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Friday, January 1, 2010

Khan-El-Khalili Bazaar | Cairo Egypt Day 6

After our visit to the Citadel, they brought us to the Khan-El-Khalili bazaar. The bazaar was built in 1382 by the Emir Djaharks el-Khalili in the heart of the Fatimid City.

I had been waiting for this for a long time - being a shopaholic, bazaars are havens for me. In fact, this was so much looked forward to, that when I saw things for sale over the last few days from Luxor to Aswan, I told myself to save the money for shopping at the bazaar. I expected to find great buys at the bazaar. Well, imagine my disappointment when the tour guide told us that we would only be given 45 minutes to shop at the bazaar! What nonsense. How could anyone explore a huge and maze-like bazaar like the Khan El-Khalili in 45 minutes?

I believe that the real reason why we were not given time to shop at Khan El-Khalili was because it benefited only us, and not the tour guide. The tour guides bring tourists to stores where they can get commissions from everything we buy. I suppose that's how they make a living - but I much preferred shopping at the bazaar then other places.

Despite our protests, we only got an extra 15 minutes. We were told that we had to go for lunch after the bazaar, and then after lunch we were headed to the Egyptian Museum. I would have loved to skip lunch, but ah well. When you travel with a tour group, these are such inconveniences you have to deal with.

We rushed to the bazaar, and got trapped in one store right from the beginning. My friends agreed on prices for some t-shirts. After 15 minutes spent on selecting the items, the seller raised his prices. Meanwhile, I was looking at some Egyptian cotton tops, and the seller was smoking right in my face. That was a major annoyance. When he reneged on the agreed upon prices, we stormed out in anger and the seller called us crazy. But we had no time to lose!

We chanced upon a store selling nice Egyptian tops. The seller, an elderly man, seemed to have known that we were in no business for haggling and wasting time. He quickly agreed upon a price - 30 Egyptian pounds for cotton Egyptian tunic tops - and brought us to his larger store where we selected the items. I probably bought more stuff from him that I did with any other seller during my time in Egypt so far.

Because of the limited time we had, we spent all of our remaining time at that shop. Then we rushed back to the bus - we were late by 15 minutes and the rest of the group was waiting for us. I felt disappointed that I did not have enough time to browse around the shops in the bazaar. But I made plans with my friends to return to the bazaar on our own when we found the time - which we did later on our last night in Cairo.

Khan El-Khalili Bazaar Cairo Egypt



The El-Fishawi Cafe, or Cafe of Mirrors
Was once a meeting place for local artists, and is still
frequented by the Nobel Award winning Naguib Mahfouz,
one of Egypt's most well known authors.










It would be a good idea to spend an entire afternoon browsing around the Khan el-Khalili bazaar - amongst the many tacky made in China trinkets, it is possible to find great buys, like lovely scarfs, mirrors and even spices.

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