Friday, November 5, 2010

Cairo & Other Things

Nice! I’ve had a comment on my cherry blog from London. Cyberspace continues to amaze. It still seems incredible.

Part of the same miracle, niece Jenny, also living in London has sent photos of her recent Egyptian visit by email. I envy her the opportunity to go further south than Cairo. My time there was brief.

In 1994 I was a member of an education mission to Kuwait. The cheapest way to get there was via Cairo. The Singapore Airways plane landed early in the morning. We were met by a burly bodyguard at the airport and whisked away, via picking up our guide, a lady lecturer from the university, to see the pyramids.

Awesome? The labour that went into them. The size of the blocks. I rode a camel as part of the tourist attraction. It’s a long way up to that height.

On to the Sphinx. Equally magnificent but the city’s encroachment removed the Ozymandias feeling.

Via the customary tourist retail venues, I did buy two papyrus painted scrolls and a bottle of perfume, after lunch we went to the museum with main attention to the treasures of the Pharaoh Tutunkhamen. That was mind-boggling.

My other memory of the visit was the traffic. And I thought Bangkok was chaotic.

The business in Kuwait finished we returned to Cairo for a night. As we flew with Egypt Airlines we landed at the domestic airport. There, the entry fee could only be paid in American dollars. I had a strap around my stomach with a hidden hoard of that currency, it’s been my established insurance policy when travelling. So off to the loo and partial disrobe to enable me to pay for the rest of the party as well as myself.

At the hotel, in the lift up eleven floors, the bell boy offered me a woman, a boy or a shoe shine – in that order.

But my room had a balcony overlooking the Nile. Tourist dhows were out in the evening light. I sat nursing a whiskey savouring the scene. [Kuwait had been dry]. Rarely has a whiskey been more appreciated.

Guy Fawkes Day today. I covered the issues on 4 and 5 November last year so I leave them alone this year.

And I see New Zealand is rated third best country in the world in which to live, Norway and Australia are ahead. When I saw the headline I thought no wonder John Key is sitting pretty but then I read the USA is fourth so that theory does not hold up. Political gridlock looms there. The Republicans want to cut expenditure and taxes at the same time. A contradiction.

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