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  1. #21
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    ^ Ooh did your Yemeni friends wear those sophisticated white keffiyehs? That could make anyone look wealthy.
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  2. #22
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Oh, I just remembered another piece of advice @EJCC: do not stay in a hotel near a mosque.

    That is, unless you want to be blasted awake at 4:30am by the call to prayer playing at eardrum shattering volume. I speak from experience.
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  3. #23
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    ^ Ooh did your Yemeni friends wear those sophisticated white keffiyehs? That could make anyone look wealthy.
    Yeah, some of the time. And they have a distinctive Yemeni look and accent. We just really stood out. There were surreal and slightly intimidating moments but it sure makes for great stories.

    I agree about the mosque thing too!! If it's possible to avoid.
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  4. #24
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Oh, I just remembered another piece of advice @EJCC: do not stay in a hotel near a mosque.

    That is, unless you want to be blasted awake at 4:30am by the call to prayer playing at eardrum shattering volume. I speak from experience.
    Indeed!!!


    In Morocco, it's quite the same, even if the country is far more "europeanized", somehow. It's... just culturally halfway between Spain and Egypt.
    Last edited by Blackmail!; 05-22-2012 at 06:46 PM.
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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oakysage View Post
    I have been living in Egypt for the past two-three years now EJCC. Granted, I'm not very fluent in Arabic but I know a little more than enough to get by. If you wish, we could have a meet-up in your free time. I'd be in Cairo but I'd not find much difficulty in reaching Alexandria to give it a look for a day. Locals in Egypt are often very curious as well as people-inclined so it's highly likely you'll get a large number of social interactions with repeating patterns of questions. Quite likely by the end of the 8 weeks you will have memorised a lot of your replies. It's a flexible country where the nodes of fun can be altered in what you wish, so it's always good to explore to see what things you would enjoy. I've heard good things about the Alexandria library so I'd imagine it may good spot to give a look.
    @EJCC if you do meet him, make sure to take lots and lots and lots of pictures of him (from different angles if possible) and post them on member picture time or just simply PM those to me. And make sure to ask him what his ethnicity is.

  6. #26
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the responses! I love looking back at this thread and seeing all the dialogue that's been happening.

    When I can, I'll write up a great big response post with follow-up questions, but in the meantime, my brain is fried... Too much vacation, I suppose.

    More later!
    ~ g e t f e s t i v e ! ~


    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"



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  7. #27
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Finally asking follow-up questions:
    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    (1) Be very courteous to the staff of the hotel you are staying at. Tip them well. They will offer you useful information to keep you alive if you tip them well. I'm not kidding.
    Yes indeed! Especially since I'll be staying at that hotel for so long, with the same people working there, preparing my food, doing my laundry, etc. I've heard they're nice people, inshallah.
    (2) "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." - There's alot of truth to this age old expression.

    (3) Don't go off anywhere by yourself. Stay with people from your group.

    (4) I'd give the same advice to you traveling to ANY CITY.

    (5) Use your common sense; be aware of scoietal norms, including who's in charge in your area, and what common crimes are in that region. Chances are if it's a big tourist spot, things like pick-pocketing and other forms of pilfery are not uncommon.
    This is all very good advice! Thank you.
    Do you (and/or others) have any tips for avoiding pickpocketing? I'm wearing a satchel (with lots of buckles!) while I'm there, because my common sense told me that a backpack would be very easy to pilfer -- and my dad (who spent nearly all of his teen and college years in Asia) told me that a sturdier bag fabric would be better because apparently he knew some people who had their bags slashed open while they were walking down a street! But besides that -- and not waving your money around, obviously -- I'm not sure.
    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    You can buy trinkets on the street just don't be guilt tripped into doing it and do not go home with them to meet their families! . They'll just try to sell you more stuff haha.
    I've heard about that! I've also heard that they like to give you tea during the haggling process. How do you refuse those things?
    As a woman you may have difficulty traveling alone. I don't know how it is for expats there, but if an Egyptian woman is seen talking to a stranger in public (for example a cafe) she is assumed to be a prostitute.
    I've heard about that. I'm planning on covering my head most of the time I'm in public places, to avoid that as much as I can.

    I also just bought a bunch of very cheap scarves at my local mall -- and a white button-up 3/4-length-sleeved shirt from REI with SPF 50.
    Lastly, I hear cafes are a great place to hang out esp. if you like turkish coffee & hookah.
    SO EXCITED about cafes!! I love Turkish coffee
    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    WARNING LONG POST

    I travelled to Egypt a few years ago and learned a little arabi.
    Mumtaz! La atakellum al-Arabiya al-Masriya wa lakin atakellum MSA qaleelan.

    And thank you so much for your lengthy post! It was very thorough and helpful.
    Markets/tourist places
    Egyptians are lovely people, but to many you are merely a walking wallet. You will get BOMBARDED with people trying to entice you into their shop, to be your tour guide, to sell you a ride on their boat/camel/donkey/horse and cart/taxi etc. It isn't as bad in Cairo as it was in Sinai and in the South but you still get it everywhere. You have to steel yourself a little. People will try to exploit your politeness and lack of knowledge and will try to emotionally manipulate you. I found sometimes you simply had to avoid eye contact, ignore people or coldly wave them off with "Laa, Laa". This sounds (and feels) very rude but it's whole lot better than flying into a total rage and ripping them a new one, which, after a while, even this patient, understanding, mild-mannered, INFP did a few times.
    That's really all I have to do?? Just wave my arm and say "laa"? Oh man, my Te is getting such warm fuzzies! That is too good to be true!! I'd heard in Morocco there's a saying along the lines of "God will bless you if you leave me alone" and I was hoping that there was an Egyptian equivalent!
    Don't drink the water out of the tap (including things like ice in your coke) because your delicate western stomach won't take it, but eating the food is fine (although it is better to avoid unpackaged raw food or fruit you haven't washed yourself). Read the nutritional labels on bottled water - some brands are full of chemicals and taste like pool water, so those are best to be avoided.
    What should I do in lieu of drinking bottled water, if I choose not to do that? Do you think taking a Nalgene bottle and filling it with hotel tap water in the morning (and at the University in the afternoon) would be okay?

    Also, how much does fruit juice help with that? I have heard that there is fantastic fruit juice to be had in Egypt -- tamr Hindi, etc.
    Rules and systems
    Prepare for lots of abritray rules; particularly about what you can take pictures of. It's frustrating as hell but there can be harsh fines.
    How do you know when/where those rules exist? Are there signs?
    Safety
    Egypt is a safe place. You are probably safer from mugging, pick pocketing or being attacked than you would be in say France or Italy.

    Sorry for the novel but it helps to be prepared for Egypt.
    Don't be sorry -- it was so helpful! I will be sending it to my other Alexandria-bound friends for reference
    Quote Originally Posted by YWIR View Post
    @ EJCC, Good luck, and have a ton of fun. Make sure you try local foods. They usually have great noms everywhere. There is an episode of Anthony Bourdain where he goes to Egypt and covers the popular local foods in Egypt, so I suggest you check that out.
    Ooh! I love that show. I'll definitely check that out!

    My grandma sent me a koshary recipe when she found out I was going to Egypt. It was a unique experience. I may not have made it correctly; only the tomatoes were really that flavorful. But I guess that's all the more reason to be excited to go to Egypt and have The Real Thing!
    Take some anti-nausea and peptobismol medication.
    Because of the food?
    A hand held fan when you're stuck in a taxi cab or a place without air conditioning.
    Ooh this is a GREAT idea. Are they pretty common in Egypt, i.e. are they pretty readily available in Egyptian shops?
    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    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.
    That's a great idea! I don't own any wedding-ish rings but I am very willing to lie and say that I'm engaged.
    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.
    The trip planners advised us to only bring a week's worth of clothes and then buy the rest of our clothes when we get there. Should I expect a huge price difference b/w Egypt and America -- i.e. if I haggle well?
    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.)
    Oh, for sure!! I think it'll be safer in Alexandria, so it'll be good that I'll only be in Cairo for a couple of days. Did you notice anything when you were there? Heightened tensions?
    ~ g e t f e s t i v e ! ~


    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"



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  8. #28
    Sweet Ocean Cloud SD45T-2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    Do you (and/or others) have any tips for avoiding pickpocketing?
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  9. #29
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    That's really all I have to do?? Just wave my arm and say "laa"? Oh man, my Te is getting such warm fuzzies! That is too good to be true!! I'd heard in Morocco there's a saying along the lines of "God will bless you if you leave me alone" and I was hoping that there was an Egyptian equivalent!
    LOL, not always. Often they'll follow you if they don't have a fixed shop (eg. tour guides or people selling rides etc). Some followed me 200m down the street, selling hard the whole time, ignoring the 27 times I bluntly said no. The important thing is not to engage them. They try to ask clever questions, exploit on basic western courtesies and somehow stop you from actually being able to refuse them. The thing is that it works - I've spoken to so many people who got talked into buying things they didn't need or want (or even like, in some cases!) and for over-inflated prices. They'd blow the best telemarketers in the world out of the water!

    The thing is you can't win against them, so the best thing is to conserve your energy; so be cold, blunt and detached, rather than stressed, tired and angry. I just don't want you to end up like I was at them end of my trip, with a bitter taste in your mouth.

    What should I do in lieu of drinking bottled water, if I choose not to do that? Do you think taking a Nalgene bottle and filling it with hotel tap water in the morning (and at the University in the afternoon) would be okay?

    Also, how much does fruit juice help with that? I have heard that there is fantastic fruit juice to be had in Egypt -- tamr Hindi, etc.
    Not sure, I only drank bottled water but I doubt the tap water is safe. The thing is, even if you avoid tap water you can get sick - even getting some water in your mouth from the shower or brushing your teeth can be enough. I avoided tap water and got a parasite (although it could have been from the West Bank or Jordan too) and my cousin got salmonella poisoning when she was there. You might want to take some anti-diahorrea pills too (imodium is good) because they can get you through the mild stomach issues. Hopefully you can avoid this, Inshallah.

    I'm not sure about the juice. I did spend many days in Dahab sipping on delicious fruit smoothies, reclining on cushions by the sea (if that's what you mean). It probably wasn't smart, because I didn't know how clean the fruit was, but it was too tempting to resist.

    Wait do those nalgene bottle have those purifying filters on them? Something like that might be worthwhile.

    How do you know when/where those rules exist? Are there signs?
    I'm not sure if there were signs. Usually it's explained to you before you go to those places. But there are often these nazi security guards that go around telling you off. Some places you can get away with it, if you're sneaky and play the dumb tourist card but don't push it too hard.

    However if you do go to the Valley of the Kings, take the threats seriously. You can end up getting your camera confiscated for good and have a US$700 instant fine (!) slapped down on you, without the ability for you to explain or challenge it. This is slightly understandable,though, considering how fragile the paintings on the tombs are to things like flashes on cameras.



    Don't be sorry -- it was so helpful! I will be sending it to my other Alexandria-bound friends for reference
    No worries, but I would keep in mind the things others who have been more recently (ie. post revolution) have said too. Things might have gotten a little more dicey since then. I just want to emphasize the fact you don't need to be too panicky about it just because it's a developing nation and an Arab one at that (negative stereotypes about Arab are abound). Try to relax and enjoy yourself.
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    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  10. #30
    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    Finally asking follow-up questions:

    ...

    This is all very good advice! Thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    Do you (and/or others) have any tips for avoiding pickpocketing?
    Yes, of course.
    Go buy a piano wire, a string that is:
    (a) Flexible enough to bend...
    (b) Cannot easily be cut through with a pocket knife/switchblade...

    AND

    (c) That can be slipped through an inconspicuous, "hollow" cloth tubing kind of necklace, like the kind sunglasses can be hung from, or even better the woven fabric kind for old ladies.

    (d) Slip the piano wire through the cloth tubular necklace...

    (e) Buy a canvas or leather type wallet that is not too bulky, but that you can "thread" the wire/necklace combo through.

    (f) Adjust the length and then tie the fuck out of the wire in such a way that it is not coming undone, and it also will not rip your skin if rotated the wrong way and pulled on by a would be thief.

    (g) Keep the "tied end" of the necklace within the seem of the wallet, providing additional safety for your epidermis.

    (h) Put on your wallet/necklace, tuck it inside your shirt, and to most you will look like a young hippy girl wearing a cloth necklace. No one will pay heed to the wallet within your shirt, especially if your shirt is a good fabric, and the wallet not bulky.

    (i) Even if someone tries to pull it off your neck the piano string on the inside will prevent that, and you can grab onto it and stabilize yourself, most thieves are cowards, and will simply run away.

    (j) If the sneaky little bastard tries to come up behind you and cut the necklace, again, the piano wire will stop the blade if you got a good enough gauge. Try again, fucktard. Off he runs again.

    (k) If someone hangs around after trying to rob you, especially when you've been wearing a 007 caliber Halla wallet as described above, they are looking to do more than just rob you, and you'd better scream "FIRE!!!!" as loud as you can and get the fuck out of Dodge. Remember, dead men tell no tales - and neither do dead witnesses.

    Have fun and be safe!



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