Christmas on the River Nile, New Year’s eve party in the land of the pyramids in Cairo and a dance with a belly dancer (with two belly buttons – just kidding) in the Dubai desert on our last day summarizes (in a simple way) our holiday in the Middle East.
International travel has its dangers. We had taken all the precautions to prevent mummy’s tummy and we had our flu vaccination and other vaccinations up-to-date. But the flu virus was every where. Almost every other tourist I met had flu. So, my wife and I fell victim to the devious virus.
Canadians returning from Hawaii and Paris have been down with flu and pneumonia as well. I guess the changing weather conditions, jet lag, cramped airplane seats, poor hygienic conditions of the public washrooms, long days sightseeing, late nights and fatigue contribute to low immunity and susceptibility to flu virus. This is my second bout of flu since I had my flu vaccine. Does it say something about the flu vaccine or my immunity?
Politically, the Israeli assault on Gaza was generating big headlines and street demonstrations but it did not affect us. Security is intense to protect the tourists.
In spite of all the hassles of travel, it is worth taking a holiday. Few days away from the daily grind of work and stress does help our mind and body to recover and get energized. It does not matter what you do, camping, fishing, golfing, skiing or just getting away with a nice book to read in the rocky mountains or to a cottage helps recharge your batteries.
The land of the Pharoes is something out of this world. Most of Egypt’s estimated 82 million people live near the banks of the Nile River, in an area of about 40,000 square kilometers (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable agricultural land is found. Eighty per cent of Egypt is Sahara Desert which is sparsely inhabited.
Cairo has 20 million people. And who knows how many million cars on the road. Driving in the city of Cairo is scary. There is continuous honking and sort of organized chaos in the streets where almost five cars drive side by side in a 3-lane road. Passing each other and changing lanes is like watching a video game except this is real and looks very dangerous. For our taxi driver (30 years’ experience driving in Cairo) it was fun. We used the same guy for four days. He kept on saying, “Drivers in Cairo are crazy.”
We started our holiday from Aswan and Abu Simbel. Then we took a four-night (five days) Nile Cruise which covered Kom Ombo Edfu, and Luxor, the old capital of Egypt. From Luxor we took an overnight train to Cairo (some people prefer to fly). After few days in Cairo we went to Dubai.
Egyptian history goes back over 5000 years BC. In Dubai, the history of development is pretty new. You see how money can conquer desert and water to create a miracle metropolis. Your eyes will not believe what you see. It is like a mirage. This has happened in the last 10 to 20 years. Egypt and Dubai are two different worlds.
People in Egypt and Dubai go out of their way to be nice to tourists. Tourists bring in lot of dollars. Vendors are little aggressive in their sale but you need to learn how to bargain. Tourist guides are all well educated in the history of Egypt. Tourist guides have to go through four years of college and should know at least two to three international languages to be certified as a tourist guide.
We could not see everything in Egypt. There is so much to see. But we visited some of the world’s most famous monuments, including the Giza pyramid complex and its Great Sphinx. We also saw the mummies in Cairo Museum.
Now that 2008 is over with, let us see what is in store for us in 2009. I pray for good health and happiness for all.
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