A Travellerspoint blog

Egypt

Discouraged from Walking Like An Egyptian at the Pyramids

Yesterday, I set out to go the great pyramids in Giza. This wasn't as easy as it sounds.

(1) First, I took the metro to the Giza station-roughly a 1/2 hour ride.
(2) I got off at the station. A man with a bunch of missing teeth (and his remaining ones we're quite brown), asked if I was going to the pyramids (in very broken English). Then he said he was going in that direction-and I should follow him. I had no idea to go-and online wasn't much helpful-so I did.
(3) We walked downstairs to the street, and walked up a few blocks. He signaled for a beat-up minbus to stop, which was crowded, and had a kid about 12 or so asking folks if they wanted a ride (in Arabic), screaming out the open door. The man took the seat next to me. He explained that he had hook-ups with the government, and he can get me into the pyramids at a special price.
(4) As the bus got more crowded, he sat next to me. We kept in riding for around 20 more minutes-past dirt-poor neighborhoods.
(5) We got off-and a corner, and he we got on a crowded old beat-up VW bus going to another direction-which we rode for about 15 minutes. I could finally see the pyramid.
(6) He led me through dirty alleys with kids playing, garbage all over the place, and finally to the office of someone who looked like Morgan Freeman. Morgan Freeman told me that he worked for the government, can get me into the pyramids at a special price, and I had to decide if I wanted to ride a horse or camel.
(7) I explained I wanted to walk. I got suspicious, and told them I just wanted to go to the regular office with everyone else. I slipped my toothless friends a few Egyptian pounds (he did lead me to the pyramids), and I followed a path with a lot of people to the entry point.
(8) I was in a mosh pit, with pushing and shoving, and I was pushed to the entry point. There we're parents with kids, teachers with school groups, tourists, it was a mess. i was told I needed to buy a ticket-which I didn't have. I told him there is no way I could get to the ticket booth with the maddening crowd. He led me through-and I was in line with another most pit crowd being pushed to the ticket booth-with people shoving Egyptian pounds through a window.

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(9) A "policeman" helped me buy a ticket, because I was worn out and tired of being pushed in five different directions.
(10) I think I paid the policeman too much
(11) After going through the maddening crowd again, I was in the land with the pyramids.

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The pyramid and sphinx we're really quite beautiful, and a was neat to finally be there. As I was walking through, toothless men kept asking me if I wanted a horse or camel ride. I did make the mistake of taking pictures of someone's camel. The next thing I knew he was driving me around on his camel, and I had to pay him.

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They don't seem to get many tourists, particularly Americans. Some kids asked me to take a picture with them.

The sights we're interesting. I sort of wish I had a guide. When I did get to some of the smaller temples, a guide was there, and he explained the pictures on the wall, of the sacrifice to the High Priest or animals, and the pictures of dancing, and well as the hieroglyphics. Someone did the same in the next temple. I gave them a few Egyptian pounds.

I walked around the grounds by myself. It was a lot of walking. I climbed one of the smaller temple. (there are no climbing signs around-which people ignore). i walked up to different vantage points, including ones where I could see all the pyramids at once (Camel and horse drivers kept asking me if I wanted a ride).

I was there most of the day. At about 5:00 pm. I hopped a fence, which I saw a lot of people do-for hopes of getting a better view. (I sort of knew that it was prohibited, but most people ignore signs). A toothless man blew a whistle, and I figured I was in trouble. I tried to get to the other side of the fence. I learned he just wanted money. He led me to some parts where I got good pictures. He told me there would be a laser light show, and I could stay-but I refused to give him all the money he wanted, and I went to the other side of the fence.

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I walked out of the pyramids (the complex was closing)-but stayed on the side of the fence to watch the sunset over the pyramid.

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After that, it was sort of scary in the neighborhood outside the pyramid. There we're all sort of beggars, people wanting to sell me souvenirs, and other people (either young kids or toothless people). Motorized rickshaws we're driving about. II saw people fighting in the distance, and a brush fire. (did I mentioned that this neighborhood was poor? as amongst the poorest I have ever seen in 60 countries?)

A man missing seem teeth gave me a ride to the Metro, in exchange for 40 EGP (roughly $3)-in the most beat up cab I have ever seen-a 35 year old Fiat which was dented in on every side. We talked-I thought he said he was married for 55 years-which I believed. I then learned he was 55 years old-and I wasn't that far from him in age-that I didn't belive

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I took the Metro back-I still wanted to buy a guidebook on Cairo-so I stopped at a stop called "Cairo University", hoping that with a University I could buy a guidebook-but I never found the University-just another really poor neighborhood with brush fires, food stalls, etc

Posted by DavidPearlman 00:08 Archived in Egypt Comments (1)

There's something About Oman

overcast 15 °C

Yesterday, I woke up at approximately 3:30 am to get the fly to Cairo, or rather I didn't get to sleep-in anticipation of missing my flight. The flight out of Oman was actually at 8:00 am-but with all the problems with the hotel-It semeed like catching a cab might be another-and the airport is approximately 20 or so miles out of town. So I made sure the cab came at 4:00 am. And actually it proved quite incident free. The cab driver was a friend of the hotel manager. So he came right on time. The only issue was my issue-I didn't have the exact change of 10 Omanian Rial's-and had to go to other cab drivers when we arrived at the airport to get the change.

While, I liked Oman-Muscat was absolutely beautiful, situated right on the mountains, the airport isn't quite up to snuff. It looks more like a bus station. There isn't much seating outside security, and there are no jetways that lead from the terminal to the plane, you have to walk outside.

I flew on Gulf Air-which is the official airline of the Kingdom of Bahrain-as the airline continuously stated. The A320 was comfortable, and had a selection of movies. This flight was only 1 1/2 hours-before i had to change planes in the Kingdom of Bahrain to continue on to Cairo.

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I was able to watch the first part of "There's Something About Mary on" on the plane. You might think that film is a little risque for the official airline of an Islamic state-but rest assured there we're notices on the screen not to look when Cameron Diaz (and Aunt Magda) we're topless (or almost topless)

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After an hour and a half, the plane arrived at the Official Kingdom of Bahrain, and while there was construction on a new terminal-this looked to be even more like a bus station. Some of the folks sitting there we're asked for passports and boarding passes by a security guard, and looked like they we're escaping something with little.

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Roughly 3 hours later, the plane arrived in Cairo. I had exchanged the remainder of Ohmanien Rials for Egyption currency before leaving the Muscat airport-but to pay for the Egyptian Visa-it would have been MUCH easier with US dollars (which I didn't have). For whatever reason, the Egyptians are hesitant to accept their own currency for their own Visa-I did find one bank at the airport which issued one-but they had watch me use their ATM to ensure they saw the money come out.

A driver picked me up and brought me to the hostel.

Egypt doesn't sound like a nice place-(it just don't role off the tip of the tongue like Hawaii or Bali)-and this is proving to be true so far. Cairo is a big, ugly city so far, with lots of people, old ugly buildings, and cars honking horns. After checking into the hostel, I took a walk around and even went on the Metro. The Metro is pretty old and fillthy itself. What I was, and am still looking for, is a guidebook on Cairo-but that is hard to find. What is easy to find is people willing to sell me Egyptian tours, which include Luxor, Memphis-although I don't know what is there. Around every corner are people looking to sell me tours.

They did give me an upgrade to a private room at the hostel, thought, at least for the night.

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Posted by DavidPearlman 21:58 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

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