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Souvenir shops instead of tourist sights…
I was traveling along Cairo by bus with a group of tourists. While making an excursion around Old Cairo as usual we were lack of time to see all its sights. After visiting the Hanging Church, St. George Church of the Greek Orthodox Convent, St Barbara Church, Church of St. George and Abu Serga I was looking forward to see the Church of the Holy Virgin, Ben Ezra Synagogue and the Coptic Museum. But I failed!
Our guide carried us to the souvenir shop and gave free time for shopping. He said we had 15 minutes… But we spent there almost an hour! If I knew I would make my own excursion during this time. But I had to wait for other tourists who wanted to buy souvenirs instead of watching sights. That’s one of the main tourist trap while traveling with a group.
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Be careful about the Currency you accept
Cheating tourist is part of life in some parts of the world including India, but this is unique cheating. It happened at Al Khan El Khalili market, we bought some souvenier worth 500/600 Egyptian Pounds( See picture of the shopkeeper). He was supposed to return me 70 Egyptian Pounds ( L.E) but he gave me a currency of 50 PIASTERS9 half a pound)and a 20 Pound note. I never expected he could cheat me this way as we do not have a note for .50 Paise in our country, normally it's always a coin. I lost 50 Egyptian Pounds straightway!
Unique Suggestions: Please see the notes of different denominations carefully I have put here. There is 100 Pound note, a 20 L.E, a 10 and a 5 L.E. Please check always and be sure of the currency you got back before you leave the shop. I asked our guide later on he confirmed this also that the shopkeepers do have the tendency to cheat the tourist by any means.
Fun Alternatives: 1.Carry small denominations notes with you.
2. If found , tell your guide, he will surely chase it as they are very careful about their country's prestige.
3. Tell the tourist Police if you find one, I noticed they are almost everywhere.Related to:
- Family Travel
Give me 5, you r in Egypt
It is very common that you will find Egyptians giving fives (your hand clapping on a friend's hand). They do this when you or them says something that sounds funny or looks funny. So expect that through out your conversation with an Egyptian he will give you five and another five and another five.
So dont think he is crazy. and ladies, dont think he is trying to hit on you and hold your hand but rather he is showing appreciation to a funny thing you said.Related to:
- Women's Travel
Men Kissing in the streets
A man kissing another man on the cheeks in the street is common cause this is the way Egyptian men greet each others. The strange thing is a man kissing a lady hi or goodbye. Some of my foreign friends asked me weather i am a gay and i was completly surprised cause i am not, they told me why do you keep kissing your men friends.
Dont fall into this trap.
Unique Suggestions: As a man , expect that if you meet with another man and had a conversation and met again, he might kiss you . so dont panic as this is the way he is expressing frienship and kindness. But dont get used to this habit cause it gets irritating especially when it is hot.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Gay and Lesbian
Pretending to be gays
Khawal, metnak, 2olla are different names for describing a homosexual man. If you are one then i have to warn you from the trap.
You might find guys who pretend they are gays and will lead u to believe so till u r inside a room or so and they will start the blackmail game. They might rip you off of your money and still wont give you what you want.
Unique Suggestions: Dont show you are a gay and wait till you know what's going on around.
Fun Alternatives: Get to know the person very well before getting involved. Many murders happens around gay community in Egypt.Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Gay and Lesbian
El-Fishawi Cafe (Khan el-Khalili)
Because of the nice comments I was reading about this place I tried to go there for more than 4 times. And I found a shop full of tourists drinking shisha in a narrow road in the Khan el-Khalili area, sitting on most uncomfortable wooden chairs. No local people except the waiters.
Unique Suggestions: I would just pass from the outside, look at the place or take a pic and then move to the crossroad where another coffeeshop is waiting to serve you.
Fun Alternatives: Naguib Mahfouz Coffeshop at the end of the same road. But this is another tip :)Related to:
- Family Travel
- Luxury Travel
Patience, please, patience, my friends:)
So you finally arrived at sacred pyramids!You hop off the bus and........you want to get back to the bus at once as you step on the dirty ground and feel how camels can stink and how local inhabitants can accost to you.
Everyone is curious to get inside of the pyramid. As I had been worn out by that time, I preferred to stay in the bus, but those who came back told me that I hadn't lost anth special except maybe stuffyness that almost made faint my friend:)
Unique Suggestions: At least you are here! Enjoy a precious piece of history:) I don't think I'd like to get back there if I 'd have an opportunity, but there's no doubt I don't regret a bit, inspite of those CAMELS:D
When to give tips and when not to give tips
Please... any tourist should know its a custom to give tips to the bell boy...or the one who carry your luggage at the airport..but somehow, some local guide also makes tonnes of money when we already trusted him and asking if this is good price to pay, but he actually make a pact with the other operator for example to get a 2 and half hour horse ride..price can vary for anyone from jus 80 egypt pound to 500 hahahah...and they will swear by god saying the price is good price..as long as they can cheat u.The operator will offer 300 as final price and inclusive of all when you ask from guide if the price is good he will assure its good price and swear its best then as you ride with the other guide he will say the price does not include his service and will ask for another 200 egypt pound for himself huhhhh...disgusting. Same thing goes if you wana buy papyrus painting...it costs jus 3 to 5 pound per peice of smaller size for local people but it can go as high as 60 pound for tourist..so please dont simply trust any guide, they make you trust them first then they can cheat you in the best possible way and even you dont realise it ...
Unique Suggestions: Always go in a group and with an honest guide who are reccommended by your real friends or local friends and always check price with several others before you make decision to get any offerRelated to:
- Historical Travel
TELL el-AMARNATell el-Amarna,...
Tell el-Amarna, site of the ancient Egyptian city Akhenaton, on the Nile River, north of the modern city of Asyût. Akhenaton was built during the reign of Amenhotep IV, better known as Akhenaton, sometime between 1350 and 1334 BC; the city served as the Egyptian capital until Akhenaton's death. The period during which Akhenaton was important is known in Egyptian history as the Amarna period.
In 1887, a peasant at Tell el-Amarna found about 400 tablets inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform. The tablets formed part of the correspondence, later known as the Amarna letters, of Akhenaton and his predecessor, Amenhotep III, with the governors in Palestine and Syria and the kings of Babylonia, Assyria, and Mitanni. These tablets and other archaeological remains serve as valuable sources of information about the Amarna period.
SUGGESTED READING: AKHENATEN - KING OF EGYPT ; by
Toilet Paper & One Pound Notes
When you use the public washrooms there is a woman standing/sitting at the door waiting for you to give her 1LE to get into the washroom and then she will hand you 1, yes you read that correctly ONE sheet of toilet paper.
This is not limited to the washrooms around the tourist sites. Sometimes when you are in a restaurant washroom - there is no toilet paper!
Unique Suggestions: Always have some extra Kleenex or toilet paper with you.
Save your 1LE notes because if you hand them a 5LE they will still just give you one sheet and let you in. You don't get any change!Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Khan El Khalili
Khan El Khalili is the ultimate tourist trap... but note that by Khan El Khalili I mean only the main street in the souq... the one where people sell you all kind of souvenirs and trinkets that you can find anywhere else, including at home
Unique Suggestions: Look but don't buy. If you find something that you really like then haggle th price down and buy it.
Fun Alternatives: if you simply like a bit, wait till you get home: you'll find it much cheaper in any market near you. Egyptian stuff is very popular all over.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Since Egypt is a Muslim culture, it's wise to dress appropriately in more traditional areas and mosques. Women should take care to cover their upper arms, cleavage, midriff and legs when visiting a mosque. A hair covering isn't necessary, however. Except for in tourist resorts, modesty is the best policy, or women may attract unwanted attention.
Cafes in Midan El Hussein
These cafes charge 3 to 5 times the normal price for drinks as they are frequented by Italian and Spanish tour groups, waitstaff invent prices based on what appears to be customers ability to pay and the fact you are in Midan El Hussein.
Fun Alternatives: Check out any of the numerous other cafes just 50 meters away. Fishawys is always fun.
Hieroglyphs: just turn a deaf ear
The Rosetta Stone has a great deal to answer for.
When Ancient Egypt was discovered by Europe one of the most exciting things for scholars was the huge amount of inscriptions: there's nothing a historian likes more than a contemporary written source.
Hieroglyphs are not only visually intriguing but also form a most complicated writing system. It's contrived for purpose of monumental masonry , offering multiple ways of representing the same words and so allowing artistic latitude. While the majority of the hieroglyphs have a phonetic value some convey meaning in a more pictogram-like manner. It all offers a splendid puzzle, and in those far-away days before the Times published a crossword......
Hence the traditional Egyptologists preoccupation with texts.
The result....this is the TOURIST TRAP... is a tendency for guides to witter on about king-lists and the ridiculously complex theology of the people, with a bit of anecdotage thrown in without actually looking at things. This is particularly obvious in the Egyptian Museum. There are some stunningly beautiful things here, but most tour groups huddle round their guide as he or she spouts banalities in the little time left from shepherding duties and DON'T LOOK AT A THING. It's generally only kids who have the wit to hook off and actually examine the stuff.
Which is, after all, what you have come all this way for. You can always read up on it afterwards.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Cafes at the Khalili Markets
You're out on your feet, and your brain is in neutral. A cool drink is inviting. The cafe spruiker breaks into his spiel, your seated , the drinks arrive,drunkand the bill arrives.No menu and the drinks are grossly overpriced.
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