National Geographic Photo of the Day

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

An Egyptian Excursion - Day 1

Started from home at 1am. We were on an Etihad flight. Service was just about OK for the self-touted "World's Leading airline". We were going via Abu dhabi, which turned out to be pretty small an airport for an oil rich state. Seating was extremely limited and people can be found lying down in the passages leading to the different gates when there are a large number of flights arriving or leaving at the same time.

On the plane to Cairo, the guy sitting next to me murmured Salam maleikum while he was taking his seat, at the time I thought he was addressing some friend of his across the aisle. Turned out that he'd directed his greeting at me. Started speaking with Mohammed (that was his name) and he told me he was working for an American oil firm in Pakistan as an engineer. Apparently he was on his way to meet his family in Cairo. He was an electrical engineer and we were soon power talking about M.H. Rashid's "Power electronics" (pity IGBTs, drives and choppers were the topics I made conversation on with a person from half the world away on the very next day that my exams were over), besides all about the places to see and how to greet people in Egypt and what not. Very friendly (and might I mention good looking) guy, he even offered to help us contact our driver if he didn't arrive at the airport in time to pick us up.

Soon we were at Cairo international. Quite contrary to popular belief, there are very few touts around. Waved goodbye to Mohammed, after which we found out that the driver from the resort in Fayid (where we were headed) never realised that our flight was today. So we hired a large Hyundai minivan to Fayid, just for the 3 of us. And thus began our first day in Egypt. The driver looked smart with his aviator sunglasses, neat suit, perfectly ironed shirt and tie. More like a business executive than a driver, but he didn't quite have the same "wow" factor when it came to English. He failed to grasp that we were asking him whether it ever rained there. But he was quite polite, and when we'd asked for a place to buy water, he stopped and got it for us himself. The long, straight and neat road to Fayid was flanked by desert all the way, and the only signs of civilization were the frequent military and police compounds (they were big compounds indeed, and all armed to the teeth). Soon we made it to the resort, where the receptionist thankfully spoke a good deal of English. The resort was wonderful with a big stretch of private beach, the waves from the Great Bitter Lake striking the shores, the tranquility (there were few people around since it wasn't the tourist season, yeah we like giving crowds a miss), and the wind blowing. Our villa had plenty of space and the view from the window was great too.

Fayid was once a military base during the 2nd World War. Populated by loads of Englishmen, hence the war cemetery here in Fayid. Beautiful little place.

Spent the time before having dinner seeing "Deal or no deal" (patrons of Vijay TV and Surya TV in India will be familiar with this one) in arabic. However here the 26 females holding the 26 boxes are replaced by fellow contestants, and instead the presenter is far more appealing (yup, she makes up for the loss of all 26 fair women ;) ). After a heavy dinner, I hit the sack, preparing for tomorrow's trip to Suez, Ismailia and the Peace Bridge.


Post a Comment