A very popular custom in Egypt is smoking a shisha.
A shisha is a small packet containing a rolled tobacco leaf, a small amount of molasses, and some apple flavour.
This is put in a type of 'water pipe' under a burning charcoal. You then inhale and the smoke passes through the water, cooling it.
The cooled smoke picks up the flavours of the shisha.
There are shisha parlors all over the place where people (mainly men) get together with friends for a quiet smoke and a turkish coffee.
I didn't try it, but wish I had.
- Historical Travel
A Whirling Dervish is a unique dance - a "religious ceremony transcending into performing art".
It is a dance performed by an order of the Islamic faith, and it involves the dancer whirling around and around continuously for minutes.
The dancer starts off slowly turning and gets faster as the music picks up pace. They spin and spin, lifting parts of their costumes up as they go.
It goes on for so long that you start to feel dizzy just watching - you wait with baited breath for them to fall over.....but they don't...they keep spinning and whirling.
- Theater Travel
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
~ The Arabic Language...Some Useful Phrases ~
Although English, French, Spanish and German is widely spoken in Egypt it is still beneficial to learn some of the language. The language in Egypt is Arabic. I have got a couple of books on Egypt which have helped me with the pronunciation of the words... as they can be abit of a mouthful. I have got the Lonely Planet guide to Egypt & also the Eyewitness guide to Egypt. Both books have been fantastic.
Hello= As-salama alaykum
Hello (to respond)= Wa alaykum salam
Goodbye (person leaving)= Ma' al salama
Goodbye (person responding)= Alla salkmak (to a man), Alla ysalmich (to a lady), Alla ysalimkum (to a group of people)
Good morning= Sabah al-kheir
Good afternoon/evening= Masa' al-kheir
Good afternoon/evening (to respond)= Masa' an-nur
Goodnight= Tisbah ala'kheir (to a man), Tisbihin ala-kheir (to a lady)
Pleased to meet you= Fursa sa' ida
Please= Min fadlik (to a man) Min fadlich (to a lady)
How are you?= Kef Halak?
And one of my favourite Arabic words is "No Problem" which is "Mish Mushkila"
Everything in Egypt is Mish Mushkila even the language.... Its very easy to learn once you've learnt a few basic words.
La Shukron--No Thank You
Vendors can be pests at times, so a polite way to turn them away is to say "no thankyou" in Arabic. La="no" and "Shukron="thank you", so say, La Shukron. If someone says this to you for some favor, say at the close of a meal, say "Afawan", which basically means "your welcome". Incidentally, "nam" = "yes". The Arabic language is traditionally classified as a semitic, not an indo-european language, so many of the common words can be amusingly contrary to American/European sensibilities. La=no and nam=yes, are two such examples. A recent Arabic friend argues that Arabic is rooted in the same language family as ancient Egyptian.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
Generally in restaurants, you tip 10% if service is not included and just give change if it is included.
We gave a tip for most services eg. Drinks brought to us round the pool (1 or 2 LE), service to our room (10LE at end of stay), having a taxi for whole day (10-15LE). It can get ridiculous sometimes what the young Egyptian children can demand a tip for, eg holding your elbow as you board a boat - no I don’t think so! I did not even ask for that service!
The head of the state of Egypt is the president elected for 6 years by direct general election. The head of the state is nominated by large powers. He appoints and displaces the government. From 1981 after Anvar Sadat's killing the president of Egypt is Hosni Mubarak. I was interested in Hosni Mubarak's deals with the USSR.
Mubarak visited the USSR in 1950th many times where he was trained in flights on modern types of planes which the Soviet Union was delivering to Egypt. In 1959 he has been appointed by the commander of a squadron of bombers ÒU-16. I know this plane well and was trained in its maintenance in 1970th. In several years he became the commander of the brigade. He has received the high military education in the USSR, in the Academy of Frunze in which he studied in 1964-1965. He speaks Russian not bad, he high appreciates planes of the Soviet manufacture.
Portraits of Mubarak on streets have reminded me Soviet times when we often saw portraits of our states heads in the diversified places as well.
- Road Trip
The village of Quarna
Quarna is small village nearby Hatshepsut complex and obviously a must see site for all tourist guides. My guide was much more enthusiastic telling story about Quarna then the one about Hatshepsut, probably having more $tronger rea$on$. Anyway, arent all guides alike?
The village is pretty small and doesnt look much prosperious, in fact many small alabaster factories and shops are closed. It seems the act of terrorism from 1997 made big damage to the local economy.
The art of Haggling
I was quiet a lot of times in Africa and allowing myself to say that am pretty good in bargaining. So let me share my experience about it.
First and most important is to know, in North Africa bargaining is way of life, trader is expecting from you to bargain and he wants you to bargain, if not it could be taken as serious offense. Haggling is a high art, take your time if seriously buying, a tea to drink could be offered to you, nice conversation, fun and joking. If buying valuable item the process could last thirthy minutes or even more.
Remember, hurried hagglers overpay and may trully offend the merchant.
There are certain rules to be followed in bargaing and huggling:
- never buy soon after arriving, do it in next day or two,
- if not interested to buy just keep walking, same as camels do, looking neither left or right,
- never look all that interested at the item you want to buy,
- wendor must offer the starting price on which one feign disbelief, look kind of shocked after he says the price,
- arguing is bad strategy in bargaining, be polite, relaxed and extremelly patient,
- conteroffer with at least half as much, even less if you find his price outrageous,
- don't be tricked by discounts for multiple purchases, try to figure out what the price at your home would be,
- play good and bad guy role, when you get close to the right price try walking away, but do it slowly trader has time to call you back,
- if you manage to lower the price to half or less of it that's a good bargain.
When you shake the hands the deal is sealed, price and conditions do not change.
The flag of Egypt represents a panel with three equal horizontal strips of red, white and black color. In the middle of the white strip there is a State Emblem of gold color - the eagle with the head turned to the left and the straightened wings.
We saw Egyptian flags on check points of the militarized guard.
Entrance and departure in Luxor are decorated with the picturesque arch. Nearby there is a small park with fountains. There is a check point of the militarized guard. The channel is well visible along the highway leading to the bridge across the Nile.
- Road Trip
Luxor is More Conservative than Cairo
95% of Egyptian women wear the hijab (hair and shoulder covered) or burka (full body covered except the eyes... some have the eyes covered as well). Some of the younger women wear tight jeans and tops with color-coordinating hijabs, which actually looks pretty darn fashionable. But don't be fooled - Egypt is a strongly conversative Islamic country.
My guidebook said that, in Egypt, western women are basically viewed as being on the same level as prostitutes. And sure enough, at the tourist sites throughout Egypt there are women wearing revealing clothing, showing their legs and cleavage. While this is the sexy standard in the western world, it gives us a bad name in the Arabic countries.
Your best bet is to wear any sort of clothing that covers your arms, legs, shoulders and cleavage area. I heard advice not to wear tight clothing, but I could have definitely gotten away with tighter jeans.
Your hair is fine however you want to wear it. However, I tied mine in a bun and wore a scarf over it, knotted at the back. There are plenty of vendors selling beautiful scarves in Cairo and Luxor - don't pay anything over 20LE for one.
It is definitely possible to be stylish but still modest in Egypt. Do us westerners proud.
Don't be alarmed!
Egyptian people are great at craft-work and work wonders with their hands!
Kudos to the egyptian chamber-guys who are working at the Ms Royale Cruise Ship! They made wonderful scorpions, swans and i understand from my fellow tour-mates that they made cute penguins and snakes, out of towels!
So when you opened your hotel room or cruise room door, don't be alarmed to see these soft creatures on your bed.
- Luxury Travel
Our guide’s family. All of them were waiting us before "trip on donkies ". Really nice people! And after trip we were invited to they house. I think, it was the lagest and the best room. It shocked me. A little bit. There were only 4 beds, table, small shelf and some football players posters on the walls... Guide told us about his family, how they are living, what he is doing and so on.
Resting place on the road
This is the only resting place on the road in between Hurghada and Luxor, where we stopped for a 15 minutes break. Time to eat a sendwiches prepared in the hotel and take some cold drink. The place was beseted by locals, offering to take a pictures with their camels or donkies who carried small goat on their back. Some of them were agressive in asking money, the others not. Anyway, I took my pics for free.
What is so fascinating in narghila which could be seen all over northern Africa, wherever more then one man is be sitting? Actually, narghila is a sort of water pipe above which is burning charcoal. One inhale it and the smoke passes through the water cooling it. The cooled smoke pick up the flavours of the shisha and thats it. There are shisha parlors all over Egypt, wherever men get together.
Shisha is small packet of rolled tobacco leaf plus adding molasses and some apple flavour.
Mahmoud - “The boatman of the River Nile” :-)
Mahmoud was boatman of felucca. We called him “The boatman of the River Nile” :-))And our small group (of 4 people) really like to say thanks to him for felucca ride, fot these 2 magic hours which we spent on his felucca! Trip was really great! And the mint tea – excellent!! Thanks!
Home address: Egypt – Luxor west bank – baraat - elezba
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