Alright we made it!  There is a lot of dust here.  The overnight flight from Bangkok wasn't half as bad as I expected.  It wasn't fun, but for a red eye flight, we seemed to get quite a bit of sleep and by the time we arrived in Cairo around 7am local time we were in pretty good moods.  From the airport we rented a taxi for the day and headed to our hotel in Giza.  We weren't planning on seeing the pyramids today, we were going to just take it easy and try and get rid of the jet lag from the 10 hour flight.  Since we were rested pretty well, we decided to head right to the Giza Plateau.  After about a 45 minute drive through traffic, Jacki saw the pyramids first over top of some big buildings.  The pyramids are right on the edge of a busy city, so when you approach them they just kind of appear out of nowhere.  
On the other side of the pyramids is desert.  We could see it on the plane ride in.  Desert desert.  It seems to go on forever.  And you know I expected there to be sand in the desert, but man is there a lot of sand.  It's super fine, much more fine than at any beach.  On the drive in there were people shoveling off the side of a busy highway.  
So anyways, we got to the pyramids, and it was another time in the trip where we had big expectations and somehow they were exceeded.  I mean, how many pictures of the pyramids have we seen in our lives.  They are awesome though.  They are big too, again that's pretty obvious, but to look up at them is pretty amazing.  We bought tickets to go inside the Great Pyramid.  It was 100 egyptian pounds per ticket, which is super expensive here, but it was absolutely worth it.  We expected to go in to a couple tombs inside and maybe up some stairs, but once you walk in a little way the ceiling drops down to around 3 feet high.  After walking a decently long way bent over in the small passage the room opens up to a narrow area with a very high ceiling.  We were heading towards the center of the pyramid and the ground sloped steeply up.  There weren't really stairs, just boards every few feet on the floor and a handrail so you could climb up.  The walls sloped inwards as we climbed up the same way they do on the outside.  Almost the entire time we were alone in the pyramid.  We passed a few people on the way down, but mostly it was dead quiet.  At the top was the tomb, it was completely empty except for the stone box where the coffin was and a few dim lights on the floor.  On the way down towards the bottom entrance there was a closed area with a guard.  We slipped him a few pounds and checked out what was past the gate, and it was the passageway to the bottom tomb which I guess is a decoy tomb.  We couldn't go far but it seemed to go straight down to the very root of the pyramids.  Getting to walk through the pyramid was probably our favorite part of the day.
Like I mentioned, there weren't very many people at the pyramids at all.  There were a few tour buses and other tourists, but really we had the place to ourselves compared to how it normally is I think.  The only down side to that is that we were the only people there to bug about buying camel/horse rides and trinkets.  It got a little tiring after a while, and while they could be pretty persistent, they were always nice and polite.
We walked around the pyramids hiking to the far side of the third pyramid.  By the end of the day our shoes were coated with dust.  
Our taxi driver than drove us to the sphinx but we really probably could have walked.  She really is a small thing. I think they said that it is 45 meters long, which is shorter than the reclining buddha we saw in Bangkok.  It was pretty cool to see it in person though, especially with the pyramids directly behind it.
From there we drove about 30 minutes to a place called Saqqara.  It has a big step pyramid, a museum and a bunch of underground tombs that they are still excavating.  These pyramids and tombs are old ancient egypt from around 3,000 b.c., also known as more than 5,000 years ago.  It was much much quieter here than at Giza.  There was probably only about a dozen tourist in the whole complex.  There also weren't nearly as many people selling stuff and bothering you.  Also since it is farther out of town, it was really right in the middle of the desert.  It had a much more authentic feel to it.  
Since there wasn't anybody around we negotiated a camel ride for about a quarter of the price as at the pyramids.  Fun fun!
By this point in the day it was almost 4:00 and it was hot.  The air wasn't really that bad at all, low 80's if I had to guess and often with a cool breeze.  The sun was hot though, really really really hot and intense.  During the morning and at night it get pretty cold here too.  We have to wear long pants to keep off the sun, and Jacki has been wearing light long sleeve shirts to the sun off and also to keep the stares from the locals down to a minimum (but who can blame them!)
We were pretty tired after that so we headed back to the hotel, walked down the road a bit and found a restaurant that served local stuff.  It is much harder to find food here than in Thailand, but it is nice to be done with Asian food for a little while and to get some bread.  The staple here instead of the rice and noodles in Asia, is pita bread with beans and oil.  Not bad at all.
We slept well.  
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Trooper on

Too bad the deserts are not connected....

Mark Heppler on

Where's the picture of the Coca-Cola sign on the main street outside of the Giza pyramids? I'm looking for the clever "It's and ancient taste" or "Thirst is an ancient feeling." ...something like that. Thanks.

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