Justine and Don took
me out to the airport and I left without a hitch. There was a lengthy
stopover in Melbourne - which, for me, doesn't really count as a foreign
country. I went into Toorak (my old stomping ground,) via the Botanical
Gardens (ah, memories of Melissa, Leddy, Clare, Veronica, ... .) Had a
sandwich, wine , and a coffee in a little cafe. Quite pleasant. Went to
the National Gallery and had a look at the exhibition of lithographs by
Goya, including the famous series of 'Disasters of War' and also the
etching of 'The Sleep of Reason produces Monsters'. Rather too much to
take in. I also looked at the Ancient and Oriental exhibits there.
Eventually I decided I really couldn't think of anything else to do so I
went back to the airport and just waited there.
The Emirates flight
was great. The chap who had been assigned a seat in my row agreed that
the the flight crew on the first leg were some of the prettiest he'd
seen. It really was quite striking. Each seat had a monitor in the seat
back in front of it which allowed access to several channels using a
detachable controller. This is the first time I'd seen such a system.
On the first leg the
plane was almost empty so people - like me - could sleep by taking the
four seats of a central row. Very nice. Couldn't do that on the second
leg though. There were lots of Asians aboard after the Singapore stop.
Arrived in DUBAI.
I'm here for a one
night stopover only, so I had already decided that I couldn't get out of
the city. Pity; I'd have liked to take a quick side trip out into the
desert or, even better, to Qatar to check out the Dilmun remains. I was
so wide awake after the flight that after I'd had a shower I absolutely
could not get to sleep, so I amused myself by repacking my minimal
luggage. Now everything that's terminally important is in my money belt,
though it's a bit difficult to get at. Waiting, waiting, waiting for the
day to start...
Took the airport bus
in to downtown Dubai to have a wander about and see the sights. Not much
to see really, and the heat was incredible. I was wearing a tee-shirt
and jacket and the sweat was just pouring off me. I had to spend most of
the three hours just sitting in the shade - though I did wander down to
the docks to see the dhows being loaded and unloaded.
flight into Egypt was again on Emirates Air, but this time it was just
Hell. The first thing to know is that the a/c wasn't on in the plane so
we all sweltered for a good part of it. The plane was chocka. I was
seated right up by the projection screen, so there was nowhere to
stretch my legs. I, nevertheless, was able to sleep - uncomfortably -
most of the way, only being woken by people stumbling over me.
airport was just as full of trickster as the guidebooks had led me to
expect, so many people who wanted to help me. I eventually
decided to get a taxi to Minerva, but what a performance that was. First
I got a L25 offer accepted and was taken to a van and asked to wait
while he rounded up another fare. Then after 20 minutes I had just got
out of the van to leave when he turned up with a girl and a story that
the price would be L30. So I left and got a taxi with from the official
rank. My guide said to pay L20-25 tops, but arguing with them would not
shift them from L35. Finally a tourist policeman came over and sorted
out a L30 fare as fair. Even then this bugger insisted that I had to pay
the L5 toll to leave the airport - I did not. Of course he wasn't
able to find the hotel so I had to walk up and down searching for it and
becoming more and more anxious. When I finally did find it it was booked
up and I had to look for another one.
I was walking the streets a guy called Ahmed started talking to me. At
first I assumed he was just one of those types who sees a tourist and
tries to do them down for a few bucks, but I couldn't figure his angle.
He suggested some hotels I could try which made me think he was just a
tout, but he mentioned the 'Gresham', which is one recommended by the
Let's Go guide, so I'm still not sure. I booked into the Gresham for one
night. Charge L60 per night for a very crappy room. I'll look for a
better one tomorrow. There was also a bit of difficulty with payment
since they wouldn't take Mastercard but only cash. Well, I have no
intention of giving them all my money just yet, so I've organized to pay
took me to get a bit of food and refused a meal himself, and he'd
already bought me a drink. He worried me when he left for a while while
I was eating, but I couldn't think what he could be doing that could
concern me. Still, after a while I left my meal unfinished - fried fish
and rice which I didn't like much - and stepped outside. I was just
about to wander off when he appeared. We then
buzzed down a side alley - again making me a little nervous -to
his workshop where he apparently works making imitation papyrus
hieroglyphic paintings as a way of applying what he has learnt at Cairo
University where he and his friends study art. I had a cup of tea,
sweet, with them in his shop and they tried to convince me to get an
ISIC (student card). I'm a bit dubious about it but it might be a good
idea. We also arranged to do a tour of the pyramids 'n' stuff tomorrow,
including a camel ride and a sound and light show. He also wants to go
to the pub afterwards. Well, well; how un-islamic.
to the hotel. Note that there is no toilet paper and only a very
primitive bidet system, and no towel. I'm not all that keen on this
spent almost all my time here east of the Nile and north of the ruined
very odd day. I began by getting up before 8 and looking around for
another hotel. Unfortunately I had to beat off all the touts who were
directing me to other places from which they would doubtless get a
commission. Changed $US50 at Thomas Cooks in Mahmoud Bassioun Street,
which was blessedly uncomplicated. Then went back to the hotel and tried
to get breakfast. Pretty crappy food - all they gave was tea, a roll,
jam, cheese, and a boiled egg. On the other hand, I talked to a South
African girl in the dining room who'd been travelling for 2 years. She
was very interesting. Met Ahmed, but he had to wait while I changed
hotels. (suddenly they found a cheaper room available where I was - too
late, mate.) Of course, the room I got was not the room they had shown
me earlier and wasn't quite as good, but it was miles better than the
The hotel in Cairo
quite a while at Ahmed's trying to get an ISIC card but it had arrived
by about noon so we gave it up and left anyway. It was certainly
interesting using the Cairo public transport system. I'm sure I would
never have been able to figure out what was going on by myself.
Unfortunately, it wasn't until we gt to the desert edge that I
discovered that this seemed to be a rip-off operation. I was introduced
to some guy Abdul blah blah who gave a ridiculous spiel about the
pyramids and his wonderful guided tour to all of them - including Abu
Sir and Sakkara - which would only cost me L350. I thought that was
outrageous, but, being the eager-not-to-offend fool that I am, I didn't
laugh in his face and immediately walk out, but endeavoured to bargain
with him ... with much regret that I didn't have so much and etc. ...
Eventually, I got the long trip - a camel ride to all these places with
a guide - by grudgingly (really) letting him have $US60. This works out
as about L200, which is still extortionate, but I was inclined to see it
really pissed me off, however, was the way that the guide complained
incessantly about how long the trip would be if we took camels so could
we take a car instead. I got quite angry when he wouldn't shut up and
then pretended not to know what I was talking about when I said I'd have
to ask for a refund if I wasn't going to have the tour I'd paid so much
rode for hours. The pyramids are a waste of time; there's absolutely
nothing to see. I went inside one but it was just like a cave - and it
cost L10 to get in and L2 for water. And everyone would say 'have a
scarab, no money' 'OK' 'Now mister, you give me something'. The first
time this happened I dropped the crap on the ground. After hours with a
truly reluctant camel who would not move without a really vicious
beating, we were stopped at a distance from Sakkara by a couple of
ghastly guardians at the site who said that we couldn't go any further
because it was closed. And give us baksheesh. On the guide's advice I
did give 50pt and he gave L2, but for the life of me I cannot understand
why they should have gotten anything.
The Pyramids at Gizeh
A large bun-shaped structure in
ass used as a water pump.
picture was taken hurriedly from the back of my camel heading south to
rode back in the dark along roads with half-witted Egyptian drivers
tearing past, tooting and flashing, and one coming from behind with his
lights off nearly collected the guide on his horse. The guide kept the
horse because I hurt when I ride it. The camel, on the other hand, was
much more comfortable, and on the way home did a much better pace.
stopped at along the way for a tea and some water and a hubble bubble,
which I tried. It didn't feel like I was smoking at all; which I suppose
was a good thing. A bit pointless though. The guide had the cheeck to
suggest that I should pay him for being a guide, and didn't admit to
understanding that if I wasn't able to see Sakkara (which I'd paid for,
remember,) and they'd known I wouldn't be able to, then I was certainly
not going to give them any more money.. By this time I was quite annoyed
with myself for allowing myself to be cheated by this pair of crooks -
who seem to have no shame about their crookedness, but expect to
continue to add charges. Ha, bloody, ha. I shall consider this a
I don't consider my money wasted: I did ride a camel for 6 hours and
20-40 km without expiring, and when I was back at their office I spent
from 7pm to ~*:30pm talking to Abdul and being tutored in Arabic. That
was a good experience. However ... REMEMBER TO BE
taxis back to town which Ahmed paid for, then we sat on the street
outside his shop with some of his loser mates and bothered the women.
Their attitude towards women is amazing. They really, really hate them.
They're all sluts and bitches who want to destroy men. Just appalling.
After I'd sat for a while with them I decided that I wouldn't wish an
Egyptian husband on my worst enemy. They all try (so they were saying)
to marry foreign women so they can get out of the country. It's actually
some time afterwards having a meal and a couple of beers with Ahmed in,
apparently, his favourite pub. 'Stella' beers. Very light. And some
nibbly things. Ahmed told me about how he wants to leave and women are
bad, and in NZ and Australia the girls are easy. I listened politely,
but I don't find the opinions very well-considered. Is the entire
population of Egypt so sex-conflicted?
about 12 and had a shower. One of the more pleasant surprises is that
the hot water was working. Did my diary till about 1, and so to bed.
Got the ISIC. Looks good
Earlier in the day Ahmed and a friend of his and myself headed off
downtown where I was to buy some duty-free goods, i.e. drink and ciggies,
on my passport, for them. Sounded a bit dodgy to me and I was certainly
going to query what was happening when I got inside. But as it happened
they were closed.
fairly early considering how late I got to bed. As I'm writing thi in my
journal, I can hear the muezzin calling all good moslems to prayer. I
suppose it's actually just a tape, but it's still a pretty romantic sort
of sound. This morning I met Ahmed again and we did the duty-free thing.
Everybody there seemed to think it was pretty normal. After I protested
about the guy starting to write in my passport the explanation indicated
that this was to show that I was bringing in goods. So that seems OK.
I've let Ahmed know that I'll be coming back to
Cairo before I leave for NZ and he didn't seem at all fazed - but the
idea was that if this was a rip-off he could expect payback. Well, I
don't actually think that there'll be a problem with this.
got dropped off at the museum and had a long look around - about 3
hours. If I had complained about the Italian treatment of their
heritage, this certainly put it in perspective. The whole place was just
a jumble of stuff. Good stuff, I'll admit; and the labels in Arabic,
French, and English were pretty good; and the guides didn't talk much
more tosh than you'd expect; but everything was just so dirty. You
didn't dare lean against the cases or walls because of it. Certainly the
guards in their pretty, tourist/fascisti uniforms who dozed or strutted
singing nd tapping the cases were not interested in enforcing any DO
NOT TOUCH signs.
It was striking that there were scores of earnest young folk copying
pictures from the monuments and papyri, and even painting them. This
must be what passes in Egypt for art education - they are taught how to
create touristy trash at the university.
my way back I had to physically push off the taxi touts who were
swarming outside the museum. God, they're tiresome.
to the Fu Shing restaurant and had a crabmeat soup, piles of noodles
with beef and egg and veges, and many teas for just L14. I forgot to
tip. Delicious and familiar food, and I'm feeling quite sated.
took the plunge and started drinking the water straight. Such daring.
changed my mind and went back to bottled. Not that brave after all, huh.
for a walk in the evening. I intended to cross the Nile at the 6 October
Bridge but the bus station sort of pushed me past it and I wound up
walking miles out of my way and going over the 26 July Bridge. I also
had a quick look at a market that was going on just this side of the
bridge. It's a shame that all the best sights are in places where you
don't really want to pull out your camera and declare yourself to be a
tourist (=target.) Walked
back over the El Tahrir Bridge and then back and forth along the
Corniche. This is supposed to be the strollers focus but it looked to me
like a place where they tell tourists to go so that they can be bothered
by felucca sharks. Not interesting. As I walked back through Qasr en Nil
I saw (at the far Tahrir end of it) a sign for an internet cafe - at
Cafe Paris, but I couldn't see where that was exactly. I thought it
would be a nice idea if I could ping Justine fairly soon, which reminded
me that I really wanted to surprise Mum with a phone call using the
Telecom direct - possibly from my room tomorrow.
up as early as I thought I should be: I didn't actually get out of the
door until 10. Walked down to the British Embassy to register (as work
had insisted.) Didn't see any Britons, only their Egyptian employess -
which made the whole business more of a risk than a reassurance
actually. It was quite pleasant inside the compound however -
comparatively clean. Only comparatively. After getting my passport
stamped yet again I picked up a taxi and asked for ibn Tulun. No
sweat, and he didn't even make a fuss when I gave him a L2 note as I got
out. I understand why now, since he actually dropped me off outside the
Rifai and Sultan Hasan. I mistook an outside tea garden for the
entrance, but made the best of it and had a shaay in the shade.
Rifa'i, Muhammad Ali, Sultan Hassan
The Hassan was the
unexpected highlight of today's travels. The interior was
in the faithful in El Rifa'i, standing before the mihrab and beside the
minbar. The mihrab is a niche that marks the direction of Mecca, and the
minbar is the pulpit. The prayer leader will stand on the penultimate
step. (Only Mohammed used the top step.)
ablution fountain. It is a custom for Moslems to ritually cleanse
themselves before entering the mosque for prayer. And in the
background one of the iwans.
I was able to
climb around inside the building. When I first got onto the roof I made
for the minaret, but some kid/guide called out to say 'no, hey, mister,'
I guess he wanted me to wait or to join his group of tourists so that
I'd give him money too. I wandered about the dome until he left and then
went up the minaret anyway. I'm very glad I brought a torch, because in
parts it was pitch black with rubbish on the steps and electric cables
all over the place. The final stage was a spiral metal ladder for about
30-40 feet and then a crawl through tiny hole about 1 1/2 by 1 foot. But
then you have a magnificent view over Cairo. And what a tip it is.
There's absolutely no colour and all the open spaces, roofs, and streets
are piled with debris and detritus.
view over the Sultan Hassan mosque from the minaret of the El Rifa'i.
view towards the Mosque of Ibn Tulun in the middle distance.
spent bloody ages trying to find the way into the citadel. I walked
almost all the way to the entrance (as I eventually learned) then gave
up went to the gate on Baab al Gideed which was only an exit; so
I started to walk back around again when I bumped into two people who
were looking for another entrance, and the lady spoke Egyptian so I
tagged along with them back up to the exit and she ascertained that,
yes, it was indeed just an exit. So then I started up again to the main
entrance (of whose existence I had now been assured) and again made it
almost all the way when I met an elderly German lady tourist coming the
other way and asking where the entrance was. I assumed she'd been much
further around and so we both decided to get into a taxi and let the
driver find the entrance. Well, more fool us. The man was an idiot. I
kept saying to him 'el madkhal, el madkhal', (entrance) and he kept
saying to me 'el mathaf, el mathaf' (museum). And then he took us to the
blasted exit I'd just come from. I got the guard to explain to him that
we wanted 'el steeking madkhal' and off we went around the citadel
again. This time we found it just a little bit further on from where
we'd picked the taxi up in the first place. I gave the driver L2, which
was really more than he deserved, and yet he had the colossal cheek to
demand more., so I took a pound off him and only gave it back after he
whined some more and then walked off. He very nearly got an earful for
being such a jerk, but the best policy is to just ignore them and keep
of the stuff in the Citadel is pretty trashy; but the Muhammad Ali was
quite impressive in a ticky tacky sort of way. I had another jerk
experience when I tried to buy a coke: I offered my 50pt and the boy
opened the bottle and then started asking for more money. So I took back
my 50 and slammed the bottle down and left ... 'hey mister! hey mister!'
the courtyard of the Muhammad Ali mosque
Shoeing a horse
a typical street scene that I photographed at some time in my walking
about on this day
Muhammad Ali's Dome
after we'd finished looking over the Citadel, and it really didn't take
long, we split up. She headed off to the Khan el Khalily markets (though
I doubt her street sense) and I went west to look for the elusive Ibn
Tulun. Here I had a bit of good luck. A very young Coptic boy called
Girgis (George) showed me the way there, and also into an old madrassa.
I was happy to give him 50pt baksheesh, since he performed a service
which I actually required - unlike most of the rest of these scroungers.
Also, he accepted the money happily but didn't beg for it.
mosque was very impressive as a ruin. But it's not actually upposed to
be a ruin. As a functioning mosque it is not impressive; just dirty and
my way back I stopped again at that pleasant tea garden and had a couple
of interesting experiences. First off, a pleasant one. There was much
ululating and clashing of instruments and everybody in the garden ran to
the gate. So I did too. It was a wedding party, all in good spirits,
with the guests all well turned out and clean and quite happy to see me
second experience was less pleasant. There was a fat little toad running
about, who'd already been told off by an adult for pulling off the
flowers in the garden, who came up to me all smiles and smarm and
putting out his hand saying 'welcome', but I could see from the way he
was holding himself and the way his eyes were darting about, that he
only wanted me to move my hand away from my stuff so he could grab it.
Instead I put hand on my bag and hat and pushed him in the chest lightly
but firmly and loudly told him to go away. Both the guard at the gate
and the waiter also moved towards us. I gave the waiter a good sized tip
for this effort and also thanked the guard as I left. That could have
been real trouble.
back through the streets of Islamic Cairo to el Tahrir (liberation).
Along the way I chatted to an American chap from San Francisco who'd had
much the same impression of Egyptians in general as I. Had a shwarma (I
think) from the Brazilian coffee shop and a coffee and then came home. I
had a bit of a blister on my foot after all this activity so I won't be
walking out again tonight.
doing my laundry in the sink and rinsing in the shower. They're hanging
on the line at the moment and I'm interested to see how it turns out. If
it's OK that'll be good, but if not I'll get them redone,
with my light trousers, by the hotel's laundry boy. I find that I only
have one tee-shirt. I'm sure I packed two. Bugger.
weren't dry and the shirt's not so clean. Too bad. I asked about getting
the trousers and green top cleaned and one old guy said yes, L2, but his
friend said L35! Of course, you can't just get it done: there always has
to be a problem. Tried to use the phone in my room. Of course, it didn't
downtown to hunt down this 'internet cafe' whose sign appears opposite
the Egyptian Museum. I was told by some old guy that I should walk in
the direction that the sign pointed. I think that'd be a recipe for
disaster. It didn't matter anyway, since there were plenty more signs as
I walked on taking me further into town until they stopped and I had to
ask someone where the Bousstan Centre was. Once inside I found quite a
good bookshop and some good maps which I may go back and buy. The
internet cafe was there but it didn't open until 11 so I made a note of
its location and moved on.
off then to the Museum of Islamic Art. Lots of stuff, but not really as
much or as well-presented as I had expected. Still, not at all a
I was walking on towards the Al Azhar mosque I fell in with a friendly
chap who offered to show me the way - which he did, through tiny, narrow
streets and across muddy holes around working men in pits and through
the Egyptian section of the market. Actually we stopped and had a shaay
and sheesha at his 'local', where he explained to me the differences
between the various kinds of teas. I had a Yellow, and he had a Yasmeen,
and they were both good. After that I decided that we should have
something to eat for lunch, so we went to a place he knew where we had a
couple of beers and something called, I think, istarbok,
which is meat from the lower back of a lamb (very tasty) that one eats
by wrapping in pita and dipping in tahini, and with a side of vinegar
cucumbers. Quite delicious. I paid for his meal, but then we had to go
to the bank so I could get some more money. Again, and even more so, we
took short cuts through what really looked like some pretty unsavoury
areas. At one stage we were even climbing over a rubbish tip (which
stank.) By way of a pleasant surprise, the bank was no trouble at all.
He then showed me to Al Azhar and we parted.
Mohammed and me
fragrant teas and tobaccos at his local
said that I would try to meet him again as I pass through Cairo on my
way home. This would be sometime after the 28th. I took his
address and contact details, but as it happened it did not come off.
of the things that Mohammed was talking to me about was that he has a
marriage arranged with one girl, 25, an Egyptian, and her photo shows
her to be very pretty, but he has also received courting mail from a
young girl in Belgium, 20, also pretty he says, and he doesn't know what
to do or how not to hurt either of their feelings. Now Mohammed's a nice
guy, but I really can't see the great attraction here for a foreign
girl. He thinks the Belgian girl (and her mother) may be after his money
because he has a bakery. I did not tell him that his great wealth simply
wouldn't be significant in any modern country.
on to the Al Azhar mosque, which, when I eventually found it, surprised
me by being clean, without the desert dust that finds its way into every
nook and cranny of Cairo - and which I thought the Egyptians had quite
despaired of fighting. Beautiful marble floors and new clean carpets.
This is the doctrinal centre of Sunni Islam, and has been for many
centuries. It's the closest thing that Sunni Islam has to an
establishment like the Catholics Vatican - to which it's often compared.
I was shown around one part by a young guy to whom I offered some money
for his help - again, this time it was actually help and not begging.
Very much enjoyed this.
Al Azhar co-eds
teacher and some female students. I was surprised to see them. I had no
idea this teaching mosque would accept the fair sex.
Al Azhar mihrab
Al Azhar at evening
back home after after a long day out and had a bit of a rest. I bought a
huge bottle of fruit juice on the way home
up to the train station but was fooled by all the signs saying 'all
stops', 'Egyptian Railways', etc. into believing that I was going to the
train station when, in fact, it was the metro (the underground system).
Never mind: I walked in circles underground for a while, just to
disorient myself (things are more exciting that way) and then found the
station. What a filthy, disorganized, disaster it is! All the same, with
the help of the tourist folk (who were very pleasant and understanding)
I eventually tracked down the hidden ticket office and paid for my
ticket to Luxor. $37 for 1st class, 9-12 hours, Pretty good I
reckon. Leave at any time after 10.
out of the station I had very little idea of what direction I was going,
so I walked in a bit of an expanding spiral until I hit Ramses Street
(actually, see the map at the start of this diary for an overview.) I
don't think I got things too wrong, so that was encouraging. The
difficulty was that there was just so much dirt in the air that you
couldn't see across the road to read the street signs, and you certainly
couldn't make out any shapes on the skyline to orient yourself by. I
kept walking down Qasr el-Nil ('Nile castle' - a name I knew previously
as the origin of 'Casher O'Neill', a character in a Cordwainer Smith
novel.) There I found the Estoril restaurant. Had
dinner there: a filet au poivre (well done,) which was actually a
tough old piece of leather - but a gratifyingly familiar taste, and a roz
au lait, which I thought would be like a rice pudding but was more
like a thick junket. Nice though. And so home.
breakfast I went across the street to the Al Americaine expecting
at least to see menus in English, but no such luck so I just had a cup
of tea and a bit of a relax. Before this I finally
managed to make the tomfool of a makhwaga
understand that I needed my clothes washed. Actually, it was probably
only a misunderstanding about L35 or L3.5, so I'm wrong to be too harsh.
The rest of the day is just a series of excursions and stops to while
away the time.
that tea I wandered to the main post office to send off my postcards,
which was pretty straightforward, and on the way there I bought a L10
Menatel card and (after some disorientation) I found my way back to
Talaat Harb Square and worked my way around the public phones until I
found one that worked. Parents were pleased to hear from me I think but
the line at their end was not too good apparently - they didn't seem to
know when I'd finished talking or had just been interrupted.
decided to find myself some real food, but on the way I ran into Ahmed
again. I was not particularly surprised to learn that he was receiving a
commission for providing tourists as fodder given the pretty obvious
fact that the Egyptian Government tour he said he'd take me to was just
another tourist rip-off merchant. On the other hand I was
a little surprised that he wanted to tell me this. Nothing that happened
later required this confession so perhaps it was just a gesture of
friendship. We then went to his shop and then for a shaay (which I paid
for.) Interestingly, he asked if I would do him a favour - which I hope
I may interpret as his believing that I wasn't too badly ripped off by
his friend. But who can tell with these people who can tell: their cheek
is endless. He wants me to buy him 'traveller's shoes' from NZ. After
much to-ing and fro-ing I let him persuade himself that giving me L100
when I came back to Cairo would be the easiest way of doing it. I spoke
much of my uncertainty as to charges and commissions on money transfers
and bank cheques which were quite outside his world. This surely
provides some scope for saucing that gander.
tried a 'Wimpy Meal' which wasn't much good but was at least filling.
Then I went back to the hotel and told them I was going and asked if
they could look after my bags. Sure. Can I have a receipt? No Taking a
chance, I asked them to put it in another room, which they did OK.
my way back to the Cafe Paris and went through an horrendous process -
with a very slow machine - to enrol as a hotmail user. The point of
this, of course, was to send an email to Justine, which I did
eventually. In that email I also told her that I'd try to phone her
about 10 pm at home in the next few days to make sure that things are
OK. I should be able to receive email replies now, but that's assuming
that because the computer made success noises that it actually
succeeded. I know better than to count on this.
a lot more walking around after this despite my feet starting to hurt.
Eventually stopped at Alfy Bey for a soup and a stuffed pigeon (both
ghastly.) I think that I only got 3 mouthfuls of meat from the pigeon and
it still had its head on! Spent about 1 1/2 hours here and then went
back to Talaat Harb to buy 'The Robe' for L4. Should help while away
those boring periods.
the hotel. Pick up bag and laundry. Off to Ramses, which made no more
sense this time than it did last time. Never mind, I am at least settled
without too much fuss. Writing this with some difficulty and having to
listen to a truly dreadful Egyptian TV programme being blasted through
the train. I declined dinner which was, naturally, an extra L27; but I
will have breakfast.
my shoes off - bliss! and read The Robe until the lights went out.
a breakfast of cheeses, bread (croissant and buns), apple juice in a
sachet, and tea. L10.50, and not at all bad. It would have been nice too
if the guy had picked up the dirty tray. Eventually I got fed up and put
it on the chair next to me. This was actually a pretty good trip.
Arrived in LUXOR.
was just as the guide book said it would be in Luxor: there were people
all over the place trying to get you to follow them to their hotel, and
they were even more insistent than the Cairenes. I found myself in a
hotel about the same crap quality as the last one (suits me) but this
time for L15. (On the map below it's about halfway between the train
station and the telephone office.) I was surprised, walking around, at
just how filthy and squalid even a small town like this can be: even
when it's the main tourist centre for this area. The streets are not
particularly well marked either. I'm sure they could really make
something of the place if they would only put a little effort into
thinking and working rather than scheming, scamming, and skiving.
Map of Luxor
went 'downtown', so to speak, to get a picture of the Nile and some
boats, which I thought were ery pretty. I also tried to hunt down a
telephone centre in the places mentioned in the LG, but these, when I
found them, wouldn't take Menatel cards. They'd take a type of card that
cost L30, but I wasn't going to buy one of those. Eventually, I found a
telephone service in the Old Winter Palace Hotel but I couldn't get
through. The first time I got the NZ voice but when I asked for the
operator nothing happened. The second time it was engagd for 20 minutes.
Between these two attempts I wandered along the waterfront and thought
I'd sit in the shade for a while. It was very difficult because people
would keep approaching trying to sell me stuff.
Kalishes at Luxor
failed to phone Justine I tramped through Luxor temple. This was
refreshingly free of 'guides', but just knowing that it was surrounded
by a slum made it a somehow guilty pleasure. I followed this by battling
my way up the Corniche to the Anubis restaurant which was clean and
shady and served delicious Spaghetti Bolognese. Thank God for real food.
This restaurant would prove to be a pleasant haven during my time in
Luxor. So civilised! Continuing down the Corniche I discovered that the
Luxor museum is closed at 1 pm and opens again in the evening, so I
headed back to my hotel , keeping an eye out for the Banque de Caire
because I needed to get some money out. There's one just around the
corner from me but it doesn't open until 5 pm. Lay under the fan till
5:30 reading 'The Robe,' then went to the bank. No probs.
Luxor museum was very well organized and clean and really not
like anything I'd seen before in the country. Quite a credit to them.
There was an American tourist there who had apparently quite a knowledge
of Egyptology and he was giving a commentary to the people he was with.
I hung back a little but couldn't really hear all he was saying. Walked
along the dockside for a while and then dined at Anubis (which I knew
was safe) and sat beside the Nile watching it flow by. Very nice. Very,
back via some sort of celebration being held in the Suq. I bumped into
the hotel man there and sat with him for a while, but of course, it was
too noisy to talk. People offered me cigarettes, but since I don't smoke
I couldn't accept. I think that when you're travelling, sharing a ciggy
is quite a useful way to introduce yourself to people.
to Karnak temple and wandered about for around an hour. These temples
and museums and sights would be much more enjoyable without the Arabs
following you around everywhere. They have an annoying habit of ordering
you to do this or that, and when you ignore them they come running after
you to tell you to do just what you're doing anyway. They block up
entrances or pathways or steps and volunteer to let you through - for a
small charge. They are, however, cowardly, and won't do anything but
complain if you ignore them too.
was magnificent all the same. Huge pieces of stone, but it's pretty
obvious that the Egyptians didn't have much of a clue about spanning
spaces. All the roofs are simple flat slabs which means the maximum
clear space is about 5 1/2 metres. St. Peter's it ain't. Went there on a
'kalish', which I thought was just a mispronunciation of 'carriage,' but
now I'm not so sure. Naturally I had to haggle about the price. Started
at 10 and went down to 3 (and baksheesh makes it 3,50.) It's still a
ridiculous price and to top it off he made me wait while he tried to
pick up another fare. This haggling (have I mentioned this) is bloody
tiresome - it takes forever to get any business done. It must be a huge
brake on the economy - amongst many other practices here.
back along the Nile checking boats, but they mostly seem to be laid up
or full. They are mostly going on Saturday which seemed far away, but I
realised later is only the day after tomorrow. I finally found the Sinouhe
II (named for the famous Egyptian literary
figure) I'll leave Saturday at 2 pm. Cost for 2 days is $40 per day.
the street I had a look at some shirt shops and managed to bargain down
a green shirt from L25 to L15 just by pretending not to want a shirt
like this really. But I did! Ha ha. Tricked! Stopped at Abu al-Ahram or
some such for a good-sized mean: half a chicken and a bowl of rice, both
was met by a young lad who seemed to want to befriend me. Certainly, I
could see that he didn't have anything he could try to sell me. He
introduced me to his uncle and they invited me into their house, which
was as disgusting inside as it appeared to be from the outside. There
was almost no furniture - a diwan here, a stove there, a bed, and
of course a television beside the main bed. We sat there for a while
drinking tea and reading letters from his girlfriend in England - some
stupid tart who should really know better; but there you go. All this
time he was trying to get me to smoke some 'special' cigarettes, but I
thought that as a tourist it would be better if I didn't risk any
illegalities. Anyway, the probable reason for that was to get me in a
receptive mood for buying the carpets that he got the boy to bring out,
and eventually, yes ... 'Take it. Only 35. No, no; 30. OK, 25. Please
take. Which one you like?!...' It's a great shame. I thought I'd finally
found someone half-way decent in this rotten, little tip. I guess there
really is no-one here worth talking to. The young lad then made
me promise to meet him in his shop and we'll go to the place where they
have belly but don't tell anyone!
the way back I also checked out an internet connection at the Military
Club (I think it's called,) which charges L12 for the first 15 mins and
each minute after that at another rate. It seemed a bit over the top
after the inexpensive Cairo shop. Time was pressing so I hurried along
to the telephone man from yesterday, where I managed this time to
connect to Justine. Once again the connection was bad at the NZ end so
talk was a little difficult, but it was certainly nice to hear her voice
again. Nothing is wrong at the other end and she's gotten used to
driving the car - I'll be amazed: she can park and everything! It's just
been Guy Fawkes of course and they've just got back from watching the
pretty fireworks. I'll bet it's raining. She hasn't received my email
yet but she hasn't checked in a while. I suppose it's possible there was
no problem in sending it, but I doubt it. We'll soon see, if there's a
reply for me when I next log on.
at the hotel, the guy reckons he could have got me a cruise for for $30.
I'm inclined to think that's bullshit again. He also mentioned a wedding
party tonight; a continuation of the party I saw last night where there
would be belly dancing. Doubtless, this is what the urchin was talking
about, so I don't need to bother meeting him now. I'm sure he'll
understand : as far as I've been able to make out, solemn promises mean
absolutely nothing to these people.
it happened, I didn't even get to the wedding. On the way to dinner I
was greeted by some youngsters; one of whom claimed to know me from
before. Obviously a pick up line, but I let him buy me a cup of tea and
waited to see what he'd try to sell me. Well, his friend tried to sell
me a tour of the West Bank. I said my hotel tried to sell me one for L40
(actually, it was L65.) He said he could do it for L45. I said OK later
and said I'd meet him in the morning. Maybe I even will. Maybe I won't.
I don't much care either way. Then Mustapha tried to interest me in a
at Anubis again. Spag. Bol. and Nescafe. L15 (inc. baksheesh.) Tried a
little half-heartedly to find the belly dancer, but couldn't be bothered
looking too hard, so flagged it.
make it out in time to do that tour but instead prepared myself for a
long day n the sun with two bottles of water. Took the ferry over, in
which I was hassled by two guys who kept asking if I wanted a taxi.
Surely, after several minutes of this they should decide that their time
would be better and more profitably spent elsewhere. Apparently not.
to the ticket office and only there discovered that you have to decide
what you are going to see before you enter the actual valley. As
expected, too, there are very sparse and unhelpful descriptions posted
about. Chose to visit Kings, Queens, Ramesseum, and Behri. All of these
were frankly a little disappointing.. The entrance to each tomb in the
Valley of the Kings was guarded by some officious twit who wanted to
point at things, make me wait for a tour group to go through, or change
some Korean money. Ignored all of them. Hatshepsut's edifice was
basically a facade which lacked very much of interest. (Although it is
interesting that there was a terrorist attack here just a few
years ago and lots of tourists were killed.) I accidentally walked in to
the Habu Ramesses temple without a ticket. Well, not quite accidentally.
I followed a tour group in. It was just big columns and walls. Not
really 'grand' at all.
The Archaeological Sites of
Colossi of Memnon
Look the Glory the Ancient
temple at the end of this road. The sign announces this in its own
Deir el Bahri
better view of Hatshepsut's temple from the mountain between it and the
Valley of the Kings
best part was walking over the mountain from Deir al Bahri to the Valley
of the Kings. It wasn't as hard as I'd expected but it was pretty hot.
On the way back there was shade on the climbing side, but the path is
less clearly marked. Since you basically just want to go straight up
that hardly matters. At the top of the hill I was accosted - amazingly -
by some filthy bedouin with multi-coloured teeth who 'helped' me find my
way up by shouting encouragement when I zigged towards him and shouting
remonstrations when I zagged away. When I got to the top he was joyful -
and then started trying to sell me some crappy alabaster cat sculptures.
The whole area seems to be swarming with verminous hucksters and being
out on the road makes you a prime target. There was hardly a time when I
wasn't being hailed by somebody: 'Hey, hello! Where are you from? Where
are you going?' Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. These people are full of
it. I was also followed by two horrid little girls offering me junk
(including a rock!, for God's sake) for 'One pound, please mister.'
Wheedle, wheedle, wheedle, for 5- 10 minutes.
The Valley of the Kings
the same spot. Just spin around and there it is.
The Valley of the Nobles
a little-used donkey track across the Theban mountain
back, I cut through the mountain and down, which probably took an hour
off the marching time, and also gave me great views over Medinet Habu
and the Valleys of the Kings and Queens.
on the ferry and I was forced into conversation with some guy who
claimed he was yet another Ahmed who taught Arabic. How many do they
need, I wonder. He wasn't going to sell me anything, he swore, but
eventually he asked whether I'd go to the Duty Free. So that makes it a
100% strikeout rate for decent folk in Luxor. Well, I only have to put
up with them for another night and tomorrow morning and then I can blow
this cesspit. The only really nice thing I've found here is the Anubis,
and I'm here again writing this up. Even so the service is pretty
appalling. You have to ask and ask for a waiter and he takes forever to
come. Or two of them come because they haven't divided up the tables
amongst themselves and every time you ask it's a different guy.
note that I now have a whole new collection of blisters on my feet. This
trip down the Nile is going to be a way of giving them quite a necessary
rest I think. I hope that by Monday they'll be OK
for walking again. They would've been OK today except
that I think I went at it a bit hard.
Stayed in late and after breakfast took a kalish to the Luxor
Museum, then looked round for my liner. Had a brief scare when I
couldn't see it, but I noticed it was out in the Nile manoeuvring to get
to the outside of the stack. I sat under the shade of a tree and read
for a while before going aboard.
a delightful change to have clean surroundings. The room is excellent
and cool and as I was removing my shoes a waiter came to my door with a
complimentary cold hibiscus tea which was absolutely delicious. Now I don't want to do
anything at all.
went onto the deck to sun myself for a while and very pleasant it was
too. I couldn't help but notice that my fellow passengers are almost all
fat and flabby, and really not good arguments form the superiority of
the white race. I had hoped that there would be the at least the
possibility of some interesting acquaintances here, but it doesn't seem
very likely now.
Nile cruiser cabin
Nile cruiser pool
a most unpleasant meal. I was quizzed on the way in: 'England? Francais?'
Apparently the idea is that we are to be seated with each other or with
a waiter who speaks out language. In either case it was a failure. I got
to sit in the middle of the room with a Frenchwoman whom I had to avoid
- because I didn't particularly want company with my meals. It's
not something I would have paid money for.
a disco tonight but I'm certainly not going anywhere near it. And I
overheard the waiter explaining that there's a galabiyya party
tomorrow night where everyone gets to buy or hire a g. What a surprise!
I also resent having to pay L4 for a bottle of water when all I asked
for was a glass.
Good, sizeable breakfast. Then straight up to lie in the sun, and
lay there all day from ~ 10 to ~ 4:30, with a half hour break for a trip
to Edfu temple and 20 minutes for lunch.
trip to the temple was a little annoying. I discovered that the kalish
is not included in the trip's price and I had to haggle to get a good
rate. They began by asking for L20 but I got mone for L5.50. This was
rather less pleasant than even Luxor dealing: the 50p at the end was
just a bit of baksheesh but the guy decided he wanted a L2 tip for doing
nothing. Tough. So he walked off muttering and I walked off calling him
names in a rather perfunctory way.
didn't even bother going into the temple. I had a look at it from the
outside, recalled that I'd forgotten my student card and decided against
spending L20 to look at another pile of rocks. They're not even old
rocks, they're Ptolemaic rocks! Instead, I had a shaay with the driver
in a little shop and chatted with some of the other guys there.
just had a wander about Kom Ombo. Quite nice. Nothing special. Just more
of that Ptolemaic tempelry. Sat on the deck in the evening until I
decided to go down to my cabin. Gave up no the idea of dinner as I
couldn't stand the idea of forced socialization for a 3rd
Kom Ombo by night
a brief look around. Went to the Tourist Office to see if he could book
me on the Sharm el-Sheikh ferry. No luck. Booked in to the Abu Simbel
hotel. No fans, no a/c, no bidet, no toilet paper. Hmm. Nice balcony and
breezes though, which makes up for a lot.
downtown in shorts I found myself being started at, and I think one old
chap made a rude gesture. It was pulling two fists quickly apart,
knuckles facing, like tightening a rope. I have no idea what it mean, if
anything, but I decided to return and put on long trousers. Ridiculous
people. I am amazed to read that kissing or embracing in public is a
crime here. Gee, tell me more about how strung up the Victorians were.
view from my hotel room balcony. My cruiser is the big one in the middle
again, their corniche is made unusable to tourists by the all the
felucca shysters lined up along it. What really pisses me off is that
they're so damned insistent. You tell them no, and yet you can spend
another minute or two telling them no again and again; as if this would
change anyone's mind. They all want to talk, they all want .. excuse me,
just a minute, friend.
Feluccas at Aswan
to the bus station to find out about their trips to Abu Simbel (the
temple not my hotel.) Apparently there are no tourists allowed there any
more. Therefore I have decided to leave tomorrow morning. I think that
the sooner I get out of Egypt the better I'll like it.
at the Aswan Moon 'Floating'. It was OK. The service was
a bit slow; slower even than the Mona Lisa (why?) where I had lunch and
learned that the hibiscus tea that I liked so much on the ferry was in
fact karkahdeh, a specialty of Upper Egypt. It's
the best thing it has going for it, by far!
nice and early from Aswan for Hurghada (pronounced 'erdaha' apparently.)
Quite a performance : the bus office didn't open until 7, then they
wouldn't sell tickets. I had to buy them on the bus. Then the bus driver
tried to send me back to the office. Eventually we got going and only a
long way into the trip did I discover that it was going to cost L25
rather than the L18 that the RG stated.
was a fairly comfortable and uneventful trip. All of Egypt is uniformly
filthy. I noticed that there was a coat of dried vomit on the carpeted
side against which I was leaning - so I changed seats. Why couldn't they
have cleaned that? Just what is so difficult in taking a little pride in
things? The trip lasted about 8 1/2 hours (not 7).
is definitely a dive centre. Walking around the shops, however, is
just as unpleasant as anywhere else.
out to dinner at the Riviera. Clean and very cheap. Good food. On the
way home I bought chocolate and a bottle of water. On the advice of the
shop in this hotel I spoke to a fellow in the Sea Ray Dive Centre behind
the hotel about a dive trip tomorrow: L45. I'm in two minds about it and
up early and went to the Sea Ray DC to go on the dive trip as a
snorkeler. Got there at 8:15. Last person arrived at 8:45. This was
Rebecca, a Swiss girl (overweight, I'm afraid) who was a new diver and
not very good at it. She spent most of her time with Richie, also Swiss,
who was an old guy who'd done a lot of diving already. The rest of our
party was two young German guys who used dry suits (and one was using a
50 year old re-breather!) and the dive master, Luke, a young English
guy. I spent most of my time yakking with him.
day started with a lot of fuss and bother about what boat we were going
on and where we were going and where was the food. We were going to be
put with another large group but the Teutons resisted and so we
eventually boarded another boat and sat and waited for our food, which
was eventually arrived, and also a party of six Russians. This was
apparently their boat and we were the interlopers. Luke and I agreed
that since this was pretty much a daily requirement, it should not be
too difficult to organize it decently. We eventually got under way at
about 10 am, which is quite ridiculous.
seas were quite heavy, which made it a bit uncomfortable, but nothing
serious. When we got to Carless we spent more time fluffing about and I
waited a good long while until they had all gone before I got in. I must
say, I had expected better. The reef was badly damaged coral and it
seemed to lack colour. The fish were quite pretty; lots of black and
white stripes, some striking blues, greens, and yellows, and just a few
reds. No fish of any great size, no seaweed of any sort, not much actual
life about in fact. I saw a sea snake, or perhaps it was an eel, which
was quite interesting. I don't think I would have gained anything by
scuba diving here, and in fact, I only did one dive for the day.
moved to the second spot, which was Famous reef, and we had lunch there
at about 2pm. Quite alte in the day really. (Lots of pasta, kofta, and
salad, and a coke.) While we were eating the Russians did their dive,
and after they came bac - while they were having lunch - the Swiss and
Germans went off by themselves without Luke. As I say, I didn't have any
really great need to see more forgettable sights. When the Germans cam
back they were very angry, and shouted that it was 'a desert down there'
and so on. This was obviously because they'd gone in the wrong
direction, but they would not be comforted. The other two came back
after an hour complaining that it was cold and they must have started
too late. I found this also to be a ridiculous contention. Poor Luke
just wanted the day to end. Before it could, however, we ahd to wait for
the Russians to make their second dive here.
Diving in the Red Sea
back about 5:15. All in all, a pretty enjoyable way to fill in a day.
out to dine at the Riviera Restaurant again. Onion soup, yoghurt salad,
spag. bol., Pepsi, bread: L8. Excellent value, but I didn't tip for some
reason - I have no idea now why not, but it can't be undone now. Picked
up laundry. Had a long talk with the Italian chap who is in the hotel
too. He knows a great deal about New Zealand and seems to be of the
opinion that NZ is quite well known in Italy and in Europe more
generally.. They also tend to think well of us for our 'progressive'
social policies, our general integrity, and other good things. All of
which is quite flattering. He also had quite an interest in the Maori
aspect of NZ's history, due to his acquaintance with a Maori girl some
from this we talked about India - because I asked him about his trip -
and he told me that it was something of a disappointment. The sights are
very far apart and there is just not very much to see. The poverty
is everywhere extreme and the climate is much too hot.
should also mention that Luke (the dive master) spent quite a lot of his
time watching the other dive masters and slapping his forehead at their
blunders and incompetencies. Some were quite obvious, like not using an
octopus, or waiting under the boarding ladder while learners were on it
with their heavy tanks, or doing try-dives in open water rather than
following a mooring rope as is usual. He and I agreed that things were
ordered better in other places. (Incidentally, he said that Egypt is
high tech compared to Malta.)
up about 7 and tried to go to the toilet and have a shower. To begin
with the water had been turned off and until I discovered this and the
tap to fix it with I had some bad moments with the toilet half flushed
and my hand dirty and with dirt dripped across the floor. Then I found
that the hot water had been turned off overnight - after I had turned it
on last night so that I could have a nice warm shower in the mormning
rather than the cold rinse which is all I could have last night. I
turned it back on and waited. 30 minutes for it to heat up. Eventually
it was a pleasant, if erratic, morning wash.
up with two English and two Austrians so we'd be able to improve our
bargaining position. We got a taxi out to the ferry, which we'd
previously booked through the hotel (L85 rather that L100 as the RG
said.) Left at 11 am and arrived at about 4:45 pm. The ferry was ok,
with comfortable seats, and a pretty expensive meal, but I wouldn't
complain about that.
checks on this stretch were pretty stringent: there were guards and
passport checks and quick baggage inspections upon embarkation, and then
a full security screening with airport scanners at the other end. I
guess that's because Sinai and environs are still a pretty sensitive
the screening there was quite a bit of haggling with the taxi drivers
who would take this ferry load of passengers to Dahab for L20 - 15 - 13
- 10. This worked out pretty well and I met up with another Kiwi, Barry,
and two Aussie girls, Marissa and Elisa, and hung out with them. Barry
and I took a hut together for L5 per night and the girls shared another
one. These huts we're staying in are real huts,
made of bamboo or something like it and with just futons to lie on
- with pillows. They are sub-basic accommodation, but they do have
down to the Shark Club for dinner and had the hugest meal I've ever
seen. The dining arrangements are fascinating: it's just a line of
cafe-style outdoorsy places all along the waterfront with diwans and low
tables. And cats and dogs frolicking and begging and crawling all over
the place. I regret that I didn't get a photo of this, it was quite a
sight. More character!
got up early this morning so as to be able to use the toilets and
showers before a crowd gathered. This didn't turn out so good. The
toilets were all blocked and had neither bidet nor toilet paper. Then I
found that the hot water wasn't on so I had to have a cold shower.; and
this water was also so hard that I couldn't get a lather on the soap at
ad I buzzed off to Aladdin's for a breakfast of banana and honey pancakes
- which were excellent. Following this we wandered around checking out
other places to go to stay and trips to St. Catherine. When we got
back Marissa was up and lazing in the outside diwans but Elissa had
opted to stay in bed. Marissa had a banana honey pancake and gave Elissa
half in bed. That's pretty cool. I doubt whether I could get Barry to do
the same for me.
lunchtime we wandered to the lighthouse point with the intention of
snorkelling, but instead we just lay there in the sun in the sun
loungers outside a restaurant. Stayed there for several hours, then the
girls left and Barry and I walked back a little later., after a
Dahab in the day
met Marissa walking back but Elissa seems to have a bit of a bug. I
accompanied Marissa to the restaurant for another banana pancake. After
this we all went back to the camp and messed about until dinner time
conserving energy until we were due to go to Mt. Sinai. (We'd decided to
go on the trip organized by the hotel manager, 'Will Smith' aka Muhammed.)
At dinner we were again at the Shark restaurant with all its animals,
but this time we were with a bunch of friends and acquaintances whom the
other three sort of knew through previous encounters in their travels -
in feluccas etc. I was a bit on the outer here but at least I had a good
meal. A large dinner plate- sized meat pastie - which I
finished. About 11 we dashed off for an extremely uncomfortable taxi to
Mt. Sinai (L30.)
was a very pleasant day spent lazing by the beach and on various
cushions Dahab was not spoken of very highly by anyone I'd bumped into,
but the experience I had was quite opposed to that word-of-mouth. I
found Dahab to be a blessed relief from the constant hawking and begging
of the other Egypt - including Hurghada. Dahab was not an interlude I
had intended but it's been the best part so far.
up Mt. Sinai in the night. The climb was pretty good but the real effort
was in the stumbling in the dark. Got to the top about 1:30. Barry and I
had raced off way ahead of the rest. When we got to the top it was
bitterly cold, so we bought a tea and blankets from the bedouin at the
top of the hill. Reasonably priced, too; thanks, I guess to the monks.
We slept as best we could on this mountain, curled up on a rock ledge,
huddled in my towel, but this wasn't very successful. Still, I wasn't
really aware of all the people gathering around me until I 'woke up'. We
waited till the sun had risen, and we ooh-ed and aah-ed at it for a
little while, then we more or less jogged down the 'Steps of
Steps of Repentance
Barry, and Elissa
Catherine's was unfortunately closed because of the celebration of the
priest's name day. It wouldn't open until 11 am and we were leaving at
got straight into a taxi and headed for Nuweiba and the ferry to Aqaba.
I was originally going to go on the slow ferry, but I paid the extra
US$10 for the fast cat and I got to Aqaba in about 1 hour. I met a new
friend while I was waiting for the cat. A Jordanian chap called Jamal
who'd had a bad experience trying to visit Egypt with his brother. I'll
give him a call when I get to Amman. He helped me get a taxi into town.