Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Finding History

So I've just moved house. Shifting is always an interesting experience. Not so much for all the hassle and stress, but more for the stuff you find that you forgot you even had.

After having most of my possessions packed away in boxes for the best part of three years opening some of them turned up all sorts of unexpected stuff.

Case in point the travel diary I kept from a trip I did almost 13 years ago. Here are a few excerpts:

4th November 1996 (Bangkok)
Went temple touring this morning (Golden Mount and Golden Buddha) in a tuk tuk. A nerve-wracking experience in BK traffic - involved a lot of flinches and prayers. Pretty cheap though at 20B an hour but you have to put put up with the scams the drivers try to snooker you into. Usually gemstones. I bought a watch for 600B which promptly broke when I tried to put it on.

Bangkok 1 - me 0.

Somehow in 35 degree heat I've managed to catch a cold. Go figure that one out!

7th November 1996 (Bangkok-Cairo)
4am - currently flying over Saudi Arabia and can see cities and oil rigs in the gulf all lit up like candles. We made the airport safely tonight but did see a American tourist getting ripped off in Khaosan Road over a tour. The people at the travel agents looked like they were about to deck him. Their country their rules I suppose. But if the guy hadn't been so obnoxious to them maybe they might have been prepared to compromise?

Flying on Egypt Air which is interesting, Food is ok and the service is good but I think me and Lisa (my travelling companion) are the only westerners on the plane.

8.30 am - Drama in the wee hours!! Lisa was majorly culture shockede on our arrival (to be fair I was too but perhaps not quite as openly as her). A tout tried to rip us off and our taxi driver subsequently did as well. The 20 pound fare from the airport was probably about right but then the driver added on a heap of extra charges which I'm sure were dodgy.

7.45 pm- What a day!! It began with Lisa still being apprehensive about being ripped off by unscrupulous Egyptians. This wasn't helped when we were accosted at the hotel's reception by a pair of gentlemen offering us a deal to go and see the pyramids. Lisa was very worried and I was none too confident myselof either!

The deal was 25 pounds ($NZ11) for a ride to Giza, Saqqara and then back to the hotel refreshments included. Too good to be trues we thought. However this guy (turns out he is a dentist .... "just call me Doc'")was very insistent. He even pulled out a folder full of glowing references from other backpackers as well as a TYNT article in which he featured.

At this point I began to be convinced ... barely. Lisa was very dubious and left the decision up to me (if something goes wrong I get the blame?).

Took the chance and it paid off!

First he took us to a cafe for coffee and a nargileh (water pipe). Spent a very happy half hour there. Then it was off to a papyrus institute. More free drinks. I caved and bought a scroll for may father. Fisher, an errant Aussie whom we'd collected on the trip bought two.

Next it was off to the pyramids where we were plonked on the back of some very scrawny horses and rode round the area for about three hours. Poor creatures - they are so badly looked after that they literally drop dead from exhaustion (there was evidence to be seen!). I refused to trot or gallop my steed. I felt bad enough riding it to be honest.

We went inside Chrephen Pyramid. If you suffer from claustrophobia I'd suggest giving it a miss. I climbed the Great Pyramid (against all the rules - more on this later) and thenj it was off to the Stepped Pyramid at Saqqara. Spent the late afternoon and dusk walking around the ruins.

The Doc' bought us dinner then helped us book a felucca crusie on the Nile. The total cost of the day (including the cruise that we're about to go on and its associated travel and accomodation) was less than $NZ100. Not bad for a first day in a new country.

That's the saccharine stuff. I'll pull out some of the dodgier episodes and post them later.