Day 213 (Cairo, Egypt)
Since Moscow I went to Saint Petersburg for a little over a week. I Couch Surfed with 3 different hosts for different amounts of days. They were all cool and I learned a lot about Russians and Saint Petersburg. I didn’t go to the big museum there as I still wasn’t in the mood for museums and just didn’t see a reason to go. I did however meet in front of the museum for a dance video that Matt from “Where The Hell Is Matt?” is doing around the world. There was over 500 people there and it was fun although too crowded for me to show up much in the video, maybe you will see my arm possibly when it comes out in early 2012. Also finally got a cell phone again, it is the Samsung Galaxy Mini and I really like it. At my CS hosts I had several local foods and played a fun local board game that is popular in Russia although it’s German, I think it’s similar to The Settlers of Catan but a bit more simple. Flight to Egypt was uneventful if not boring, Turkish Air has good meals during the flight.
Been in Cairo for 5 days now and it’s been mostly good. I just recently got a bit ripped of price wise on a camel ride + entry + photos while at the pyramid. It’s my own fault for a few reasons. I should not have got on without getting the price and everything but of course I was tricked into getting on and even asked to deal price before getting on but was told we were just going to the office to discuss it. Also I never thought to look up the average price for a camel ride at the pyramids so I had nothing to compare it to. And finally I didn’t even bargain on the price which I actually just keep forgetting to do, it might be a common thing for an Egyptian but I never even think about it. So I paid 2-5 times the normal cost I think, maybe less depending on the person, my only saving grace is I got there via metro and bus which cost 4.25 LE total and it would have cost 60-100 LE had I used a tour bus or taxi, so I saved money there and I think most tourists pay for the taxi which makes me feel slightly better. Either way it’s a learning lesson, I should first of all not do anything until we talk price, look up average prices online for the thing I want and finally bargain with the people. Bargaining on price has been a lesson I have been taught several times and I hope it sticks one of these times.
I stayed at a Couch Surfers place for the first 3 nights but it was not the person I sent a request to, it was his friend who was also just recently on CS. It’s to bad and I am not clear why exactly he could not host me even though he said he could. His friend was nice and helpful and I learned a few Egyptian things from him, also he helped me get a SIM card which I will be using for the rest of my time in Egypt, hopefully without renewing credit. Since then I have been staying at a hostel on Tahrir Street which is near Tahrir Square. The location works perfect as it’s near an ATM that I know works with my card, it’s near several really good food places, it’s near a cinema if I get bored and it’s near the India Consulate which I will be going to Monday to drop off my passport to get the India visa put inside it.
Speaking of good food, one of my favorite new Egyptian dishes is something called Koshary which is a bunch of things mixed in a bowl with some tomato sauce on top. It only costs 3-5 LE and is very filling. Also I have had falafel a few times for around 2 LE each which is tasty and a very good deal. I did go to one movie at the cinema near my hostel a few days ago. The movie was Conan and I can tell you that Egyptian cinemas clearly edit there movies heavily, to the point of it not being worth going to anything unless it’s a Disney movie. I bought some underwear from the street for 10 LE and they are actually quite good, I really don’t need more pairs but I might get 1 or 2 more as they are fake brands but look and feel fine. Also went to the Egyptian Museum and looked at the King Tut stuff, they don’t let you take pictures sadly.
The plan for the next part of my trip is to leave Cairo on Tuesday by train and make my way to Alexandria for 5 days or so. Then take a bus from Alexandria into Israel, likely starting in Tel Aviv. I will spend some time there, I know a girl I met in Russia who will be in Tel Aviv and I hope to hang out with her while I am there. Then I will go from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for a few days before taking another bus to Amman in Jordan. My main goals in Jordan are to see Petra and swim in the Dead Sea. Once I have done those things I will be happy, I will likely hang around for a few more days before flying out to Mumbai India to start my India trip which could last over a month easily. I will know dates very soon as when I get my visa to India I will come back to my hostel and book my plane ticket before going to the train station to leave Cairo. I intend to do some Couch Surfing over the next little while but I am not in a great mood to entertain at the moment and when Couch Surfing you can’t just hang around the hosts house all day being useless, which I am kind of in the mood for this week.
A few final things to touch on, tomorrow will mark 7 months of travel, it’s going by fast but there is still much more to come as I have just been approved for my Working Holiday Visa to Australia, now I just need to get there and find a job, likely around April-May 2012. Stay tuned for updates on my India visa status and Israel/Jordan.