Our Passports Are Full

One final and picture less footnote to our Middle East/North Africa adventure…

While we saw only a tiny sliver of Egypt in the pyramids around Cairo, I’d say the odds of us going back for the rest of the sights are quite low.  The prevalence and pushiness of all the touts trying to pry Egyptian Pounds out of our wallets was too painful.  It’s just not worth the hassle.

(Though I do take great pride in vigorously arguing with a Cairo cabbie on our final night of the trip who was trying to gouge us—I think he was left in complete disbelief that I had walked away paying the actual price for the service he provided.  I think Lillie was also in disbelief of my behavior.)

Thinking of our other visits in the region, there are better places to spend our dollars.  Every Jordanian in Jordan we encountered in 2009 couldn’t have been nicer.  Even everyone in Sana’a, Yemen was incredibly warm to this interracial American couple!

Anyway, with our arrival back home, we successfully filled our passport’s visa pages in less than 3.5 years of personal travel.  All within the sad confines of the normal two weeks/year of vacation policies.

It’s been a helluva run touching five continents—and sitting in the front of the airplane en route:

  • Cyprus / North Cyprus – where we got engaged
  • Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe / Chobe, Botswana / Madagascar – where we "honeymooned"
  • Galapagos Islands – best bang for the ease in planning
  • Round the World – Paris / Jordan / Uganda / Rwanda / Japan – our best and most epic trip to date
  • Katmai National Park, Alaska – grizzly bears galore
  • Churchill, Manitoba – polar bears here and there
  • Cape Town / Hong Kong – Lillie’s 30th birthday
  • Namibia – my 30th birthday
  • Barcelona, Spain / Socotra, Yemen / Cairo, Egypt – where we "babymooned"

There’s still work to be done, though.  Two more continents to visit.  Dreams of an annual trip to the African continent.  Spotting a Bengal in India.  We’ll continue to grow our frequent flyer mileage accounts in constant preparation for this and more.

But in the short term, we might have to curb some of the adventure and stick to LEGOLAND.  Old news to most everyone, but the Klugusamy family expects to grow in population in the coming days.  So please stay tuned for that news soon…

Off to Cairo

Writing this post many months later, I’m still impressed we popped in and out of Yemen with such ease.  Shortly after we left, I saw reports online of foreigners being deported on arrival.  And now you would be hard pressed to even have a visa issued.

I also just read that Somali pirates are taking advantage of the Yemeni disorder to leverage Socotra as a refueling point.  Oy.  It’s going to be a long time before Westerners are going to be back on Socotra with ease, so we definitely count our lucky stars that our trip went so well there.

As a counterbalance to the Socotri primitiveness, we booked some nice accommodations in modern Cairo.  Our first night was at the newly remodeled Le Meridien Pyramids—a great deal with Starwood points.  We arrived very late at night, but this was our view from bed upon wakeup:

We woke up early to hit the Pyramids shortly after the gates opened.  Before heading out we grabbed breakfast in the hotel restaurant where there was one other table occupied by tourists.  This was just a few weeks after the Mubarak departure, and during that time the vast majority of travelers had cancelled their plans.

Our patience in deciding whether to continue on with our trip as planned paid off—we could count the number of other tourists at the Pyramids on our hands.  You won’t see a lot of people in these photos (though picture taking wasn’t a big priority for me on this leg as the pyramids are pretty well documented!):

Also on the grounds is the Khufu ship—it’s a separate entrance fee but totally worth it. 

Before heading off the site, we grabbed one self portrait:

We always talked about visiting the Pyramids, but were always turned off by the potential crowds.  So shout out to the Egyptians for dumping Mubarak, and everyone who cancelled their trips in the wake of!

For the second half of the day, we’d arranged for a taxi to head south to some lesser visited pyramids.  We really were the only tourists at a couple of these sites.  For lunch snacks there was an excellent gas station / mini mart along the walk back to the Le Meridien where we stocked up on water, sandwiches, and strange flavors of Lays potato chips.  Despite our airplane and hotel preferences, our other tastes can be quite simple.

Here’s Saqqara and its scaffolding:

Then there’s the Red Pyramid at Dahshur which we actually went inside of.  I was sore for a few days after climbing up and down the little ladder/steps with my camera backpack on my front—it was brutal.  But as I was completely alone inside (Lillie was eager to get out ASAP), I quickly snapped a photo against the rules.

And the other part of Dashur is the Bent Pyramid:

And that’s how you spend a full day looking at pyramids around Cairo!  Big shout out to Blue Cab Taxi—they had fixed/affordable prices, nice cars, and were responsive via email/phone.  We used them for both our airport transfers and our day trip to these southern Pyramids.

I’ll have one final post on this trip, then we’ll be ready to move onto other things…