Hawkers and hassle, Cairo
While attending our first bazaar of the trip, we were approached by many different street vendors, shouting catchy phrases like "How can I take your money this evening?"
One vendor in particular though I must warn you about. His name is Mohammed, and he is 4-6 years old. He rivals the best used car salesmen in all of America if you ask me. This child is a wunderkind of sales, and as a professional salesman, I know a good one when I see it!
Watch out, because he will negotiate you into a price, and then work his way back up to the price he wants by saying things like: "One for 2 US, or 2 for 5!! Good deal, good deal".
As you wonder around the pyramids, some "security" people may stop you, talking in an angry manner and shouting, demanding you to show them your passport or other documents.
It appears that they are just shouting to get you surprised and then they ask for money to give you your papers back.
DO NOT give them anything until they give you a proof (id or other) that they actually are guards. Don't even settle for them "waving" some kind of paper - ask them to give it to you for you to check. A real guard will not have a problem about it. The false ones will probably just go - "ours" did, saying "wait here", leaving us there wondering what happened.
Thank god I had read about this possibility, so when it really happened to us we were not taken by surprise.
For many people planning to visit Cairo a trip to the Pyramids at Giza is a high spot on their itinerary. There is no reason why this shouldn?t be so, however, it?s worth preparing yourself before you go, as it can also be a tricky experience.
Hawkers and touts will approach you and their attentions can be persistent. My advice is be courteous whatever your answer. If you are interested in a camel ride or in buying something then negotiate what you feel is a reasonable price. If not politely say no and walk away. That is, however, much easier said than done as no is not always immediately taken as an answer. The first time we visited the Great Pyramid I opted to walk round the exterior while my husband went inside. Within a few steps someone had placed a turban on my head and was trying to lead me towards a camel, offering a free ride. It took me two or three minutes of refusing until I was able to walk away. I did feel awkward but it also made me realise that, sadly, a polite but short ?No thank you? may avoid the difficulties that a longer conversation may draw you into.
If someone tries to give you something or put something into your hands try not to take it, once you are holding an object it is quite difficult to give it back and you may be manoeuvred into handing over money for something you don?t really want. This almost happened to my husband and I on our second trip to Cairo, when I considered us to be fairly experienced with such situations. I had an armful of trinkets and my husband was tying to negotiate the return of ?20.00 that had been taken out of his hand. It was a very unpleasant situation and one that left me feeling guilty at not handling it better. If things do start to get out of hand then there are often tourist police nearby who you may be able to call upon if you don?t feel able to manage the situation your self.
Above all be firm in saying no but try not to be discourteous or rude. And don?t let it get in the way of enjoying your visit.
Hi there , beaware of anything that doesnt feel right avoid getting into situations where your vulnerable , like back rooms etc where no one will no where you are that sought of thing, avoid smoking hashish in these soughts of places as it makes you more vulnerable, i also heard around the time we flew out of here of a western girl being mugged and shot in the desert so be careful to avoid thoses situations theres alot of desperate people here.
In Egypt learn how to haggle! A great trick what my friend and his wife played in the bazaar. She found a necklace and turned to her husband to ask him for money. He said 'No. We're not buying that!' The merchant kept going down on the price, she kept begging her husband and he kept saying "NO WAY!" Until the price was low enough. This couple plays this trick every time and it just works like a chime!
If you catch a taxi to the pyramids, on the way along pyramids road it is highly likely that the taxi will be flagged down by pyramid guides who have spotted you coming. They will climb in the car and become your 'guides' for the day. They are very persistent and will not leave the car, even if you say no thank you, or shout to tell them to get out. This happened to me twice. The first time I hel the taxi door open, so the taxi driver could not drive off. All the traffic behind started hooting and eventually the guide left the car. The second time I forbid my taxi driver to stop and he swerved round the 'guides'.
Yes, you need to prepare and pay exact amount if possible. If you are handing 10 Egyptian Pounds to buy snacks and refreshments in stalls on the street, more often than not - you are not getting your change. Seems normal to some vendors like the guy I posted here, he did not give the change to my family. It happened and he still have the guts to pose for a picture, lol. It is small amount of money but still.......he'll gonna do it to each of his customers???
Nevertheless, I still love Egypt and still like the people!
At any tourist spot (like this temple near the pyramids in Giza), the lone traveller will be hassled continuously. Everyone will try to sell you something or offer you transportation or accommodation. A lot of times a polite but firm 'no thanks' will do the trick, but if people are persistent, so you will have to be firm in your opinion and tell them to buzz off. This may sound very rude, but I found it the only effective way to deal with annoying salesmen. Of course, people who travel in a group will have less hassle if their tourguide arranges most things.
We didn't experience much hassle in Cairo, mostly just people asking if we wanted boat rides on the Nile or hashish, but a simple 'la shukran' said with a smile and while continuing to walk on, mostly did the trick. People may fall into step with you for a while, but if you keep on walking eventually they'll go back to their pitch.
Children's of Cairo may look innocent, but please save your wallet or put down you purse, giving or contributing money to one child, you be responsible for the rest of the children who already waiting from far.
'You give it to one, the rest will come to you and you cant runaway'
Everytime you buy something and the place has a cash register cash a large bill. As the small bills can be scarce and you will need loads of pound notes for everyone who thinks they are doing a service. Although I don't believe pointing out the obivious sunset to me warrants a tip. But the person at the tourist site will think so. If you are traveling alone as in just hailing a taxi to go to Giza be prepared for the onslaught of handouts. Be aware of taking a photo of a camel as they will insist on money. Do not let your camera out of your hands as someone will not give it back until they are satisfied with the amount of baksheesh. Won't let you out of a tomb until they are satisfied ect. All this can be a little daunting esp when they are wearing cop/ military uniforms weilding a semi automatic. I suggest getting Giza out of the way first as it is the worst and everyplace will actually seem better after that. Or take an organized tour to shield you from the nonsense. One of the top reasons people go to Cairo is to see Giza and it winds up being a fight and hassle the whole way. Something should be done about it. You feel like your walking naked through the place with one hundred dollar bills taped all over your body. Its actually funny now that it over and I'm rehashing it in my mind.
I really do not have a problem with paying tips or baksheesh, when it is warranted, or even sometimes when it is not.
What does get to me, is when it is forced out of you.
We were visiting the Citadel & there are old cells up there you can visit ( I think it may be part of the Police Museum.)
Helen was not interested in having a look so I went in on my own. I came to the last cell & the man who had been showing me around, pushed me back in to the cell as I tried to leave, locked the door & would not let me out until I had given him some money!!
I was not impressed, but there was no one else around to help so I gave in. I could not believe it!!
The brother of a friend of mine went to the Pyramids last year. He had a camel ride to and around the pyramids, then his camel guide offered to take him a bit further in to the desert, which Phil thought was great so he readily agreed.
After a while the guide said he wanted money, Phil rightly refused, so the guide refused to stop the camel & carried on walking, eventually Phil had to give the guide money so the guide would take him back to Giza!
when we were at the spinx were were, as usual, followed by a crowd of children and actually a few freaky men. thats to be expected, but as we walked back to the bus a lot of them continued to follow us, grabbing at our things. a few were even on horses and that was quite scary. really, dont give anything to these children because you cant give it to everyone and thats just mean. they will fight and follow you even more. better to give to a charity or school or something.
I warned you guys, especially the ladies, dont ever walk alone even is daytime or even you are backpacker expert otherwise the Basksheeh people will keep pastering you and follow you until you buy an item from them. The worst part, once you bought one item they will push you for more money.