Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Arriving in Kenya, i was worried.
Recently I had received an email as 'to be revised' travel by the DFAT as there are currently elections for the presidency. I had organised a hostel pick-up at the airport as a safe guard.... A sign reading 'Adon Yon' greeted me at the international airport at 0445 in the morning... I put 2 and 2 together.
It was a good break, cause I had nothing planned. I organised the bus to Arusha, Tanzania for myself, Jimmy and Tony then sat sown at 'Restaurant Blue' and enjoyed the very unthreatening Kenya trip. The people in Kenya seemed, free and easy with lots of smiles everywhere.
Whats the problem?
NEXT DAY - Election Day.
Nairobi was the most tense place i have been. Every second person was showing us there fingers - when the people vote they are fingerprinted and the ink doesnt come off for a week.. which ensures no double voting.The city centre which usually would teeming with people was completely deserted. Only a few scattered people and a lot of shop security. It was an eerie calm.. like the eye of a hurricane. It almost felt like violence and riots were imminent, and it was only a matter of time. We managed to find a hotel that was open and enjoyed a Kenyan meal with the televisions shining there top stories which of course was the results of the election, like it was the only light in the room.
Once on the bus it was a relief to be on our way, and we enjoyed some of the most beautiful countryside Africa has to offer.
Next stop Tanzania and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Location: Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Back to the program. Sorry about the delay.
We stopped at a restaurant beside the beach realising that this is why Sharm El Sheikh is the Gold Coast of Egypt. Foreigners everywhere, a;; ready to spend money at the 700,000 5 star resorts. So after a quick this quick lunch stop with a cheeky beer whilst looking out over the cliffs barriering the Red Sea, we departed in search of accommodation.
Our search was in vain.
Nada. Not a guest house, cot, or crib. Jesus himself would have gone astray. A team meeting and an even quicker phone call, we set off the Dahab. A scuba town about 1 and 1/2 hour from Sharm El Sheikh. The phone call was to Osama (yes, the same one, you idiots) who ran the AUSKI hostel.
AUS = Australia
KI = Kiwi NZ
How could we go wrong??
Lke all good Australian affiliated products, the place we stayed was awesome, with the right price.
Dahab was a gorgeous town like the little sister of Sharm, it is not as famous, however this means less tourists - still avoid of (too many) 5 star resorts, however expansion is well on the way.
A quick chat to Osama, and we were in our rooms, with scuba booked. Dinner and shisha soon followed plus a little walk around the coastline shops to feel the serenity and practice the haggling skills.
I really liked Dahab. The feel of the place was very different to Sharm and though i didnt stay for long, i think i would still prefer Dahab more. Oh, and the reef was fantastic.
The first dive I felt was to check our skills and the second dive was feeling like a whole different world altogether.
Loads of fish (lion, goat, clown, scorpion etc ) plus a couple of octopus.
After such a great experience, we headed out to find a bar. However, all were really dead, so there really isnt much to write home about. EXCEPT, we found ourselves playing football in the street with some of the local kids. Obviously not really intense but still a pretty good feeling.You could wipe the smile off my face... or find it in the bottom of a beer glass in a foreigner dominanted pub/club.
The next morning we had organised a quad biking experience through the desert.... after talking to Rula (a previous quad bike expert) i had high expectations. It was an awesome experience, with some breathtaking views and quirky oasis' in the middle of nowhere... but I was expecting a little more... Thanks Rula.
A little more regulated then I had hoped.. (probably a good thing so we didnt kill ourselves.
The drive back to Cairo was quick, due the major exploration of the back of my eyelids.
Alright, major site time - PYRIMIDS/SAKARA/MEMPHIS.
These expeditions did not disappoint. Riding on top of camels being guided around 2 HUGE, gargantuent constructions dedicated to the king... (actually i am informed there are 9 in total).
EPIC is the olnly was to describe it. Such power, control and dominance screams from the two pyrimids. Noone knows how the pyrimids were built, as the people commissioned to built were executed... bloody Egyptians.
There was only one disappointing part... the graffiti and rubbish was everywhere to be seen. And of course the beggers. Upon entry the security guard permitting entry put out his hand and said 'pen, pen.' I probably would have given if I had one this particualr time but a lass, id did not possess.
I wont labor too long on the rest of Egypt as I am running of of adjectives to give all the places.. and the photos speak for themselves. The Citadel was fantastically beautiful, Mohammed Ali Castle was also in prime position next to the mosque. The mosque had quite a view of Cairo. Almost the entire Cairo. Egyptian museum also lived up to expectations, however after seeing the artifacts in there original positions in the pyrimids, it almost.. i said 'almost' was a little disappointing. However the mummies on display of the Kings and Queens were certainly a sight to be seen. I wish I knew more about ancient Egyptian history as to really appreciate the pieces that were there. Oh well.
Dropping into Khan El Khalily (shit, is that right?) I actually like the haggling in the shops and wasnt happy when the shopkeepers didnt want to play themselves.... good fun, and great people.
Oh and yes i got a Shisha. Boooyaaah. Goodbye elastic recoil of lung tissue.
Driving to the airport having said the short term good byes to Jimmy and Tony, I was sorry to see Egypt go as I was getting use to the ways things were run there.
As I was about to hop on the plane to Kenya, i passed an Arabian girl covered from head to toe in a burka. She seemed to be staring at me, so I flicked her a quick smile, to see her reaction.
What followed was one of the largest, most beautiful smiles i have ever seen. i thought to myself... 'thats a nice way to finish Egypt.'
Off to vote in the Kenya election.
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.
What a week in Cairo. I swear I have lost a day here. As I writing this I hear the chant again playing in the background (plus all the constant car horns which I have now become accustomed to.
As I arrived into Cairo, i was greeted by a smiling driver, Yaheer and two white men wearing towels on their heads... oh wait! they were just Jimmy and Tony. We said our hellos and swapped some quick stories and then we were off to see Cairo.
The entire time we have driven in Cairo, it has been exactly like in all the films and documentaries I have seen. The kids on the srteet, the thousands of people wanting money from you and 2000-3000 years of culture. Oh, and the garbage. Piles and piles of it. There is not an area where there isnt any litter on the ground. From the gutters, to the walls, from the rivers to the doors. Even looking at the pyrimids where tombs have been resting for thousands of years - accompanied by a pepsi can and cigarette butts. However, our business wasnt with Cairo just yet, it was with Sharm El Sheikh and the Red Sea.
We left the next morning at the crack of dawn (actually it was earlier than that) for the 6 hour drive to the Red Sea. The drive was amazing. Complete desert and sand, lots of sand (plus dont forget the rubbish). We stopped at a few places along the way for photos (and bathroom breaks) but no photo can capture the 'My God, im in the middle of the Egyptian desert.'
Arriving into Sharm El Sheikh, tired, hungry but excited.
Oh Christ! I forgot to tell you the rest of my first night!
A-roni, one of Jimmy's mates was here in Cairo with the family so we thought we would catch up with him and smoke some shisha at his resort. Soon enough, we were enveloped in cushions and attracting lung cancer as best we could throug the flavours of apple and peach. Later that night, we were kicked out of the hotel oasis and after getting chummy with our waiter Hazem, he agreed to take us out on the town.
I DID NOT SEE ONE GIRL IN THE CLUBS.
Ok, ok bear in mind we went into about 2-3 clubs and they were empty, but I swear there are women in this country. When we first arrived we all walked around along the Nile, and Jimmy was accosted by all walks of life. Male, female, children and animals.
NOTE TO ALL:- it is quite fun hearing 'where are you from?' yelled at you from across the street the first time, the 700 times after that - you ignore. Even Jimmy, (nicest guy on the planet) lasted a long time saying 'la shookran,' (no thank you) with an explanation, cracked and starting ignoring people at the end of the week.
Back to the point - we came to the conclusion that girls just didnt gop out. After chatting to Hazem, he told us over a shisha (the only way to chat) that, if you get with an Egyptian girl = marriage.
I now understand Christian.
Still a great night with tea and shisha with Hazem and Mohammed (another waiter) and my lungs are continually contracting.
Now lets try Sharm El Sheikh again. Where was i? Oh yes. Arriving.
DAMN. Out of time. Ill come back to this later---
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
"La ilaha ilallah
Be careful, after Dubai and Turkey... and with Egypt to go, i am well on the way to becoming Muslim!! Istanbul was glorius. That is the only way I can explain it. The way you imagine this beautiful city in your head is the way it is in real life.
Christ. This is the 3rd time I have tried to write about Istanbul. Bloody computers keeps shutting down. My entry is evolving just like a Darwinian drift evolution of language... (in the book Im reading called The God Delusion. A ripper of a read and all people should go and read it.) Let try again.
Walking off the plane I was looking forward to my time in Istanbul. I was wondering if it looked like how I had imagined. (Marianne and Drama- remember the movie A Touch of Spice?) However, as I was thinking about this, I was confronted and met with Fahti. Straight off the tarmac. How the hell was he allowed to come through customs? All was soon revealed. At first I thought he was Ozlems brother (who I had organised to stay with), however, it was a good friend of Ozlems from university who now worked for the airport police.
A let the special treatment begin. Before I could stay Tesekker Ederim (thank you in Turkish), I had my visa, passed through security and customs.
I promise you. It took a conservative 5 mins, by passing 5 lines full of people. I thought to myself.... im going to like Turkey.
Taking the Metro, Istanbul looked exactly as I imagined. The people, the places, and the feel of the entire community. People were playing cards in coffee shops, drinking Turkish tea, and kids were playing football out the front of the house I was staying. The cool air of the area felt crisp and fresh rather than stone cold.
I soon met with Ozlems brother and his wife, who had a surprise for me. Not long later Ozlem arrived herself to come and show me around Turkey! An absolutely wonderful surprise and it was great to see her. She brought with her, her cousin, Julia (i know thats not it, but thats how I remembered it. Sorry in advance Oz), who was just as lovely as everybody else.
Soon enough, i felt part of the family. I was introduced to Ozlems brother, Imat and wife (damn, insert own Turkish name here). Great catch ups and a few drinks later and we were starting our Turkish mission.
After a lovely sleep in, (which seemed form a trend) we set out to Istanbul beginning with the Bazaar. Bloody huge and every language you can think of. I actually didnt buy much (I seemed to run out of time quickly in Istanbul) but with the help of Fahti and kindness of Julia, i escaped with some lovely souvenirs.
Then begun the obsession with Nangula (shisha). Those who know me well, (or not at all) recall I dont mind sucking down the succulent flavours of apple, mixed fruit and peach in the form of a pipe, and mixed in the atmosphere of Istanbul = ecstasy for Aiden.
If only you could capture a moment in a flash of a camera, but you are unable. A lot of the time I just had to sit back and say, 'yeh, im in Turkey.'
I wont go into the details about the rest of Turkey because my time is running out. A lot of Turkish coffee, tea and Nangula.... and I couldnt think of a better way to spend it.
Thanks so much to everybody in Turkey, especially Ozlem and Fahti who really looked after me. Also thanks to Erikan who took a Aussie stranger in for a night and had a good yarn over a few Eres (beers).
I really do hope to see Turkey again, with a little more time. The list just keeps getting longer and longer.
Catch up with you in Cairo--
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Well, well, well.
As quıckly as I came to the Dubai, as quıckly I have left. Apologıes for the lack of photos, but ıt ıs provıng to be quıte dıffıcult to fınd ınternet that allows you to upload photos, then your battery has to work. Funny that eh?
Dubai is a HUGE dısplay of money. Wıth buıldıngs that are built only to be bıgger than the one next to it. This might seem petty and competitive, however, ıt makes for some beautıful buıldings.
Burj Al Arab, Madınat Jumerıah are just some of the beautıful dısplays of wealth and power of the UAE. (Insert mental pıcture of buıldıng here until ı can put one up)
After arrıvıng at my hotel and havıng a quıck argument wıth the front desk.... (Apparently I had cancelled my bookıng?) I was checked ın to see Dubai.
Whenever you ask somebody whats to see here ın Dubai, the fırst places they say are shoppıng malls. Each tıme I stıll gıve them a rather quısıt_PR_
html_entity_#305_ve look lıke, "shoppıng mall?" wıth one eyebrow raısed. However, ı found out quıckly that the one thıngs Arabs love to do, ıs spend money. And spend money ıs style.
After spendıng tıme ın Deıra Centre Shoppıng Mall, and shoppıng Aussıe style... (only buyıng gum and then drınkıng water from the bathrooms) ı called Maryah, Rulas frıend to see what she was upto.
Not feelıng well, Maryah saıd organısed for me to have a drınk wıth her better half, Mıchele (please forgıve me for the spellıng.)
A quıck chat and we were best of frıends and endıng up spendıng the nıght bondıng over futbol and a few cheeky beers.
The day after found myself strollıng the Jumerıah Park Beach wıth none other than Mıa from GC. Funny stuff eh? It was a lovely beach wıth as many tourısts as Brıghten Beach ın England.
Then we saw the rıdıculous
amounts of money Arabs have, ın vıewıng of the Indoor Skı Centre ın Mall of Emırates.
I should have brought my board-- oh well next tıme.
Coffee and quıck snack then ıt was off to Madınat Jumerıah.
ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS mını Arabıan style mall. Favourıte of the lot. Lıght up lıke a xmas tree, or maybe EID tree? Ohh Bad joke I know.
Mıa and I loved ıt, and wıshed we had found ıt sooner. Mıa had to head back to her sısters so when bıd adue and retıred to ours quarters, tıred but satısfıed.
My last day ın Dubai ı was to catch up wıth my lovely frıend Rula. However, fate seemed to pull the plug and agaın and Rula`s brothers wıfe went ınto contractıons and was unable to come, leavıng me wıth an old sense of de ja vu.
However, all was far from lost, as Maryah and Mıchele took me wıth them and theır frıends to Madınat Jumerıah for a last hoorah and a fews drınks later I was shakıng my hıps on the dance floor.
Thank you so much Maryah and Mıchele. I had a wonderful tıme wıth you ın Dubaı and I hope to see you agaın soon.
$15 phone calls, $250 nıght accomodatıon, but a free hotel bus to the aırport and ıt was on to Istanbul.
WAIT FOR THE PHOTOS PLEASE. I know hardly any of you read thıs.
Ill see you ın Turkey.
Location: Bardon, Australia
AIDEN'S ARABIAN AFRICA
Now dont let the past diary entry confuse you.... this is the second trip Im using for my travel blog, but that just means that I dont have to change the web address...
Although the vast and unequivocal beauty of South America was an astonishing trip, the great continent of Africa, Im told holds infinite delights of their own. There is a saying, 'if you can only travel to 1 continent in the world, travel to Africa..... twice!'
Lets hope that rings true.
Itinerary at present:-
DUBAI -> ISTANBUL -> NAIROBI -> KILIMINJARO -> UGANDA -> ISRAEL
Ill talk to you in Dubai
PS. If youre a new comer to this travel blog, have a read of some of the past South America trip experiences.... or not, I dont really care.