Category: Egypt

Sep 15 2009

Dahab, Mount Sinai

Arrived in Dahab around 11am after more than 18 hours of bus ride across the desert.

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Dahab is a touristic place beside the red sea. It’s famous for scuba diving and snorkeling.

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Scuba divining is around $44 per dive. Since I am not that into scuba diving and felt Malaysia has better dive site, I did snorkeling instead in the afternoon. The red sea is pretty salty so it’s easier to float.

Joined a hiking trip to Mount Sinai (70 LP). Mount Sinai is the place where Moses received the 10 commandments. It’s around 2 hours away from Dahab. The van picked me up at 11pm at night, we arrived at the foot of the mountain at 1am. After hiked for 2.5 hours, we waited to see sun rise at the peak of the mountain.

Climbed down the mountain and visited the St Katherine Monastery. This is one of the oldest continue occupied church, around 1400 years old. Arrived back in Dahab around 12pm.

Ate Koshary (5LP, $1) for lunch again, ate 2 bowls to fulfill my daily calories intake after the hike this morning. Went snorkeling in the afternoon again and then tried Egyptian fried chicken for dinner.

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Sep 14 2009

West Bank Luxor, then to Dahab

Took a tour to the West bank of Luxor (140 LP). It’s hard to tour all the sites in west bank on my own since it’s quite far away and the weather is hot (Its 44 C today). The van picked me up at 8am and we went to Valley of the Kings, which have tombs of the Pharaohs. No photos are allowed inside.

Valley of the Kings
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Temple of hatshepsut
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We also visited Valley of the Queens, there are less tourist there compared to Valley of the Kings.

Colossi of Memnon
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Then took a bus to Dahab at 4.30pm (130LP). Stopped once at around 6pm and got some free food because fasting was over. We stopped a few times for passport checking. Stopped at Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh then Dahab.

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Sep 13 2009

Luxor

Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes, the great capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom around 4000 years ago. There are many famous temples and tombs here. Once I got off from the train, there are many touts and taxi drivers trying to bring me to their hostel. Luxor is the capital of hassle in Egypt.

Stayed at Hostel Oasis, recommended by a friend and on lonely planet. I got my own room for 20 LP, around $3.5.
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Took a minibus 0.50LP to the Karnak Temple
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Met DiXi again on the street and she wanna visit the Mummification Museum, so I just tagged along. The museum was a joke, there is only a small room and cost 25LP. We went to the manager to ask our money back but did not succeed.

Luxor Temple. The ticket cost 25LP for students and I just took pics from outside.
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Went to a Bazaar at night. The people who deal with tourist in Luxor are very irritating and very good at hassling tourist. Everyone is trying to get money from tourist by asking for baksheesh and using other tricky tactics. It’s hard to trust the people here.

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Sep 12 2009

Alexandria

Took the metro to Mubarak station then took the 9am train to Alexandria, around 200km from Cairo.

The city was founded by and named after Greek conqueror Alexander the Great. Arrived at the city around 12pm.

Went to the Alexandria Bibliotheca (5LP). During ancient times, Alexandria had one of the greatest library in the world. The library was no longer here so the bibliotheca was built instead.
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Walked around the city for 4 hours.
Sights
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Then took the 5pm train back to Cairo. Again, the weather here is so hot, probably above 100 Fahrenheits again. Arrived cairo around 8pm, then take the 10.15pm train (165 pounds) to Luxor. The train is very old and dirty, will arrive in Luxor 10am the next day.

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Sep 11 2009

Old city and Bazaar

Friday and Saturday are the weekends here. It’s around 38C (around 100 Fahrenheit maybe) today. Took the metro to Mar Girgis and visited old cairo, Coptic city which is a Christian neighborhood.

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Tried walking to Salah El Din Citadel from the Coptic city. After walking for 40 mins under the sun, I decided to take the bus instead. Found out that the Citadel was closed because of Ramadan.

Someone directed me to an old mosque (one of the oldest 1200 years old) which has a minaret on top of the mosque. I was asked to donate 50 pounds to the mosque because I have a student card, for non student they require 100 pounds, around $20. And the guy that showed me the way asked for donation as well.

View from the top of the mosque

There are still many poor people in Cairo so people always try to get money (they called Baksheesh, tips) from tourist.

Walked to the bazaar (for locals), then to Khan El Khalili bazaar (more touristic). Someone brought me to a papyrus shop, spice shop and perfume shop there. It’s so chaotic and crowded at the bazaar,

after an hour walking in the bazaar, I can’t wait to get out and had a hard time finding the Attaba metro.

Most of the buildings here in Cairo are old, the public transportations and infrastructures here are still undeveloped and chaotic. People throw rubbish everywhere on the street. President Mubarak has been in power for 26 years and people here don’t see any changes soon.

It’s very hard to find a place in Cairo with air condition. I spent some time at the intercontinental hotel lobby and KFC for the afternoon to get away from the hot weather.

Got my train ticket (35 pounds) to Alexandria tomorrow morning at the train station which is 30 mins walk on Ramses St. from Talab harb area. Met Muhamed and he brought me to eat Koshary (a local food with rice, beans, macaroni, fried oninons..).
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We watched soccer and he brought me to a mountain with his BMW to get a good view of Cairo at night.
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Sep 10 2009

Egyptian Museum and the Pyramids

Went to Egyptian museum (30 pounds for student) and spent 2 hours there. There are many cool artifacts but I can’t bring in my camera.

Egyptian Museum
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Walked around the city, to opera house and Cairo tower which is not far away from downtown.

Took a bus to Giza with Mahmod and we got there around 4.30pm. It’s around 40 mins ride by bus. The Pyramid closed early because of Ramadan so we rent a horse (after haggling, I paid around 75 pounds for each person for a 1.5 hours ride) and ride around outside the pyramids instead.

Pyramid
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Muslims in Cairo fast during Ramadan from around 4am till 6pm. I spent the whole day without eating or drinking, just to try out how it felt. I was exhausted after the day because the weather in Cairo is hot and dusty.
Egypt is so chaotic; bus doesn’t have set schedule nor a fix stop, to get on the bus is by chance and no one queues here. There are not many traffic lights in Cairo and nobody follow the traffic lights, the traffic lights here are just for decorations and it’s a challenge to cross the road.
Walked around Talab Hart st (street for shopping) in downtown. Met up with Don and he brought me to Goal Café in Zamalek with his scooter.

Sheesha (called hookah in the US)
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With Don
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People don’t sleep here. It’s 2.30am and there are still many families and kids running on the street.
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Sep 09 2009

To Cairo, Egypt

Took the tube from Faringdon station at 5.50am in the morning to Heathrow airport (4 pounds, approx 1 hour 15 mins). It’s very easy fly out of London, no one really look at my passport, I just scanned it on a terminal and got my boarding pass. I remembered it’s the same in US when I fly out of the country. But when I arrived in London few days ago, the immigration officer asked so many questions.

Took the 9.15am flight to Cairo and arrived at 2pm (5 hours flight).
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Cairo is hot and dusty. It’s one of the biggest city in North Africa (geographically), Middle East (politically), with 11 millions people. Everything is in Arabic, even numbers. I tried to be adventurous and decided to take a public bus to my hostel instead of a taxi (I did manage to haggle the price of a cab from 80 pounds down to 45 pounds which is around 8 dollars but I didn’t take it). I met some friendly Egyptians on the bus and they showed me the way to the hostel.

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The bus ride was a blessing in disguise because one Egyptian friend invited me to his house in Masala for a celebration of a 7 day old baby.

Egyptians are friendly people. Everyone tried to talk with me. An old man invited me for food on the street. It’s Ramadan, so after 6pm there are free food on the street. At first I was worried about the cleanliness of street food since I read a lot about unhygienic water and street food in egypt in the guide book. But I ate it anyway..
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Was walking around, then another guy asked me to drink with him and then we went for a workout in a gym.
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Then some random guys asked me to drink with them while I was waiting
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Then Mahmod which I met on the bus earlier brought me to his relatives house. There is a celebration for a 7 days old baby.

SIM card is cheap here (15LP), got a SIM card for my cell phone.

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