Chaos continues in Cairo - 1 Feb - 5 Feb

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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Where I stayed
West Bank

Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tuesday 1st February 2011

A March of Millions against Mubarak has been organised for today. Masses of people are converging on Tahrir Square, amazing scenes. It looks peaceful and there seems to be a festival mood at the moment, with women and children joining the protest, people have even camped out and are sharing out food.

Alaa is back, hurrah, he got back around 1pm. Hodda and Mohamed having been looking after me well - I have been treated like a guest, and part of the family, its been like staying in a hotel, but think they want their own space, and I don't blame them!.

I mentioned to Mohamed that if I can stay till end of February, then I’ll have to rent another flat. He showed me one in his street which has just been finished. It has been built by a local who now lives in England with his wife. It is a high quality large flat, much better than the one we rented before. It is light and airy, with a balcony and cable TV! And all brand new, it smells of fresh paint. He is distantly related to Alaa’s family as everyone is in the village, so I am unclear how much he is charging us but this is the first time he has rented it out.

Dad has spoken to the Foreign Office today, he has told them my situation and where I am and they have said it is ok to stay, but have taken my details and will call me if things change. I just hope that Mubarak goes soon so that Egypt can get back to normal. Perhaps this is a good time to buy. Mohamed is a good person to speak to, he says to buy land and then build on it. Land prices may come down as people shy away from investing in Egypt because of the trouble, so we could pick up a bargain.

It's great to have Alaa back again. It will be very difficult leaving in February and then going travelling again. But I do still want to do this, to get it out of my system. I feel part of this country now. Being here at this historical juncture with the real people of this country, I now feel part Egyptian. I am proud that they have taken this step to voice their frustrations. I just hope it leads to a bigger and better future for everyone.

Wednesday 2nd February

Dad’s 68th birthday today, I give him a quick call he is playing golf. The demonstrations are continuing, people slept out in the streets last night, significant numbers are not satisfied with Mubarak’s speech last night that he would not stand for re-election in the September elections, however he wouldn’t be  stepping down before then. There is now a pro Mubarak element, which was peaceful, protesters were talking to each other, but it has now escalated into violence. The pro M protesters have now charged the crowds on camel back and horses with whips, unprecedented scenes, stones are being hurled against each other. There seems to be more aggression on the streets, the pro regime people are very angry. This could turn nasty. 

Thank god for Al Jazeera, CNN and BBC World without 24-hour news I would be totally blind of what is going on in the streets on Cairo. With the internet down, communications are very limited and Nile TV is showing none of these images only pro Mubarak supporters demonstrations as if everything is all fine and dandy. Censorship is a dangerous thing. Uncle Mohamed admits that Rowhaya and the family will have no idea what is going on - and probably don’t really care as long as they have bread on the table it is no concern of their’s - but millions of poor Egyptians who only have access to these pictures will have not idea of what is going on or know the full story.

The scenes I am seeing now of injured people being carried to makeshift hospitals. There is chaos and pandemonium and in other locations it is 3pm and  hundreds of people are praying to Mecca. Such a contrasting image.

Just watching BBC World and there is a stand off between opposing sides with people hurling stones on the street right in front of the hotel where we stayed…the shop Delta Tours is below the Egyptian Nights Hotel, just think if this had happened 2 weeks earlier we would have been stuck in the middle of all this trouble.

Now looking at pictures from Al Jazeera they are saying that the pro government supporters are a group belonging to security forces.  The armed forces are not getting involved - yet. They are standing by and facilitating these demonstrations and protecting the museum. It is incredible to watch, I am hooked. It looks tense I wonder how long this battle will last. The road has been destroyed it looks they are trying to storm Tahrir Square. Tanks are now taking position - near to pro Mubarak supporters. I just hope they don’t open fire on the people.  The opposition is calling for the Army to intervene to stop the violence.

It is early evening, just been into Luxor for the first time since Friday and the main protests started in Cairo. There is not much evidence of any trouble here, I thought some signs might be defaced, such as Mubarak Tourista Road…but no. There is however, tanks on the streets and soldiers guarding the Winter Palace Hotel. The roads are very, very quiet not many cars at all, maybe they have run out of petrol. Anyway really it is quiet peaceful, a very different picture to the Capital. We have a quick beer at Sinbad’s. The owners’ own son has made a sign saying I love Mubarak, so he does have supporters. We then head back as another elderly person in the Village has died so Alaa with his uncle and brothers have to go to the cemetery. As we travel back so we see a group of people marching on the outskirts of Luxor, pro Mubarak supporters. There really does seem no end in sight. What on earth will tomorrow bring.

Thursday 3rd February

Went into Luxor this afternoon. You would never guess there is anything going on in Cairo if it wasn’t for the tank and the few soldiers guarding the Winter Palace. There is very little evidence that anything serious is happening 600 miles away. The only noticeable difference is the lack of tourists. From what I can see, and what we’ve been told, there hasn’t been much trouble here, except a policeman was caught red handed trying to steal some artefacts from Karnak Temple last week. But is it just so quiet and peaceful here in Upper Egypt.

However the demonstrations and chaos in Cairo continues. However the good news is the internet is back on. I haven’t had time to go yet but its good to be online again. Alaa has bought me a galabeya, a traditional floor length arab garment worn in Egypt. Hodda leant me one when I was staying there, its nice to be able to wear it and chill out in the evening. He has chosen a velvet, royal blue with gold beading, very glamorous, he has good taste!

Friday 4th February

Today has been named 'Day of Departure’,  millions converge on Tahrir Square again. This time security is better and the Pro Mubarak supporters are kept away so there is not a repeat of the violence seen on Wednesday. The day is peaceful but there is no sign of people giving up Tahrir Square I wonder how long this can last.

The internet came back online yesterday so I visit the internet café for the first time in 7 days and reply to the messages of concern I have from friends and family but there really is nothing to worry about down here in Luxor. Once the curfew kicks in the streets empty of people and cars…but that maybe more to do with the fact it gets chilly at night-time.

Alaa spoke to his friend in Alexandria, he said the trouble is still bad there. The biggest protests are held there, followed by a sit-in at Side Gaber train station where I was supposed to be this time last week!

Saturday 5th February

It is really hot today, we sit up on the roof for half an hour at midday - it’s the most we can handle it really is boiling. The hottest day so far of my time in Egypt this time. We spend an evening in Sinbad's I think people are now getting bored of the situation and just want life to return to normal. And all this talk of the Muslim Brotherhood, speaking to the guys who work at Sinbad's, Alaa, Uncle Mohamed etc I know that they don't want Egypt to become an strict Islamic state. So I wish some media outlets and countries..(USA) would stop scarmongering and let's just hope that peace and change happens soon for the Egyptian people, as they are who matter in all of this.
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