Highs and Lows of Egypt
(4.6) (31 votes) |
Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Sharm, Egypt
Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003
Pros: Temple of Isis and other sights, Absolutely fantastic.
Cons: The touts were the fiercest
From the start, Egypt was a must see on our trip around the world.
How can you say you have been around the world and skipped the pyramids?
But Egypt definitely exposed how this trip has been absolutely fantastic
on the one hand, and a real grind on the other.
After traveling for almost six months, we considered ourselves pretty
decent at this, but Egypt stretched our limits. The touts were the
fiercest we've seen and would approach on average about once every
twenty seconds. We would always say we were not interested, but
they kept trying relentlessly. One even yelled at Sharad indignantly
"why are you trying to ruin my business?" after we said
no for the fourth time to a felucca ride. It is virtually impossible
and very time consuming to book anything independently (i.e without
a tour guide or agent) because of the translation difficulties and
because Egpyt allows tourists only to take certain buses, etc. for
their own safety supposedly. Of course, the heat is unbearable,
and obviously western women (i.e white) in particular are treated
exceptionally poorly. For instance, we once were going up an elevator
to our hotel with a white woman and an obviously Egyptian guy. We
thought they were together at first, but once we boarded the elevator
he kept getting closer and closer to her and she tried to get farther
and farther away. She finally started screamed at him, "I'm
sick of this place!" and Sharad had to get in between them
to prevent him from following her to her room.
In a nut shell those were the lows, and they were pretty low. But
the highs of Egypt cannot be matched anywhere. To start, the Pyramids
at Giza were even better in person than on film or from a photo.
We were even allowed to climb through the largest one, and that
was simply an unbelievable, Indiana Jones moment. The sound and
light show at the Pyramids that night were also unforgettable. All
during the hour long show, where the Sphinx is the narrator of a
fascinating hour long history lesson on all he has seen over the
thousands of years he has sat there, they light up the pyramids
in a series of amazing colors. You have never seen the pyramids
until you have seen them green!
From Cairo, we travelled by an overnight train down to Aswan and
spent some time checking out the Temple of Isis and other sights.
Absolutely fantastic. From there, we boarded a two day Nile cruise
and celebrated Sharad's 30th birthday onboard. And the crew even
managed an impromptu birthday celebration with a cake and dancing
for all! It was also the first boat on which Susan did not get motion
sickness, so that in itself was amazing, but it was just wonderful
to watch the desert go by while you sail peacefully down the Nile.
We finally reached Luxor and saw the Temple at Luxor and the Valley
of Kings, among other great sights. By this time, we were a bit
ruined-out and needed to hide from the touts, and so spent more
time than we should have at the hotel pool we splurged on. We then
headed to the Red Sea for some much needed r&r. Sharm El Shiekh
is very different from the rest of Egypt, which barely has any touts
at all. It is right on the Red Sea, very near Jordan, and has some
of the best diving in the world -- many say better than the Great
Barrier Reef in Australia. Accordingly, we spent some great time
on the beach, and even had a better time underwater by finally completing
our diving certification! That was simply awesome: breathing underwater,
swimming with a million colorful fish all around you, floating above
huge amounts of bright coral. During our last two dives, we even
had a blue manta play right near by us as we practiced our diving
skills, and had to have our dive instructor shoo away a poisonous
lion fish. Awesome. The only negative thing in Sharm was that Sharad
had some trouble equalizing on the way down, and the day after we
got certified, popped his right ear drum and lost his hearing in
that ear for about two weeks. A little annoying, but not all that
painful, and we quickly took an overnight bus to Cairo to catch
our flight to India -- ah, our motherland!