A Travellerspoint blog

Dubai

Living in Utopia for 3 days

sunny 44 °C

22nd of september
Dubai.
The flight was good. Sharjah was the next destination. From Sharjah there are no busses to Dubai. So unfortunately i had to take a Taxi. This was 100 AED (Arabic Emirates Dirham). About 20 euro. Yes, a waste of money.
First impression of Dubai:
Clean! Amazingly clean
A lot of roadlanes. A 8 lane road from Sharjah to Dubai.
Electricity: a enourmous amound of electricity lines going into Dubai.
Once arriving in Dubai:
Still clean: no waste, no cats, no electricity lines visible (under ground they are).
Futuristic. Wow, incredible.
The hotel: WOW!
When i checked in, the man behind the counter said that checkin time was at 14.00. I talked to him and explained that i had cancelled the first 3 nights, because i could only arrive by now. When i had my phonecall from Jordan, i already told so. But they changed to booking to 22 to 27th of september. This was not my intention. But luckily he understood. I arrived around 700 and could check in at 900. But not before i had an amazing breakfast. Mango juice, warm indian food, sausages, fruit, donuts, a lot of different cereals. Crazy. Wow, this is what i have been waiting for after, first ramadan, and after, only the very onesided 'bread' in Egypt and Jordan. Really, the people in Egypt and Jordan are missing out on a good, proper breakfast with this simple flat 'bread' they have.
So, what a feast. Despite not having slept for almost 20 hours, this breakfast was one big party!
Soon after, i could check in. The room was amazing. One huge 2 person bed, a balcony, a very good bathroom with yes, finally, hot water. Towels, table, television. Crazy. Wow, this is luxury. And no to be forgotten: far away, i could see the silhouetes of the Emirates towers, Burj Khalifa, and the rest of the famous skyline. Burj Khalifa is also known as Burj Dubai. But because Sheikh Khalifa of Abu Dhabi actually saved Dubai from bankruptcy last year (2009), the largest tower of the world is now called Burj Khalifa.

I took a shower and slept for 4 hours. After, it was time to explore Dubai. A new stage in the trip :)
It it an incedible modern city. You cannot imagine. Just a few highlights: Fully airconditioned bus stops. You sit inside the busstop, and the glass is black. So the driver does not see you. Solution: a button to light up the busstop to signalise that you are waiting.
Metro station. Imagine Star Wars. The entrance gates of the buildings. Then, imagine this is put in Dubai. The architecture of the metro station is incredible. A long tunnel over the ground, with a golden top. I cannot describe. Just Google it or see my pictures :). Then inside, hyper modern: clean, i mean, clean, super clean. Floor made out of marble. Blue lights. I once learned that blue makes people relaxed. So that might explain. An architecture that is incredible.
A lot, a lot of banks.
Burj Khalifa. The tallest building in the world. Shining. Shining in the bright sun, into the sky.
The surrounding buildings: shining in glorious colors. Gold, silver, black. Business style colours. The architecture is crazy, beautifull.
Enter the Dubai mall. Sbopping? You can spend years shopping around. Normal shops and luxurious shops. Gold, Fashion, Food, Electronics. You like to go to the cinema? Plenty of choice. What about going to the indoor zoo? Or seeing the underwater world. You just have to go to the Dubai mall.
My brother went to New York. He told me it is an interesting city. But after a few days it feels like a old, dirty city on its decline. Youri, go to Dubai. I am certain this will keep you amazed for about one week.
After, it was time to go back to the hotel. Luckily i got free dinner for the two evenings, as a compensation for the missed nights (wow!). 70 dinar per dinner. About 14 euro.
I ordered from the room service. And i have to say the prices were cheap. I mean, in a hotel. What could you order for 14 euro in the York international hotel?
Cream Chicken soup
A very good Pakistani main dish (my choice, but there was a lot more)
Ice cream. A lot :)
After this meal, i was totally full.
Alex worked in the hotel and he worked for the roomservice. I talked to him and he is in Nepal. Poccra. He told me that going to Nepal in Januari is actually a very good time. Yes, it is cold and not all the hikes are doable. But there is barely fog. So you can clearly see all the mountains. This is the information i needed :) Everyone talks full of passion about Nepal and my ideal moment to go is January.

So, time to start dinner :) Music, my own mango drink, the meal and Gato in front of me. What a luxury! Insiders know what Gato is representing :)
The hotel has a nightclub inside, that has free entrance for the guests. I intended to see it the next day. I was too tired.

23th of september
A full day of exploration.
I slept very long and made use of all the luxuries. Took a shower, enjoyed a great breakfast and after, went to check out Dubai. It was already a bit late. First, i went to the Dubai creek. This is where dubai actually started off. There are soukhs there. But honestly, they can barely be called soukhs. I would just call them shops that are a little bit old. Here i bought 2 souvenirs. Some of the limited number of souvenirs i can buy, due to the space i have in the bag.
I bought one statue of Burj Khalifa and one of Burj Al Arab- the famous self proclaimed 7 star hotel.
By now, i have a few souvenirs: one scarf from egypt. Unfortunately i forgot the other one in the hostel in Amman, 2 souvenirs from Dubai and one gift for my girlfriend, bought in Jordan.
After, i went to the Emirates mall. This mall is the biggest mall of the Arab area. Immediately once coming out of the metro, you can walk fully airconditioned to the mall. Again, the most luxurious shops, and also normal shops. Everything you want, you can buy here. Cinema..and yes, how striking, now there is the movie: Wall Street: money never sleeps. I was thinking of going to this movie in Dubai. Would be very interesting. But i didnt. It would take 2,5 hours. A bit too much. Then i noticed the famous Virgin Megastore. I am fan of Richard Branson. This was the first time to enter a Virgin Megastore. Yes, it is huge.
Then..what is the Emirates mall famous for?
Big..yes, but no...
A lot of shops..yes, but no
Hypermodern and marble floor...yes, but noooo..
What?
Skiing..Yes, skiing in 43 degrees. Or 55 degrees in summer. Yes, yes. Skiing indeed.
And yes, it is very strange to see Arabs on skis. For some it was probably the first time to ever touch snow.
Yes a waste of energy, i know. But worthwile a few pictures. There is even a Burton ski shop in front.
Then i went to the highest floor. And when you go even higher, there is a huge toys shop. Selling electical helicopters and gigantic fur animals. All is too perfectly build. Like an utopia. Perfection but more. A good moment to make some pictures with Gato and his fur friends.
Time to go back to the hotel and enjoy a perfect meal.
And..just before having the dinner, when it was on the table, Gato ready, i had a call with my girfriend. She called to the hotel. How sweet :)

24th of september.
Last day in Dubai.
Unfortunate. It might sound strange, because i am not so much of a big city person. But i have the feeling i could live in Dubai for one year. Just one year. To feel how it is to be on top of technology, development and economical growth. Not much longer, mainly because of the heat.
Dubai is super safe, modern and for a very very developed city, fairly cheap.
Imagine, i paid 30 euro for one night. I talked to two German girls who paid the same. But they shared it. So, 15 euro each.
The hotel:
Outstanding room
Perfect roomservice
Rooftop swimming pool
Sauna
Fitness
Roomservice (extra charge)
Fantastic breakfast
Normal price to have a single room, 600 AED (120 euro) per night)
Double room 700 AED (140 euro) per night.
Now on internet bookable for 30 euro per night, even for two persons sharing one roomservice

Today i booked a tour to explore a part of Dubai that is more difficult to reach with public transport: Jumeira, Burj Al Arab, the palmtree and Dubai public beach. And future Dubai.
I got picked up for a tour of around 4 hours. It is incredible what i have seen. I have to say though that the Palm Island is not too special. Just very expensive hotels, but absolutely no atmosphere. And there is hotel Atlantis. In order to get there, you drive from the palm tree, under the sea, to the protective ring (against the sea). There is hotel Atlantis.
The palm, in my opinion was not too interesting. But it was interesting to sea the famous Burj Al Arab and Jumeira. And the beach, surrounded by a lot of hypermodern hotels. A lot of four wheel drives (park you car on the sand an go to the beach). Crazy.
Then..future Dubai. They are building it right now. Imagine a building where the different floors move independant from each other. A building that never looks the same. When you wake up your view is different from when you go to sleep. Yes, that is in the make right now.
After the tour, i got dropped of at the Dubai museum. Unfortunately, Friday is weekend in the Arab world. So it was closed, but opened up 1 hour later. So i waited. The museum is a bit small, but definately worth a visit. For just 3 AED, you get to know the past of Dubai. You walk trought the traditional soukhs, made by puppets, but very realistic. You can read about the Berber population, how they survived in the dessert. The importance of Dubai creek and more.
And then..a movie and explanation that thrills you. Not so much the movie itself, but the figures.
See this:
1960s, dubai has 59000 inhabitants.
1969, oil is being found in Dubai.
1977 Dubai has 207000 inhabitants
1990 Dubai has 550000 inhabitants.
That is a stunning increase of population. But all of this has to do with merely one thing: OIL.
OIL is king. It is unbelievable. After the oil was found and Dubai port was opened up for bigger ships, Dubai started expanding like crazy.
If you look now at the skyline, i am certain that in 5 years, it will be even more crazy. What New York did in 200 years, did Dubai in the last 20 years. What New York did not succeed in managing: safety, Dubai did.
It is absolutely stunning. And therefore i think i could live there for one year. After, i have to leave to a more quiet place that is less hot.
After the museum visit, i walked back to the hotel. I had about 1 more hour, so i took a shower on the top floor and intended to go to the sauna. But unfortunately it was off. So, to the swimming pool. I couldn't swim, because my backpack and stuff was down. And i had not too much time left. So just hanging the feet in the swimming pool on top of the York International hotel.

Time to go to the Airport. First i took a bus. But the bus made a circle and passed by the hotel. It did go to t he airport, but in a loop. Again, i was happy to take plenty of time to get to the airport.
I went to the metro station. And, dont laugh, but in Dubai there is a maximum size of luggage you can take in the metro. Yes, the metro that goes TO and FROM the airport. But big travel bags are not allowed. You have to take a taxi. Insane! So yes, Dubai sometimes wants to be too perfect.
Well, i knew this, so i had some money left for if i would have to take a taxi. Luckily they let me pass and i went to the airport.

Ah i am forgetting: in Dubai i bought some good bookes that i really wanted to read once in my life:
The art of War- Sun Tzu
The Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith

And because i had money left, because i didnt use it for the taxi, i could buy another book at the airport:
How to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere – Larry King.
All are the pocket editions, so not too heavy.
The flight with Gulf Air to Bangkok.
The flight was very good. I had 2 seats for myself. And although, i did not sleep a lot, it does make a difference. I could choose from meals (normal), but even better: you could choose drinks. Not just drinks, i am talking Bacardi rum, Whiskey, Ginger and more. I decided to take whiskey with my dinner :)

Posted by Aussierala 21:38 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged buildings hotels dubai future malls luxurious Comments (0)

Jordan and it's mysteries

Back into time in Petra, Wadi Rum, Amman and Jerash

sunny 34 °C

18th of september until the 21st of september.
So, now i am waiting in Amman Airport for the flight to Sharjah. Sharjah is about 10 kilometres from Dubai. Back in time, to see what happened all between the busride to Amman and now :)

After arrival in the Amman busstop, i just joined some backpackers. The best is always to stay with a group. Especially when one of them has information or a lonely planet. And so we walked in a line of 6 persons to the busstop. For just a few cents we were dropped of at a station, close to the city centre and our intended hotel. Some people had a lonely planet and we headed to hotel Farah.
It took a short while and with some help, we found it. For 5 Dinar a night (about 5,50 euro) i booked a 6 dorm, including breakfast.
After, i was just working a bit to catch up with some stuff i needed to do for my websites. After about 2 hours, i was getting too tired and actually i forgot what i was doing by then. I really felt the exhaustion starting to catch up with me.

19th of september.
Today i was very eager to go to Jerash. Since now, i booked another flight and had to cancel my egyptair flight, i have more time to explore Jordan. Jerash is a city that has been build by the Romans. Despite the fact that it does not have a strategical position along a trade road, river or sea, it managed to become quite big. It became the administrative centre of the surrounding area. This area was called (if i am correct), Philadelphia. The soil was, and is, very rich on minerals. Therefore a whole array of artwork arrived. Simply, because there was an overload of food. People could start thinking of other things.
I was very enthousiastic to go to this special place.

I asked the guy who worked at the hotel (hostel?), and he explained me all. I have to say that everyone is really friendly here.
I went to the main road and with some help of people around, i found a bus going to a big station. Untill now i am unsure of the name. I keep on mixing the names. And the fact that all is written in Arabic, does not help me too much.
Anyway, from there, very quick, i could take a shared taxi to another station. From there the bus should go to Jerash..
should indeed, because what happend was crazy and time wasting. A lot of Jordanians speak English, and some even on a very good level. So in general, it is very easy to travel around.
That said, let's get back to the busstation:)
So, one guy was making promotion 'Jerash, Jerash, Jerash'. So, i was certain this was the correct bus. I asked when he would leave. He didnt speak english. But after a while i could understand it would be in 5 minutes. Remembering the 5 egyptian minutes, i expected to leave in about 30 minutes to one hour. So, i waited..and waited...and waited. After 40 minutes i asked again: 5 minutes. Oke, i wanted to give it some more change, because i really wanted to see Jerash. In the meantime i was playing a game on my mobile. A boring game. But well, what can you do when you are waiting?
Anyway, after 1 hour and 15 minutes i asked for the last time. 5 minutes was the answer again. I gave it another 15 minutes, and yes, the bus was almost full, and i know they leave usually when the bus is full/ nearly full. But i was getting too annoyed. I left, didn't ask my money (1 Dinar: 1,08 euro) back and took, quickly, a shared taxi back to the centre. So far, total loss of time, nearly 3 hours. Crazy.
I went to the hostel (hotel?)..funny, because they call it hotel, but have dorms of 6. And i asked for directions to go to the roman Theatre, and the museum with old clothing. Of the prince, princes, kings and more. I got the directions, and quite easily, walked to the place. I have to say, i was amazed. This theatre, build on a rock wall, could take about 15000 people. Yes, it was packed. But, imagine about 2000 years ago. A show being played, outdoor, beautifull view. What else you want? Statues at the entrance. Wow! It is not a very big monument. But i just sat down and enjoyed the view, imagining what happend there so long ago. And was thinking of my sweet girl :) She should be here with me.

I actually forgot what i was doing that evening. I know i went to restaurant Cairo. A very good and cheap restaurant. For 3 dinar, you will have a great meal.

The 20th of september:
Dead sea time. What? Yes, dead sea time. So, this morning i was doubting of whether to give Jearash a second try, or to go to the dead sea. But going to the dead sea by myself would be a bit difficult. In the morning i talked to some people and they turned out also to go to the dead sea. So we went together. First a taxi. The drived told he knew the way to the busstation. But it turned out he didnt. Thus, we lost about 1 hour. After, we went with a bus to the correct station. From there, we used a shared taxi to arrive at a place close to the dead sea. From there, we took a taxi to the dead sea. Entrance fee is either 10 JD or 15 JD, depending whether you want to use the simple or premium beach. Well, the 10JD beach is already expensive, (11 euro) and i can tell you better not to use the toilets here.
The dead sea itself was amazing! You can actually float on the water. And yes, really float. It is so enourmous salty, that the pressure is a lot. And i met an Iraqi and two Jordanians. They told me that the sea level is only decreasing. The sun melts the water away. So in 20 to 50 years, it will be gone. Probably the Jordanian government will open a waterway from Aqaba, to fill the dead sea. They also told me that if you would go to far in the lake, that the Israeli's will shoot you. Yes, there is still a lot of animosity.

After floating around, and taking 3 mud baths, it was time to get back. This was all very easy. In the evening i bought a beautifull present for my girlfriend. And actually i am also carrying something else. But since it is 2 kilo's, i am thinking of using a bit myself. At the checkin at Amman to Sharjah, the backpack weighted 17,7 kilo. And those 2 kilo's make the difference between a nicely wearable back, and a heavy back. So..now in Dubai, i will use part of that 2 kilo of amazing stuff. Later more info :)

The 21st of september:
Last day in Jordan. In a way i am very happy that i decided to take some extra days in Jordan. It gave me the time to explore more of this beautifull country and see the hospitality of the people of Jordan.
Today i took a second try of getting to Jerash. In a way it really attracts me. I have seen several pictures of Jerash and it is called the second main archeological site of Jordan, after Petra. Today the gods smiled upon me, because very quick i got a ride to the busstation and from there, a ride to Jerash. Since i didnt have money, i needed to go to an ATM. My idea was to not have too much money left when i leave the country. A very helpfull passenger, showed me first a bit around the city and then the direction to the bank. He even invited me to his house. I refused. Mainly because i was on limited time. But the offer was really nice. The people are so different from the Egyptians, although they are neighbours. Jordanians are, as Egyptians, very proud. But their hospitality is far more real then Egyptian. (Remember that we have to make a distinction between Egyptian salesmen and common people: the common people of Egypt are very very nice too). But yes, taken on average, Jordanians will help you without asking for bak'sheesh, tip. They will start a conversation for the conversation, or just because they are interested. Not for money. Even salesmen.

So, after getting my money, i went back out of the new Jerash city and walked to the ancient Jerash. But not after i took 2 very delicious nectarines :). Walking back took about 20 minutes. Already the contoures of the ancient city were unfolding. It's just amazing! Upon arrival, first i had to walk trough a 'soukh'. Well, touristic soukh, nothing traditional. As in Egypt, Jordan has found the benefit of marketing and thus, before you can enter or exit a site, you have to find your way trough a bunch of salesmen. But here, they just asked once, maybe twice, but always respect it when you say 'no'. And even help you finding the ticket office.
So there it was; Jerash. After 8 JD entrance fee (8,80 euro), i was inside. And yes, it is magnicicant. This is next to Rome, the best preserved Roman city i have ever seen. When you wander around, the incredible entrance bow is almost totally intact. Then, on the left, Circus Maximus. Circus Maxiumus, where the horseraces were held. Or, chariot races. Can you imagine? 5 or more chariot riders with horses, racing for fame! Incredible. Half of the stadium is still intact. Unfortunately, after an eathquake in the 20th century, part of this magnicicant city, was damaged severely. I took my time to make pictures and a movie. Imagine the atmosphere thousands of years ago! 2 times a week, there is a show with chariot racers. Unfortunately, it was not this day.
But the walk continued. Up, up to an incredible square. The centre of the city. This is were everything happened. Trade with people from all surrounding areas. Jerash was on an important crossroad between asia, the arab world and europe. Nevertheless, once the Roman empire was split in two parts, trade started to decline. But because of the abundand food resources, created with the help of the vertile, vulcanic soil, Jerash managed to be an important city in the region.

Here, on this square, there is a large circle of pillars. All decorated with the most beautifull sculptures. This all can be seen best when you walk up. Higher, to the temple of Heracles, or in Roman, Hercules. Hercules, indeed, the half god, half human.
From here, you can see the circle of pillars, and, in the centre, a big pillar. Then, after the circle, there is a pathway, still paved by the original stones. This pathway too is surrounded by huge pillars. You really start to feel humble when you see all these magnicicant buildings from ages ago.
Going up, you will arrive to a sort of colleseum. I imagine that Gladiators have fought here. ( i am not sure about this). Based on the style; a cirlce, with a lot of seats around, for me, this is a likely thought. Beautifull!
Then, walking back down, trought the centre, over the lane, surrounded by pillars, the temple or Artemis (Greek), or Diana (Roman) unfolds itself. Artemis, the Goddes of the nature. This, luckily i remember from my secondary school Latin classes.
A true Roman city lies before you. Truly incredible. The houses are still visible. The pillars, the sacred places. The Circus Maximus and the Colloseum. Incredible. I am glad i went to see Jerash.
Walking back, i had a look in the small museum. Not too much to see, but there are ancient coins and potteries. It is very interesting (for me) to see what they showed on the coins. In fact, Jerash was declared partly indepenant from Rome. Therefore, they were allowed to have their own coins. All of them show 'libertad'. Freedom. Nevertheless, they were under the scepter of Rome.
Going back to Amman turned out to be easy too. I found a shared taxi, almost full. 20 minutes later we left. Once in Amman, i shared a taxi with a few Americans and we went to the centre. From there, we all went our own way.
In the evening i had a nice chat with a guy from Bangkok. His nickname: Pong. His real name: Pongtharan. He explained me a lot about Thailand and gave me some good advices. He is back in Bangkok the 8th of october. So i might meet up with him. He lives in Canada. But he goes back until next year march. He has no real plans. Just relaxing.
In the evening, i took a bus to Tabarboor bus station.From here, the busses go to the airport. I had 3 hours till final checkin. The duration of the bus trip is about 1 hour. So plenty of time..you think.
Someone helped me finding the right bus to get to Tabarboor. Normally i would take a shared taxi, but because it was evening, they didn't go anymore. I asked, and yes, the bus went to Tabarboor. But not after a 20 minutes wait. Ok, there we went. After 10 minutes, i got a bit anxious, because we went in a different direction, into a neighbourhood. And later, back to the main road, to another neighbourhood. I asked again: yes, to Tabarboor. Ok. Later, again: yes, to Tabarboor.
Well, after about 40 minutes, i was doubting too much. And i asked to be sure. No, not Tabarboor.
I mean, fuck, be honest from the start. Now i lost 1 fucking hour listening to 'yes Tabarboor', and in the end, it doesnt go to Tabarboor. Once the bus went to the mainroad, i took a taxi. And although i was still safely in time on the airport, it costed me 22 euro (22 JD). Waste of money and time.

The taxi is a story apart. The guy seemed very friendly, and i was eager to learn about his past, the Jordanians and more. We had a nice conversation. Talked about the King of Jordan and the Queen of Holland. And then he started talking about his two wives and i explained that there is a cultural difference between the Western countries and the Arab countries on this. He couldn't really understand and agree. I let him talk. After all, i needed him to get to the airport. Then he started talking about his 4 children. And that his wive does not work (actually he was surprised to hear that my mother works. In Arab countries this is uncommon). Well, i have one brother. He thought 'just one?'.Well all kinds of cultural differences. But interesting ones. But then he started explaining why muslims should have a lot of children. To make war against Israel. Agains the Jewish..bla bla. Ok, at this point i didn't discuss with him anymore. I needed him to get to the airpot, and that's it. So it mainly became a one sided conversation of him explaining why it is good to have a lot of children and why Israel should be destroyed. And when we got out, i gave him the money and just a few coins as tip. Is that all? Yes, it's all. But i have 2 wives and 4 children. I didn't respond, but in my mind is was like; Fuck it, first you talk full of proud of your two wives and four kids and that you can only have more wives (maximum 4) if you can give them a decent living. Then you tell me that you have 4 children to have war with Israel and after, you make all those expensive 'hobbies', my problem. Ciau man.
If he wouldn't have talked about Israel and didn't responds in this way, he could have had a bigger tip. After all, i had more money i wouldn't use anymore, because i was leaving the country. But..well..

So on the airport. The checkin. My bag had to be checked, because there was a knife in it. Yes, in the luggage that goes in the plane. Not the handluggage. But the guy was very polite and said sorry. So all was fine.
But also, i had the 2 kg special package. That was the mud from the dead sea. My bag was super heavy. 17,7 kilo. I was thinking of throwing away the mud. I know, mud from the dead sea is priceless in Europe. Call it Cleopatra, or Forever Young, a nice flacon, and it is very expensive.

Posted by Aussierala 21:34 Archived in Jordan Tagged sea dead jordan backpacking petra amman wadi jerash rum Comments (0)

Egypt and Jordan

Snorkling, one of the 7 new world wonders and more

sunny 28 °C

9th of september until 18th of september.
At the moment i am writing this, sitting in a car from Wadi Musa (Yes, Jordan, close to Petra), going to Amman.

So, how did i end up here?

After 18 hours in the bus going to Dahab, i actually felt quite good. Not sleepy. But it's good to take some time telling what happened during this ride. It was quite amazing.
During the stops I talked to some australian people, going in the same direction. For the rest, it was fairly quiet.
Around 6.00 am, during a break, and yes, after 14 hours of ride, i went to a toilet. We were at a gasoline station. Still 4 hours away from Dahab. Everyone was sleeping, so i didn't bother telling anyone i was going to the toilet. I went searching for the toilet. It turned out to be a bit away from the gasoline station. When i was back, i told the guy who worked there that the toilet kept on flushing. He told me he was going to have a look. We had a small conversation. (about soccer, and that Arjen Robben should have scored in the final of the world cup). And then i said, i really should be going, because i didn't know when my bus would leave. All total took about 10 minutes. Then, just when I went out of the station, in the nice sunrise, i see the bus just 50 metres away, heading to the mainroad! I started running, but realised they wouldn't see me. It was too dark and everyone was sleeping. So yes, there my bus went! Unbelievable. All the other stops they counted heads and in this short stop they didn't. On the other hand, it would have been better, that since everyone slept, i should have told the driver i was going to the toilet.
Anyway, at first i was like, fuck! Then, ok, lets see what happens. I had one Egyptian pound (about 15 eurocent) and my mobile plus busticket to Dahab. My passport, money, bankpas, everything, was in the bus. And that was gone! Hmm..how am i going to Dahab. A was thinking of the worst case scenario, which would probably be that i would catch the next bus of upper egypt travel going 5 hours later, arriving in Dahab (since i had my busticket with me). And likely the Aussies would realise at some moment i was not there. They knew exactly what my backpack and daypack looked like. So, probably they would leave me a note where my stuff would be, or just take my stuff to their hotel. That gave me relief and i just waited. Not 100% relaxed, but more relaxed than i would have thought beforehand.The guy of the gasoline station called friends, but none was on my bus. 10 minutes later a group of modern guys shows up in a new car. They were heading to Sharm el Sheikh. Since just after 0.00 this night, ramadan was over, it was time for party. I had 4 lucky angels.They took me in there car and i got a hitch. I was very, very lucky. It was great fun! They had loud music, chips, coke, and were ready for a big party. So with their Volkswagen, we headed onwards. A quick car and i was calculating the time we would catch up with the bus. It should be around 1 hour later. And yes, 1 hour and 15 minutes later, there was the bus. I was very happy! So we took over the bus, hunked, a few times and made the bus stop. So then, i came out, arms wide, big smile, like 'guys you forgot me'. It was very strange.

Luckily, i was back in the bus. The guys of the car didn't want a tip or anyting. Wow, so these were the real, honest Egyptians. They continued to Sharm, and i to Dahab in the bus.
1 hour later, we passed a checkpoint where our passports were checked. I realised that if i would not be on the bus and arrive later with a car or bus, it might have been a problem, since my passport would have passed the checkpoint and i was without passport. All turned out ok, in the end :)

In dahab, i went with the Aussies. They checked in to an expensive hotel and i walked on to a nice hostel.

Just in between, now that i am writing this, in Jordan, we have a cat in the bus. The owners put it in the back, and it was crying a lot. The poor cat. But luckily, it was able to get out and i took it on my lap. A beautifull white cat with long hairs. But in the end, he continued to the front of the bus to the owner, and now he is quiet again :)

Back to Dahab. I checked in in the Bishbishi hostel. A very nice, relaxing place! The days start to flow over in each other, so the timeline there might not be totally correct.
I met up with a group of Egyptian friends, also celebrating a long weekend after Ramadan. Also, a German guy was there. He lived in Cairo and was friends with the Egyptians. Hayes, Gomla, Waleed and Hos (Hossan). And the German guy, Johannes. We went for dinner in a nice place and got a lot, a lot of food. As foreigner i would never get this much food. Egyptians always give each other a better deal :).
Well, it was too much food for all of us. So the cats and the HUGE dog had a feast with us.
The next day, in the evening, we went quadriding. I enjoyed, but have to say, not 100%. The owners wouldn't let us do funny spinnings, or even go out of one line. So yes, there we drove, very nice quads, just in one too predefined line. And every time one would even move a little bit out of that line, the owners on their motorbikes, would come to that person to tell it was not allowed. Stupid! On the public road, i can totally understand, but later in the dessert, stupid!
I was on the quad with Waleed and when he drove, he managed to get the quad in the dessert and get stuck. Really by accident. It was his first time on a quad. Yes, the owner got pissed of...there we go again. Anyway, i took over and we drove. The only fun left was letting the people before me getting far away, and then, push the gasoline full strenght, to catch up with then. And, in the turns, make the turns a bit sharper and put the gasoline open, so still, a bit of a spin. Well, i really enjoyed spending time with my new Egyptian and German friends. But the quadriding itself was not so special.
Another day i just hang out on the beach with an Australian guy and worked a bit on my websites.

Later, i met up with an American couple. With them, i went snorkeling. Hayes joined also. The underwater world here is incredible. Truly wonderfull. The reef starts just immediately when you hit the water. So you could walk in the Red sea until knee hight and then, take your snorkle and flippers, go underwater, and a whole new world opens up. Amazing! We did this during two days and i am still amazed. I am thinking of taking diving classes in Thailand. I have to see because of the anti-malaria pill Lariam, i cannot go deepseadiving. But i check. Because recreational diving was ok, according to the doctor (recreational diving is until 30 metres deep).
So, yes, wow, incredible. Snorkling, and i imagine, diving in Dahab.
Dahab is a very young city. 10 years ago it was just some berber tents. Now, it could be any place: Rimini, Siofok, Costa del Sol. 100% relying on tourism and growing like crazy. I quess in 5 years it will be like Sharm El Sheikh. All inclusive, a lot of shops, party places, restaurants and more.

One day i went with the egyptians and Johannes on a glass boat. This was the first time i also dived (after Australia). It was incredible. But the sea was rough. Still, we could see a lot. Later, we just stayed at the beach near to the first all inclusive place of Dahab (100 US dollars a night) and just hang out there.

The food: we went to the same place all the time and every time, our friendly giant dog would be there: Bonebreaker we called him. If you would trow him anyting, he would not only eat the meat, but really break the bone. The interaction between all cats and the dog was very interesting.

After 4 days, 2 days more than planned, it was time to go to Jordan.Actually a bonus. I was thinking of going to Jordan, but it was an 'if', as in, if i have time left. Well, there was and i was looking forward to see Petra. Now one of the 7 new world wonders (together with Machu Pichu, the great wall of China, the Colloseum, the Christ statue in Brasil, the Taj Mahal, and a Maya place in Mexico.). Yes, on my way to Petra. I went with the American couple: Aaron and Elena. The intention for me was to go straight to Wadi Musa, close to Petra. We got up at 8.00 and left at 9.00. Around 10.00 we were at Nuweiba, where the boat goes to Agaba in Jordan. The boat costs a thrilling 80 us dollars. The annoying thing is that there is an alternative route overland, but it goes trough Israel. I don't want to have an Israelic stamp, or even an exit stamp of Egypt and an overland arriving stamp in Jordan in my passport. A lot of Muslim countries wouln't let me in. And yes, later i learned that i wouldn't be allowed into Dubai, my next destination, if i went via Israel. Happy i didn't do this. Then there is a ferry that apparently goes once every hour from Taba to Agaba. But i learned from the hostel owner in Dahab that they take your passport, so you have to come back. For me that was a bit tricky, since i intended to stay longer in Jordan. And yes, my flight is from Cairo, but i dont want to leave my passport with someone for so long (later Mr Thai in Khoa San Road will be the only exception :) ). Anyway, therefore Nuweiba – Aqaba. 80 us dollars. The boat would normally take off at 13.30. And Jimmy, of the hostel in Dahab, told us better to be there at 10.00, since it could set off at 12.00 and you have to arrive 2 hours before. Well, after 7,5 hour wait, finally the boat arrived. Waiting another hour in the boat, and finally we set off. Arriving in Agaba at 20.30.
Crazy, spending almost 11 hours just crossing a stupid small lake, due to anti-Israelic tensions.

After, we checked in to a hotel and had a dinner. Later, i went to an internet cafe, because i hoped to get a flight from Amman to Dubai. I didn't want to pay another 80 us dollars (the Lonely planet tells 120 us dollars aqaba-nuweiba) and spend 11 hours + 9 hours in a bus Dahab-Cairo. The price plus time would be too much. So i set down in an internet cafe and spent 2,5 hours searching alternatives. Israel, stamp. Aqaba-Nuweiba, a lot of money and time. Aqaba-Taba.Not sure about the returning of the passport.
Flight amman-Dubai. Expensive. Amman-Alexandria: super expensive. Amman-Cairo: super expensive, or cheap, but too late (later then my flight Cairo-Dubai). Amman-Abu Dhabi: too expensive.
Overland is no option. Flight prices of 300 Euro or more. Finally i found a Airarabia flight Amman-Sharjah (10 km from Dubai), for 125 euro. Just before the internet cafe closed, i booked it. I realised all the hassle and prices to get back to Cairo would cost me the same amound of money and two days. So now i fly the 22nd at 1.00 am from Amman to Sharjah. Thank you Airarabia! :) Without this, i would have gone back overland, and spend 2 full days just getting back to Cairo and paying a 100 US dollars boat + bus.
Later, i contacted Egyptair and i might get some of my money back. Also, the hotel in Dubai might give me part (or even all) of the first three nights i am going to miss now, back). So in the end, it is not so bad and i am able to see Jordan :)

Jordan: after arriving so late in Aqaba, i didn't feel like going to Petra. No busses were going and a taxi would cost 20 JD (Jordanian Dinar). About 22 euro. No..
I checked in in an amazing hotel with the Americans. We had a three person room. 12 dinar each. After the dinner, i went to the internet cafe (as described) and just after 1.00 am, i got back. What an amazing hotel! Hot shower, perfect soft bed, great view. Aaron told me that you could see Israel. Yes, it was very close. And due to that, we spend 11 hours waiting for a freaking boat. If the problems between some arabic countries and Israel would stop, this ferry is bankrupt, or goes for dump prices. Overland, it is about 50 km from Egypt, trough Istrael, to Aqaba.
What a good hotel though :).

The next morning we got up at 6.30 (what a shame). The bus would go around 7.00 to Wadi Rum. Since i had more time now, i joined the Americans. Wadi Rum is where the movie Lawrence of Arabia was partly filmed. The area is stunning! In the dessert, the rocks with all kinds of colours. A beautifull sight.

Both me and they were already over budget, so when they offered an overnight stay in the dessert with berbers for 'only' 45 dinar (50 euro), we refused. In the end, we could get it for 30 dinar, but 'don't tell others, special price for you'. Later, we found out others paid 25 dinar. Anyway, we took the cheapest place. Your own tent under the stars for 3 dinar (3,30 euro). It was a very good place to sleep. We headed to a small spring in a beautifull surrounding of mountains of all shapes and different colours, changing all the time, as the sun passes by. Amazing. We ended up trying to do a climb. At a certain moment, when Aaron was a bit lower and i checked out the area, i realised this would be too dangerous. It was possible to lift yourself up, but going back would be nigh impossible. So we turned back. We enjoyed. Just a bit later, i stepped wrongly and injured my ankle. Not too bad, but i realised the next few days i had to be carefull.
After, we walked in the dessert. We thought it would be 20 minutes. Maybe a bit more to 'that rock with gorge over there'. It turned out to be 1 hour 15. But we enjoyed. I also enjoyed the lizards running away:). My ankle was ok, as long as i compensated a bit and the dessert doens't have strange steps to make. Once we arrived, it was amazing, but the gorge was still 20 minutes away. We took a relaxing moment and headed back. What a great day :)

The next day we went by shared taxi to Wadi Musa. Petra :) Finally. One of the 7 new world wonders. After arriving, we checked in to a hotel. After a lot of hassling, we got 12 dinar including breakfast. For one night, fine. We already lost a lot of time, talking ,invited to tea (la shokran.no thank you) etc etc. But, i walked in the city because i knew there was a good hostel for less.
I found it, checked in for the other night, bought food an drinks and went back. Going to Petra :)
Again, an amazing place! If you know the pictures, you can see the entrance of the city in between the rocks once you arrive. It is as it is on the postcards.Truly amazing!
After, we explored the city further and learned 25000 people have lived here. It was a place for trade and the romans had also been conquering this place. Therefore you see a mix of traditional Jordanes tribe style and Roman (or actually Greek; they were inspired by the Greeks) facades and monuments. We went for a 4 hour hike. It was wonderfull. And after about one hour, there is a lookout. We had a great overview (and yes, Loca, gato had a great overview too :) ).
After, we turned to make the walk longer. A direction that not a lot of people take. We met almost no one on our way. Just one berber woman and one guy from Bangkok.

At a temple, we were making pictures and yes, 2 red cats :) Again. They went t o me and after cuddling a bit, one of them sat down on my lap and didnt want to move away. But later, we went. Aaron and Elena were ahead of me and told me there was a surprice around the corner. Yes, two puppies :) with the berber woman.

That evening i had a shisha (waterpipe) with Aaron. Elena was too tired. We had a great talk, and last evening. There was again a very nice puppy. He went to me and i played a bit with him. But in his enthousiasm he bit my t-shirt. So now i have a hole in my Jack and Jones t-shirt. Not too big though.

The next morning Aaron and Elena checked out. I stayed a bit longer to relax, listen some music and repack my back. Took a good (cold) shower and checked out. Went to a kodak shop to buy a convertor from SD card to Usb, because mine is probably broken, and at some point my sd card for my camera is full. I bought one and went to the Valentine Inn hostel, where i checked in yesterday.
10 Dinar for a bed in a 14 dorm, breakfast, dinner and ride from Petra included. A very good deal.
I checked in and walked Petra. 15 minutes walk (the bus goes only at 6.30 and 7.30 as a courtesy bus to Petra). I had a pass for two days and could explore another part today! Yes!

Just in brackets. I learned that in 2008, a day pass was 20 Dinar. Now it is 33 dinar and in two months it will be 45 dinar. Crazy!
I bought a 2 day pass for 38 dinar. But i imagine that after two months, when a day pass costs 45 dinar (50 euro), people might think twice visiting Petra. The collosseum is less than 10 euro. Even machu Piccu is cheaper. (entrance, not the train to get there). Maybe, they want to attract the high end traveller, or maybe the Jordanian government just want to make too much money. I guess that this could influence people their decision whether or not to go to Petra. Especially the ones going for a day trip from Dahab.

This day i was on my own to explore Petra. Just before the gorge, there is a pathway on the right. A very nice hike. It does say that is is recommanded to take a guide and it could be dangerous getting offroad. I did go :). After about 30 minutes, i went to the left. But 10 minutes later, i got stuck. I went back and took the other direction. Keeping in mind the way back. I walked and there was a rock, and a nice plateau. Only, there was a deep and steep ravin in between. I walked, and still it was easy. But at a certain moment is was less easy. I threw a rock and it fell like. Tak, Talk, tak, ggggh (through some trees) and then, plop (into the water). I realised, better to get back. It was possible to go here and there were places to put your feet. If it was just 2 metres deep, i would have walked it (actually it had the same difficulty of the start of the trip). Only this part, one mistake could mean a fall down very deep. So i returned to the main city of Petra, where is spend the rest of the day. Later i talked to an Italian couple, and with the help of the lonely planet, they did the correct hike and enjoyed a lot.
Well, i spent the rest of the day in Petra and enjoyed a lot too.
After, the ride with the Valentine Inn bus back to the hostel and a bit later, a great, truly great dinner.
I can really recommand the Valentine Inn in Wadi Musa. If you are on a budget, this is really a good place. Clean, cheap, great dinner and very friendly staff. In the evening i talked to my sweet bonita who is now in Buenos Aires. I heard that in the hostel they were watching Indiana Jones. This was partly filmed in Petra.
During the evening it was very cold. This is the highest peak of the middle east and there could be snow for 4 weeks. This was the first time (evening) that it was really cold during my whole trip. Not to bad :) And, i didnt have any rain yet. I guess Asia will make up for that soon. During the day, temperature is very good and now that i am writing this (18th of september), i am heading to Amman. That is out of the mountains. So i think it will be ok with the temperature. And in 4 days i am checking in to my amazing hotel in Dubai. Warm, with rooftop swimming pool, a gym, and more :)
After, asia.
So now, going to Amman, where i expect to spend this day working a bit (i didnt really work since Istanbul), and relax. Tomorrow i am probably going to Jerash, an amazing place with Roman ruins and i might get to the Dead sea. The lowest lake in the world, where you can float on the salty water. I heard that it cost 15 dinar (16,50 euro) to get on the beach. Crazy! But someone told me just to walk 2 km and then, climb over rocks to the beach. I might do this.
The last day i will explore Amman. By then, i have seen both Egypt and Jordan. And it is time to check out Dubai :) Life is great!
Now, the last hour to get to Amman. I used this time in the minibus (with white cat, that is very relaxed now with a woman in the front), to write all of this story, starting in Dahab. Soon more to come :)

Posted by Aussierala 04:50 Archived in Egypt Tagged egypt dahab jordan backpacking snorkling petra wadi rum Comments (0)

Egypt

Into the dessert, on the nile and sightseeing a lot of temples :)

sunny 42 °C

1st of sept:
today i got up very early. The manager of the hostel again, helped me very well. Everyone is super friendly in this place. I got the taxi and went to the station. There, someone arrived very quick to help me to get the ticket and go to the bus. A long ride of 5 hours brought me to an oasis. I waited for 2 hours with the locals (that was a bit too much), for the bus after me, where there was a japanese guy, Hiroshi, who was going to do the same tour.
We went to a hotel, that was really good. Finally a good hotel :). This afternoon and evening we spent here. After playing some ping pong, we went to bed. Hiroshi turns out to be 52, but he looks like 35. His english is not the best, but he is a good person.
The next day, just after breakfast, we had a tour int the surrounding area. Not the best. But ok. After, it was time to go to the real white and black dessert. I waited for this :). It turned out that there were two Japanese girls also joining the tour, so we had Hiroshi, Haruki, Kaori and Ramon. And two Egyptian guys being the tourguide and one police.

We had a very nice group and drove for about 3 hours towards the real dessert. Had a shop at chrystal mountain where i took real crystals! And went on to the white dessert. This place is amazing! In the nice we set up camp. Just a big sheet next to and attached to the car, and something on the ground. No roof, so we could see all the stars. At this special moment i called my girlfriend :) That was very special. Also, we got company by some foxes. These dessert foxes ate the chicken from your hand. Amazing! The next morning, sunset was amazing. Around 6 am it came up, around 7 am it was freaking hot already. Over 40 degrees. We went back to the hotel, 3 hours. Than, in a big car to cairo, about 5 hours. My intentian was to buy a ticket straight to Aswan with the night train (12 hours), but it was sold out. I went to the Dahab hostel (where else?). Before, with the Japanese i went to a Japanese hotel (Crazy..only Japanese and Japanese books and signs)..very interesting. And met there with Tommy, or Tomiako. The japanese girls also stayed here. We would meet the next evening to have dinner.

2nd of september:
Today, i finally went to the museum. But first i had a long skype conversation with my girlfriend. It was really good to see her again after a while in the dessert.
The museum is walking distrance from Dahab hostel. It was very,very interesting. The museum is a bit old. Wooden closets, glass, criss cross put the pieces around. A lot of security, with big guns and bulletfree boxes (everywhere in Egypt actually). But if you wanted, you could just pick a spinx and put in in your pocket. I guess the security would notice, but it give the feeling what the museum is like. A bit unorganised. Some things just put in the corner. But amazing! Real historians would feel sad because of the way the museum treats these special pieces. But in a way, the experience is great, for you walk in between and most pieces do not even have glass around it.

Also i went to the mummy room (entrance 100 Pound extra, on the museum price that is 60 pound). It was interesting, but a bit scary also. Imagine seeing a skeleton that is 3500 years old, or older. The skeleton (Mummy), of Ramses the second is here. He lead Egypt to a very prosporeous time.

Later, i went out and searched for a telephone card. It took a long time to find a shop. The shop owner was not helpfull at all. Again the standard story. First, enthousiastic. When i asked what is the price to call to europe, he didnt know. But it is cheap. How cheap? He didnt know. I like to buy the Sim card, but only if i know the price. (Of course he says it is cheap; he wants to sell). So, after, he just starts sitting puts the product back in the package. No eye contact, no goodby. Really i get fucked up for these fucking annoying salesmen. What about service? People do not always buy when they enter your shop. Ok, be perfecthic, don't say goodby and have fun in your stupid shop. As you see, i am not so super friendly anymore to annoying people. The bad guys teached me to treat bad guys bad.
After, another shop, the guy was very helpfull. It took about 1 hour, but he really tried. Unfortunately the line was too busy, so he couldn't activate my card. I went to the real Vodafone shop closeby, but it was 1610, and it was closed. To be short, i spent 2 hours, and didn't have a phonecard still. Luckily, Ali, from my Dahab hostel helped me out. We bought a card and credit. But, since 4 months in Egypt, you have to give a copy of your passport to the phone company. So now in Aswan, i will give it to Vodafone. Why? You might think: well, i need to talk to my girlfriend :) And now it is probably freaking expensive. I dont know the prices, so i dont call a lot.
With the egyptian card is is cheaper. (Sms; call is still 50 cents in Euro, a minute--> A simple meal).

Well, i guess i mixed up the days now, because i wanted to write about yesterday, but thats the 4th of september. So i forgot to write about one day.
Anyway, 4th of september:

After the egyptian museum, i met up with the japanese girls and Tomiako. At first, i couldnt find their hotel and i knew i was very close. It was a bit frustrating, because i know my navigation skills are very very bad and i was close.
In the end, i went to my hostel and didnt expect to see them again. But, after a while, Haru came to my hostel and told me they were all having dinner close by. I met up with all three of them and it was very good to still say goodbye. After 1hour they left to a whirling dancing show and i went back to my hostel to wait to go to the train to Aswan.

Now, i am writing the long story since the 30th of aug in this train. The 12 hours long night train, that ends up being 15 hours now. Crazy. I am here in one coupe with 4 American-Indian (hindi) people and talked a lot with them. We had quite some interesting converations and until 300 am we were talking. After, i tried to sleep, but because there is not a lot of space, it turned out to be a bit difficult. The suitcases are in the middle, so i made those my bed, so that there was more space on the seat for them. The ride is long, but i am enjoying their company a lot. We talk about India, about life, travel, life in America. Simularities, dissimularities, marriage (Rahul is married and his wive is also travelling with him). Actually, his two cousins are here too. About my girlfriend, live in Europe, switserland (they have been here). Holland (amsterdam, they visited :) ). And a lot more. Very interesting. Just 4 hours of sleep, or less. But in a way, i feel very rested. Strange. I am enjoying this long ride in a way, although i prefer now to be at Aswan. Two more hours..oeff.

So, now time to look a bit forward. I am going to see Aswan, Abu Simbel (WOW!), going to do a feluca trip, the valley of the kings, hopefully the sound and light show at Abu Simbel or Aswan. And i am going to enjoy it. The american-indians also booked a tour. It would be nice if they are with me. We'll see. Insha'allah.
(It's interesting to see that it is very common to say this: Egyptians would say: The train will arrive in 2 hours insha'allah--> If Allah wants it to be). We will meet again, insha'allah. They are much more religious than the people in Istanbul. All my friends in Istanbul also ate food and had a drink during the Ramadan. Here in Egypt not. They dont drink and eat from sunrise to sunset.

Ok, time to close the laptop, 2 more hours. Time for a new, interesting experience and breakfast cookies, hopefully we will find something good in Aswan. During Ramadan it is very very difficult to find a decent meal between sunrise and sunset.
Have fun :)

5th of september until the 9th of september.
Actually, i am writing this part, sitting in the overnight bus from Luxor to Dahab. Expected travel time: 18 hours! But since in the first 30 minutes, we already waited 15 minutes, i guess 20 hours for this bus ride will be more realistic.

So, time to take you back in time, to my exploration of ancient Egypt..

After arrival in Aswan, i was waited upon by Achmed. He brought me first to the Vodafone shop, so i could activate my card and finally talk to my girlfriend with an Egyptian card :) and later to my hotel. After a short refreshment stay, it was time for what were going to be 4 or 5 (i really am forgetting about days and time) unforgetable and amazing days. The exploration of upper Egypt starts..

In the ancient time, there were different dynasties in Egypt. Upper Egypt, represented by the waterlilly hat, and lower Egypt, represented by Papyrus (or the papyrus hat).
Ancient Egypt started about 3500 BC and I have to be sorry for not knowing all..but what i remember:
3500 years Before Christ, Egypt was very strong and had a lot of Dynasties. After, Egypt became weak when the invasion from the Asians started in Lower Egypt (the Alexandria, delta of the Nile region). Upper Egypt was still strong. During this time, there were also invasions from the south, the Nubians. Ramses the second, or his predesesor conquered back Lower Egypt and thus, reunited both parts. When you look at different hyroglifes, you can see how these kings lived and what they accomplished during their life. Ramses the second became 92 years, and had the trone for over 50 years. He is one of the famous kings and had over 200 children and a lot of wives. 92 at these times was old, very very old.

The Golden Age of Egypt was during the time of Ramses the second, Hotisu (i write incorrectly) and the famous queen (forgot her name now).
Egypt became weaker when the Greeks conquered lower Egypt, and later upper egypt. Alexander the Great did so, and build the city of Alexandria. Later, the Greeks were followed up by the Romans, with among others, Julius Ceasar, who married Cleopatra. Cleopatra was considered the most beautifull woman at her time. She was Greek, but ruled Egypt. Egypt was an important supplier of wheat and other sorts of food for the Roman Empire.

Egypt has later been a colony of both England and France, and since somewhere in the 1980's is independent. The current president is elected already for 29 years. The next elections will be in 2011.

Back to my adventures ;)
After, the refreshing time, we went to some beautifull places. First the Aswan dam, which is not so interesting..It provides about 80%, yes, 80% of all egyptian electricity. Still, for Egyptians, electricity is expensive.
Just some extra info about Egypt: main income: Suez Canal (ships passing and paying a lot), tourism, and after (probably), electricity, deeds and farm products.
The Aswan dam is not so special to see. Just a big lake and a big dam.
After, we went to Philea. A very interesting Nubian place. Actually this temple used to be somewhere else, but because the Aswan Dam was build, Egypt, together with Unesco, moved to whole temple and rebuild it higher up, to prevent it from being flooded by the lake. Unfortunately, other Nubian monuments have been destroyed by the Lake. Lake Nasser, named after the president that ruled during the building of the Aswan Dam.
Philea is a very intersting place. And actually you will see not only Nubian influences. Also, Egyptian hyroglifes, and from later, Christian influences.

After Philea, it was time to back to the hotel and have a rest. The next day, it was time to go to Abu Simbel. A magnificent temple in the south of Egypt, near to the Sudan border. Wake up call at 2.45 am. Leaving at 3.15. And then, after waiting too long for the Egyptian police or army, we left at 4.30 am to Abu Simbel. In convoy, with some police with big machine guns in front of the line of busses, and in the back. Egypt has been safe for over 15 years. But since somewhere in the 1990s, Germans were shot by outlaws, the Egyptian government is not taking risks anymore. Tourism is very important, and everywhere in the street you will encouter policemen. Sometimes with a handgun, often with a half automatic machine gun. And sometimes, hidden behind a bullet free square on wheels. Hotels, banks, streets, and roadblocks on the mainroads, or even in the dessert. The police is everywhere. And i mean, everywhere. But, luckily, they are always friendly and helpfull and will never ask for bak'sheesh (tips..annoying Egyptian habbit).
A three hour drive brought us to Abu Simbel. The temple is magnificent, incredible :). Big pharaoic statues in front of the gates. Inside, big, big statues again. And a lot of beautifull hyroglifes. Actually, this temple is not at its original place. Unesco and Egypt also moved this monument also, to prevent them from being eaten by the water that was coming closer.
After about two hours, it was time for the 3 hour busride back.
After arrival, we immediately went to our boats, or Feluca as they are called. Small ships with a big sail that either sail on the wind, or go downwards on the stream of the Nile. About 2500 years BC, the rocks for the big pyramid were cut in Aswan and sent in Feluca's to Giza where they were used to build the big pyramid and also the other pyramids. An amazing piece of work!

Arriving at the feluca was a bit weird. After finding the right feluca and introducing me to the other travellers, an Egyptian guy came with his outfit (kind of Jelaba, all over with blood. So i, and some others of the newcomers asked the Aussies that already were on the feluca what happened. Well, the story (if correct) is that some tourist gave a tip (bak'sheesh) to one of the crew members of the Feluca. But this crew member refused to share the money with the other crew members. At first it was shouting, later one of them took a knife and the other a stick. After about two hours (Crazy, and time wasting..) of shouting, with tourist around, and being crazy, at first, they started to poke a little bit and showing off. But later, the guy with the knife became serious and started stabbing the other guy. Not too strong, or with intentions to kill, but still, a lot. Apparently, because of ramadan, blood sugar is low, and this happens more often. I have seen it in the oasis before the white dessert that guys were shouting and screaming for absolutely nothing. Like small children. Well, also this is because of low blood sugar (according to someone there that i asked), due to ramadan. Than my question is: Ramadan is supposed to respect everyone, mostly, poor people that do not have food or water. Then why do you need to stab, shout, scream, or be annoying or bad to someone else? I don't understand..

Well, after a whil we sailed away and it was beautifull. I enjoyed a lot. The not so good thing was though, that we only sailed for two hours and then stopped. We had a meal, and everyone was too sleepy because of the early morning ride to Abu Simbel. So a very early sleep. The next morning was not so promising on the sailing also. First it took the guys about 2 hours to get ready, and take food in a nearby village. After a lot of Hakuna matata (relax enjoy life), finally we began sailing for about 1,5 hours. And then, stopped again. Why?
In the end, i really enjoyed being on the feluca. But i expected a sailing trip and not a waiting trip.
The funny thing is though, that when they were ready to leave, it was; yella yella. Hurry hurry.
Customer service is yet to be found in Egypt. Anyone who wants to serve customers well: feel free and i am certain that you immediately differentiate from anyone else.
This afternoon, we drove by bus to Luxor. First we had a stop at Edfu. Another truly amazing temple. In this temple, you can still see a lot of well preserved hyroglifes, with paint. Another amazing place with lots of history. I walked around an noticed two girls being tourguided aroudn. Normally i don't like being tourguided. But this guy talked with so much passion that i joined. He explained a lot. This is the only themple in Egypt that has two main gods. The evil one with the Jackal head and the good one, Horus, god of prosperity. I made a short movie of the guide explaining and you see his absolute interest and passion about ancient Egypt!Then, we went on to Luxor.5 minutes after arrival in the hotel, i was picked up to go to Karnak. Karnak was also truly amazing! It is a huge temple complex where you can see coloms erected and even at some places, still the roof top. At the rooftop, you can still see the hyroglifes in their original form, with paint! Two big sort of needles are still standing up high. Made out of one piece of stone, shipped all the way from Aswan to Luxor. Amazing, amazing!
Here you will also see the long road with the sfinxes.Originally this road was 3 km long, all the way to the Luxor temple. Now, you only see a part of it. In Luxor they are doing excavations to find the other sfinxes that are under the ground now. After, we went to Luxor temple. This one only from outside. No one felt like going inside. It didnt seem that special.

The day after was an incredible day too. First, the valley of the Kings. Wonderfull. In the middle of the mountains there is a valley where a lot of kings have been burried. In their tombs, together with a lot of precious stones, gems, their masks, etc. Mummificied to meet up with the afterlife. During this mummification process, that took 70 days, the brain was taken out troug the nose. The stomach, liver and all other insides were taken out by a cut of about 12 cm on the left side of the body. All was preserved in 4 jars. All four had different heads: one human, one horus (eagle) and two other ones.
The heart was put back in the body after the skeleton was put in some kind of salt to kill bacteria. All was done to prevent the body from evaporate. The ultimate reason was so that all was preserved for the afterlife. After the mummy was put in his tomb, together with a lot of food, water and precious things, the tomb was closed. Usually, jackals would dig in the ground to find the mummy. Therefore, it is believed, that the jackal is represented as the god for the afterlife. If your heart is good, he will let you go to the afterlife.

Back to the tombs. We visited 3 tombs. Ramses the 9th, Queen Nephosoparus (incorrectly spelled) and another one. The reason why there is one queen in the valley of the kings is because she ruled and depicted herselfa always as a man. Actually, her stephson was the king, but she was a strong twomen, making a puppet of her stephson. Actually, after she ruled for 20 years and died. Her stephson tried to erase as much monuments about her as possible.
The tombs are amazing. It is the only place were i have been were the hyroglifes are painted and preserved so well. Most placed you see a little bit of paint. Here the paint is all over! Incredible. It is still a grave, so i entered with respect. But it is unbelievable how people enter and talk, laugh, make jokes, talk loudly etc etc.
But even the people who work there are unbelievable stupid. One of the tombs,there is a side that is blocked by a fence. A very small wooden fence, where you can easily step over. So what does the egyptian guy that works there? Try to get people over the fence. I watched it for a while, because i knew what was going to happen.And yes, after 5 minutes: bak'sheesh. TIP. Blugh..again...always, beggin for money. TIP TIP TIP. It is really annoying. Later, at the amazing tomb of the queen, this guy has a flashlight, so you can look in the tomb. Everyone knows it is robbed by tomb raiders, and empty, but ok..Yes, people look and..2 minutes later..bak'sheesh. I found the interesting moment of seeing the incredible tomb on the right and the creep Egyptian guy with his flashlight counting his coins and paper money. Next to the grave of an incredible old queen..Without respect.
And..this guy is even smarter, after he put som people over the fence (written before) and they come back, he puts his finger in front of his mouth..hushhh....(like, quiet, don't tell anyone)..everyone is passing by, but ok..all to make it look even more like it is sooo amazingly special to go over this fence helped by this creep to give him more money. And actually, they do make some good money with it.

After, we went to another temple on the other side of the valley of the kings. This is the place were the kings (and one queen) were mummificied. Also, this was the place to give respect to them after their dead. Because no one should know about their real burrial place. Nevertheless, a lot of graves haver been robbed. In 1995 a new grave was found, totally intact: that of Tutanchamon.

This temple was not so special in my opinion. But maybe that is only because i have seen a lot of temples by now. But i am inpressed. I love the history of Egypt! It is a place that has an incredible number of temples, pyramids and other incredible buildings.

Now i am in the bus from Luxor to Dahab. I quess my 18 hours was correct, because already we waited a lot of time and now, just before sunset, the two drives had a fight. (of course, stupid low blood sugar again). Well, after 20 minutes, now they just return and it feels like we are going to drive again. Tomorrow finally ramadan is over. Food everywhere, also for tourist and no stupid low blood sugar excuses anymore. I hear a lot of tourist complaining about 3 things: 1) no food during the day because of Ramadan. Tourists have to live on cookies and chips. 2) Bak'sheesh. TIP TIP TIP. Tip for everything. Annoying. 3) the egyptian 5 minutes. Yes, 5 minutes here means 30 minutes minimum.
Even one Italian guy from the feluca tour is a diving instructor here and knows the culture a bit. He was saying, after he waited for his pizza for 40 minutes, and asked how long it would take..coming back smiling...it will take 5 minutes..5 egyptian minutes.
And he said: I like Egypt, but what i hate about Egypt is when you say you will meet tomorrow at 3pm. They answer: Insha'allah. If god wants to. No, if YOU want to.
Wow, incredible how someone who works here 4 years, every year 5 months, thinks the same as the tourists. If Egypt can improve the customer oriented view, i am certain they will gain a lot from this.

Posted by Aussierala 14:54 Archived in Egypt Tagged egypt backpacking traveller dessert nle Comments (0)

Stage 2: Egypt

Country of Pharao's, Sfinxes, history and habits

sunny 38 °C

Arrival in Egypt :)
29th of august.

The Turkey Trip was over and it was time for my second destination. Egypt. A country with an amazing history. A country that i was looking forward so much to see.
The flight was very, very good with Egypt air. I didn't expect that food and drinks were included and just when i opened a roll of cookies, because i was hungry, it turned out that food and drinks were included. Wow! The food was actually quite good. So i was very happy.

After arrival in Cairo, it was a bit tricky to find the way. As always, a lot of taxi drivers asked; you need a ride sir? How much? 50. 50 pounds? No, sir, 50 dollar. US dollar? Yes, US dollar. Just for the info: 50 US dollar is far too much. For 2 pounds (about 25 dollar cent) you can go until Ramses station, which is the city centre of Cairo. I went to a small tourist information shop, and the taxi drivers kept trying (of course, it is their job). They explained me to take the white bus. After, change bus to go to Ramses station. At the bus stop i waited and a women from Uruguay showed up. It turned out that she saved money for about 20!! years and now, was doing the trip of her live. She was 54 years. I went with her to the city centre and to the hostel she booked. The hostel turned out to be the University hostel. So we were about the only backpackers around. It was very interesting and everyone was very friendly. Dylis (the Uruguan lady) had her room and i booked a shared room.
30th august.
Today i went to the pyramids. The famous Giza Piramids. Something that i was looking forward to a lot. Together with Dylis i took a taxi to the Giza area. There, we informed at the tourist office and went. We found out that in the evening at 20 00 we should be ready to buy tickets for the sound and light show.
Walking to the pyramids is a very interesting moment. The pyramids, of which the oldest is 4500 years old, slowly starts showing itself more and more. AMAZING :) WOW! So much history.
In the meantime, some anoying salesmen try to convince you to take their taxi, buy their stuff or take the shortcut (for money of course), because the walk is 7 km. No, it was about 500 meter..but they will not tell you.

The control at the pyramids (and stations also) is like an airport. You go trough security checks and there is a lot of police, with big guns. I quess i have seen some AK47's around.

Arriving at the pyramids was amazing. The sun was already burning a lot and the Pyramid, 4500 years old, is shining. WOW! And later, more pyramids show themselves. 9 in total in the Giza area. We walked around, amazed by the pyramids and more salesmen come by.

Here 2 interesting anecdotes. At first i was still friendly, but later, i was not so friendly to new salespeople anymore.

Arriving at the pyramids, after a couple of 'no' Shokran, another salesmen arrived. I got a present for you. And he gave a scarf. I put it around my head, Moroccan style. After, where are you from and the other standard talk, he gave 3 stone pyramids. Presents.
I was getting a bit anxious, because i knew it were not presents. So after a while he said..i give you present, and you can give what you want. So i returned: well, it is not a present then, right? Yes, it is a present, and you give what you want. So, i give 5 pound. (about €0,80) for the three pyramids and the scarf. He returns: normally people give 20 pound or more. I became annoyed, put the scarf off, give the pyramids to him: well, you can sell them to other people then. Shokran.

Later, a camel guy shows up. You want to make picture? It is free. Ok, i like to make a picture, but i dont pay, because it is free. Ok? Yes, yes, picture is free. Of course i was anxious, but it was a nice start for someting interesting. So, i sit on the camel, Dylis takes a picture and i want to get off. But, as expected, the guy starts walking with the camel. I become a bit annoyed and say: Please, let me down. Just picture, no walking with camel. After a while, he puts the camel down and i get off. You got money? Camel needs to eat? No, it was free you said. Normally people pay 5 or 10 pound. Yes, but we agreed it was free.
He start grapping my polse. At first i laugh and it like a joke. My friend, it was free :) No pounds for picture. He starts screaming a bit, I respond a bit aggresive. Ok, my friend. I will delete the pictures. No no, no delete. Ok, then i keep the picture. He annoyed, i annoyed. Must have been a great sight. Anyway, he stops arguing and walks away, saying some arabic words.

So, always be carefull with things like this. But sometimes it is very interesting to see what happens. As long as you play the game in the right way, it can give some nice stories.

Ok, back to the pyramids. We decide not to give any attention anymore to the salesmen and start enjoying the pyramids. To my surprise, there are very few people. Good, now we can really enjoy. So, a lot of pictures and walking up the sand hill for a better view. After, we went into the big pyramid. This is truly amazing. Imagine going into a building of 4500 years old. Incredible. But also a bit scary, because you might know about the curse of Toetanchamon. Every person that enters a grave, or pyramid, died shortly afterwards. Was it because of the air, the rotten things in the graves, or something else? No idea. But it is a bit scary. So, after big walk into the pyramid, up, up..and very hot (outside it is also around 40 degrees)..you will enter grave chamber. There is still a tomb (if it is the real one). This is magnificent! It was really great to be so close to a civilisation that lived very long ago.

Later, we went to the big market in Cairo. There Dylis bought a scarabee chain and me a chess game, egyptian style. After a lot of negotiation, we had a good price for both. This negotiation was in a very nice way. It was a nice game/ play.

In the evening we took a cab to the sound and light show. On the way, there was a guy selling mangos. We bought some and they were really good!
After a simple dinner (unfortunately, Egyptian kitchen is not the best), we went to the sound and light show. Another not to be missed specacle. My first day in Egypt was amazing!

31st of august.
Today i actually didn't do a lot. My intention was to go to the famous egyptian museum. From the University hostel, which is very much out of the centre, i took a bus to the metro station. From there i went to a metro station, that was supposed to be close to the egyptian museum. I asked some people and they send me in a direction (later i found out that this was the right direction). Later, a guy passed by and we had a chat. He told me i was heading in the wrong direction. I was a bit confused, but trusted him, so turned around he went into the same direction. He asked me about my travel plans and i told him i was planning to go to Aswan, Luxor and more places. He was talking a bit about himself and turned out to speak a bit of German. We walked into a street and he told me that the museum is there. But before, he jumped into his uncles' shop. I went with him, but told it would be shortly. From this moment, my alarm was ringing, because usually this is the moment things are getting annoying. And yes, of course he offered a drink. I refused. Normally i wouldn't do that, but i felt the real intentions now. An indeed. 'you want to do a tour'? Yes, but i am on a tight budget. So i will probably arrange all myself. We can do it for you. Well, i guess my budget is too tight. What is your budget? 25 euro a day...blabla etc. Well, he could arrange the tour, wanted to call some friends. I refused. Later it turned out a 3 day dessert tour was 300 US dollars. That's too much for me. I was becoming very distant. First, because of realising the intentions for the nice chat, was just selling someting, second because i wanted to go to the museum. In the end, i left, after he was also talking about the (fake) papyrus. And then, typically the annoying salespeople. No goodbye, no hand, no eye contact. I went..this i don't like. Later it turned out that this guy send me in the complete opposite direction. So i walked back. I just didnt want to take a taxi, just for the feeling of being able to find things myself.
Then, i searched for a quiet place to eat. Because of ramadan, i didn't want to disturb people. A guy came to me and said it's better to eat somewhere else because of Ramadan. I said that thats exactly why i came here. There is a church with a park where you can eat. Is it close? Yes, it is close. I will show you. I was a bit anxious, but ok. Lets go, but i kept a distance in my speach, eye contact, and non verbal conversation. And yes, he jumped into a shop. I am an artist.. (the standard story). A table was put, so i could eat. I immediately made clear i was not going to buy someting. It was ok. So we started talking. I just ate relaxed. First the talk was pretty relaxed. Later, i am an artist. What do you think of my paintings? Well, they are nice, but it is not my style. Etc etc. Later: i want to write you name in Arabic on this painting. Well, if you do that, you cannot sell it to anyone anymore. No, it is a present for you. A present? Yes, a present. I give you a present and you give me anything you want. Right, that i already had in Giza. I dont want the painting and i am not going to pay anything. I told you when i went in. Ok, my friend no problem. Then he started to talk about that he wanted to live in Amsterdam and bla bla .Anyway, i was just finishing my food to leave afterwards. But here again, no eye contact, no goodbye. Annnoying salesman. From that moment, on the streets, i am not so friendly anymore to people that are like: hey, welcome to Egypt. Where are you from? Or: i am an artist. Or some chit chat and later: i want to give you my business card. Come with me.
The good thing: no more annoying salesman. The bad thing: i might miss interesting meetings with interesting people.

Well, finally i arrived at the museum and it was closed. Because of Ramadan most places close at 1500 or 1600. I went back to the metro station and walked a bit around the nile area. Also, i found a hostel with tourist in the main erea. I needed this to find info about tours. The Dahab hostel was recommanded on internet and i booke a tour there. Later, I ended up in a shop just after 1800 and some people were having dinner (from 1800 that's allowed according to ramadan). I asked them where they bought this. At Kazaz. Where is Kazaz? It is very near. Out, left and it is 5 min walk. But come..lets have a seat and eat with us. These guys looked like business people, just off from their work. So, although i had 2 bad experiences today that costed me about 3 hours (including the misdirection of twice 20 min), i sat down. I didnt have plans for tonight anyway. We had dinner, some drinks, the waterpipe, and later we went to another place. There, more waterpipe, more drinks and it was really good. I felt these were good people. We talked, and had a lot of fun. I got their phonenumber and when i come back to Cairo i meet up with them. Mohammed, Ahmed, Salah and Essam thanks a lot!
So i experienced both the super annoying salesman; which i now start to recognise by the way they approach me, and the real friendly egyptian hospitality by the real people.
Later i told this to my roommates in the hotel (who are really friendly) and they dont like the salesmen also.
There i had a chat with my roommates and Besim showed me how he would wash before he goes to the mosque for praying (Salaat). That was very intersting. We talked a lot about Ramadan and being muslim. Besim invited me to go with him to the mosque, so i could watch. I was temped, but refused. Actually for 2 reasons: one, because it was 200 am and i had to get up at 515 for my dessert tour, two, because in a way it doesnt feel good for me to watch someone who is paying gratitude to god (or allah), just to see how it works.
But i appreciated the invitation and my three roommates were really good people. I enjoyed a lot.

Posted by Aussierala 14:42 Archived in Egypt Tagged culture travel egypt backpacking ancient Comments (0)

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