|Continued from last entry, we are in this chaotic city of Cairo and we love it. Cairo offers so much to see. One day we hired a guide and a driver to take us around for the day. The Pyramids of Giza, one of the 7 wonders of the world, was definitely the highlight of the day. They are in the desert, but actually not that far from the city. As we got out of the car and walked up the hill of the desert, three pyramids appeared in front of us and we were so impressed. They just sat there, as they have been for last 4000 years, looking imposing and powerful. They are huge, much bigger than we expected, and each rock that the pyramid consists of is massive. Even after listening to our guide explaining how they did it and so on, we still can’t believe that it was built 4000 years ago. We took a camel ride around the desert, and it was fun and good to see pyramids in the distance away from other tourists.
Another day we walked through Islamic Cairo, we got lost as usual, but it was an amazing experience too. Egyptians here are more serious Muslims, they’ve got bruises and even blisters on their foreheads (it shows how hard they put their head down to the ground when praying 5 times a day) and wear traditional long robes. We visited one of the oldest Mosques in Cairo, Al Azhar. We have visited a quite lot of Mosques on our trip so far, but this is the first one we were allowed to be inside the actual praying area. It was huge inside and seemed to be able to hold a few thousands of people. When we were there it wasn’t a prayer time, but there are a few people putting their foreheads on the ground, others are relaxing, reading books, or sleeping. We were nervous walking through there, almost felt like we shouldn’t be there, but one of the priests was happy to show us around and even took us to the top of the tower in the mosque (of course we had to leave some so-called donation). He explained to us that the mosque has been used as a university for 2000years and students are from all over the world. After the mosque we also visited a nearby local market. We have visited many busy markets throughout Asia and Europe, but this was by far the busiest and most chaotic market we have visited. In a maze of narrow alleys, full of shops on both sides, big carts are pushing through the crowds, ladies are carrying huge stuff on their heads, it is muddy and full of rubbish on the ground making it almost impossible not to trip over, people yelling, shouting, having fights, kids setting off crackers… it was just crazy, crazy place. At one point Hiro was stuck between two carts trying to pass by, and guys pulling the carts started to have a fight, and looking down to his feet, there were a small baby nearly getting run over! Anyway we got out of the market safely at the end, Hiro was happy that he bought a small Egyptian bag to put his Ipod for $1.
We also visited the Egyptian Museum, which is one of the world’s most important museums of ancient history full of ancient treasures. Especially the treasures of Tutankhamen were magnificent. But the most amazing thing of this museum is its lax security. Museums with this much valuable treasures normally have such tight security and exhibits are heavily guarded. Here in the Egyptian Museum, you can touch many exhibits that are at least 2-3000 years old if you want to (there are signs saying “do not touch” though). Many of exhibits are just randomly sitting in the room, not caged or in the glass case. The top treasures such as Tutankhamen’s mask are in the glass case with a padlock on it. Seriously, this mask would be astronomically expensive, and is locked with a padlock like the one I use on my backpack!!
Food here is good and cheap. Rooting from Middle East, Egyptian food typically centres on lightly spiced lamb or chicken. Hiro’s favourite was Kosha, which is the bowl of rice and pasta mixed with lamb meat, beans and other vegetables. Lexi loved Kofta, one of the most popular meals in Egypt. It is mince meat and spices grilled on a skewer, often sandwiched between pita bread. Meals are often followed by Sheesha, flavoured tobacco through a water pipe. You can choose all sorts of flavour ranging from strawberry, melon to mixed fruits. Once you specify your flavour, decorated glass pipe full of icy water will be brought to your table, and hot coal will be placed on the top. It tastes nothing like normal cigarettes but you’ll enjoy lovely aromatic fragrant and sweetness. Very relaxing.
We also enjoyed a traditional boat cruise on the river Nile, it was just two of us on board and great way to get out of crazy city for some chill out time. It is probably the only activity in Cairo that makes you relaxed.
The time in Egypt was so different, exciting, exhausting and memorable. We are now off to London, finally getting away from the heat!