29 April 2010

Brain Sandwich - Cairo, Egypt [Day Seven]

I woke feeling surprisingly rested, ready for our final day in Egypt. The train pulled into Cairo at about 8am, and we jumped on a bus to the hotel. No time to rest though, we dropped our gear then got back on the bus. Through the sea of cars, horns and random madness, we arrived at a perfumery. The old perfume dude there was so cool, really funny, and knew a ridiculous amount about perfume. This place didn't sell the perfume you can buy in stores, it is the essence that the manufacturers use as a base for their perfumes (they add alcohol and other things). So it was highly concentrated stuff. The girls were loving it, for me - the novelty wore off pretty quickly.

Smelling amazing, we left the perfumery and made our way to Khan el-Khalili, the main market in Cairo. It was similar to the market in Luxor, but I think a bit more 'tourist friendly'. People would still approach us all the time, but they wouldn't follow us down the road. It was a more relaxed, a less stressful experience. We quickly learned that if you want to buy anything you need a good 10 minutes to barter, no matter what it is. The whole process of haggling, going back and forwards, is fun for a while... But sometimes you just want to buy something and are willing to pay a fair price - you don't want to have to talk about it for 10 minutes.

25 April 2010

UP! - Luxor, Egypt [Day Six]

Another day, another ridiculously early morning. I can't even remember what time it was, it all kind of blends into one crazy early morning blur...

I haven’t mentioned our 'breakfast boxes' yet - these were the breakfasts provided when we were on the move and couldn’t eat at the hotel. They were... shit, to be honest. This morning we were lucky enough to once again have a breakfast box. Awesome.

The reason for the early morning is a few of us did an optional hot air balloon ride. To get there, we had to take a bus, then a boat, then another bus. As we got on the boat they served us coffee and tea. So I settled down for a cup expecting it to take a while, but we were just going across the river (apparently there aren't many bridges around) and were there in about 5 minutes.

As we arrived there were six massive balloons just starting to come alive. The first thing that struck me was the noise - the... I don’t know the correct name, but I'll call them the fire makers... were so loud! We were shown to our balloon just as it was starting to lift. I couldn't believe the size of the basket! I guess I was expecting a Wizard of Oz style, with room for about four people. But our basket took 30 people or more.

16 April 2010

Secret Passages - Luxor, Egypt [Day Five]

I woke the morning of day five in a different place to where I had gone to sleep - the sneeky felucca crew had sailed us across the river in the early hours, ready for our bus to take us to Luxor. So after a quick breakfast and farewell, we were on our way.

After a short while we stopped to visit the Temple of Kom Ombo. Before entering we were greeted by this friendly chap on the right, which was nice. The temple is quite 'new' in ancient Egyptian terms, being built around 200BC. It is also unique, as it is split down the middle, each side dedicated to a different god. Much of the temple has been destroyed by earthquakes, and many of the stones have been taken by locals over the years for their houses - again, the people didn't realise the significance of these buildings.

14 April 2010

Bathrooms and Bulls - Egypt [Day Four]

This is going to be a short one - as the majority of day four was spent relaxing, drinking beer and enjoying the sun.

One thing that became a problem quite quickly was the bathroom facilities - especially for the girls. The felucca had no bathroom, and there was a significant lack on the banks of the Nile (i.e. none). During one toilet stop, most of the girls jumped off the boat. Things were fine for about a minute, then we heard a couple of screams. A second later we saw girls furiously running toward the boat, followed by a farmer being dragged along on his stomach by a cow! It had to be the funniest moment on the whole tour.

13 April 2010

Moving Mountains - Aswan, Egypt [Day Three]

Day Three started way too early - at 2:30am - for a trip to the very south of Egypt. I had been told the trip to Abu Simbel was 'unmissable' - all I could think was, it better be!

The reason for the CRAZY early morning was because we had to catch a 'police convoy'. Our guide tells us this is because if you break down or something, there will be someone there to help you, but I don't buy it. Anyway, the police car in front sets the pace, and about 50 tour buses have to keep up. Our bus driver had no problem. I think we had an average speed of about 120kms, and managed to overtake a few other vehicles. Not bad for a huge bus! But, being so early, I was too tired to care, and slept for most of the 3 hour journey.

We arrived early, and were given the low-down about Abu Simbel by our guide. The area contains two ancient temples, built around 1200BC. The ancient Egyptians took a different approach to these temples. Instead of building them out of stone, they carved them out of the side of a mountain.

Dance like an Egyptian - Aswan, Egypt [Day Two]

I awoke to the soothing sound of the clanking train carriage's at about 7am, about 90 minutes out of Aswan. Which I thought was fairly decent, the train ride went better than I thought it would - minus the cup debacle (inside joke).

We arrived to our hotel at about 9am. Being so early we couldn't check in - no problem though, as they showed us to the EPIC POOL. So we spent the morning drinking beer, swimming, lazing in the sun and enjoying the view of the Nile. The crazy locals provided plenty of entertainment - check out how many people they had on the boat in the below photo. Its almost taking on water!

12 April 2010

Stones That Touch the Sky - Cairo, Egypt [Day One]

Over the next few days I'll be giving you a run down on my week long epic adventure in Egypt. For those that havn't been - go, NOW! This was one of the best trips I have ever done.

I'm not usually one for organised tours, but I decided that it would be less stress to join a group to see Egypt. And I am so glad I did - I saw everything I hoped to, met some really cool people, and had an awesome time. There are a few around - I chose the GoBus - they were relatively cheap and they went to all the sites I wanted to see. I definitely recommend these guys, they look after you so well and really know their stuff.

I arrived into Cairo at about 12:30am, met up with the GoBus man and a few others that had arrived on the same flight, then headed to our hotel. First impressions - this place is crazy! No road rules that I could see, no lines on the road, they use horns rather than indicators. Its hot, busy, noisy - chaos.

I finally jumped into bed at about 2am and got a few hours sleep, before being woken at 7am for our first day exploring. We had breakfast, met our guide and went through the 'admin' stuff. Soon after we set off to the Egyptian Museum. My first daylight impression of Egypt - this place is crazy! (notice a trend?). Again, the roads - packed full with cars, a million horns, and no rules. People just wander out into the street when they want to cross. I'm surprised we didn't see an accident, but weirdly, it all just kind of works. The buildings are all big concrete blocks crammed together, seperated by tiny alley-ways. Things seem dirty and run-down, but just around the corner there is a Porche dealership. Most of the buildings have people living in the lower floors, while the upper are still being completed. And they ALL have about five satellites on the roof - now that is progress! Living in near poverty, but still getting 200 channels.

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