About Me

My photo
The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Day 1: Arrival
We met up, ate at Felfella (falafa and soup), went to the Nile and walked along, slept early
We stayed at Hostel Brothers – really nice! Well… the first night the AC didn’t really work… but you get used to these things
Observations: CAIRO
1. Everyone wears a hijhab
a. Most = ‘fake’ i.e. tight, bright, showy clothes NOT traditional
2. Boys/men are SUPER flirty
3. A LOT of harassment with foreigners (ie to take a Felucca ride)
4. Nile is beautiful
5. City at night is ALIVE like NY or Tokyo with all the lights!
6. Tons of people on the streets all hours of the day and most of the night!

Day 2: Cairo - Giza (took pyramids to pyramids and sphinx), Papyrus Museum, Essence shop (I blew glass!), Dinner at new restaurant, walking, clubbing
Observations: CAIRO
1. Need to bargain for EVERYTHING
2. People try to sell in package deals a lot… not a good bargain
3. Hospitable… always offer tea
4. Discounts for students
5. Prostitutes galore – one picked up right in front of me in a nicer club!
6. There was a fight in the streets and the cops just stood aside and watched!
7. LOTS of wedding proposals
a. 20,000 camels offered to me 
8. everyone works on tips (or so they say)
9. I feel pretty uncomfortable even remotely uncovered because everyone is covered and men make lots of comments
10. Camels – tons of flies…. Are hard to stay on… and are TOTALLY worth it
11. 20 million people in one city!
12. People are very proud of their work
13. I touched the pyramid (the second one… the one with the cap)
14. Asians go a lot and take a lot of pictures… just like the stereotype
15. Glass blowing – we saw and participated!
16. Essence place was very friendly even though we may not buy stuff but that is part of how they sell
a. 10% of perfumes are essence that mainly come from Egypt… 80% is all alcohol
b. perfume last 3 hr when essence last 10
17. locals take advantage of how Americans pay at higher prices and over change like CRAZY
a. you WILL get cheated here
18. it is difficult to eat if you want to stay safe
19. 1 man helped us find a restaurant by walking us all the way there!
20. Everyone has different opinion (i.e. wat is good food)
21. Lotus flower = symbol of Egypt and sign of love
a. Cairo tower is in this shape!
22. People are either really religious (a lot of men have the burn mark on their forehead from praying)
23. Most important mosque in the world is here (Ashar)
24. People in the streets are super willing to help
25. Land is really fertile and expensive which is why building are built up… but with the city expanding there is a need for more
26. At 11 p.m., the city was soooo busy!
a. No cars could fit on the street
b. Everything was open (stores)
c. Families were out
27. I was treated differently w/Mary (white girl) more so than with others
a. More comments because with Mary I just look like a foreigner but alone I am considered slutty for wearing a dress that goes up to my knees
28. Very clan-like
a. People don’t associate much with others and stay to their groups a lot
i. Seen in streets, clubs
we later booked a flight to Luxor where we saw that you need to look around because there are always better deals to be found (better than an overnight train!)
I also learned that Upper Egypt is South because it is lover and Lower Egypt is N because it is high and Nile flows to the North

Day 3 – Cairo – breakfast, Egyptian Museum, lunch at Sheraton, Zamalak, Cruise on the Nile
Observations – CAIRO
1. Egyptian Museum

a. Need a student ID to get good prices for everything

b. Arab prices are SOOOOO much cheaper!
i. i.e. museum: 4P Arab
30P student
60P rest
c. King Tut = amazing!
i. For tombs – four boxes followed by 3 sarcophosis?
ii. Tons of stuff: carriages, etc
iii. Only tomb is 100% intact
d. Tour guide was helpful
e. Soooooo much to see, so many bodies, statues, etc
f. Animals are cool
g. Mummies = expensive to see but cool
h. LOTS of tourists there
i. Not sensitive to cultural dress i.e. short shirts, midriff, etc
2. Sheraton = nice.. LOTS of hooka
a. GULF POPLE = hijhab doesn’t cover all hair = weird
b. Friday night is crazy even families were out all hours
3. Zamalak
a. Wealthier island on other side of the Nile… not the most wealthy but close
b. Hijhab is more traditional when worn
c. More men with turbans
d. Car stopped for us!
e. Very residential area
f. More modern stores (Harley, Costa, Quicksilver)
g. Embassy buildings
h. Cleaner in general
i. Streets and buildings
i. Went to a really small café
j. Not so touristy and the people like it that way… they didn’t get why we were there
k. People didn’t harass us as much
l. More foreigners live here
m. People are still nice
n. Nice Garden that was closed
**In general, a good contrast to downtown and a good look into Cairo at a different angel.
4. Nile Cruise
a. Another ex of how Cairo is based on tourism
i. i.e. Sufi mystic = usually religious here done for money w/photos. Very theatrical and different compared to Syria
ii. Belly dancer – not great but good for pictures again to make money
iii. $$$ surprise charges (drinks)
iv. if you are important (i.e. have money) people wait for you i.e. we waited on one group for 30 min and were all late
v. beautiful scenery
vi. servants were up, food/show was downstairs
By this day, we were both getting more used to the ridic amount of comments

Day 4 – Luxor (East Bank) – early to airport – Oasis hostel – Karnak – restaurant – nap (felt sick) – outside Luxor walk around Luxor temple – market – sleep early
Observations LUXOR
1. men wear traditional robes A LOT
2. women = real hijhab, lots of black, not showy
3. more poor city, VERY poor areas
a. house with one room with a big coach and 6 people
b. hallway with rags that symbolize a home
c. markets full of rotten fruit
4. more blacks because further South
5. more children in the street, lots begging
6. tourist – HARRASMENT esp market, street (horses) and Nile
7. locals are proud of Luxor kept trying to tell us to stay longer
8. cheating applies here too and souvenirs are expensive
9. less busy streets, people walking in local shops are nice
10. cheaper transportation, food, living than Cairo
11. downtown is cleaner and more residential
12. Karnak is the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life
13. More visible Christians and more churches

Day 5 – Luxor (West Bank) – woke up at 5.30 a.m, go to West Bank via ferry, taxi to Valley of the Kings, hitch a bus to Hatshepsut’s Temple, taxi to Valley of the Queens, walk and take a service back and have lunch at same safe restaurant (Green Palace) an went to inet café, local market, 2 malls, sat in nice hotel (Mercur), walk along Nile, McDonalds, ferry back and forth, late (delayed) night plane back
**22.5 hour day!**

Observations – LUXOR
1. lots of very poor areas
a. food all rotten
b. women wear black robes (not extra cover, just plain hijhab) and carry big bags on heads
2. more Christians
a. it was Sunday and there were a lot of church-goers, more people out at night like a Friday in Syria (McD was SUPER busy), shops and pharmacy closed
3. weather = HOT
4. some very nice people but lots of cheating
5. best memories = giving bathroom man 5 Leera and a little boy on the ferry selling tissue a few leera and seeing his smile. And seeing the affection between the dad and baby on the ferry.

Day 6 – Cairo – slept in! breakfast, shower, underground buy Alexandria ticket, citadel, long walk 2 Hussein mosque, Ashar, ate at Najeeb Manfouz, Khan al-Khalili, walk a little in Ashar, Khan again, hotel inet, sleep

Observations – Cairo
1. Most of Egypt – poor like the markets we see with rotten food
2. No pictures of the president around like in Syria and Jordan and Morocco because his oppression
a. Not taking care of his people seen by how the are cleaning president’s road and not dirty city
3. Super flirty men
a. Young men easier to argue with to lower prices than women or gentlemen
4. Underground system is cheap and CROWDED… and still streets are full!
5. Train is so different than America
a. People come 5 min before train and buy a ticket
b. Learn about crime – punishment or theft can be a chopped off arm, people don’t report rape because of embarrassment
6. Locals try to be helpful but don’t always succeed
7. Egyptian history lessons
a. King Farouk = last one before Nasser
i. Women built Cairo Uni
ii. Burnt down castle
iii. Trade btwn Egypt and France: obelisk and clock
8. People don’t sit on the street, so we were looked at funny
9. They are cleaning the city in sections (as seen in the citadel)

Day 7: Alexandria – woke up at 6 a.m., underground to train, 2.5 hr train, walk to beach, sat in garden, went to library, walk along Mediterranean, sat at beach 2 hrs, ate at seafood restaurant, inet café, walk to get water, train to underground, legit marriage proposal by Tamer

Observations – ALEXANDRIA
1. cleaner than Cairo and Luxor
2. people don’t harass as much
3. all hijhab and real hijhab
4. library is VERY big and nice
a. charge to go in!
5. train is nice and comfortable
6. saw on train that a lot of Egypt is farmland and greet
7. most towns are poor and old and run down
8. Alexandria is another mix of old downtown and new town (like Syria)
9. Older population mostly (not as many teens except near the uni)
10. People are really nice and helpful
11. Poor people are there too, but even they are outside enjoying the outdoors
12. Green city!
13. Not many churches
14. Greek influence is obvious
15. Metro not always segregated
16. City is still running and busy at 10.30 p.m…. not really till midnight though
17. Fish is the main staple
a. Sold everywhere and famous
b. We saw men fishing outside
18. Food is less rotten in local markets than in Cairo and Luxor
19. Cops actually stopped traffic unlike Cairo
a. Crossin street is still scary but service was nicer
20. Cops working on maintenance in the garden… still trashon he floor though

Little girl (stranger) went to a random women on the beach and held her hand for like 20 min and the women welcomed it and got a kiss at the end. (caring for kid is part of the culture)
Little boys on the street so happy to say “Hello” to Americans. People in general were nice to Americans
I got in trouble for putting my head on mom’s shoulder likely because mom’s knees weren’t covered and my chest was more open

Day 8: Cairo – Coptic Cairo, try to go to Cairo Uni, DAY BEFORE OBAMA MAKES BIG SPEECH!
Observations – CAIRO
1. As you get near to Coptic Cairo, you obviously see a lot of more Christians
2. The people in Coptic Cairo (Christians) were also very nice and it was almost more comfortable to go there bc I was without a hijhab.

No comments:

Post a Comment