June 5, 2009

Cairo is Poison for the Body, Mind and Spirit
Giza, Egypt

We've been in greater Cairo for less than 30 hours and I already feel like driving to the airport and getting on the first flight out of the Middle East.

I've decided I'm going to publicly share (below) the e-mail I just sent to my father on the state of things here in Giza.

An E-mail to Dad…

Hi from Giza!

The family and I made the big push from the Red Sea coast yesterday, completing the final leg of the journey with one of the city's most inept taxi drivers (quite possibly taking my #1 spots for both dumbest and least sober driver to date).

Princess, Tatiana's friend, has recently renovated the flat we're staying in (it's very lovely), but I'm anxious to get out of here. She's currently in Florida, due to return in about two weeks for her marriage to an Egyptian.

That belly dance festival that Tatiana attended back in 2007 before flying to Manila to meet up with me is being held (again, annually) this month, starting up on the 27th. Princess is an organizer for the event, and I believe we'll be making an effort to be in town for it.

I'm passing the reins over to Tatiana for this country—she'll be the researcher and decider of what sights the family will be seeing on our travels along the Nile.

Getting back to Cairo…

The streets here are uncomfortable: loud, polluted, dirty, foul-smelling, hot, and dangerous (vehicular). The sensations are only amplified for us after the past two (quiet) weeks along the coast.

Our indoor life plagued with water outages (we can't seem to get more than two or three hours of running water per day); an inability to cook (this is a huge problem, as there's apparently no propane for the stove, no water most of the time, and certainly no way to prepare proper meals for Aidric); no Internet access in the apartment; and ants plus the occasional cockroach the size of a small cat living alongside us. There apartment was left with far too many perishable foodstuffs just lying out to rot, and that has attracted plenty of unwanted company.

Now this isn't to say that I'm not overwhelming grateful to be in this Giza apartment (complete with an awesome view of the city's famous pyramids, privacy, screens on the windows, Bath & Body Works lotions for Tatiana, and air conditioning in the bedroom)—lord only knows how miserable the experience could be in the budget accommodation in town—but idling and spending cash simply for the sake of sitting in a room with A/C and occasionally looking out the window for the view doesn't make me want to stay.

This city is just flat out gross—a giant sprawling favela of epic proportions, full of nosey, in-your-face people. We're constantly getting bombarded by locals sparking up conversation with us to try and separate us from our cash, although it's probably just because of our proximity to the pyramids.

It's beyond me why anyone with a choice—particularly with as many as a multi-national citizen such as Tatiana's friend—would wiling choose to make greater Cairo their home. Yuck.

Given the vehicular traffic (that forces us carry Aidric around because of the danger), horrid pollution, stifling heat, annoying Arabs, and lack of anything nearby to eat (or resources to cook for ourselves), I'm left grasping for reasons to be here. This is the kind of place that makes me want to dress in a full-blown burqa (posing as a woman) just to walk down the street unnoticed.

I've haven't broken a Wi-Fi signal in a while, but found myself on the roof of this six-story apartment building today in the afternoon heat doing just as much. A strong password but weak encryption protocol has allowed me to send this off to you this evening. Sadly, we don't get anything usable inside the apartment. As a result, I'm unsure of the frequency that I'll be online—certainly evenings only.

Given my displeasure with the (absent) water and street life situation, I imagine we'll be moving along soon—leaving some excess gear/garb here and returning to Giza in time for the festival. By this time next month the festival should be wrapping up and we'll be getting ready to head to Thailand for the rainy season (where we'll wait until the weather clears to fly to India, then back to Florida before Aidric turns two).

An Apartment Patio in Giza with a Wall of Bricks

Aidric with an Egyptian Girl: I had to walk some distance to find a small market to buy supplies. On this trip I brought the baby, and of course he was a big hit (as he always is).

Boiling Eggs in a Glass Pitcher: I was forced to boil our eggs with my immersion heater because there was no propane for cooking in the apartment.

Donkey Pulling Trash-Scavenging Cart

Comments:

The United States

Jac Arnold

September 29th, 2010

Well stated…I have travelled to about 45 countries and can say that the Egyptians were the rudest people I have encountered anywhere in the world. They dont even try to hide the rudeness, or the touting they are doing. Cabbies are a joke and everyone asks Baksheesha for me??
The Giza pyramids experience was incredibly cheapened by the rude touts. It was not fun. Cairo is the biggest shithole I have ever been to, and I got deathly ill from the food to boot…but oh Dahab, what a gorgeous place.

Mexico

Wade | Vagabondjourney.com

October 3rd, 2010

Could not agree more. It is hard for me to listen to people taking about traveling in Egypt in flowery terms — the place is annoying. Though I have this thing about hating places, I feel the urge to return and take another look. There has to be another side of Egypt, somewhere.

Turkey

Natalie - Turkish Travel Blog

October 14th, 2010

I thought about staying in Cairo once as I was told that it was close to the pyramids.

After two hours of surfing the web trying to find out information about it, I decided it was better to stay in a resort further away and just travel to the pyramids.

Sounds like you had fun though!

The United Kingdom

directline summer holidays

November 16th, 2010

When I went to Egypt with my girlfriend we both got really, really ill! It did take some of the fun out of the holiday for us but seeing the beautiful pyramids made up for it!

Romania

Joseph

December 28th, 2010

I visited Egypt 3 years ago with my parents, and I can honestly say that I liked it. Of course it was an organized trip, but that doesn't mean we didn't have problems - Cairo is very loud, very dirty (it is said to be the dirtiest city in the world) and like you said, the people just creep you out. The windows of our hotel room were sealed shut, the AC was on constantly (I hate the AC), the water was limited, but the view of the pyramids made up for it. The visit to the pyramids was great, however the sight of soldiers with guns was a bit nerve wrecking, not to mention the guide for the camel rides, who insisted on receiving a tip. The locals "attack" the tourists, seek every opportunity to make money. Another sight that freaked me out was on our way to Sakkara, seeing the meat put out to dry, and flies were everywhere. Luckily we didn't get sick, drank only bottled water but even that was a bit too much after a while. And since I'm not accustomed to the heat, I was not a happy camper - and we were in September, when one might expect milder temperatures. The things I enjoyed most about my Egyptian trip was Abu Simbel ( a must see in my book) and the cruise on the Nile. Simply gorgeous. We spent one week in a resort by the Red Sea, and I was bored out of my skull - nothing to do but lounge by the pool, eat and sleep. I am an active person and I need to see and experience places!

The United States

Costa Rica Teen Summer Programs

September 29th, 2011

Wow, glad I can upon your site. Good information to know. Thank you!

Thailand

John Adler

October 21st, 2011

I currently live in Thailand right now, and I get to enjoy travelling within the southeast asian region. But i do miss going to southern europe like spain and greece. I am also looking into doing travel blogs and i find yours really informative, interesting and nice looking. :) very inspiring as well!

The United States

David Daly

November 4th, 2011

I have visited Cairo two times (Granted they were both before the political unrest) and had a wonderful time! The Khan Il Khalili market is one of the best urban markets Ive ever visited. It is an intriguing maze of unique shops with incredibly cheap prices if you are good at bartering. The Egyptian musuem is also full of impressive exhibits. The pollution and crowded streets do take some getting used to, but I found most Egyptians to be very friendly and respectful! I think visitors just need to have a realistic view of what to expect on a visit to this unique and enormous city! Im actually looking forward to a return visit with The Amazing Travel Concierge!

Norway

Joey

November 25th, 2011

When I went to Egypt with friends we were harassed :(

The United Kingdom

Vicky

May 14th, 2012

Oh dear, I'm going to Cairo in October and everyone's warned me about it being so skanky. I was hoping they'd made it up, but your letter proves not! I'd be ok, but I'm taking my mum so I'm a bit worried about what she'll think to the place. I won a holiday to Sharm el Sheikh and we were going to do a day trip to Cairo – maybe I should rethink?

Mexico

Jonathan Look, Jr.

June 20th, 2012

Wow! I was debating whether or not to visit Egypt on my trip to Thailand this year. Reading this make me want to pass.

United Arab Emirates

Dubai Dune Buggy

July 20th, 2013

As per history Egyptian pyramids and their buildings and cities were considered more advance and developed. But now after watching these pictures one can easily say egypt is not as advence, well managed and controlled as it was some 3000 or 4000 BC at its time. But still they have good tourist attractions in terms of pyramids and the tourism industry is growing day by day there. I hope they must have deserts for attraction as it is the part of Arab paninsula, like Dubai is provide desert safari.

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