Excited, Crazed and Scammed in Cairo

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

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Flag of Egypt  , Al Qāhirah,
Monday, November 10, 2008

 Please don't ever attempt to cross the streets of Cairo unless you are an adrenaline junkie.  After enjoying the beautiful sunset, we thought of crossing the street and walking along the Nile promenade . It looked  simple enough but this is Cairo. Traffic laws seem to be non-existent . Cars drove pass without their headlights  and crossing the road has now become an extreme sport.

We , somehow did manage to  cross the road but the anxiety of having to  cross the road back to the hotel took the joy off walking along the promenade. We decided to turn back and literally ran across the street back to the hotel. We wanted dinner outside the hotel and to buy bottled water and saw some small shops beside the hotel . More crossings of roads, smaller ones this time . We did the right thing by asking the price of bottle water and the pricing seem reasonable and picked a can of Pringles. That's when the vendor wanted to scam us for the Pringle - RM32 for a canister. I put it back and just took the water. Disgusted and tired from the ordeal of crossing the roads , we decided to just head back to the hotel and order room service. .

The next morning was bright and sunny and Nora was right on time to pick us up for our first  stop of the day - the much acclaimed Egyptian Museum. Again, there are hordes of tourists everywhere in the Museum and whilst  Nora was really good in her explaination of the history of Egypt,  my brains and its almost full CPU cannot take who is king , queen and what they did to who and what. The highlight of the museum  was  King's Tut's mummy but we had to pay extra. I am not a big fan of seeing dead things all wrapped up and to pay extra - no way. 

Our next stop was  a lot more interesting- the Mighty Pyramids of Giza. After battling another one and a half hour of traffic we stopped for lunch at a restaurant with the view of the Giza. Hey these ancient structures is now located right in the middle of development like condominiums - quite weird really. But we are excited and full of anticipation of these mighty Pyramids. We finally arrived at the entrance of the Pyramids Park ? ( a huge desert area with the Pyramids and Sphinx walled up in the middle of Giza development )

Having heard stories about  being scammed for camel rides, I at first declined the camel rides offered at the entrance of the Pyramids. I regretted that because once in the area, how could we not ride on a camel in Egypt with the Pyramids as the background. This would make a great Kodak moment .
So , when this blue-eyed , Lawrence of Arabia look-alike asked, I agreed . Who knows that climbing up a camel can be so dangerous because the camel jerked and got up suddenly and I fell off , luckily for me, on the camel guide (unlucky for him though ). Did I get help from my family and friends? No, only massive chuckling and tears rolling down type laughter and a lifetime of retelling the tale.

The guide was a pro and not only he got me on the camel but the whole group despite Annie's protests and Raymond's fear of ending up like me. What started as just a RM50 for me on the camel for a photo shot ended up at  RM750 for the entire group.  We knew it was a rip-off but for the sheer tenacity of the guide who got everyone up the camels and lovely pictures we got from this whole drama, we renegotiated it to RM500 for all five of us . We knew we were scammed but it was money well spent we felt for this lifetime of storytelling.

Anyway, the fall taught me a good lesson about camel rides which I needed to do the next day for Mount Sinai.
a. choose a short camel
b. choose a big size camel guide
c. make sure you climb on the same side as the camel guide so that when you fall, you can land on him......

The drama of negotiating with the camel guide made us late so we missed the Sphinx and could only see it from afar . That really is the best way to see it ( the Sphinx isn't very big ) and with the the sun setting - picture perfect.

Whilst waiting for the Sound and Light show , we walked around shopping Giza, open targets for another scam. After the drama with the camel guide, we decided to stay under radar.

We decided to get a bucket of KFC to eat while watching the show.  The fast food joints in Egypt are no fast food - in fact, it is very, very slow . We waited with what seemed forever . While waiting, I had a bit of scare when I couldn't find Chris in the KFC oulet. He had actually gone out to play street football with the some local boys. Yes, football breaks through all barrier of race, religion and language.

The KFC made us late and we had to run  to the open air theatre. It was quite something to see - the magnificent pyramids in the desert  litted up by modern technology. The sphinx was narrating the history of Egypt but I could not absorb what it was saying.    I was too busy soaking in the atmosphere. A lovely cool evening in the open air desert under an array of twinkling stars. What must it be like so many thousand years ago? I closed my eyes and try to imagine but the smell of Colonel Sanders chicken fills  the air .  I decided to take a quiet corner with my chicken and my stars. I will never forget this night as long as I live. It is every bit as magical as I first saw this in "The spy who Loved Me " (plus the lovely familiar smell of KFC ). Now, I only need to sail in my felucca on the Nile  and it would be complete. 

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