Recently in Egypt 2005 Category
Greater Cairo encompasses some of the most cliche parts of Egypt. You have the Pyramids of Giza (Giza is a suburb of Cairo, like Longueuil to Montreal), and the Sphinx in the same area. The Cairo/Egypt museum is also a sight, as it gathers together many of the Ancient Egypt artifacts dug out from their original site (of course some statues are conveniently placed in the open, so that people can have the chance to touch, rub and graffitize some 2000-to-4000-year old objects -_-). I left a day before everyone, so missed what I would've like seeing, a Cairo Bazaar, and a Mosque (so the only real mosque in a muslim country I've been into is Muar's in Malaysia ^^;).
Camel shit? Looks like dates to me...
Woohoo, one classic.
Another classic (credit to cousin Nicholas for picture).
Ads all over.
McArabia Meal at McDonald's (and it's of course worse than it looks like).
Me, my mother and Bro-Dave in hotel room at Movenpick Hotel in Giza.
The highlight of the second cruise (July 22-25) was the ship we were on, the M/S Eugenie, named after Empress Eugenie of the French (and one of my favourite female names - b/c 19th Century aristocratic names are all sort of in again, right?). It was decorated in this really-19th Century English Nile cruise boat, complete with its hard-wood lounge, and tea time at 5PM every day.
The ship navigated Lake Nasser, between the city of Aswan in Upper Egypt, where the Monte Carlo left us, from the pier behind the high dam, all the way to the Abu-Simbel archeological site. Abu-Simbel itself is not at its original location, but moved uphill following the construction of the high dam, which flooded essentially all inhabitable lands upstream of Aswan, to create Lake Nasser (in honour of Egypt's first modern time ruler).
More tight security, even if the prospect of a terrorist attack there are sort of dim. (We were just given news about the Sharm-el-Sheikh attacks in the afternoon only, being right in the middle of nowhere sans communication means)
Upper deck of the M/S Eugenie (and my aunt Ellen talking with some strangers).
Me and the right side of Abu-Simbel (whose front consists of four statues of Pharaoh Ramses II, probably one of the biggest egos mankind ever knew (he fathered 164!!)).
Now that I'm likely to be stranded in Hong Kong, I might as well post some of the pics from the trip to Egypt during the past month.
A pic of the villa in El Gouna on the Red Sea (using my polarized clip as filter), on the morning we took the convoy from Hurghada to Luxor, one of the largest city (if not the largest) of Upper Egypt.
The first day in Luxor was the hardest, said our guide Rasha. Indeed, we ran from Hatshepsut's Temple, and the Valley of the Kings (skipped Walley of the Queens, it was a free vote, but close unanimity) on the West Bank of the river Nile, to Karnak (see photo), and then Luxor Temple in the city of Luxor, on the East Bank. Fucking heat.
And after Luxor, we set sail for Aswan, in Southern Egypt, on our luxury liner, the M/S Monte Carlo. With nothing better to do, we started playing Monopoly, and also mahjong. Before lunch on the second day of the cruise, my cousin Alex pulled another one of those crazy wins, a 13-yiu this time (which earns maximum fan) (Edit: and as if it wasn't awesome enough already, he also won by himself (zi mo) and by picking up the card on recovering for a flower (kong fa)!). My bro and cousin will remember that later on that day, we met the HK tour group, with whom they played lots of mahjong and lots of Chinkish card games. Shared ship with 30-40 something HKers, and 40-50 Spaniards.
Tight security in Egypt, and that was even before the bombings of Sharm-el-Sheikh occured. Armed tourist police, often seen in white uniforms, and sometimes in civilian clothes (like here).
Some hieroglyphs from Edfu temple (?), somewhere on the side of the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, on the third day of the trip I think.
One clever publicity stunt on cruise boats are animal shapes made with towels that cabin attendants would pull twice every day when doing the guests' rooms. They used a t-shirt of mine that was lying around. Even more clever, was the gorilla thing made with bed covers, and dangling from the ceiling of my cousin's cabin...
After reaching Aswan, we stayed another day onboard the M/S Monte Carlo, before transferring to the M/S Eugenie. We visited the high dam in the morning. A few stray dogs were found on top of it. So.
(Must cede comp back to Nicholas, pics later, goodnight)
Saw lots of things. Leaving Egypt tomorrow. I was on the Lake Nasser, on the other side of the country, when the Sharm-el-Sheikh events happened. We didn't hear the news right away (we were on a cruise in the middle of immersed Nubian lands - aka Nowhere), but as soon as we got to Aswan in transit for Cairo, we got the overdose of it. So tomorrow happily flying out of Egypt, and will get back to HK on the following day, time zone discrepancies included.
Family picture taken before our night in the "desert" riding camels, gulping indecent amounts of Egyptian food, and admiring a folkloric show (including belly dance).
My grandpa in "oil king" attire.
Just another day in El Gouna...
My brother playing Shining Force (wooh, exciting).
My cousin (and host in Hong Kong) Nicholas, and me, waiting for the taxi to go to the go-cart racetrack.
We didn't scuba-dive, but went twice for go-carting, near the city centre... My first time go-carting (as well as everyone else I was racing against, except for my dad), and I won! (To their credit, my car was cerrtainly faster than theirs...)
El-Gouna Go-cart, near the city center.
Choosing the helmet (yesterday).
Getting ready for the race (today).
My cousin Alex behind, then Bro-Dave, and my dad.
The winning cart!
My father brought the camera along on the second dive trip yesterday. We saw a lot of the same things. I guess it's pretty special the first time, and then it has to start boring you a bit. Corals, fishies, more corals. On the last bit, as I was running out of air, and had to be towed back to the ship, I quickly saw a family of clown-fishes (they are common, but you rarely see their youth).
A couple of butterfly fishes about to "kiss".
Plenty of those small red fishes near the big rock formation.
Huge angelfishes (says my cousin, evaluating their size with his fingers). Amazingly, we saw some in packs in these waters.
A landscape of corals.
A big huge clam, stuck inside a rock or piece of coral. Very common.
Yellow fish, corals.
The pickup truck taking us to the marina, from my uncle and and aunt's villa.
Our boat, the Abu Talib. "Father of Talib"; Talib is the boat owner's adoptive son.
The first dive trip, a shipwreck called the "Gianis D", a Greek freighter said to have been purposedly sunken for insurance claim... That reef is the scourge of maritime insurers (leisure divers paradise), with at least four documented wrecks... I was amazed that coral grows so quickly (the Gianis D wrecked 21 years ago and is now populated with a rich marine life - is only 30-40-something feet deep). We saw a Napoleon, and some huge butterfly fishes...
Diving equipment, and another scuba boat nearby. Moments after, a fishing boat came along, trying to sell us fresh sea products.
My dad had the underwater camera this time, but I tried taking pictures with my camera of the school of fish playing around the anchored boat.
Cardboard city El Gouna. 80% Europeans. This is a pic of the alley outside the diving shop, in the new marina area (anyways, all the streets look the same).
Didn't have my camera on the Friday dive, but I brought it along for today's. My uncle also had his encasing for his old Sony... :D
Our lady-instructor from Orca Diving Shop in the German sector of El Gouna.
Picture taken by Uncle Bernard: Brian in the middle, and me following behind.
On the last trip, we were treated to giant turtles and sea eels, but we've had few "interesting" sighting in-water. This lionfish (rascasse volante) is still a worthy catch.
Cousin Brian eating food on the yacht. Incredibly, the only Egyptian meals we had were on the diving boats (three pizza meals elsewhere, otherwise).
A cup of Earl Grey tea to digest (before a 30 mins nap while navigating to the next diving spot).
Dolphins! I was slow to react (too busy running around the bridge taking pics/vids of dolphins surfing near the boat) and didn't get to snorkle with the dolphins... My uncle/cousin/dad got as close as a meter away from some of them! Six specimens: four adults, two infants.
Can't go out without these.
The ending of just another diving expedition... Diving staff closing on the El GOuna marina.
We're staying at my uncle and aunt's villa in El Gouna, near the city of Hurghada, on the Red Sea in Egypt. 15 or 16 people family reunion in this burgh built out of nada for foreigners, who are Europeans (transactions are even dealt in Euros, not USD).
Some mahjong tiles. Besides water sports, we've been busy playing Mah Jong, or the Chinese equivalent of bridge (although, *slightly* more popular than it among young people - ask my cousins and brother). After losing for the first two days, I won three games yesterday evening! Including one incredibly lucky 8-fan (or was it 10?).
On the first day, the fish were biting, and the crabs were hopping into the cages, but the bonanza stopped the next day. That's my uncle Bernard with the fishing rod.
Scuba diving! First time since 2000 that I'm diving.
Have not seen my mom and brother since March... <3 It was a strange feeling to see them again. A comforting one for sure, but how is it when you stay so long away from your family?
Cousin Brian, bro-Dave, me, cousin Alex, and cousin Nicholas, in El Gouna outside the Indian restaurant last night.
My mother shopping for juice. Photo probably taken by my dad.
View towards the sea, from the villa.
Taken a few minutes ago. Smoking and playing, yay.
Ok. I went from HK to Cairo, via Singapore (stopover for a half-day, Tuesday). Now currently in Hurghada, Egypt, but am posting some pics that have absolutely nothing to do with where I've been for the past two/three days. But pics to document the day and a half travelling to here...
Me downtown Singapore, on the side of the river of the same name. Many tourist places are within walking distance.
Got lucky, and hit the IOC session, where the 2012 Olympics were going to be announced. Ultra-tight security, with checks at the doors of Robinsons and Raffles City, where something was going on, and policemen patrolling with their high-calibre guns in Changi. Everyone thought Paris had the best odds, but London got them instead. And almost immediately after the bombing, I had access to Internet to get the news.
Sunrise in slow-motion, as the plane flies to the West. The inevitable caught on eventually.
Flying above Saudi Arabia. That's near Iraq, or even Israel, I thought. So close to the places I always hear about in the news, and now just a few thousand metres above.
(Pic taken on the road from Cairo to Hurghada, after the half-day spent in Cairo waiting) The plane landed at around 6:30AM in Cairo International Airport. The travel agency employee picked me up before immigration, and then took me to the Novotel near the airport, where I spent the next 8 hours at the hotel waiting for my uncle's party to arrive (while trying to grab a taxi for Heliopolis, but abandonning the idea when I thought the cab driver was trying to rip me off). At 1:30PM, we got to the Airport, only to wait another 3 hours because their plane arrived late (heavy rain in Mtl). And 3-4 hours of bus to Hurghada, along the Red Sea... Bleh.
Woohoo, I was in Egypt - 2005/07/07
From the Free Airport Internet series...
This time I'm in Singapore, Changi Airport departures hall, waiting for my flight to Cairo via Dubai (the gates are open, I really should go).
I didn't see Neil Gaiman, but I still caught a very special event (or at least the preparation towards that event), the next IOC session, which is going to crown the winner of the 2012 Olympics lottery... Not a lottery, b/c you *know* Paris is going to win, and Tony and Hilary are in town just for the show. Security has been boosted up of course. Robinsons Place had security checks at all entrances, and guards walking around. You see soldiers/policemen with guns walking around here at Changi Airport.
I also spent some time with Auntie Shelley and Uncle Ben who, by pure luck, weren't there the whole week I was in S'pore. Auntie Shelley was actually gone for two weeks to Toronto and Montreal, to check on daughters and pay a visit to friends and relatives in Montreal (which included a BBQ party at my house). Which is a weird concourse of circumstances. Which is something I will be alone to care about.
Uncle Ben bought a kilo of dried pork for my family (I ran out of cash, previously... 60SGD might sound a lot, but each SGD is worth more than 1.33CAD). Of course, I'm bringing it in a Muslim country. I don't know.
Speaking of Egypt, here are my impressions: AAARGHHHHHHHHHH, my head hurts with the amount of travelling, ARHHHH. So I'll have done too many countries in Asia, and there I am going to Egypt. I'm going nuts. Let's go read the International Herald Tribune.