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إن شاء الله Insha'Allah.

Alright, so it was time for another little trip. Since we skipped our usual October/November anniversary vacation and since our last vacation ended sometimes in late Summer, we decided we can spend some extra money on something we'd both really like. While browsing the internetz Igor just shot out: "Let's do the Nile cruise!" Sure, why not? And so we did. And boy oh boy am I not sorry for that.



And what follows is a rather longish post with quite some words and also some pictures. The whole 90+ selection I made out of 2000 pics (and also some words are added) is already Flickrd and it's HERE. Some of you have already seen it and I surely hope you will like it. So let's start with some other words...






Another place, another time...

I think I've travelled quite a bit until now, but my trips were always sort of confined inside the same, Western civilisation. So all the countries I've visited featured more or less the same culture, habits, ways of operation and ways of living. So entering Egypt was a true discovery for me. It was my first Africa, my first Arabic country, my first vacation when I really felt and also looked like a foreigner. And the fact you are a foreigner in Egypt also brings with it some other - not so pleasant - consequences I might notice later. Pleasant or not, they really didn't matter, because the charm this vast country offers to a non-suspecting eye is almost beyond compare.


Faking to be one of the gang. It, of course, didn't work.


What you've only read about...

Or what you've only dreamed about or maybe the stuff you've only seen in some movies. Ok, and - if I want to make a pervert remark - in some amusement parks and some bizarre displays of bad taste like Las Vegas. Anyway, the real stuff was there, all for me to enjoy, all for me be totally bewitched, bothered and bewildered. Majestic ancient temples, the remains of old life so rich and so abundant we cannot really understand. An old civilisation so advanced - when compared to what was going on in Europe about 5000 years ago - that it's really easy to start wondering whether it wasn't really the doing of some alien beings, immensely stronger and smarter than "usual" human creatures of the time. But no, that's Egypt and its people. I am still amazed when I look at the pictures and jump a few days back in time and relive my excitement and utter shock when I saw let's say Abu Simbel or Karnak Temple complex for the first time. Yes, what I'd seen before surely looked amazing and big and all, but when I just got lost in all that beauty and size and colours and the force that pushed old Egyptian civilisations to extreme efforts to offer their kings, their gods, their pharaohs the afterlife they deserved. I don't want to sound like some tourist guide but if you haven't walked all tiny and non-significant and lost under those pillars in Karnak or of you haven't looked in Ramses' II eyes in Luxor or if you haven't walked the steps of Hatshepsut Temple in Deir al-Bahri or if you haven't climbed in hot, wet, claustrophobic tombs in the Valley of The Kings or if you haven't gazed and the wonders of pyramids in Giza or if you skipped Nile... you simply don't know what Egypt is. If Egypt means Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada to you then... well, then you just don't know a thing. Sorry.


Karnak and Luxor.


Edfu.


Red Sea sunset.


Iggy and early morning Abu Simbel and me paying tribute to Ernie cajuncountry .


Dreamland.


Baksheesh

I wasn't mentioning people when I was writing about what you should know if you want to experience real Egypt. People... Well, in my - extremely limited - experience some sincere interaction between local people and tourists/foreigners hardly exists. White people mean just one thing. Money. You should pay for everything in Egypt. When someone shows you the way, when someone just smiles you at the temple and you want to take a picture of a kind face, when someone just hands you the cart at the airport... it's always baksheesh, tipping, just plain ole giving away, bribing, you name it... I know about the economic situation in Egypt, I know about the money people there earn, I know that even that little something I could give might really help someone and it would hardly mean anything to me, but... a sentence from one of the blogs: "Baksheesh is like never-ending bleeding, it slowly, but surely wears you out..." At some places, like around major tourist attractions, it was really annoying. Not to mention some bazaars when a flock of salesmen just flooded you over like molasses and it was really hard to leave. Sometimes it felt almost like an escape. But... those who say that three is a good number are wrong. I only needed two blows to find the cure from baksheesh.


He didn't see me. I didn't pay.


Kissing a fool

Ok, I will skip the first one, I will just say that I wanted to buy two towels and ended up buying two towels and three t-shirts and I paid what was twice average monthly earning in Egypt (as I found out later) for all that. Yes, it hurt and I felt betrayed, but hey, that's what you get when you don't know how to bargain. For just about everything. At least I didn't fall for "Hey, and baksheesh for me, habibi? I only work here, I don't earn much." He was cute though.
Anyway, enter my baksheesh rape #2. And I have to say I am to blame for that one as well. I was walking around Karnak Temple when a guy in his yellabiya said: "Habibi, come here," and the took me through some corridors and all and finally showed me the wall I could climb on and apparently take amazing pictures from. I knew it by then that this was going to cost so I decided to play the game all the way through. So I took a few pictures and as I climbed down the wall, my newfound habibi showed me the wall with some scarabs on it. Scarab is the symbol of luck, mind you. He grabbed my hand and made me touch the scarab and my forehead about 10 000 times. Then he did the same with the scarab and my heart. Then he did the same with my heart and his heart. And then he made that universal gesture with his thumb and index finger. Baksheesh. I wanted to give him some Euro change. He said no. I insisted. He said no. I still insisted. He pointed his finger to paper money. 100 Egyptian Pounds was the smallest note I had. I said: "Well, that's too much." He said: "Well, it's for luck, no?"

I left almost running, red-cheeked, 100 LE lighter, ashamed again.

So if you want to have some extra luck, talk to me, I'll show you some. Anyway, that was my Blitzkurs in baksheesing and apparently I learned my lesson well. I put on my "office face" and for the rest of the week I had total peace. Nobody approached me with their goods, nobody tried to sell me some useless items, even on the bazaars they were really careful. Now it can be two... my face or the fact I really got lucky after that little adventure in Karnak.
One can never be certain. And we don't play with luck, right?


The Lybian desert.


Fanta with a lot of style.





The runs

Ok, let me tell you one thing. Not a drop. Not even a tiniest one, even though just about anyone who went to Egypt mentioned some digestion issues. Or rather indigestion ones. Ok, I just stayed away from water and ice and stuff, but other than that it was open season. Salads, fruits, you name it. I even shocked our kind guides when we made a tiny cruise to Gifton coral reef. After lunch they served fresh guava fruit. One of the pieces fell on the ground and I picked it up, blew it like a little kid and ate it. One of the guys gave me a broad smile and a big tap on my shoulder saying: "You are the right man." You know I have seen many, many, many little bottles of disinfecting gel and wet wipes and all. I just didn't care. I took a lot of medicine with me and decided to just go with the flow.
And a bottle of good ole Dimple surely helped me through the week, if you know what I mean.


Just because it's pretty.


Eternal Nile

The river that gives Egypt its life. If you ever decide to visit the country, please make the Nile cruise a part of your itinerary. Yes, it's exhausting, because there's a lot of "early to bed and early to rise", but it's a total must. Experiencing many faces of the country, observing how the country changes, how it's totally depending on the might river... and also enjoying the silence and peace and quiet (not least because all the baksheesh is included in your fare, so nobody is expecting any extra kindness) is the way to enjoy. Not to mention I couldn't really grasp we were nearing the New Year's Eve and it was 25 C during the day and it was shorts and shirts time and I even got sunburned. It was surely exotic and totally, totally different for me. And well worth repeating.


Just one of many.


The richness of the world.


Unforgettable felluca experience in amazingly clear waters of Nile near Aswan. 


A taste of the world...
 
...that's so appealing it almost hurts. Ok, I'll put yet another two drops of musk essence on my neck, close my eyes and drift back... To colours, voices and images of Egypt. And as the title of this post says... Insha'Allah, God willing, I will come to Egypt again.


 



 

Comments

( 87 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
paterson_si
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:21 am (UTC)
Thanks, Bill. Glad you liked it all. Welcome! :)
leafshimmer
Jan. 5th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
Beautiful selection of texts and images. Thank you. I have such amazingly vivid past life memories of being there... I always wonder whether I would get that sensation I got in Stonehenge, and in the Forbidden City in Beijing, of "I have been here before." I have almost given up ever going there in this earthwalk but my new resolution is "never say never."

I am fascinated by what you write of the unhappy episode of that habibi in that temple. A very similar experience was described to me by a man who went to Egypt in the late 1980s. I guess it is a standard trick they play on the tourists. The guy back in the 80s thought he was being "initiated."

I know I am asking for the wrong thing here, but I really want to see an example of "the office face." I'm guessing it's rather ... formidable? (not in the French sense of that word)

Thanks again and I look forward to exploring the other images on Flicker.

It's good to know you are home again. I can guess how dull that town must seem when you are away.

hugs, Shimmer
paterson_si
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
Well, Egypt is such a powerful place it really carries you away... Oh, the temple episode. I knew how it's going to end, yet....... who knows what dragged me to play my part all the way through. But it surely didn't feel like any kind of initiation. :)

Office face... I need the mood to present it. LOL

HUGS
nzguy1
Jan. 5th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful account of your trip Tomaz. I feel as if I have just travelled with you and experienced the sights, sounds and tastes of Egypt...wonderful pictures as always and you both look SO very relaxed and happy.

(You can give me baksheesh later for saying such nice things)!

HUGS!
paterson_si
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)
Thanks, Al. I am happy if I managed to carry over some of the "esprit" of my trip. It was a really amazing experience and we were totally relaxed. And absolutely happy, because it was just perfect. :)

Ok... we'll deal with them little favours later.... :)

HUGS
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tilia_tomentosa
Jan. 5th, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
The phrase "my newfound habibi" cracked me up. :)

Did you find out which are the best shoes for desert sand? :)

It looks like a fairytale place...

And you and Iggy are always cute evrywhere. :)
paterson_si
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
Well... my BEST newfound habibi. LOL The best shoes? The ones I bought for the trip, of course! :)

It is a pure fairytale.....
jccub1
Jan. 5th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
Stunning pics and account of the trip Tomaz :-)
My folks have been to Egypt twice in the last decade which has left me wanting to visit - this just makes me want to go even more. Maybe I'll make it across in 2010... Thanks for sharing :-)
paterson_si
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
You need to go Clarkie, really. It just takes you.
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ubermunkey
Jan. 5th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
incredible!

paterson_si
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
Oh, yessir, it was! :)
dan4behr
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:05 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this traveloge and photo documentary too! Thanks for putting it together for us!
As you know, my Brian is of Lebanese descent. He has relatives there and I say we should take then up on visitation offers but alas, he refuses to go. He has hang-up about the place I guess.
I scoured your flickr pix as well and loved the ubiquitous Peugeot 504 there in Egypt. I also noticed quite a lot of Fiat 128's in your cityscapes as well.
paterson_si
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
Welcome, Dan! :) I want to do it earlier, but I got sucked into work. Yes, wven that happens to me sometimes. :) 504 are... NUMEROUS and so are 128's. I guess Peugeot and Fiat managed to survive by selling their cars to Egypt in the 70's and 80's. :)
use2bshy
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
Thank you for this, Loved the photos and descripions
paterson_si
Jan. 6th, 2010 12:40 am (UTC)
Thanks, Co! :) I hope I managed to give you some of the feelings I've experienced.
(Deleted comment)
paterson_si
Jan. 8th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
All you need to do is.... decide. :)
thisisdavid
Jan. 6th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)
Cool pics! Love the sunset one and the pyramids all lit up. In some of your pics I kept trying to see your camera you were holding to see what it is. LOL.
paterson_si
Jan. 8th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Egypt was really, really pretty. :)

My camera is Canon EOS 50D with a bit 17-55mm F2.8 lens on it.
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putzmeisterbear
Jan. 6th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
Thanks I really enjoyed it very much. It moves Egypt up higher on my list of places I must see. And Igor looks very sexy with his beard grown out.
paterson_si
Jan. 8th, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
Welcome. I am happy you like it because I surely enjoyed the trip. You should really decide and go there. It's an amazing mixture. And Iggy is always sexy for me. :)))))))
dhruv_dhody
Jan. 6th, 2010 03:17 am (UTC)
Insha'Allah...i'll do that too!
Needless to say fabulous pics.... x x x
paterson_si
Jan. 8th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, bud! :) Insha'Allah is phrase that people there often use. It helps.

xxx
bluebubbleblue
Jan. 6th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
When will you and Igor visit Asia, Tomaz?? :P
paterson_si
Jan. 8th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
We are making plans, believe me. :)
inbhirnis
Jan. 6th, 2010 02:55 pm (UTC)
Nice photo-essay!

I cannot stand haggling for stuff - just tell me what the real price is. I wouldn't do well there, but I know I'd be fine at resisting the baksheesh - must be my Scottish genes.... ;-)

paterson_si
Jan. 8th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)

I also hated haggling. I am just not good with that. Well, I am hopeless, so I decided that ignoring shall be my weapon. It worked. :)
vksi
Jan. 6th, 2010 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thx for a great post.... memories from my 1999/2000 visit are coming back to me ... beauty ..... and of course ripped off experience. I'm glad you had a great time.

xo

Viki
paterson_si
Jan. 8th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC)
Welcome, Viki. I miss seeing you.

Yes, Egypt cannot leave you untouched. It's a powerful experience. And being ripped off at least once is a part of its charm. LOL

xxx
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