Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Pyramids of Giza

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The Pyramids are amazing. Before this trip, I've been doing some research about them and looking through tons of pictures just to get an idea of how best to photograph it. So days before the actual trip, I was actually kind of tired of looking at the Pyramids and thought that it might not be as amazing anymore when I finally get to see it.

But let me tell you, nothing could have prepared me for how magnificent they are.

As an added bonus, I went with awesome folks: Gary and Rebecca from Australia and one of our teachers, Ahmed. The great thing about Arab Academy are the small classes. My class is so small that there's actually just me in it. But what's great in the classroom is not so much fun during field trips, so I'm glad to have joined them this time.

Some tips when visiting the Pyramids:

1. Tourism is one of the main industries in Egypt, so a lot of people depend on tourists for their income. Thus be prepared for hawkers, greedy guides and taxis. It's common knowledge that prices of many items and services differ depending on whether you're a local or a foreigner.

2. It helps to go to the pyramids with a local who speaks the language and who can arrange stuff for you. Ahmed had been to the pyramids 7 times so he had a good idea of how much things should really cost.

3. The entrance fee to the pyramids is 60 LE (1 LE= 6 USD). Inside the grounds though, there's an option of going around on a horse which would cost between 280 to 350 LE per person.

4. We did the horse back riding around the desert and it tends to get bumpy. I was wearing my ginormous camera around my neck and the lens would hit my hands whenever we would gallop around.  I had to put my camera in my bag when I saw that my hands were bleeding and bruised from being hit by the lens.

5. Wear comfortable clothes. Wear long sleeved shirt and bring a scarf to protect you from the sun and sand. Your shoes are bound to get dirty so bring ones that are made for roughing it up.

6. Bring big bottles of water. Wear sun block.

7. You will have to TIP. A lot.

8. The part that I didn't enjoy about the trip was how bossy the guides could be. This is why I like to travel alone. I just want to take pictures and do things at my own pace. The guides in the Pyramids, through decades of experience with millions of tourists, no doubt, have a set program for everyone. In taking pictures, they make you pretend to touch the tip of the pyramid, they make you wear a cloth around your head while riding a camel. This is not my cup of tea. I want to be able to do my own crazy pose without anyone shouting instructions at me. If I wanted that, I would've become a model instead. hahaha.

9. Bring a camera. Takes lots of pictures.

10. Be strong. There aren't a lot of tourists in Egypt these days so the vendors and guides are a little more aggressive. You don't have to talk to them, just keep moving and say laa shukran (no, thank you)

All in all, the pyramids are awesome in a major way and worth the time, effort and the grueling task of holding your ground against very persistent guides and vendors.

I mean, just take a look at these photos:





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Our first glimpse of the pyramids. Hey Rebecca!


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Hey Mr. Sphinx. 


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Hey Gary!


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Hi Ahmed!


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Can you tell that we were being forced by the guide to wave around.


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The desert alone is so pretty.


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Generic pose for all tourists, apparently.


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But I held my ground and told him that I want a normal picture, since it's my camera anyway.


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But we could only resist so far. Next thing we knew, we were wearing tubans while riding a camel.


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In the horizon, the pyramids.


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Here I am wearing an IPED shirt. The least I could do, since I'm here because of IPED.


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Students.  


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Then we went inside one of the pyramids.


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It was one of the excavation sites where there used to be mummies buried.



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Then the Sphinx.


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Camels are so adorable.


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Fire trees. I remember this poem : The Fire Trees burn all summer. 


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Back in downtown Cairo, we had some lunch, juice and coffee.


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And some apple and cantaloupe shisha, of course. 

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