Simply Travels | My Travel Blog


Friday, January 1, 2010

Pyramids of Giza | Cairo Egypt Day 5

We had to leave the cruise ship at about 4am for our 6.30 am flight from Aswan to Cairo. The cruise staff packed us our breakfast boxes consisting of croissant sandwiches, pineapple juice, chips and apples. Once we checked our luggage in, we sat down to have our breakfast. The airport in Aswan that early morning was rather quiet. There was two many sandwiches (4) packed in each box for one person. So instead of wasting the food, we gave away our sandwiches to the cleaning staff at the airport. They took it and distributed the food amongst themselves.

Aswan Airport

The flight on EgyptAir took about 3 and a half hours. I was so tired that I slept for most of it.

Upon arrival at Cairo International Airport, we proceeded to the baggage collection area. My luggage was the very last in our group to arrive - which led to a brief panic on my part because I was really worried that I had lost my luggage! But thankfully, it arrived...We boarded the bus and headed to the Pyramids of Giza.

Cairo Airport

Unfinished Buildings in Which People Live
They have No Money to Finish
Or Leave it that way because of tax payment issues

Typical Cairo Dwelling
Enroute to Pyramids of Giza
If Only They Would Clean UP!

Pyramids of Giza
Located Near Communities

The Great Pyramid of Giza (also called the Pyramid of Khufu and the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek) and constructed over a 20 year period concluding around 2551 BC. The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. Originally the Great Pyramid was covered by casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface, but what is seen today is mainly only the underlying core structure, with a few of the original casing stones that once covered the structure simply representing the four compass points around the base.

There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The so-called Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the main part of a complex setting of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honor of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu's wives, an even smaller "satellite" pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles.

The Great Pyramid consists of more than 2.3 million limestone blocks. The Egyptians obtained the majority of the limestone blocks from a nearby quarry. The Tura limestone used for the casing was quarried across the river. The largest granite stones in the pyramid, found in the "King's" chamber, weigh 25 to 80 tonnes and were transported more than 500 miles away from Aswan. Traditionally, ancient Egyptians cut stone blocks by hammering wedges into the stone which were then soaked with water. The wedges expanded, causing the rock to crack. Once they were cut, they were carried by boat either up or down the Nile River to the pyramid.

Pyramids of Giza Pictures

Great Pyramid With Late Morning Sun Overhead

Close-Up of the Stones Making up the Great Pyramid

Panoramic View of the Pyramids of Giza

Camel (Jamal in Arabic)

After the visit, we had lunch - we had good lamb and beef kabobs and fresh pita bread. I had some Turkish coffee too. Then we went to see the Sphinx.

The Sphinx Pictures

By then we were thoroughly exhausted. We checked into our hotel that was in the Giza district in Cairo. It had a nice view of the pyramids. After showering, we met up for dinner. Then we went for a walk around the area. Even though it was about 9.30 pm, people were still out shopping. When people say Egyptians do not sleep, they mean it!

Giza District Cairo

Traffic was crazy though. Cars whizzing past without signaling - yet the drivers seem to have some understanding of each others moves as they shift lanes. Crossing streets was also quite terrifying - locals seems to be able to glide past the moving cars effortlessly. Me on the other hand found it very difficult. In fact, at one point I was waiting one one side of the street for the traffic to clear up before attempting to cross. Of course, it never did. Another friend who had already crossed the street had to come back across and take me by the hand for me to move. Yeah, traffic was that bad!

But we probably attracted some attention because after I crossed the road, we were approached by a man who started asking us where we were from and all that. Then he asked if we were lost - we said no, but he continued to follow us. Then he asked which hotel we were heading back to. And we made the mistake of telling him because we were not that suspicious of him...yet. When we said our hotel, he said we were heading the long way, and said we should follow him. He also said he recognized us from the morning as he was a hotel staff! Amazing!

I think if I had been alone, I might have believed that he was a hotel staff. Cause I am not the suspicious type and he seemed genuinely wanting to help us get back to the hotel. He then helped us cross a second street - then said we could follow him back to the hotel in his car. But my friend said we could get back on our own. Nevertheless, he continued to follow us. He said his grandfather's shop was nearby and he wanted us to visit it. Now we were up to his ruse - he wanted to walk us to a shop! Then my friend decided to get rude with him so he would leave. He did leave. But appeared again after a few minutes. Then followed us for about 5 minutes until we reached a street - he said this was his grandfather's shop, but it was a dark alley! Did he really think we would follow him into a dark alley? I could see a shop, but still, it was not safe. We ignored him and walked quickly away. And he gave up. Phew.

But this was a good lesson - do not blindly take people at their word, especially at night! The guy was likely not a hotel staff, but only said it to lower our guard.

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