Sunday, July 26, 2009

Egyptian driving and stalkers

I am typing this from a keyboard where the keys keep falling off so apologies in advance for the inevitable typing mistakes!

Today we travelled all the way across the Sinai peninsular, up its Western side, under the Suez canal and into Cairo. Having recently passed my UK bus drivers test I reckon that I am very knowledgeable about the rules of the road and how to drive but our bus driver clearly hadn't learnt in central London so had some alternstive ideas. The Egyptians, like most of the world, drive on the right hand side of roads but we spent at least 50% of the time on the left hand side. This was because the rules for overtaking are something like this: pull out at least 10 minutes before the object you wish to overtake even comes into view, hoot the horn loudly to warn of your imminent arrival so that vehicles can swerve out of the way and only return to the right when forced to do so by an oncoming camel. This served us well on our journey.

We made a few stops for toilets and to be ripped off at drinks stands. We also got quite excited moving from Asia into Africa under the Suez canal. This is Rachel's first time in Africa but I'm afriad neither of us were immediatly impressed by it. Cairo is huge and started miles before we arrived at our hotel. The congestion encouraged even more extraordinary driving and the horn on the minibus was used with increasing frequency (i.e. approximately every 5 seconds!) We eventually arrived at the hotel which is AIR CONDITIONED! This was incredibly exciting and we had a quick sit down and enjoyment of the temperature before heading off for a walk to find an internet cafe. This place offers 'business man services' - we'll leave that up to your imagination!!

On the way back a man started talking to me and invited me to his hotel for coffee (a business man service??!!) I declined and we beat a hasty retreat. In the evening we were force marched to a big group meal. On the way a man decided to stoke my back - I don't think he'll be doing that again given my reaction to it! Food was great at the restaurant. Brash Australian company gave a lot to be desired... On the way back, we stopped to pick up some water to smuggle back into our hotel and my friend from earlier started talking to me again! I asked him if he was following me and told him to stop stalking and we crossed the road at full speed (quite an achievement in Cairo!) before heading back to our hotel.

We said goodbye to our group in the hotel and are now free and ready to take on Egypt!

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