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  1. #11
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    I am so excited for you!!! I went to Egypt a couple of years ago, just Cairo and around. Unfortunately we didn't make it to Alexandria.

    I think most of what I'd say has been covered. You could wear a wedding ring (or just a wedding-ish ring on that finger) and be prepared to lie about a husband or fiancee if asked. I don't usually advocate lying but in that respect it might be advisable. I was with a group of friends including men which helped a lot - I would have expected more harassment otherwise from all I've heard. Definitely wear long skirts (which I found very comfortable in 40 degree heat) or baggy (prefereably linen) trousers and tops that at least cover your shoulders, preferably elbow-length sleeves or so. Also the tip about a drapy scarf/shawl is good as you can use it for covering a low-cut top, putting on your head for heat or modesty, etc.

    Although it probably makes me sound prejudiced, I'm extremely wary of Arab men partly from travelling in North Africa and partly from experiences living in Europe (more the latter, really.) The tips already have been good. Avoid eye contact and smiling at random men. I doubt you're the type to get swept away by extravagant compliments (and believe me, you will get at least some extravagant compliments) but, you know, if that cute guy wants you to marry him and run away, I'd say don't. Incidentally, it is a documented fact that Egyptian men (in particular) don't only harass western women because of the slutty image, which is a problem generally in that part of the world. They also harass and assault their own women pretty routinely. Again, I know this makes me sound biased but it is a well documented fact.

    In Cairo, of course you have to visit the Giza Pyramids but Saqqara (with the older, smaller pyramids) is amazing too. Less touristy as well, though I hear that tourism is way down since the revolution so the Giza Pyramids might be relatively quiet. Also the Egyptian Museum, and the Citadel. The City of the Dead is kind of a trip - though I felt a bit intrusive as it is where relatively poor people live among the tombs, just a neighbourhood really. But when I walked through there with my friend, people were greeting us, wanted to know where we were from and seemed really happy we'd walked through! And you MUST go to Al-Azhar Park if you have time, it was a magical escape from the crazy city.

    At the Giza Pyramids, if someone tells you that you can't walk up to the pyramids on your own any more, and you must do it on a tour, and their tour is the best, it's a load of crap. (And someone or several people will probably try that.) Just ignore them and walk away - unless you really want to do a tour (with horse drawn carriages, etc) and it seems good. I paid to go into one of the pyramids - Khufu, I think, not Cheops. The slightly smaller one. It was pretty cool though there isn't loads to see.

    Stay in groups. I wouldn't go off alone though you'd probably be ok, but better not, I'd say. If you're with just one other person at some point, it might be better if it's a man, although people will likely assume it's your husband and will ignore you and talk to him only (in a lot of cases.) Although, in Morocco I was with just one female friend and basically we were fine. We got some hassle and marriage proposals but generally it didn't feel threatening. I've heard it can be a lot more threatening in Egypt though my experiences weren't bad, but again, I was travelling with men.

    Accept hospitality if it seems wise, perhaps in a large enough mixed group. It's a very hospitable culture. Tell people you're happy to be in their country and enjoying it, they appreciate that.

    Keep an eye on the security situation as obviously Egypt has been unstable the last 2 years. (I was there six months before the revolution.)

    Cairo is insane but a total trip. I was on a natural high a lot of the time there. I think on my own I would have found it scary but it was fun with other people. I've also been to Marrakesh (Morocco) and that is much smaller but felt crazy, too, with all the traffic and crowds. So I imagine Alexandria will feel kinda nutty as well. Be careful of the traffic, but eventually you do just have to run out into the road. The best is if you can attach yourself to a group of locals to do it. The cars will weave around you if you're relatively sensible. You'll get used to staring death in the eye when taking cab rides and the like.

    I don't think Egyptian food is amazing (I liked Moroccan much more) but just try different things and have fun. It's cheap. We ate at a great restaurant in Cairo (more of an ex-pat restaurant with European-North African fusion food) which was still pretty cheap for us, and cheaper places really didn't cost much. The water is bad (at least in Cairo and probably elsewhere) so drink only bottled water. You might even want to brush your teeth with bottled water. It's also better to eat cooked veg instead of something washed in water that could make you sick.

    Also, try not to laugh directly in the guy's face if he goes "Hey Beautiful! You walk like an Egyptian tonight!" (It wasn't directed at me but I overheard this in the bazaar, a guy trying to get a western girl's attention. Hilarious!) You'll definitely get called princess, gazelle, pretty lady, etc etc... Hey ho!
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  2. #12
    Senior Member Lightyear's Avatar
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    I went to Egypt in 2006 and am not a fan, I found it so stressful to simply make the locals treat me like a normal human being one can have a normal conversation with, instead of them seeing me as a white cash machine and trying to get money out of me at every turn. It's a very male-dominated culture which you can feel, at least where I went to next to the Red Sea, there was a certain softness missing, a vibe that women normally bring.

    Try to get in contact with locals who have experience with Western culture (couchsurfing.org is a good starting point.) and cover up well.

  3. #13
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Kus = pussy right?

    Yeah, @YWIR I heard this from a coptic Christian who grew up there and my expat friend who lived there 5 years . Red like a baboon's as they said.
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  4. #14
    Listening Oaky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    Wow! I had no idea. I guess I presumed you lived in Europe, this whole time. A meet-up could work. I'm probably going to be extremely busy -- and I'm not sure how hyper-scheduled my life will be as a result -- so I'm not sure. But I think it could happen?
    Ah, of course. If it would be difficult then it's certainly understood. A lot of time would be integrated into the studies and adjustment to the area and time would likely fly.
    If it's not too personal -- what inspired you to move to Egypt, and what do you do there?
    I'm currently working as an architect here in line with a company elsewhere. To put it simply, I was sent here in opportunity. It's not that I was inspired but rather, I haven't much issue in the places I'd work around the world. My standards of adaptation are often quite low.
    Oh, absolutely! It's pretty close to the university where we'll be taking our classes, I think. Apparently past students in the program have had lunch at the Library cafeteria every day during their half-hour lunch break.
    Quite good indeed. Seems like you'll certainly be having a look at the area. I have yet to visit it myself.
    I'll bet you're right about the replies. Has it been the same for you? Do you have any general social tips based on your time in Egypt?
    There is often a difference between the touristic aspect and the living aspect.
    Tourists may often have a one-sided view of things with most of their time being spent in the touristic parts of the country. Of course, where the tourists go, the money suckers will always sit and wait to grab on to the next victim. Troublesome bunch.
    Living in Egypt will often show a different side.
    You shouldn't find much issue in the ethical stance of the people in general in the normal areas of the city (not touristic nor the slums). Unless you have a car, you won't often be expected to give any tips except perhaps when a worker by the cashier at a grocery store puts all your groceries in the plastic bags for you. Of course, if you don't wish to give a tip, you don't have to.
    If you wish to use a cab, it's recommended you know the common price to reach the area and confirm prices with the driver before entering the cab.
    As said, people are often social and curious so you'll be dealing with a lot of talk there. A lot may also hope to accommodate your own values though many of them may very well be terrible at it.

    I have memorised a number of replies to many who often ask me repeated questions but I suppose I'm a common face around them these days so I don't get as much of it anymore.
    I imagine those who one might find most enjoyable dealing with there are those who had or have an academic background. Though I'd think it's a country where if you're out to see it positively, you'll most certainly enjoy it, whereas if you're out to see it negatively, you may have your views lowered.

  5. #15
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YWIR View Post
    Be nice, but ALWAYS be at least slightly suspicious of people. A lot of people will try to to trick you out of or into thing. Especially the kids.
    Oh, totally. Egyptians are big time rip-off merchants and scammers. When my friends went there they called being fooled/ripped off, being "Egypted".

    A hand held fan when you're stuck in a taxi cab or a place without air conditioning.
    Yes. The Cairo taxi cabs were 1970s Ladas - so not exactly designed for comfort or fancy things like AC. Besides, Cairo has ridiculous levels of air pollution so winding down the window is like sucking on an exhaust pipe.

    In fact mini fans are a good idea in general because you won't find a lot of AC anywhere.

    Always stay with a friend. Never wonder off on your own.
    I disagree about this. I did this and had no problems. It's fine in the cities, anyway. If you are in more regional areas it would be better to stick with a friend. People are more traditional outside the major urban areas.

    lol! BAD!
    Well, it's easy to say and handy for many situations, but pretty tame really in comparison to other Arabic swear words. I remember one phrase was something along the lines of, "skull-fuck your mother!"

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    You could wear a wedding ring (or just a wedding-ish ring on that finger) and be prepared to lie about a husband or fiancee if asked. I don't usually advocate lying but in that respect it might be advisable.
    Yeah pretending you're engaged is a good idea. People go on about being married so much and hit on you all the time, that it's easier just to lie.

    Incidentally, it is a documented fact that Egyptian men (in particular) don't only harass western women because of the slutty image, which is a problem generally in that part of the world. They also harass and assault their own women pretty routinely. Again, I know this makes me sound biased but it is a well documented fact.
    They do? Ugh.

    Cairo is insane but a total trip. I was on a natural high a lot of the time there. I think on my own I would have found it scary but it was fun with other people.
    Yeah, Cairo is an outright assault on the senses. It's so crazy, bustling, chaotic, exciting, beautiful, filthy, run-down and polluted. People tend to find it really overwhelming and struggle to cope with it. I know several friends who went there, intending to stay a week but left before the end of the same day because they were so freaked out. You have to be prepared for the madness and to give it a chance. After you overcome the immediate feelings of terror and revulsion, it's a pretty awesome place.

    I don't think Egyptian food is amazing (I liked Moroccan much more) but just try different things and have fun.
    Yeah, I found the food disappointing too.
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  6. #16
    Sweet Ocean Cloud SD45T-2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    I'm going to Alexandria, not Mogadishu!
    Thanks, though.
    If you were going to Mogadishu I would have recommended a wing of A-10s and an artillery battalion.
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Yeah pretending you're engaged is a good idea. People go on about being married so much and hit on you all the time, that it's easier just to lie.
    Yup! I do this. However, if they're the even more determined and careless sort, that won't slow them down.

  8. #18
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Yeah, Cairo is an outright assault on the senses. It's so crazy, bustling, chaotic, exciting, beautiful, filthy, run-down and polluted. People tend to find it really overwhelming and struggle to cope with it. I know several friends who went there, intending to stay a week but left before the end of the same day because they were so freaked out. You have to be prepared for the madness and to give it a chance. After you overcome the immediate feelings of terror and revulsion, it's a pretty awesome place.
    That totally sounds like my experience. I really don't think travelling there on my own would have been wise even just because I would have felt so overwhelmed. Even flying in and looking out the window, I thought to myself "this great beast of a city will eat me alive." But yeah, after feeling freaked out in various ways I just embraced it.

    We even had a pretty crazy experience - my girlfriend and I (before our guy friends arrived) were with some Yemeni guys who she knew (very long story!!) and we were in the Khan al-Khalili bazaar, getting a lot of attention because of the odd mixture of our group and some young idiots chucked a firecracker right under our feet. I hate sudden loud bangs and it went off right in my ear, a terrifying moment. I was mad, upset and scared and couldn't relax for the rest of the evening, especially in that crazy bazaar. That was the scariest thing that happened, but you know what, it makes a great story, and most of the rest of the trip was really good.
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  9. #19
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YWIR View Post
    Yup! I do this. However, if they're the even more determined and careless sort, that won't slow them down.
    You can even have fun with it too. My Ecuadorian friend Gabo and I met up and spent 3 days together in Sinai and Cairo. Everyone thought he was looked like an Arab so he started telling everyone he's half Egyptian and that he had an Arabic middle name. This turned into a whole story with dramatic beginning of (imagine this said in Ecuadorian accent by a Latino in a keffiyeh who thinks he's Indiana Jones), "My name is Gabriel Mahmoud!"; and then went on to explain how we are on our honeymoon and how we met and fell in love etc, etc. I had to really try hard to stop myself laughing most of the time with the ridiculous things he made up.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    We even had a pretty crazy experience - my girlfriend and I (before our guy friends arrived) were with some Yemeni guys who she knew (very long story!!) and we were in the Khan al-Khalili bazaar, getting a lot of attention because of the odd mixture of our group and some young idiots chucked a firecracker right under our feet. I hate sudden loud bangs and it went off right in my ear, a terrifying moment. I was mad, upset and scared and couldn't relax for the rest of the evening, especially in that crazy bazaar. That was the scariest thing that happened, but you know what, it makes a great story, and most of the rest of the trip was really good.
    Weird. I have to say I thought a lot of those Egyptian boys seemed a bit like juvenile delinquents. I viewed them with deep suspicion.

    Khan al-Khalili is pretty mad though, and freakin' HUGE. I remember walking through there from one corner to the other far end. I got a little lost in the narrow, maze-like older parts in the heart of it, where most tourists don't usually venture and the curious stares increased in intensity. I'm not the sort to get disoriented or panic when I'm less than certain about my bearings, but I started to get edgy about finding the main road. It took me a good 20 min to get from one end to the other!
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  10. #20
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post

    Weird. I have to say I thought a lot of those Egyptian boys seemed a bit like juvenile delinquents. I viewed them with deep suspicion.

    Khan al-Khalili is pretty mad though, and HUGE. I remember walking through there from one corner to the other far end. I got a little lost in the narrow, maze-like older parts in the heart of it, where most tourists don't usually venture and the curious stares increased in intensity. I'm not the sort to get disoriented or panic when I'm less than certain about my bearings, but I started to get edgy about finding the main road. It took me a good 20 min to get from one end to the other!
    It was a crazy place and I imagine easy to get lost in, though we didn't go quite that far. I liked the souk in Marrakech a lot more, both for atmosphere and for the kind of products you could buy (lovely leather and jewellery in Marrakech, a lot of tat in Khan al-Khalili - although there was some great silver and gold jewellery too, which the place is known for.) You could get lost there too but it was just nicer, though the sellers still hassled us, of course.

    Part of the problem was we were getting a lot of attention for being two Western women with several Yemeni guys. We were dressed super-modestly but who knows, we may have looked like prostitutes or groupies anyway... And apparently Yemenis who have left their country even to travel are generally considered to be massively wealthy, so everyone thought the men were filthy-rich sheikhs. I think some of the Egyptians didn't like Yemenis generally anyway. After that incident I was scared that something similar would happen when we went out with them but it didn't, though there was still hassle. And it helped when the Western guys we were travelling with joined us. Although we were a really weird looking group, because those two guys were a) English in upbringing but mixed-race so he actually looked quite Egyptian, and b) Pakistani-Italian but English upbringing...while I look northern European (people thought I was German) and my friend is American but she could be a fair-skinned Arab. WEIRD group.
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