Friday, May 23, 2008

My Five Least Favourite Aspects of Egypt

1) The Heat
Oven blasted waves of stiffling heat. I swear to you, any time after 8am, the air is like being slow-roasted. If there's a wind, then the oven has the fan on. Stay in the oven too long and you need to be basted. One pours liquid down the throat as fast as possible to counter the outpouring of perspiration but it's impossible to win the battle. We got close to 60 degrees centigrade in the sun. I looked at a chart on the internet and that's around 140 degrees centigrade.

2) The Hassling
These guys in the boat came alongside our cruise boat and wanted us to buy their wares. They stayed with us for almost an hour, hassling everyone to death. At first it was amusing, then it became heavy-handed when they started to lay a guilt trip on us about our wealth versus ours. This is, unfortunately, a scene which is repeated wherever you go in Egypt. The government has tried in various ways to stop this hassling of tourists, but, as far as I could see, unsuccessfully. How many times does a tourist have to explain, as they leave, that they haven't bought something because of the constant nagging and pressure to buy? We called walking through the markets, 'running the gauntlet'. At Abu Simbel temples, the stall holders were monitored by tourist police, who wouldn't let them hassle us, so instead, they talked non-stop about how we could buy in their stalls because they wouldn't hassle us. There was no way to shut them up. Unfortunately, many of us bought few things because of this problem. It really does wear you down, especially in the heat.
3) The Tummy Bug
I call it the Tummy Bug, capitalized, because it seems everyone has a brushing acquaintance with it. Most of us didn't get it until the last few days, including me and we got it to varying degrees. Fortunately, my dose was small but did the excellent job of cleansing me out and losing the few kilos I had gained due to the over-abundance of food we were offered. Of course, it was probably the food that was the culprit, coupled together with the heat which multiplied the natural bacteria in our stomachs to an unhealthy level.
4) The Dirt on the Train
Couldn't find an appropriate photo. Not the sand and earth kind of dirt - that's fine. But the 'couldn't be bothered cleaning' dirt is what is upsetting. I have travelled far and wide and I accept different levels of hygiene according to the country and the environment and don't even think about it. In fact, that's the point - I have never thought about dirt before when travelling. But when the first class train is comfortable and spacious but filthy because it hasn't ever been cleaned, then I start to actually see it and I question why it has to be like that. Unemployment is high in Egypt and they generally employ three men to do the job of one so that they have jobs. So, what happened to the cleaners in the trains?
5) There is no number five - couldn't think of one. So I guess the positives win - big time, actually. The negatives pale into non-existence beside the beauty and glory of this country. Except the heat, that is.

18 comments:

Footsteps said...

Great description of the heat... I've been looking forward to reading about your trip! On to the next...

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Yes, Heather, the heat is unbelievable and has to be experienced to be understood.

Suzanne

raine said...

Gawd, you could've stopped at number one for me.
Won't be going to Egypt.
Cannot take extreme heat
Not a matter of preference--have been known to pass right out.
But I'm glad I got to enjoy the highlights of YOUR trip, lol.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

I saw a few people passed out around the place, Raine, including young, strong men. I'm not good in the heat these days either and that's why I chose April but the gods came out to foil that plan.

Suzanne

Sandpiper said...

Maybe another time of year wouldn't be so hot. The heat sounds dreadful! I've run into hawkers and beggars on a few of my trips. It's always uncomfortable. Too bad about the stomach problems. It's particularly bad when you're on a big trip like this. The filth? Ugh. ;-)

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Sandpiper, the heat was just bad luck. It's usually quite bearable in April. In fact they recommend you go at that time of the year. It was the fault of a freak heat wave that took the temperatures soaring up to such heights.

Suzanne

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Suzanne, the heat would have done me in. You're a trooper to withstand it. The negatives are small in comparison to what you saw. WOOT that you had such a great experience. The only thing I can figure out about the dirty train is that train people must have grown used to it and don't see it as out of the normal.

I loved the pictures and post. :D

Hugs, Nancy

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Yes, Nancy, the negatives are definitely small in comparison to the rest. The problem with the train is you get off after ten hours feeling completely contaminated and with filthy clothes. I used lots of wet wipes. What a great invention!

Suzanne

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Suzanne, I have a foam hand sterilizer I keep in the car and have used it on many occasions. What would we do without such products? I always love to use it before I eat anything while we are traveling

Wild wave!!!

Hugs, Nancy

Blognote said...

Suzanne, what courage to stand that heat. I especially like the photo with the pyramids and the bus. I immagine that the best season to visit these treasures is February.Thank you for sharing!

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Nancy, I also have a gel that sanitizes - another great invention and so essential for this type of travel.

Suzanne

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Blognote, I didn't actually have the courage to face the heat- that's why I went in April which is supposed to be mildish. But, yes, it took courage each day to step outside, knowing you would be cooked once again.

Suzanne

Blognote said...

Suzanne, Thank you visiting my blog. Arona is right on Lake Maggiore, about 60km north-west of Milan, in the Province of Novara.
It is just where Lake Maggiore turns into the river Ticino. Its location is magnificent.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Blognote, I love both Lake Como and Lake Maggiore - magnificient landscape. We were near there this year when we visited Milan - I so adore the Duomo. It is such an unexpected piece of architecture right in the centreof the city. It surprises and amazes me every time I see it. Lucky man living on the lake.

Abraham Lincoln said...

Heat is like that. I don't envy anybody their oven heat like your described. And the "dirt" is or was like that after the war in Japan but it is cleaned up now. I don't know why Egypt is like this but it made the post your wrote (and you write very well) most interesting.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Abraham, thanks for the compliment.
That's interesting about Japan. They sure have turned things around.

Suzanne

Michelle said...

Great post! I actually laughed at loud at your description of the stall holders -- harassing you by telling you they don't harass you. Very, um.... clever? :-).

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Hi Michelle, It was almost laughable, even at the time. A sense of humour is definitely needed when travelling.

Suzanne