EGYPT!

22 11 2005
Wow….
What a night!
Ok where do i begin…
Well yes coming to you from Cario, Egypt! I am writing this from a smoky, dirty little internet cafe, in the heart of downtown cairo, its dark and dingy and there are 3 middle aged arabic men crowding around the computer next to me looking at porn… They are getting ‘visibly excited’ by it if you get my drift and one of the mens groins is disturbingly close to my face..
Egypt is going to be one helluva experience i can tell already.
 
Just a quick recap of my adventures in egypt so far. Pleasant flight to egypt (i don’t know where the dispparaging stereotype about aeroplane food comes from the stuff i get is always quite good). As usual i’d done my signature due dilligence for this trip – which meant that i didn’t know what i was doing, where i was going and was planning these on the plane.
**
The dirty old men have left now. Much better…
**
Egypt has this funny semi communist system where anyone who finishes university is guaranteed a job in the public service. As theres tons of people finishing degrees there need to be more jobs. The egyptian solution to this – rather than create new initiatives and enteprises is to create more needless beurocracy. So cmoing through immigration i had my passport checked over – at three seperate points. And this job was done by two people at a time. One to look at the passport and then tell the other one to enter the info on a computer. Yup now i’m not a corporate ‘jack nasser’ bastard who likes to slash jobs. But i am trained to be one(‘Integrating I.T to increase efficiency and effectiveness’ what Business systems prports to do is more often than not a euphamism for replacing people with computers) – and this monolithic neanderthal beurocracy was riciulous! I would have gladly taken a meat-axe to it. In fact i’d relish it.
 
Get through immigrtion and there are tons of men offering accomadation – just touts. I go out to call up a hostel and make a booking. While i am trying to do that men keep on coming up and hassling me for a taxi. Like i’m making calls and they are tapping me on the shoulder and asking me for a taxi. A friendly guard – ended up ‘guarding’ me whilst i made the calls. He then turned around and says "baksheesh". This means "pay me money for doing what i’m supposed to do/give me a bribe". This was fine as i appreciated what he’d done so  i gave him a tip and then went to find the bus to get into cairo.
 
I don’t know how many of you have been standing at an airport at 11.30 at night with surrounded by a group of men all getting up close and yelling at you in broken english trying to get you into a cab – but its an interesting experience – to put it mildly. I ran away from them and jumped on a bus, which  i thought would take me to another bus which would take me to the city. A legitimately friendly guy tried to help me but i don’t think he understood where i wanted to go and so i got off the bus in the middle of nowhere  – still at the airport. If that makes sense. There were no other non-arabic tourists aroud, just groups of men.. all staring at me… okay…. A group of 6 men approached me and one of them tried to communicate with me, they were wearing  uniforms so i thuoght they’d be the best people to ask for help – i tried to communicate that i wantd to catch the bus into cairo. I just kept repeating "Bus, Bus, Cairo..downtown" He told me i was at the right place and to take a seat. He made a phone call. i went and sat down and waited for the big white shiny bus the lonely planet promised would whisk me away to cairo. A family of arabs came on another shuttle bus and i was entertaining the kids with a few magic tricks (ok just one over and over), when the arab ran over and told me "hurry! hurry! bus!" I jumped up grabbed my bag and ran from behind the bus and ran out to wear i expceted the nice big white bus.
There was a bus alright one of the big 32 seaters, totally delapidated, totally empty. ‘Oh crap’ i thought ‘Iv accidently rented my own personal bus to cairo’.. I didn’t want to get on the bus but the driver seemed to get annoyed and yelled "baksheesh".
 
***
Side note – a cat just came into the internet cafe and did a shit and it is stinks..
No – wait the owner is prepared for this and sprays it with toilet spray..Problem solved…Okay…
***
I gave him a pound and when no more money was forthcoming he took me to the bus terminal. There i hopped off because this guy spoke no english and had no idea where i wanted to go.
Man i don’t have time to finish this story as it’s really late and its a long story.. So in point form other highlights of the return journey include.
 
 – Getting harrased at the bus terminal and thinking the bus didn’t go there – walking to another airport terminal.
Saying ”srew  it" (words to that effect) – and relenting to a tout who offered me a good price on a taxi to my hotel (cheaper than my bible – aka the lonely planet said it would cost. I found out when i saw his taxi/death-trap on wheels. Shouldn’t have gone with him but was too tired to go through the hassle again. So went with this guy. I knew driving in egypt was purportedly ‘an experience’ – thats an understatement. Driving in this cab was insane. This guy didn’t believe in road rules, traffic lanes. He didn’t use his ligts except to flash cars to warn them he was overtaking. However he compensated by using his horn constantly. Didn’t believe in red lights either and sailed straight through them. I got scared when we nearly got t-boned, but the cabbie just laughed..
 
Got to destination – after cabbie who assuered me at airport he knew where my hotel was had stopped to ask for directions twice. Gave him the money and he wouldn’t give me the right change only giving me back half of what i was owed. It was not much money and although if i was less tired i would have argued longer on the principle i just gave him a withering look and took my bags.
 
Lurking at the front of the hostel were 3 men. I’d been warned by the receptionist over the phone not to let anyone else come up with me as they would then try to charge a higher price – because then they get a commision on that higher price. So when they hassled me to try and come up with me i ignored them. I walked passed them to the elevator and hopped in. Before i could press the button one of the men one of the men lept over and opened the door and tried to squeeze in. It was a very small lift only big enough for one person to get in at a time and i was standing close to the door – he literally roughly pushed me back into the lift saying he was a security guard and had to come up. I didn’t buy his bullshit for a secound. I asked him a few times nicely to get out of the lift as i was going up alone and wasn’t going up with anyone no matter what he said. He reiterated he was the security guard and tried to start the lift. I’d had enough of this shit. I opened the door stopping him from using the lift and shoved him out. Quickly closnig the door and hitting the button to make my escape. – The lift jammed halfway between the ground and the first floor.
 
The men standing there started to laugh.. The guy who’d i’d pushed out of the lift looked pissed off. I looked around for the problem and after about a minute saw there was a loose wire on the safety door. Mind you that was a very very long minute – with the arabs laughing at the hapless tourist who’d given them the cold shoulder trapped in the lift. I jiggled the wire pressed the button again and up i went.
Finally reached my hostel. Its a dive. But i don’t mind any bed will do. As the receptionist is trying to sell me on some tour i don’t want to do – up the stairs comes the prick who i’dhad to push out of the elevator. He is breathing hard from having to climb up all the steps and doesn’t look happy.
I indignantly tell the receptionist about this tout’s uncouth pushing and jumping into the lift. The receptionist looks over at me and says "this man is the security guard – he operates the lift because it is hard to use". Well why the hell did that guy say -‘no matter what don’t let anyone come up with you’?
 
Anyway apologised and came out bought some food and hit this dive of an internet cafe.
Although it sounds horrible – its actually been quite fun.  I like this dive of an internet cafe, once – because of it’s got charecter. Same with egypt. Throughout tonight i’ve been laughing at myself for the ridiculousness of the situations i’ve found myself in. Who else but me find themself renting  their own bus from the airport for god sakes? One things for sure egypt will definetly be an experience.
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3 responses

23 11 2005
Bonnie

Wow… what an experience! And that\’s just the first day! Beurocracy there sounds frighteningly tedious and pointless… i assume not a good combination when you\’re tired! And If that\’s what it\’s like for a GUY travelling alone, I can\’t imagine how it would be for a GIRL! Especially at the airport at 11.30pm! (read: dirty old men with porn in internet cafe!!) **note to self, when travelling to Egypt, take imposing looking men to repel touts and people puporting to be "security guards"**Good to hear you\’re flying by the skin of your teeth as usual!! … have fun!Bonnie*PS. Baksheesh!!

24 11 2005
Unknown

Hey tom, Love the story! Seriously, i think we share a similar trait and im thinkin it mite be genetic coz funny stuff happens to us like that! Mind you i dont kno if I\’ll ever end up hiring out a whole bus for myself, but that security man in the lift was a CLASSIC! love it! Anyways, make sure u take care of yaself tombo. i just thought id COMMENT, but now im gonna write u an Email. Luv Pen

7 02 2006
lailla

wow man,i think u hv got a badluck there ,u choose the most bad events that can be found in egypt ..!:))
 although ur comments disturb me cause im egyptian, but it make me laugh cause yes what u say really occure but only in bad poor areas …   and that bus u was talking about :)! me and mum didnt take it except one time ,and it was the first and last time ,    i think its better to deal  with a freind in the country u\’ll go …:)) may  catch better journey .. any how  i dont care for all that.. 
           but can u ask ur self  a quistion ?
  did u really really enjoy travelling  through out countries .. yes all people talk about travelling .."its amazing " and all talk about him self proudly "i travell all over theworld .i go there and there ""
            yes it may be amazing  but i mean  r u really founding ur most happy & faithfull life ..or still miss things …
 

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