Trip Start Dec 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, August 7, 2009

Our flight to Istanbul from Bangkok included a stopover in Cairo either for 3 hours or 10 hours. First time in our lives when we preferred the 10 hours. We arrived and bought a visa and headed out into Cairo. After 30 minutes of negotiating with the taxi drivers, we got a nice ride to the pyramids. He dropped us off and said he would meet us in the same spot at 1pm to take us back to the airport. 

Cairo is a huge dirty city right on the edge of the desert and sits right next to the pyramids.   We could see the pyramids from the highway. I was totally speechless when I first saw them. They are so massive, yet really hard to believe they are real. It blows your mind to think about how old they are and how they could have created such things back then. We had to wait in line for about 20 minutes to get our tickets because they weren't open yet. The idea of lines don't really exist here in Cairo. People were sticking there hands under the window and pushing me out of the way. Locals literally cut everywhere - even in the customs line at the airport!

We were some of the first few through the gates so we got some good pictures before the crowds started to arrive. We walked around the Great Pyramid (finished in 2560 BC) over to the Khafre Pyramid. Both equally impressive. The Great Pyramid has no outer shell anymore because Pharaohs over time took off the polished limestone to make their own shrines for themselves. The Kharfre Pyramid still has a little right at the top. There is also a third one that is under renovation. In the past, one of the Pharaohs ordered it to be destroyed but after 8 months, they had only ruined part of the inside. We walked down by the Sphinx (a statue of a reclining lion with a human head and built in the third millennium BC!!!!) which was just unbelievable.   Its not as big as you would think, but still amazing. They estimate that the Great Pyramid took 20 years to build and that would mean they would have to add 800 tonnes of stone per DAY!!! I just am blown away by these structures!

We bought tickets to go into the Khafre Pyramid.   When we went in, the guard asked for my camera. I told him no way - he was wearing regular clothes and didn't look official at all. So, then he asked for our battery and I gave it to him - after he told me he wasn't with the Mafia. I saw a few other cameras sitting there at least. The entrance was a 4x4 foot hole. It went down a steep tunnel - we were basically crawling down into a hot, humid, small, scary, dark hole. I almost turned around. We climbed down for awhile then were able to stand up in a really small landing at the bottom. Then there was another 4x4 opening going up a hot, humid, small, scary, dark hole. So up we went, it was about the same distance as the first tunnel. Finally we came out into a large open room. It was hotter in there then anywhere else but at least it was more open. The only thing in there was an open tomb. I was hoping for some information, pictures or artifacts. But even without that, it was amazing.    There were a few other people in there taking pictures, so I put our other battery in the camera and took a few shots. Some locals kids came in when we were in there and really wanted to get their picture taken with Brian - probably because of his beard. It was so funny because they all took turns with their cameras.

Getting out was a little harder because there were so many people coming in the opposite direction but at least we knew how far we had to go this time. On the way out I put a nice big bruise in my back from hitting the ceiling - better then my head. And surprisingly the guy gave me back my camera battery. The reason I say that is because every single person that was not a tourist was trying desperately to sell something and they all seemed dishonest. Whether it was a camel ride, horse ride, postcards, water, hats, or even just to take our picture - they were everywhere wanting money. If I never go back to Egypt, its because of them. They were following us all over the place. They would give us stuff to hold and say it was a gift and free and then after refusing it, they would say they want a tip and we owe them money. Or the best were the compliments. I was told I look just like Shakera and they told Brian they would give him 1 million camels and 2 chickens for me. That was from a 10 year old kid. The same kid grabbed my bandana and asked if he could keep it, then wiped his sweat with it! They were telling Brian how he looks like one of them - Egyptian. I don't think anyone else in the world would say Brian looks Egyptian. We saw one couple climbing on the rocks and a guard, it a uniform with a semi-automatic weapon asked them if they wanted him to take their picture - of course they did. When they were done the guard was telling them they owe him money for it! There were a couple funny camel drivers that sat behind one of the pyramids and took turns smoking their hookah.

The 10 hour layover was definitely worth the visit to the pyramids. And what a treat for the people who got to sit on the plane next to us on our way to Istanbul.

Highlight of Egypt:

Of course our driver didn't show up to pick us up, so we had to negotiate again for a ride back to the airport. The driver started at 150 Egyptian Pounds and we got him down to 70 plus a 5 pound tip if he dropped us off at the airport (which was the destination). They don't like to go into the airport because of a toll. So we got in a really old car and drove into the airport highway system. Its a new airport and very confusing. We couldn't figure out how to get to terminal 3. The driver thought he took a wrong turn so when we came up to the exit (where we'd have to pay the toll) he told us to get out of the car and walk! We were on the highway - this was no little side street and there was a huge deep ditch between there and the airport plus a few parking lots - I don't think we would have gotten across if we wanted to. He kept saying we had walked 4 hours at the pyramids - whats another minute (which was really going to be at least 30). So we refused to get out which lead to us heatedly debating with him. He wasn't mad - just really confused as to why we wouldn't want to get out there. After arguing for a little bit, he threw the car in reverse on the highway (there was a big median and we couldn't turn around) and attempted to drive backwards for 1/2 a mile to the turnoff. Cars were honking like crazy at us. I was trying so hard not to laugh because he was turned around looking through the back window - and this took about 10 minutes because the car was so old, plus he kept hitting the curb. There were some more guards with semi-automatics waiting for us when we tried to reverse all the way to the round-a-bout. They made him stop of course and tell them he had to go straight. So...he got back in the car and and we drove ahead the same way we had just reversed. We went up to the toll (that we had just come from) and he asked the lady how to get into the terminal. She said the turnoff was just behind us on the right. Duh. So...he put it in reverse again - this time backing out of a toll booth! Good thing no one was behind us! I could hardly handle myself and felt so bad when I started laughing. Finally we made the turnoff - really small sign! Yippee! He got us to the door! He was so worried about us paying him because he said that if the police see taxi drivers getting paid, they will take the money from them. But all was good and we got there and he got paid. Finally at the airport!
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