Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tourism 101

The most important part of a holidayis trying to out smart the locals who are trying to rip you off. Before we can get to the pyramids we first stop off at the "papyrus museum". I though I was being really smart is agreeing to this. A taxi driver yesterday had offered to take me to this museum. I thought, well why not combine the trips. The museum was very spacious and clean. For 5 minutes the guy explained the basics of using papyrus into writing paper. There was even a test about how long you need to soak the papyrus in water. I got the answer right by saying five days. He had told me that 5 minutes before, but at least he could tell I was paying attention. Then I was asked to look around the room and decide what papyrus pictures I was interested in. Note I was also told that genuine hand painted papyrus paintings were good, but nasty people would try to sell me pictues on banana leaf parchment. Anyway I did end up buying two pieces. In my defence, I did get a free cup of coffee (that was real Egyptian coffee, rather than the sachet of nescafe I get at breakfast). Look these pictures are guaranteed for a thousand years! I did tell the owner (sorry curator) that I would see him in the after life tocomplain if there was a problem before 3005. After the camel trip around the pyramids, I did slightly better. As I got down from the camel, it was suggested that I should was my hands in a shop. After washing my hands and getting a free coke, I spent a pleasant 15 minutes telling the shop owner that I didn't need any egyptian oil. Anyway I didn't buy anything, so I was a bottle of coke ahead. At the end of my trip around the pyramids, the guide asked (very politely) for his tip. ON my list of things to do day, I had not planned to take a camel ride, but this is apparently the only way to see the pyramids. Camels are pretty tall beats, and I didn't feel so stable. Getting on and off the camel was a bit stressfull. Since I was actually on the camel when the guide asked for his tip, I might have been more generous than I would have been if my feet had been stuck firmly on the ground. In my guide book it was noted that these pyramids are some of glories of the ancient world, but a lot of trivial stuff goes on at their feet, such as the selling of postcards and trinkets by toothless hawkers. Perhaps, I too am focussing on the trivial and missing the power of these ancient symbols. I was vey impressed to see one of the huge pyramids suddenly appear, as we were driving down some street.

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