Usagi Vindaloo (usagivindaloo) wrote,
Usagi Vindaloo

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My home and native land

The moment when I "knew" I was back in Canada was while I was waiting for my luggage at the baggage carousel, watching the news... and rather than focusing on the horrible rapist father in Austria, or Random Suicide Bomber Du Jour, their big "crime" story was about a car keying suspect.

Oh Canada. ♥♥♥ Never ever change. ^_^

So I've been home for about a day, albeit conscious for only part of that time and mentally checked out for a good chunk of the rest. I hate jetlag, and the journey was particularly bad in terms of getting sleep. Plus I messed up when I got in... went to sleep at 6 PM without ordering in any food (nothing in the fridge as I cleaned it out before my trip), then woke up at 2 AM absolutely ravenous. Ah well. The flight from Amsterdam was decent, and I got to watch Elizabeth: The Golden Age (lady_pamina, didn't you do a paper on it?).

Soon I'll have to start the lengthy process of going through my photographs and writing up all the events of our travels... but in a nutshell, what did I think of Egypt?

The bad:
- The heat. HOLY MOTHER OF SEPHY THE HEAT. DX I mean, it wasn't exactly a surprise that it was hot, but I had no idea it was going to be that baking. We weren't even able to make full days of sightseeing... we basically would have to retire in the late morning just to get out of the sun. If we were lucky, we could make another attempt at about 5. It was very disheartening to be forced by sheer heat to ease up on our usual pace.

- speaking of which, the pacing was rather bad. This was partly our fault, and partly the fault of some of the tour guides, but the breakneck pace which we were seeing stuff was just too much, especially for my mom. To make matters worse, the tour guides didn't seem to understand why she wanted to sit out a few temples, and almost took it as a personal affront. Look, not our fault that we can't go forever like little windup toys. >.>

- the flies/insects. Persistent little buggers. And unfortunately, some of the bugs in Cairo seemed to absolutely LOVE biting every single part of me they could land on, and even some places they couldn't. >.>

- the touts. Dear sweet god, the street hasslers were annoying. We're not talking salesmen here, not really. Salesmen usually understand the meaning of, "no" and "just looking, thanks." These are alien concepts to Egyptian touts and hecklers. We couldn't go five steps without someone screaming "HELLO LOVELY LADY! You want taxi/scarf/statue/carriage?" And a polite but firm no would only get, "I give you very good price! Come on!" The first time, it was somewhat amusing in a "local color" sort of way. By the fiftieth heckler, I was entertaining thoughts of taking their headgear and shoving it down their throats. It made any sort of shopping nearly impossible; you would walk down the street with every single shopkeeper screaming at you to come in, and if you did perchance GLANCE at an item in vague interest, you would immediately be descended upon by five men all wheedling and encouraging. We pretty much walked away multiple times, even from things we were intending to buy. It really makes me wonder how the hell this works as a viable business model... I mean, surely they LOSE far more money than they gain by this bullying? And the taxi/carriage people were even worse. No, sir, I do not need a taxi, I have no need of a taxi, and you asking again and again and again as you dog my steps will not suddenly inspire me with wild, wanton need of a taxi.

- the poverty. While Egypt is not as bad as some countries (e.g. Ethiopia, Phillipines), it is certainly very depressing. We passed by countless mud brick hovels, most in bad repair despite being in the middle of construction. The farmers were dependent on harvesting by hand and transporting their goods by donkey... as if life hadn't improved for these people since the time of the Pharaohs. There was a certain feeling of despair, I found, as it was pretty clear that a lot of these people were "trapped" in this life and probably had no chance to strike out on their own and try for something "more". The worst part is, it made me angry... so much more could be done, both by the government and the people themselves... building sturdier houses, picking up all the trash that was littered everywhere, pooling resources to implement better harvesting techniques. I don't know, perhaps it's all my white Western privilege talking and they are truly happy like that, or have reasons why they can't... but it couldn't help but bother me, and make me feel both sympathy and a sort of vague anger.

- the status of women. Not as bad as I was expecting, I'm pleased to say, but there's a lot that makes me quietly fume. I won't bore you with it all, but suffice to say that whatever your thoughts are on purdah, being stuck inside it in 45 degree heat cannot be healthy or comfortable.

- the traffic. Nuff said.

OK, enough of the icky badness. Time for the good!

- the temples, tombs, and monuments. ALKGLSKFGJLSFKHJSFLKHLFHJKSLFH sooooo awesome. Abu Simbel alone would have been worth the entire trip; I literally teared up as we approached it. And nothing had prepared me for the reality of standing at the foot of the pyramids... the sheer scale of them was daunting, and I felt more impressed than I have in a long time. And every single site was beautiful in its own right, even the little dinky small ones on the banks of Lake Nasser. Admittedly, one could get rather... sated on temples ("Oh look, ANOTHER Ptolemaic temple. And look, here's another place with paintings of Ramses II's epeen stroking great deeds. How... common."). But really, that's just like getting too full for cream puffs because you've been gorging on black forest cake. And well, let's just say when it comes to Egypt, I have a massive sweet tooth. Oh, and can't forget the museums either... I confess I spent about ten minutes in front of Tutankhamun's mask just looking at it in wonder. ^_^ I are geek.

- speaking of which, the food was good too. Not the Egyptian cuisine itself - that was actually rather horrible - but everywhere we went, there were lovely buffets filled with all manner of tasty food. Breakfasts were feasts of omlettes and cream buns, while dinners usually had a giant selection of dishes, not to mention mouthwatering desserts. ^^

- despite which, I HAS LOST TEH WEIGHT! YAAAAYZ! And I'm very tanned! I might be vaguely attractive if you squint really hard! HUZZAH! Time to celebrate with giant bags of chips and chocolate. >.>

- the cruises and hotels. Really, I didn't have a single complaint about any of the places we stayed, or methods we travelled by. The hotels were all comfortable at worst, and absolutely luxurious at best; the last place we stayed had the nicest pool I'd ever seen anywhere, complete with an actual pool bar (you know, the ones where you sit in the water and drink, the kind that keep popping up in hotels that feature in Lifestyles of the People You Like to Envy). The cruises were also awesome. The first was very pleasant in general, but the second was really special, with old-world style decor that looked like it was from the days of Agatha Christie, a covered deck, and a very nice pool area. Truly, a civilized method of travel. OK, the trains didn't enchant me quite as much, but I'm just spoiled by Japan and the Shinkansen, and all in all they were very pleasant.

- the souvenirs. OK, lots of it was utter junk, but there is some truly special stuff that would look good in any house. I was *this* close to purchasing a life-sized replica of Tutankhamun's mask, and only the consternation of how to ship it and where to put it made me stop (funny I don't experience the same reservations about that giant Sephiroth statue that's coming out soon ;D)

- the landscape. As mentioned above, I found the villages rather depressing, but the surroundings were beautiful... palm trees surrounded by greenery, which in turn was bounded by expanses of desert and dry red cliffs. The view from onboard the cruise ships was very beautiful, especially when accompanied by some feluccas sailing by.

So... was it perfect? No, not even close. Did I enjoy it? Yes, immensely! I'm so glad I went. Would I do it again? I'm not sure. I did manage to see almost everything I wanted to, and the negative qualities are a bit of a turnoff... but then, some of it I would love to see again, and there are still a few things here and there that I missed. I think I could be persuaded back if a friend/hypothetical husband wanted to visit. Otherwise, I have to save my money for my inevitable return to Japan. ^_^

Anyway, I should get to bed. Night all! ^_^

PS anarchicq, drop me a line, I do have a small Anubis statue if you're interested.
Tags: egypt, travel
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