Hello Cairo

Trip Start Nov 09, 2008
Trip End Nov 19, 2008

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Flag of Egypt  , Al Qāhirah,
Sunday, November 9, 2008

Our very first trip to the Middle East or rather Africa and we are excited !!! We had booked an Etihad flight and that meant a 12 hours stop-over in Abu Dhabi. I did not fancy staying at the airport staring into space or sleeping like a refugee and so decided to  book a transit hotel. It was expensive i.e US$170/room for less than 12 hours but it was worth every penny because we were tired after leaving Kuala Lumpur after midnight and the airport in Abu Dhabi was cramped and crowded.

After a good Western breakfast in Abu Dhabi and a good night's sleep, we flew into Cairo, fresh and all eager to see Egypt. Cairo International Airport looked  like a blast into the past where a storekeeper actually used a feather duster to dust his window.  

Welcome to chaos, dust and traffic-jam - this is Cairo. Chaotic , bustling with people and uniformed personnel everywhere , a reminder that this is the middle east we see on CNN and other news network.   It was comforting to finally see our guide , Nora   ( we kept calling  her Nora throughout the trip only to find that that was not her name when she gave us her card at the end of the trip. Why didn't she say so ?) smiling and holding a placard with our names.

We had a driver in a van to pick us up and we drove smack into Cairo traffic.  5 to 6 lanes of cars on each side  makes KL traffic jam nothing in comparison.   The dust and sounds of honking cars can drive anyone mad but we are on holiday . So what is annoying at home is deemed  "so full of character" .
We passed by  Sadat's memorial and I'm instantly reminded of the conflicts that this country faced .  Guns, military personnel , fighter jets are everyday fare to the people in this country. For us it maybe scary and I am instantly reminded how that blessed that it is peaceful in Malaysia. I am extremely intrigued and surprisingly unafraid but instead wanting to soak into every minute of this fascinating country.

We got into the much anticipated Semiramis Intercontinental beside the Nile River. Again , more uniformed soldiers around the hotel and all the luggages had to go through scanning machines.I never experienced checking in like this before. We finally get our rooms  after hassling the receptionist about our "platinum status" but there were no suites upgrade only a room with a view of the Nile.    

The sun was about to set  and the platinum status upgrade is really worth it. My first sunset over the Nile and I can enjoy this from the balcony of my room. Where is the champagne ? I didn't buy any and so I did the next best thing -  snap pictures of my first sunset over the Nile. It was exactly how I would imagine it to be - huge, orange but yet not exactly perfect like the Hawaiian sunsets .  The dustiness and emerging fog created a blur around the sun and that provided an enchanting mystical  allure .

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Where I stayed
Semiramis Hotel
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