Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Egypt for trouble seekers (1.1)

Chapter 1

Egypt, the Land for a short, short holiday

Egypt is a beautiful and charming country; sure, if you just see it from pictures and stand far, far away. The magnificent pyramids and Sphinx, amazing sights and thick culture atmosphere, all of all it seems to be such a perfect holiday destination.

Don’t let me stop you, go, but do remember if you are a woman don’t walk on the street on your own. It doesn’t matter if you’re sweating like hell inside your long sleeves shirt with up-to-ankle pants or skirt - and yes, in that bloody torturing hot desert weather - or you just put on your shortest skirt and tightest tank tee, you will receive the warmest welcome of Egyptian men.

And the dust and God knows what that is all those small things flying in the air, you just can’t tell if they come from the ground or the dusty ground is the product of it. One thing is certain, you will feel yourself eaten out by the sand, and gradually, probably won’t take a century, you will be part of it. Kind of poetic, I know, in the end we ARE all going to be in and back to dust, but if nothing goes wrong, it should still take couples of decade, and I like to keep it that way.

Arriving and Leaving

Talking about culture shock, maybe there is nothing like Cairo International Airport could make you so struck, you basically become speechless, and numb. Of course there is a good side of it and a bad side of it, it depends on whether you are arriving or leaving. Arriving is kind of nice; the building seems modern enough and the air-condition runs 24 hours. But soon you will encounter dozens of so-called airport officers, one of them will come to grab your bag and nicely demand you should follow him. Then you will be lead to an office upstairs and odd enough there is no air-co, under the spell of your midnight exhaustion and the sudden struck hit, you find yourself signing up for one damned over-priced sightseeing program while wiping away the sweat falling down from your front head. All you could think of is, the promise they made to bring you to the hotel with an air-co SUV.

The leaving of course is another story, since you’re leaving, the Egyptian see no reason to turn on the air-co for you; and you know, since you are leaving, they won’t bother to cover up the rusty, toppling foundation under the departure hall, which is eternally under re-construction and never seems to be completed. You know, since you’re leaving already, what’s the odd that collapses right on the couple hours you are there?

The overcrowded departure hall leaves no space for waiting out. Yes, in a far corner in the airport you do find a small coffee stand supplying some juice in an
aluminum foil box and some always bitter Egyptian coffee. That would be nice enough if the “No Smoking” sign next to it is not so suggestive only, and that lack of ventilation space is not so unbearable, that would be quite an ok place to wait up your airline finally open for check-in.

So now you got the green sign to pass through the X-ray scan gate, but you find yourself waiting up in the queue of 200 people. Sigh… no, don’t be. Here comes the “airport officer” again, he asks: “KLM?” Just when you thought he must be the emissary sent by orange queen to save you from this chaos, you notice his method is hardly approvable. He simple grabs your suitcases and starts to push the way into the X-ray machine. Don’t forget, there are 198 people waiting there in front of you. You hear yourself murmuring: ‘No, no…” but that’s too late, your suitcases are in the X-ray machine and the custom officer is ready to put a stamp on your visa. And magically, there is no one complaining, not even a slightest disapproving noise has been made.
That was embarrassing. I got to say. And for this uncivilized act, he only asked/ got 50 ponds which is definitely not worth of committing such crime.
(... to be continued)

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