Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Day 5: Giza

The pyramids are huge.

I mean, really big.

They are really really really big.

Just looking at pictures of them won’t even begin to illustrate how enormous they are.

Eventually, you can’t even see the top of the damn things.

If you look at them at a distance you can sort of see the scale.

That guy on the left wasn't with us…

So why the hell did they only make 3 foot tall doors into the pyramids? (I don’t have a picture of that but I need you to take my word that it’s like a 50 yard downhill squat to the second Pyramid’s sarcophagus room.)

Our 5th day in Egypt was our long-awaited trip to the locations which everyone thinks about when they hear the name “Egypt”. The Great Pyramids of Giza are literally on the edge of Cairo. If you look out into the distance on a clear day you can see them looming over the city. On the way back from Alexandria, the Pyramids were lit up for a light show but we didn’t notice them because they were so big. True story. The largest blocks at the base reached my chest and weighed around 15 tons (that’s metric tons for those of you trying to imagine it) and the smallest ones at the top were still 2 tons. As if standing under these giant structures wasn’t surreal enough, everything around it seems fantastical. Cairo is a pretty modern city but once we pulled up to the ticket booths in front of the pyramids, the entire atmosphere changed. There were dozens of tour groups there, there were vendors selling some cheap crap and there were so many camels. Everywhere you looked was a camel. It was a freaking camel-copia of camels. Even the security/police personnel were riding camels.

I have never seen anything as bizarre as a camel chase. Seriously, the security (who were riding on camels) were chasing after unlicensed vendors (who were also riding on camels).

A man in hot pursuit of 3 other camel riders.

After the pyramids, we got in on the camel fun as well. It was odd getting on them because when they are waiting for people, they’re lying on the ground.


Then they stand up straight and you get the very intense feeling of the opposite of dropping. I won’t say raising, however, because that would imply a camel is like an elevator. No, I’ll go with “the opposite of dropping”. They also stand almost 6 ft when on all fours so you get the sensation of being really high up there.

I’m on a camel, motherf-----!

They are also very unpredictable. Either that or they hate getting petted. This guy here:

was almost putting his head in my lap so I gave him a little scritch on the head. As thanks he spit at me. Twice. The first time he missed (I’d like to think that I agilely dodged out of the way), but the second time felt like a spritz of something unpleasant had hit my arm. He’ll rue that day. It was a fun diversion though and riding a camel over sand dunes is pretty awesome. It was like a super slow but really bumpy (and organic) roller coaster.

Our next stop was the Sphinx. In contrast to the size of the pyramids, the Sphinx was something of a let down. Don’t get me wrong. The Sphinx is pretty big too, but under the shadow of the second pyramid it’s tiny.

That doesn’t matter, though because the profile of the Sphinx is outstanding.

After lunch we proceeded to look at more pyramids. We saw the first pyramid ever built, The Step Pyramid, and the surrounding temples and tombs.

Not much more to say about that except that I was rather surprised at the amount of excavation and restoration going on at the two sites. After that we visited two little shops. The first was a papyrus making store where they taught us how people made papyrus in the past and how it’s made now (Fact: the method hasn’t changed significantly). There was a lot of soaking, pounding and rolling. You could do it at home if you had papyrus growing in your yard. Next we visited a perfume store. The man there put on a pretty hard sell, including being mean to the guys and extremely courteous to the ladies, which created a bit of a rift in the duration of the presentation. As a quick aside, my most embarrassing moment happened here: I was tricked into smelling the arm of a Canadian. I’ll not say more on the event.

After this we had the final part of the tour: a dinner cruise down The Nile River. We spent two hours going up and down the river and it was a beautiful, clear night.

The food wasn’t bad but the real treat was the belly dancer and Whirling Dervish that performed during the meal. They were both really good and made for some half-decent pictures.

After dinner we were hanging out on deck. One of the men who were working at the helm offered to let us take some photos “steering” the ship. Albeit shameless, we went down to take some shots.

We sail the ocean blue, and our saucy ship’s a beauty.

We soon docked back where we started and the tour was officially over. But hold on… The day was far from finished. We had one last thing that needed to be done. I’ll you more about it next time. For now, just take my word that it was not as fun as the rest of the day.

Pictures of the day!

Damn you, camel. Damn you and your funny-looking face.

Just posing for an album cover.

You can see both reparations and excavations being made.

His performance was hypnotizing.

This was my vacation and it was coming to an end.


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