You wouldn’t read about it

25 11 2005
I need to keep writing because so much is happening. Firstly Egypt is sooo different to the other coutries i have visitied on this tttrip. Its quite insane – but its really really good. I like the differences. I’ve learned alot of things in the short time i’ve been here. And i’m seeing very different ways to do things as well.

I like the age and history of the place. Just before i was smoking a sheisha and drinking mint shai in a ahwa which has been operated by the same family since before australia was even colonised.

Yesterday i went to the egyptian museum. it is the most interesting museum i have been to on my travels so far. When we got there i was disapointed when they would not let me take a camera in and no amount of baksheesh would change this. I thought ok its probably so we don’t damage the architectural treasures they have in here. Well… not exactly. The exhibits are cramed in everywhere and everyone is touching and rubbing them. The art in there is very poorly displayed just crammed in with very little annotation and what annotation there is just states the obvious. But the pieces are incredible! So many ancient coffins and sarcophagi and statues and amazing pieces. I walked around for 3 hours and was overwhelmed with the place. I went back out and hired a personal guide to take me throough the museum. There is so much oworthy of mention from the brilliantly intricate coffins and sarcophagi  covered in hieroglyphics to the statues, to the jewlery. The mummies were a highlight -The freaky black bodies of pharoes who ruled egypt 3500 years ago(they still have their hair! presevred — useless fact: egyptian pharoes had receding hairlines). Also they didn’t just embalm the pharoes but animals for them to take into the afterlife as well. So i saw mummified dogs, cats, monkies – 2 Massive mummified crocodiles which were 7 meters long! Also the treasures from the crypt of tutenkhamen – gold coffins and head pieces etc. Amazing.

That night i went out with some people from my hostel and ate traditional egyptian food (the name of which i can’t remember) and then went to an ahwa to smoke some sheisha. We met this really friendly egyptian guy who shouted us sheisha and strange egyptian drinks and he was really interesting. Turns out he was actually an officer in the egyptian special forces!, and was telling us about the current politics of egypt and the espionage that went on around the war of 1973 with israel.

One cool thing about egypt is the totally different way they approach things here. Take driving.
 In egypt rather than driving with your lheadlights on, egyptions keep them off and reserve them for hhighbeaming people who are crossing the street of to warn other cars that they are goingt o overtake. So ytou have tons of cars whizzing around in the dark high-beaming each other. Also ALL the road rules are optional. Eveyone drives through red lights, the lanes do not exist.

Cabs over here are interesting , nI was in a cab when he sped up and caught up with his friend in another car honking and flashing like crazy, they started talking whilst driving down the highway. then he leant out the window still driving and shook hands with the guy still going 80km an hour. Okay…. Not to mention that the cabs aint exactly the schmickest cars you’ve ever seen – the first one i hoped into the back doors actually didn’t close properly and oif you get a seatbelt you are doing well. On the up side these cabs are dirt cheap.

Another thing which is different is que’s – its kind of the same as on the road – no rules. everyone ppresses forwards in a heaving mass of people atowards whatever it is they want – similar to when last drinks are called at a packed bar – but more ferocious. In my case the fiesty free for all was for felafel. People are pushing and shoving and packed in like they are at a rock concert trying to get the chef’s attention, we had already paid and everyone was holding out their reciepts outstretched waving them frantically at the chef. Whe i was watching world news and ther had been some disaster and the army had to deliver food – i used to watch the crowds pile up against the truck as officers threw out food. I would think ‘those poor people, climibing all over one another to get food – look how desperate they are’.
Well actually thats just par for the course over here – whether getting food aid or a felafel its a fiesty mish mash of arms legs and turbans.
I don’t mind it – it makes queing a sport – much more interesting than just standing in line. And i have a natural advantage because i am bigger than everyone else and  can stretch my go-go gadget arms to wave my reciept right under the chefs nose.

I went down to the islamic part of town (a misanomer realy seeing as 98% of the population is islamic) and checked out the markets and mosques. The egyptians are such warm and friendly people. I was just walking to muhamoud ali mosque and some muslim girls asked if i could be in a photo with them. Now i thought that it was really hard to interact with muslim women and was frowned upon for them to be seen talking to a strange man in public, so i jumped at the chance to interact with these girls. Then all hell broke loose – i was suddenly swamped by kids and teenagers. They just started running over to me shouting ‘hello! hello! whats your name?’ and bombarding me with questions and wanting to shake my hand and be in photo’s with me. And they just kept coming.

It was like i was a celebrity! They were all pulling out their camera’s and wanting to pose in pictures with me and shake my hand and take photo’s of me just on my own and wanting to know everything about me.  I was constantly surrounded by kids and teenagers vying for my attention! At first it was really cool, but then it was getting tedious answering the same questions over and over and over. But they were so friendly!
I think there must have been a few school excursions going on because no sooner had one teacher herded his charges away then another group would appear. They would wave and as soon as i waved back i would be swarmed (see the photo’s). And they just kept coming, after about half an hour i was trying to escape by going into a military museum but they were there more kids there and again they would swarm up and want to shake my hand and talk to me.
Also i’d heard that it was really hard to get a chance to speak to muslim woman but they were all coming up and asking me all kinds of questions. And the conversations with quite a few of the older ones really explode the stereotypes.
<pack of muslim girls (about 16-17)> You are very beautiful.
<me> errr…. thankyou
<Pack of muslim girls> Do you have a wife?
<me> um no… I’m single
<pack of muslim girls> Me too! Do you have email?
What the hell? Getting chatted up by muslim girls at a mosque in egypt?
Anyway i eventually fled the spotlight and hid inside mohamoud ali mosque were i spoke to a muslim guy about islam for a while. After that i went down to khan al-khalili market to do some shopping. I don’t know whats wrong with me.. I didn’t bat an eyelid paying 20 english pounds (50 aussie dollars) on a cover charge to a club – but when it came to buying things which were probably a bargain and even after bargiaining for 10 minutes on the price of something i couldn’t bring myself to hand over any money because i thought i was always getting ripped off. So i didnt end up buying anything. I’m the worst shopper ever.  I also wanted to check out some suffi dancing and spent time trying to find where it was but to no avail. Went and saw a few other mosques as well.



4 responses

25 11 2005

WOW man, sounds full on, i think that would be an exciting adventure! meanwhile, i am enjoying my first american thanksgiving, delicious food!

25 11 2005

Hot damn! I don\’t really have a better comment, but I\’m enjoying your Egyptian adventures. So when are you going to see the Pyramids? I\’m going home in four days!

26 11 2005

tommy, u should bring home a muslim wife! u know in they allow polygamy from men, but are not allowed to practice it themselves, they arent alowed to eat at the dinner table when ur there, which means they must wait on u hand and foot, they cannot leave the house without a male, they cannot sit in the front seat of a car and pretty much they have to sex u when u want it! SWEET DEAL!

30 11 2005

Well, my adventures pale in comparison ;)I wish I were in front of a computer in Egypt rather than in front of a computer in Australia. Maybe I can get a BIGGER computer monitor, put it behind me and have an Egyptian screen saver on it. Or not 😉

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