We had some simple aims in the morning – go souvenir shopping and have food in the nearby(ish) KFC and McDonald’s. The latter was my fault. I try to get a meal in each of them in a new country if they have them. Egypt has both and as luck would have it there was a branch of each – next door to each other – a short drive from the hotel. Reception provided us with a bus for UK£6 return and we gave ourselves three hours to shop around.
Gillian proved herself to be quite the haggler after some hints from me. The first couple of shopkeepers were very pushy, one virtually demanding that she buy something before he would let her leave the shop. She bargained him down from around UK£10 to UK£1.50 for a little carved scarab.
Similarly to India and Thailand, the custom here is that the first sale of the day will break the “duck” and result in more sales coming in. Therefore, often a shopkeeper will be prepared to go much lower on that sale to encourage others. Given the current tourism situation i.e. the lack of it, this works well for the buyer as there aren’t many tourists around in some areas to make that first sale so you’re likely to be in a position to be that lucky duck-breaker.
We also encountered some much nicer salesmen on a street full of shops, including one guy who was playing Metallica very loudly as we approached. While we were browsing, he popped on some death metal (November Doom, I think they were called – I’ll check with him when I get home) and we got chatting. Gillian picked up a statue she loved and the price on it was “99.99”. We assumed this was in British Pounds or Euros. Gillian would have paid either, but was prepared to haggle it down a bit.
It was Egyptian Pounds. In other words, it was a tenner in UK money. No haggling required. Little Miss bought some bracelets and our new friend (I have his email address and facebook so we can swap band recommendations) gave Little Mister a free toy as a parting gift.
McDonalds had a menu which nicely differed from the UK one, with all the portions larger at a smaller price. The kids’ meal comes with 6 nuggets instead of 4, and they also have the Mega-Mac (4 burger patties) on offer as well as a Chicken Big Mac. KFC, on the other hand, is much like it is back home with only the addition of two or three locally biased dishes.
We also picked up a couple of things from the shops within our resort as their prices were fair and the staff really nice.
At half four we headed out for our pre-booked camel trek which Gillian had really been looking forward to. Unfortunately, she was recovering from an overnight bout of Delhi Belly (or the local equivalent) and wasn’t sure if she was up to it. I cajoled her a little and I’m glad to say she didn’t regret it.
The camel ride was a pleasant enough experience, even with Little Mister in my arms the whole way. A word for anyone planning this who has a small child with them – the saddle is only big enough for one person. You can’t sit a child in front of you the way you would on, say, a 4×4. Make sure you’re fine with holding them tight for the duration.
I’m sure it had been billed as a 40-minute ride, but it felt like nearer 15. However, with the heat and the marginal discomfort (mainly due to the 15-ish kg of child I was holding), I don’t have an issue with that. The fact that I can say I’ve ridden on a camel through the desert is fine by me!
The place we stopped at promised music, dancing, food and stargazing. We enjoyed all four as well as good company from the others in our group: another couple from Newcastle and a couple who live about 2 miles away from us! Little Mister made himself the centre of attention with his groovy dancing, and by taking photos of people when we climbed a nearby hill to see the sunset. They took photos of him taking photos of them. Then when they showed him the pictures on the back of their cameras, he took photos of them!
The food was excellent and the dancing was pretty impressive as well. Certainly no complaints on either score. Within the dining area, the stargazing wasn’t brilliant as there were too many lights, but outside after the meal we found a handful of very expensive-looking telescopes had been set up. We saw Saturn (rings and everything) through one, and the Moon through another. Fortunately for us it was a full moon as well, so we got a great view. One of the people on our bus managed to get her camera to “see” down the telescope and captured a perfect photograph.
Overall a great excursion and a fitting end to our holiday. With just the daytime to kill before our flight tomorrow evening, I think we’re all looking forward to getting home and relaxing! Oh, and no pictures of actual camels at present. As I was carrying Little Mister in my arms, I couldn’t get to my camera so I’m waiting for my dad to email me some.