|Bettina, Clang, Rae and moi at King Tut's tomb|
We've seen most of Egypt in a week. First stop was Cairo's Citadel (1176) and An-Nasir Mohammed mosque (1318). It wasn't hazy that day and got a clear view of Giza's pyramids from the terrace. From the citadel, we drove through traffic (the city has 15 million population) to visit one of the seven wonders of the world - the pyramids! There are three structures: the Great Pyramid of Khufu (2750 BC) at 146m high, his son's called Khafre (136m) and his wife's Mankaure (62m). It is indeed amazing to be at the foot of a monstrous mountain life-like size tomb and it makes me wonder if there is any truth to its extra teresstial origin.
|the Red Sea|
We did another dive (in Sha'ab Marsa Alam) the next day before heading out to Safaga to cross the Red Sea mountains with a police convoy to Luxor. I've never felt secured with checkpoints every 500 meters or so and a police escort. I guess after the bombing incident at Sinai in 2005, the government is trying to protect its US$6B tourism industry. The drive took almost five hours, 2 hours to Safaga and 3 hours to Luxor.
|at the foot of the Step Pyramid of Zoser|
The next day, Kim booked us to Wadi El-Hatin (western dessert) on a 4WD with driver Moustafa and his side kick Mohamed, to visit the UNESCO world heritage site for the first recorded fossilised skeletons of primitive whales. The site used to be a vast ocean some 35 million years ago. The topography is likened to the Grand Canyon in the United States. We had a picnic lunch at the nearby dessert Waddi Rayyan. Then before heading back to Cairo, a stopover at Tunis a plush domain-secondaire type village to view pottery. (note: town not recorded in Lonely Planet).
|A sea in the desert between 250 million and 35 million years ago|
I enjoyed my trip and luckily, despite warnings by friends, we didn't get harrassed at all by street hawkers or for 'baksheesh' (tips). The magic word is 'la' shukran' which means "no thank you". Also most earn pathetic monthly salaries of 40-50 pounds (tomb guards) or 78 pounds (military solider). That's why they end up harrassing toursits for tips. I'm quite tolerant and in fact, ended giving tips to everybody!