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Archive for March, 2008

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Western Desert and Empire’s End

Monday, March 31st, 2008

We boarded our small bus early in the morning for the long trip to Mut, the capital of the Dakhla Oasis. The western desert in Egypt is sparsely inhabited with towns centering around the few oases available. It didn’t take long for us to leave behind the Luxor cityscape and the Nile greenbelt. The landscape turned into harsh stone sandy desert almost immediately. (I should mention that before this turn of events I had a little accident. While setting down some boxes of water on the ground for use during the trip, my pants decided to split along the rear seam. This was one of those times where one is thankful for the invention of underpants. I guess my pants finally just got tired of supporting my rear after a year. Fortunately, one of the ladies in our group said she could fix them as it would give her something to do on the drive. Back to the desert) The desert was punctuated by rocky worn hills and very little plant life. The first major oasis we hit was Al Khurga. This town once went 17 years without rain. The town appeared out of no where and was constructed from concrete and mud bricks. It only partially looked like I imagined an oasis would. There were plenty of date palms and plants, but no water. This oasis like all the others, except Siwa, is fed from underground wells. The wells formed when a branch of the Nile in this area decided to forsake the surface world for cave life. [read on]

Up the Nile

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

After writing the last blog entry, Tyson and I decided to take a look around the local area. As our hotel was near the Nile River, we decided to head in that direction. After crossing several lanes of ferocious traffic, we made it to the river’s edge (actually more of a small channel separated from the main river by an island). There were many people out strolling about in all manners of dress from full burkas and the full length cotton dress worn by the men to people in western clothing. We walked down to one bridge and walked back along the other side of the river until we could cross again on the bridge. We were officially in downtown. Like most developing cities though, it’s hard to actually pinpoint a downtown as big buildings sprout randomly in all directions instead of in one central location. There were several mosques brightly lit up for the night.  After ending the walk, we stopped in a sandwich shop and ate chicken schwarma wrapped in flat unleavened bread. We also got sucked back into the shop that I had been in earlier when I went to the ATM. The worker persuaded us to hire a car and driver from him to take us to some outlying pyramids the next day. It seemed like a good price so we agreed and then returned to the hotel. As I was walking up the stairs, one of the hotel staff confronted me speaking in Arabic to which I responded in English. He apologized and went away. I think he thought I was Egyptian and was asking if I belonged in the hotel. Unlike India where I could barely pass as Indian, here unless I open my mouth or have my camera, 3/4 ths of the people think I am Egyptian. The majority of the population has my skin tone which is now, I believe at maximum, tanless. Pale eyes are not uncommon. Earlier, I had been in the elevator with two burka clad ladies who kept repeating something in Arabic. I didn’t realize they were talking to me until one of them said five in English indicating they wanted me to push the button for the fifth floor.  At least this means that when I am not in my full tourist regalia I can walk down the streets fairly unaccosted. [read on]

Goodbye Asia

Saturday, March 15th, 2008
After I finished typing the blog entry, I decided on a whim to shave my head bald as I realized I have never seen myself bald and here was a good opportunity to do it. (I am on the trip ... [Continue reading this entry]

Life of Pai

Saturday, March 8th, 2008
I returned to my guesthouse after writing the last blog entry and proceeded to become slightly ill. I spent the night suffering from nauseau and a very upset stomach. In the morning the upset stomach was mostly gone, but I ... [Continue reading this entry]

Leaving Laos and Thailand Return

Monday, March 3rd, 2008
After typing the last blog entry, I found a restaurant to eat at on the main strip. While eating, I got involved in a conversation with two other Americans. We ended up deciding to see what the Tuesday night nightlife of ... [Continue reading this entry]