Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday 13th – Tuesday 15th September
Sunday was spent cruising through the Suez. Just like sailing through the desert with an occasional village or oasis along the south bank and desolate sand and rock to the north along with some vacated (or appeared to be) military posts. We sailed through the Red Sea and arrived in Safaga on Monday Morning. There were tours to the Valley of the Kings from this port but after Cairo I didn’t take the tour. The GD had already been there many years ago. There is little – nothing to see in Safaga so we spent the day on board watching the comings and goings of the port activities. There was big line ups of the locals coming back from Aman with trolleys laden with their purchases, including air conditioners, lounges, bikes, carpets, enclosed bundles etc., etc., going through customs in ordered chaos. They then proceed to old trucks and busses and loaded them up to head for Cairo with the owners clinging to the top or on the back of the trucks. To our amazement, they didn’t have any stalls set up to sell their merchandise here. Cruise ships do not use this port too often. It is still Ramadan so after sunset the town was full of glitter and feasting. We headed for the Princess Theatre at 6.30pm to see some of the locals doing some folk dancing. One of their performers did a twirling dance which was rather spectacular. It went on for about 5 minutes and he did not get giddy. Tuesday – Today is a full sea day so it’s back to normal, except we will be having a Piracy drill in about 10 minutes. Bare in mind we are now approaching the area where the Somali pirates have been a problem of recent times. We will now be at sea till the 20th when we arrive in Mina Qaboos in Oman.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday 12th September
We have now reached the land of the Pharos, Egypt. The thing that became most obvious was the lack of pride the Egyptians have in their environment and how lucky we are to live in the country that we do. Since the GD has seen the Pyramids and the Sphinks before, he didn’t join me on my tour to Ciaro and the Pyramids. It was a three hour bus ride to the site. There was about 1300 people from our cruise ship who went on the tour. That was about 16 buses in convoy – the safest way to travel in this part of the world. Many of the houses and buildings along the way have never been completed. The reason for this is that up till now they haven’t had to pay taxes (land taxes I presume) until the building is completed. We were told that that is about to change. You can imagine how unsightly that looks added to the fact that almost all of the buildings are either a grayish red brick or concrete with twisted metal reinforcement sticking out everywhere. The parts of the building that are occupied then have all their washing hanging from their balconies. At least it adds a bit of colour to the scenery. The people seem to be clearly divided into the very rich and the very poor. Litter is everywhere and some of the canals running off the Nile have garbage banked up against small bridges including dead animals. Only one way to describe it – filthy. Add that to the dust, both on the ground, the buildings and the air and you get the picture. However, all that said the pyramids are truly a site worth seeing. I don’t need to describe them I’m sure, as there is plenty written on them, but to see them puts them in a much grander dimension. It’s rather interesting to see how green the desert can become in places where there has been water added. On one side of the road there can be desert and on the other side lush vegetation and crops. It’s Ramadan here at the moment and one has to be prepared for a scarcity of food outlets during the day. Our tour included a huge snack, supposedly for the morning but we didn’t get it until 1.30 and also lunch, which we didn’t get till 4pm. The lunch (dinner) was at the Merriot Hotel in the middle of nowhere. It was quite lavish by any standards. As you would expect, everywhere you go, you are bombarded by street hawkers. A tour of the Museum was also included. It amazed me that in this day and age it is not air conditioned. It was very hot and crowded with people so I didn’t spend as much time in there as I could have. Weighing it all up the tour was a very memorable experience. We got back to the ship at about 7.45pm and set sail into the Suez canal about 1am today, Sunday and at the moment we are anchored in the great lake just waiting our turn to head into the last part of the canal, hopefully to arrive in the city of Suez and the Red Sea at about 1.00pm. The GD spent his day doing the laundry and shopping on the dock.