Tuesday, 27 May 2008

5 things about Egypt

Egypt was fabulous. Not only was it packed full of jaw-dropping monuments and temples (which Tane will write about later when I stop hogging the computer), but it has an incredibly vibrant and interesting culture. The people that we met were friendly and up for a laugh, the sky was blue, and the Nile really all that. These, however, are the top five things that spring to mind when I think about our time in what I now consider to be my third favourite country of the 28 that I have seen. (NB: one and two are New Zealand - naturally - and Turkey. Bulgaria still occupies last place)

1. The heat

Egypt was hot, hot, hot. And when we were at Aswan Dam, we were damn hot. (heh). The weather reached an impressive 44 degrees on the day we visited Valley of the Kings, and we all agreed that was well into the "nasty hot" category of heat. There wasn't much discussion about it though as the entire group of us were rendered useless by the heat so while not looking at sites, sat around like giant lethargic slugs. Due to the heat, it should not have been a surprise that in Egypt a cold beer costs the same as dinner. Tane, though, was still able to jump around in spite of the heat.

In the Valley of the Kings

2. Donkeys

While camels are a bit scary and gurgly, Donkeys are plain awesome. They are everywhere in Egypt, pulling massive carts and transporting around all sizes of people. They not only got the respect of a few travelling kiwis, but made the long drives more interesting by playing "spot the donkey".
We got to ride some while at the Valley of the Kings, which was hilarious. Not only are they sturdier than I thought but riding them is unpredictable and exciting. Will they stray off course to eat some plants? Will Sarah's one bite mine in the neck again? Will Tane's donkey (christened Sir Mange-alot) lead the pack and prove to be the Scott Dixon of donkeys? These are some of the exciting questions asked while riding a donkey.

3. Egyptian men

As an example of Egyptian men, while in Egypt I received 4 offers of marriage, numerous whistles and compliments, and one man say that for me he would kill his wife. Tane was asked on two occasions how many camels he would sell me for. At first it was annoying, but once we realised that it's not too serious, it was OK and sometimes very very funny. Having said that though, I still find it creepy that a man said he would kill his wife. Shudder. I have read that many Egyptian men assume that Western women are all easy, and given how rarely we saw women on the street, and that when we did they wore head veils 90% of the time and many were in hajabs, we certainly do appear immodest in comparison. While being hassled isn't always fun, if you keep a sense of humour it's no big deal at all. 4. Haggling

Haggling is a way of life in Egypt, especially in the markets. The markets are chaos, and at first the smells, sights and having to ignore Egyptian men is a little overwhelming. Visiting them is very rewarding, however, and some of the best laughs we had in Egypt were in the markets with locals trying to sell us their wares. Like many things, the haggling and hassling was annoying at times. Once our guide pointed out that these people make a living off selling to tourists though, coupled with the fact that we found Egypt to be much more impoverished than we realised, we became much more tolerant. Tane and I also found that shopkeepers and street sellers were often very humorous people, and the source of some very interesting conversations.

Sarah in Luxor

5. Mosquitoes

I'll let this photo of my legs in Aswan speak for itself.

1 comment:

Aniket said...

That's a very well written travel piece. Looking forward for more to come. Keep it up!!!