Where is John Lama? travel blog

My first time in Egypt, I walked through the Taba Crossing from...

Nice to see Hostess reaching out to the Muslim world. You know...

Saw this guy walked by my bus stop with an armload of...

This young guy was guarding the bathroom at a bus stop, and...

The first mosque I saw on my taxi ride from the bus...

My hotel, the Semiramis Intercontinental, was terrific and right on the Nile.

After a day running around crazy Cairo it was nice to come...

As you can see, Egypt is not Israel. Egypt is dirty and...

Women in Egypt carry all kinds of things on their heads.

These guys rented me a horse to see the pyramids, and sold...

There they are! Very cool in person. If you rent a horse...

My guides to the pyramids, these shady characters are available in every...

Every tourist is required by Egyptian law to put on a head...

Another photo they make you take before your helpful "guides" take you...

I almost flipped right off the camel when he started to sit...

Amazingly I survived this photo-op with no injuries.

There are three main large pyramids here at the Giza site, and...

The large pyramids were built as tombs for dead Egyptian kings, and...

It is hard to describe how big the pyramids are, which is...

The Khafre pyramid is the only one that still has some of...

Ridiculous! The large pyramids contain over two million stone blocks, some at...

Archeological sites in the third world are great since you can explore...

You can see the city of Cairo from the Giza site.

I risked a broken ankle three times before my guide got this...

The great pyramid is not only huge, but very precisely built, with...

There were a lot of photogenic people around Giza looking for a...

This Egyptian woman brought her very cute son to see the pyramids,...

Egyptian guys taking a break in the shade of some of the...

People get pretty fancy with their camels, even shaving their tails in...

Guarding the Giza plateau, the part lion, part human Sphinx is known...

The Sphinx is the largest monolith statue in the world, standing 73.5...

This veggie stand in Cairo comes to you.

This beautiful building was near my hotel but I am not sure...

There are mosques all over Cairo.

I went into the Royal Mummy Room in the Egyptian museum. This...

Also in the Egyptian Museum is a room displaying King Tutankhamun artifacts,...

Islamic Cairo and the Mosque of Sayyidna al-Hussein, where the head of...

I was able to enter the mosque and look around. It was...

The al-Hussein Mosque was very elaborately decorated, especially these metal doors leading...

I met these two brothers at the mosque, and they invited me...

The Islamic Cairo section of town was very colorful and alive with...

Most streets in Islamic Cairo were packed at night. This is a...

This kid was selling fresh Egyptian bread, and he mischievously tried to...

There were a lot of very cool shops open late in Islamic...

Another shop in Islamic Cairo selling hookah pipes which people use to...

Another building in Islamic Cairo.

This nice kid and his dad were working at their bakery one...

The smallest tire shop in the world.

I stopped at a barber shop for a shave, and asked a...

This little cutie wasn't shy about her picture being taken.

Mmmm, what's that cooking in the kitchen?? Goat head.

The House of Beans.

The minarets at the mosques here are really tall and very ornate.

How does this woman balance a giant head of cabbage on her...

Next I was off to the big camel market in Birqash outside...

There were hundreds of camels for sale at the Birqash market.

Looks like mama camel is nagging papa camel about something again.

That's hot!

Apparently some of the camels aren't down with the program and need...

Or in some cases a lot of persuasion.

This cute kid was working at the camel market.

I met these nice guys in Birquash. One of my favorite photos.

They also sell goats at the Birqash market.

Baby camels will hold still for a photo if you are feeding...

The boy at the camel market let me hold a baby goat.

Balancing a tray of dishes wearing a full veil. Impressive.

On my way back to Cairo I saw this almost comically old-fashioned...

A crowd of kids gathered as I was taking the picture of...

All the kids wanted to pose for photos.

Pretty soon I had a riot on my hands. Check out the...

Maybe this is what it is like for Brad Pitt to walk...

These kids were a lot of fun.

This family was selling some kind of green beans.

Back in Cairo I was walking around looking at the shops again.

They were grilling up nice looking fish at a produce market one...

The owner of a bread factory invited me in to tour his...

The dough is put on this conveyor belt which travels through a...

Seven thousand breads are baked here every day.

This cart in front of the bread factory was loaded up and...

This vendor seemed nice, but I couldn't really comunicate with her since...

Another ornate building in Islamic Cairo.

A common fast food in Egypt is Kosherie, a dish of spicy...

The Mosque of Sayyidna al-Hussien during the day, built in 1154, contains...

The Egyptians also make beautiful wooden boxes decorated with camel bone and...

The finished boxes are beautiful.

I also attended a whirling Dervish performance and sat with this fun...

Dervishes are a sect of Sufi Muslim, known for their extreme poverty,...

In addition to playing instruments, the Dervishes do a dance where they...

The Dervishes whirl as part of a formal ceremony known as the...

The Sema is only one of the many Sufi ceremonies performed to...

This Whirling Dervish show is held every week in this ancient merchant...

The Christian sector of town is called Coptic Cairo, and there are...

I never figured out what this structure was, with the writing above...

Your tax dollars at work.

The Hanging Church, the oldest in Cairo, is positioned between two round...

The Hanging Church was built in the year 690, and is the...

I met this handsome guy outside the Hanging Church. Ok ladies, line...

The round Church of St. George, also in Coptic Cairo.

Inside the Church of St. George.

I guess a tour group from Spain came through that day, or...

Entrance to the City of the Dead, Cairo's main cemetery, also in...

There are frequently many bodies interred in the same family tomb here....

Although it is called the City of the Dead, interestingly many family...

I was walking past this tomb and met the young man who...

This young guy lives in the room above the tomb of his...

I figured out the subway system in Cairo, and this great tile...

And finally my flight on this KLM 747 brought me back to...

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

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These kids outside Cairo went bananas with me since they rarely see...

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This is the whirling Dervish group I saw in Cairo.

(MOV - 2.82 MB)

These guys spin themselves into religious ecstasy!

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$1 = 5.6 Egyptian Pounds

I figured that, since I was already half way around the world, I may as well check out the Egyptian pyramids. My hotel in Eilat was right next to the Taba Crossing into Egypt, so I was actually able to walk there. I had been told before that I could get a visa right at the border, but of course once I got into the Egyptian immigration office they told me I had to re-enter Israel and go to their consulate to get a visa, and therefore miss the daily bus to Cairo. But then, as always happens in the third world, at the last minute a smiling guy appeared who could fix the situation for $50. So half an hour and a few signatures later, I had my visa and I was off to the bus station.

I had planned to stay at an inexpensive hotel, but it turned out my financial advisor was training a young guy who somehow got me the employee rate at one of the nicest hotels in Cairo. Rooms at the Cairo Semiramis Intercontinental hotel usually run over $300 a night, but my price was $65 a night, including tax!

Egypt was a major change from Israel. Whereas Israel is small, clean and organized, Cairo is giagantic, dirty and chaotic. Cairo is home to seven million inhabitants, and another ten million live on the outskirts, making it the largest metropolitan area in Africa. It is fun to explore big, crazy cities, and Cairo was no exception. It was also interesting to experience another Muslim country since the culture is so different. I never get used to seeing women in burkas. It is almost like seeing a female Darth Vader walking down the street. Very strange and very sad.

Even though Cairo was poor and chaotic, I had a great time. Exploring the old section of town was fascinating. I met some very nice people, including one guy who approached me inside a mosque, and I was able to go to a camel market and a whirling Dervish performance! Check out the photos.



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