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Gin's Egyptian & Asian Adventure

Welcome to my travel diary - this is where you'll be getting all the stories of my new life in Egpyt, gulp...I'll be arriving at the start of July and am looking forward to sharing my no doubt many and varied stories with you. I'm expecting the funniest to be from the my holiday makers rather than the locals but you never know...

Update May 07 - I'm moving! At some point in July or Aug I'll be heading to South East Asia to spread the tour leader love elsewhere....

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Asia - First Entry

Well i've been here just over a week and in some ways it seems like ages as it's been jam packed and in some ways i don't feel nearly ready to lead my first tour in over a week.

I arrived in Bangkok last Tuesday, then on Wednesday afternoon flew out to Saigon. On Thursday my training tour began - Saigon to Bangkok via Cambodia and we've just arrived back in Bangkok. Tomorrow morning I'm leaving at 8 to fly to Hanoi in the north of Vietnam and I begin my week of full on self training (eg getting myself around the country and seeing the sights) and I lead my first tour next Thursday. It's the same one i trained on so it should be ok, and then I do it in reverse, from Bangkok to Saigon and then I'm doing my first Vietnam tour which is the one I'm really worried about as i won't know anything! However my trainer this week was great and we've been through the tour in detail so I should be ok. It's just not really knowing the place at all that worries me!

Cambodia was amazing, the suffering these people went through under Pol Pot was terrible, and I did cry when I visited one of the Torture Prisons - however they've bounced back amazingly well and they are so friendly with very little hassle - tourism hasn't taken off hugely yet so it's very refreshing after Egypt.

Bangkok is ok - i don't know it very well (given i've only spent 24 hours here!), but a bit touristy for me, I think I'll like Vietnam and Cambodia better.

Better go as I need to get some kip before my early start (the first of many). Don't think I'll get much time off out here, one of the other tour leader is on her first day off since the start of April! But busy is good...i'll try to upload some snaps soon x

Sunday, 01 July 2007

Location: Cairo, Egypt

Signing off from the Middle East...

Well it's my last night in Cairo, although I'm in total denial about it and feel like I'm going on holiday! Just back from the UK which was great - if wet - and now I'm packing up to move on. I've managed to cull more of my possessions than I thought and I think I'll fit my life into a rucksack and very small suitcase which is great.

Feeling pretty nervous and unprepared but I guess it's all part of the experience! Just going to try and chill tonight and then meeting a few people for coffees tomorrow and then leaving for the airport around 7.30. AFter that who knows?

So I should have some new snaps and news for you over the next couple of weeks, think I'm going to be pretty busy for the first month or so but I'll be in touch whenever I can...

Signing off x

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Location: Cairo, Egypt

Last entry - probably - from Egypt

Well am coming to end of sister's visit, been a great if hectic week. We're just vegging out in the flat for the afternoon and then a 1am airport run to drop Caroline off and collect my friend. Then a week here with Sharon before a short, and welcome, trip home. Absolutely shattered! Then back here for a few days before heading to my new adventures in Asia. Getting really excited now, got me Vietnamese visa and all ready to go. Oh yeah, except for the packing, i've blocked that out of my mind. However I'll have a whole 2 days to get that sorted...

Will upload some cool shots from this week, including our hot air balloon ride which was fab. Currently got a very sore back (again) after being out on snorkel boat yesterday - that sun gets me every time, you'd have thought I'd have learned by now huh?

hope you all well and come and visit me in Asia xx

Tuesday, 05 June 2007

Location: Aswan, Egypt

Last Tour in Egypt

well i'm coming to end of my last round of tours here - thank god. I'm absolutely shattered after nearly 4 weeks on the road and it's so hot now that I spend as much time indoors as possible!

currently in aswan on the whirlwind that is 'punishment' or Nubian Saitrek, to give it its official name. Cairo - Aswan - Luxor - Cairo in 4 days, crazy. The lastest we get up this week is 7am. This is following the ferry journey from hell coming across from Jordan when we didn't reach our final destination til 11.30 at night, instead of mid afternoon...

Still my sister comes out on Sunday followed by Sharon so that should put a spring in my step. This group is pretty hard work, however i suspect part of that is just my desire to finish up and have a holiday, it's been ages. Once again, a reminder that this is no holiday, a great job, but not a holiday!

Then I fly to bangkok on 2 July = just got my vietnam visa yesterday and have been reading up the old guide book so getting really excited now, should give me a bit of energy back i reckon.

Better go, off to meet group for dinner (yawn) and then up at 3.30 for abu simbel - oh no the last time I'll have to do that, what a shame. and just finished my last Mount Sinai, thank God! I was so over it...

Anyhoo duty calls - and please do leave some messages if you've been reading, it's great to hear from you all xx

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Location: Aqaba, Jordan

Asia Update

Well just got word on my plans for Asia. I fly to Bangkok (where our manager is based) on 3 July and then fly out to Hanoi in Vietnam on 4 July! My first training tour starts on 6 July I think. It's Vietnam Highlights - check it out, looks pretty cruisy

No flipping Mt Sinai like I had to do this morning. What a day - got up at 1.30 for the walk then bus transfer to Nuweiba where we were getting the ferry to Jordan. Had to wait 4 hours before we could get on the ferry which was bad enough but the bus didn't have any air conditioning and I reckon it was in the high 30's. So we finally got on the ferry at 4pm then it didn't even leave until after 6. Got to hotel in Jordan around 8.30, had quick dinner, had to meet 2 new people in my group and then go out and change money as we can only take US into Jordan from Egypt, no local currency. Then a chat with our tour guide (we have quite different opinions on tour running but as I'm nearly at the end here I'm trying to stay chilled).

Oh yeah then it was chaos collecting the bags at Jordan, they had all been put on a trolley together and some random person had feta cheese or something in their bag which leaked all over mine so now I have a cheesy bag that frankly I don't have the energy to clean. It's now 11.30 so I've nearly been up for 24 hours. Up at 7.30 to take my group snorkelling (believe me I'd rather have a sleep in) and then off to the desert and Petra the next day.

However my room has wireless so I'm kind of happy although it means I won't sleep for ages!

Anyhoo rant over (don't get me started about when I lost the plot on Mt Sinai with the Americans on camels) going to try and relax for a few days as the tour guide wants to take over and who am I to stop him, anything for an easy life...

hope you're all well - leave me some messages, haven't seen any for a while.

Getting really excited about Caroline and Sharon's impending visits, but not my visit to the Vietnamese Embassy in Cairo - but I can do it, just need to brace myself for the apparently inept staff.

Better go - to clean the cheese tonight or not to clean the cheese, that is the question...the joys of tour leading..


Friday, 11 May 2007

Location: Cairo, Egypt

Well I'm coming to the end of what might be my last week off in Egypt - as most of you know I'm moving on soon to south east asia, sometime in July I think. We're still waiting to hear on the final dates. I've got the 4 week Jordan loop coming up then my sister is coming to visit (yay) and then my friend is coming to visit (yay) and after that who knows?

Alternating between feeling really really excited and also absolutely terrified - pretty much like I felt a year ago! I was looking through my old Egypt snaps earlier and was feeling pretty sad but I know it's time to move on, you know me, never stay in a job I'm not satisfied with!

I hear Asia is very cool and I think I'll be able to wear normal clothes most of the time, bring on the vest tops! It's been a real eye opener living here and I have to say it's made me very appreciative of all we have back home in our western countries, and particularly how much more respect women get at home. Seriously girls, you think you have it bad, it's nothing compared to here - at least at home you can look at a man without him thinking it's an invitation for sex! Anyway, I digress..bad points aside, it's a brilliant country with so much history and culture, those of you that haven't visited yet must do so (although come and see me in Asia first).

I'll keep you all updated on my movements and I'm looking forward to having some new experiences and photos to put up on the site!

Saturday, 05 May 2007

Location: Salma Hotel, Cairo, Egypt

Hi all - latest update from Cairo

I've just finished my Jewels of Egypt tour. Group were great except for one very old bird who was a bit of a pain in the bum, still they say it's character building don't they? Just vegging in hotel room after last night dinner - meeting a few of them tomorrow morning and then off to the infamous Mugamma building to renew my visa. Totally crazy place with about 10 staff to every customer, although most of them are ladies who sit filing their nails and gossiping while choosing to ignore the pleading looks we give them when going to retrieve our passports. Then off to get my Jordan visa, which thankfully is a much more straightforward process. I'm off to Jordan on my next tour so need to get all the paperwork in order.

Week off then 4 week Jordan loop and then my sister and friend are visiting, in quick succession, so I'll have 6 weeks on the go, I'll be knackered by the end!

This group were fantastic - got pretty much my best reviews and tips ever so it's all good.

Better get some sleep, up early tomorrow. Hope the weather wherever you are is good - we had 45 degrees last week, hooray summer is here!

Monday, 16 April 2007

Location: Cairo, Egypt

The Pharaonic Village

Well since I first came to Cairo I've wanted to visit the Pharaonic
Village. I'd heard it was a really cheesy theme park type place where people dress up in costume and show you life in ancient times. However it's really expensive - about £15 UK which is a lot pay at home and a small fortune over here! However since I decided not to go to Israel (too shattered after 4 weeks' work to endure another set of long bus journeys) a few of us decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it.

Well, it was fantastic! There were certainly some cheesy parts to it but it was also really informative - some fantastic small museums telling you about Islam and Presidents Nasser and Sadat, along with stuff about mummies, pyramids, Alexander the Great and lots more stuff (including bizarrely an exhibition about chocolate). We saw some mini Egyptian temples and statues of the gods. We spent about 6 hours there and even did the naff dress up in Egyptian costume and get photo taken thing.

Anyway I've uploaded some snaps of our fun day - if you ever visit Cairo I would highly recommend a visit!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Location: Dahab, Egypt

Crazy Tour

Wow this tour is totally crazy. For starters I have 18 people so things are always going to be really busy and so many things have gone wrong! Like a girl leaving her passport and credit cards in a hotel - not usually a problem, but we were in a convoy so couldn't go back for it. And it was 3am. However a few phone calls later and all was sorted. Lots of other things have happened too so I'm just wondering if it will all go wrong on Mt Sinai!

However the group is really nice, which makes all the difference and I managed to survive the 3 days on the feluccas (never my favourite was to spend time).

So fingers crossed i have a week off next week - a couple of the girls are thinking about going to Israel for a few days so I might take them up on that. Can't really afford it but I guess I'll never have the chance again to just pop over to Israel!

Just back from very windy snorkelling and then out for dinner in a few hours - the group is up for a big night tonight so god knows what I'll be like in the morning, I had the shakes today and I only had a couple of drinks, although I was super tired as I had only had a few hours' sleep in 2 days...the joys of tour leading.

Hope you all had great Easters and I'll try and get back to visit some time soon, could do with a wee break, it's actually a pretty tiring job, what with having to be nice to people all the time! Had a couple of freaks outs the last few days and don't want that to become par for the course so I think chilling out somewhere would do me the world of good.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Location: Luxor, Egypt

Greetings from Luxor

Am just over half way through my current tour, Nile Valley Red Sea and to be honest I'm finding it a bit of a struggle! I've only got 5 people and some of them are pretty hard work so the two weeks so far have really dragged...however they are being slightly better than they were are the start so maybe things are on the up. They say that everyone has a bad tour at some point and I've been lucky to date so I guess it's just my time. I think because in my head I've moved to asia already it's not really helping things, I need to get more focussed!

We just arrived in Luxor and we've got donkey day tomorrow (although only 2 of my 5 are doing the donkeys) and then a full day sightseeing on Wed before heading off to Hurghada on Thursday for some snorkelling and then back to Cairo. I've got 4 days off before I start my next tour and I'm going to speak to my boss and see if anything is coming up in Asia.

I was going to write a long message but there's a super creepy guy sitting next to me in the internet cafe, speaking to himself in english about all the sexy ladies he's got up on screen (english so I can understand him and be impressed no doubt) so I"m doing a runner.

Sorry for the moan and I'm sure I'll be on better form next time!

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Location: Egypt

Mum & Grandpa's Visit

Well I'm feeling a bit low today because mum and grandpa just left last night (well the early hours of this morning). We had an absolutely fantastic week though and I think I've given mum the travel bug!

We saw the pyramids then headed up to Alex and down to Luxor. Mum loved the donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings - we went a different way to usual, through some local backstreets which was great. Gave them an idea of real Egypt, although grandpa had a bit of a frisky donkey so he had to swap half way!

We went to a local house for lunch which they loved and had a wee felucca tour as well so they got a flavour of life on the Nile. I did give them a bit of time off though, although not too much as we had lots to see. Think they were pretty tired when they left!

So it was great, but really sad to say goodbye. You don't realise of course how much you miss your family until you see them. But I'm so happy they came out and now at least they have some idea of what I do out here.

So I have another week off now, boo, and then on to Nile Valley Red Sea which is on our slowest tours so I'll be chilling out on the boat for a week before going to Hurghada and some snorkelling. No Mt Sinai - hooray!

Great news from home, my friend Jo had a wee boy Robert last week and seems to be taking to motherhood like a duck to water. Can't wait to get back and visit them all.

Friday, 02 March 2007

Location: My Bed - Cairo, Egypt

Well I'm eagerly anticipating mum and grandpa's visit. They arrive tomorrow (well the early hours of Sunday to be exact). On Sunday we visit the Pyramids (where I haven't been since training so very excited about that), then up to Alexandria to see the National Museum, some catacombs and a Roman Theatre. Then we drive back to Cairo, hotfoot it to the station and take the train to Luxor. Then we visit Karnak Temple and donkey it to the Valley of the Kings. We have quite a lot of free time in Luxor so I'm reviewing various options. Then back on the train to Cairo and a visit to the Egyptian Museum and the citadel.

I'm so nervous about it though - this will be my most important tour to date so I'd better get it right!

I've had a pretty quiet week this week, just chilling out in the flat and trying to save a bit of cash. I've only had 2 takeaways this week which is a bit of record for the flat - the kitchen isn't great! Watched a lot of dvds and been online sooooooooo much - wireless internet is great!

Been trying to think about the future, scary! I've put in for a transfer to South East Asia but who knows if / when something will come up. My plan B is to perhaps teach conversational English in Asia. I think the pay is meant to be pretty good and it would be a good way to see the continent. I've got a wee bit of time before I need to start making decisions but it goes so fast here - once mum's gone I have one tour and then we're into April. If anyone can recommend any sites for working abroad it would be appreciated.

Well I'll update you post-family...

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Recent Messages

From Anne Smith
Thanks for getting back to me with that info! However ... change of plan, we're now going to Cyprus instead. We're planning our usual week away in December, so I've flung the suggestion of Egypt into the ring for that! I will get to Egypt some day, even if I have to go by myself! Your next posting sounds great - Vietnam's another place I want to go .... Look forward to reading all about your adventures there!
Response: well I think egypt will be better in december to be honest, weather more bearable at that time of year! Have fun in cyprus - you know you can do a mini cruise to go visit the pyramids? Martin did it when he visited...yes am v excited about vietnam, but nervous too, however time for a new challenge and all that. Enjoy your hols x
From Anne Smith
No doubt surprised to hear from me, but wonder if you can help! Trying to plan out summer hols in September (chill-out beach holiday!) and wondered about Egypt. Do you think it would be too hot to sunbath all day in September? And. Sharm Al Sheikh/Tabor - are there restaurants you can eat out in, or are all the restaurants in hotels? Grateful for any guidance!
Response: Hello! September willstill be hot in Sinai, but if you're on the coast shouldnt be too bad.
Don't know anything about Taba Im afraid but Sharm is a big resort (the Naama Bay area in particular)so they have lots of restaurants, and if youure staying out of town, taxis are cheap or some hotels have shuttle buses that will run you in. Have a great time, youll love it here - you going to do some diving?!
From Sofie
Hi Virginia,

The story about the cheese is ab-so-lute-ly hilarious. I hope some Korean chick got it on her super-high-tech camera, you telling it in a drunk or sleepy (or grumpy) mood. Going to Oxford soon to see Aisling, and then to Vietnam to (hopefully) catch up with your Egypt stories! Hang on in there... (Oh, by the way, I am that Belgian contact lens girl, remember?) I might bring some Belgian chocolates (although they will have to be in plastics to survive in Vietnam...Yum!). See ya! Sofie
Response: hey hey great to hear from you. Yes cheese story very funny - not! Knackered now as sister is here and my friend arrives tonight = haven't had a day off in 6 weeks so can barely keep eyes open, however it's all good and fingers crossed we can hook up in Vietnam. Have fun with Aisling xx
From Sharon
Hi - Good to hear you are receiving good tips. You must be doing a lot of flattering !! It's good that your groups are appreciative of your knowledge, pesonality and presence. Just keep the tips rolling in, you will need them for our nights out when I arrive. Only joking!! I am really looking forward to coming only 5 weeks and 6 days!!! Speak soon. XXX
Response: Too right I need the tips! I'm saving hard - can't wait to see you - might give you a list of goodies from the UK to bring out? I'll email soonx xx
From Caroline
your new blog about the creepy man made me laugh a lot! do you know if youve got that week off in june yet? hope things are going well.
caroline xx
Response: sorry cad, meant to ask the boss after my last tour but i didn't get to see him. It's in my mind to ask him next weekend though, I was just thinking about it actually. 9 June? I'll get back to you as soon as I can..
From Kirsten
Funny that, I think I met that exact same creepy man on the bus back from OP last week! Spooky! xxxx
Response: ha! He must get around! In flat frantically getting ready for next tour which starts night before current tour finishes if that makes sense? Washing, packing, counting money, checking paperwork - for anyone who thinks this is a holiday they are mistaken! x
From Uncle Paul
Yo Gin dude

Finky pix of the ole folks strutting their stuff Nileside
Response: You should have seen grandpa on the donkey - he rocked!
From Anne

Hello Gin,

Good to see the write-up and photos of the family visit - I hadn't heard anything so didn't know if they'd made it OK. Looks like they had a good time.

We're off to the Caribbean, Cuba and South America ourselves in 2 weeks - will let you know if that's a good place for you (and how could it not be?!)
xx Anne.
Response: Oh wow I'm so jealous - have a fantastic time and tell me all about it on your return, gin x
From Nick-Ra the Everlivi
Hey Gin, cool site ;-) I've linked to it from my blog, hope you don't mind (so, careful what you write)!!

Didn't realise you'd had an intro dive, that's really good. Now I have no excuses....

Hope family tour went well, I'm sure you were the best tour leader they've ever had! See ya now (as S would say) x
Response: Cheers bro - yes get ye into the water x
From Sharon
Hi Love - your experiences just appear more and more interesting. Hard work i'm sure, but worth every minute. Pleased to hear your mum and grampa will be joining you soon, something to look forward to. All is well here, and lots of people are always asking after you (forever popular). Good News - Pamela is pregnant, she is over the moon as you can imagine. Got a new laptop so I will email you more frequently. Take care, speak soon, Lv Sharon xx
Response: oh that's fantastic news for Pamela, I'll drop her a line. All ok with you I trust? GIve me a call sometime xxxx
From db
final preps.. she's got a travel kettle! useful for boiling up the beri-beri pills. Frances flitted ... No4 upset @ 185k. Lots of interest.. i'm tryin to filter out the 4x4s from the plus.

assume us dollers gd currency ?

mum's practising donkey pose, although it gives me hiccoughs.
Gpa's doing it on his own.
Spring is sprung, de frogs are goin ammer & tongs.
Response: Yes mum can bring USD or just take it out from the bank when she arrives, whatever easiest! Don't want to imagine donkey pose! Be in touch soon
From Pat
Gin - can't believe how long it is since I accessed your website (obviously very busy here!!!). You know me - I catch up eventually.

Glad to hear you are still enjoying yourself/had a good hol!!! isn't it a drag getting back to reality? ie work (although from looking at the pics work seems pretty much ok to me - but that might be through a "tourist" pair of specs).

Anyway just thought I'd say hi/ be good/enjoy yourself and everyones thinking of you here etc etc.

Response: Thanks Pat - yes it's a struggle sometimes out here! Feeling tired today though after 3 very early starts (5.30am, 4.45am and 3.30am) so not all rosy! Chilling out in Dahab on Red SEa for a few days now though before heading back to Cairo at teh weekend. Any goss?
From Kirsten
Happy New Year chick! Sorry for my lack of contact - just got back from NY on sunday & have been catching up on sleep. However, will send you a proper update shortly! Glad things are still going well! Big hugs. xxx
Response: How was NY? Did you have a ball? Just in Dahab on the red sea before heading off to climb Mt Sinai Catch up soon xx
Virginia - usual Christmas/Hogmanay confusion. 14 for turkey lunch. Thinking about Big Tour. Would like Sinai but Mary agin it. Soha now interested. Grandp.
Response: ok! Do need to havve final numbers really really really soon though so just get Dave to email me confirmation. Perhaps you can visit again for sinai or put it at beginning or end? Email me any questions at
From hazelle
Merry Christmas + A Happy New Year Ginoid!
Al the best for 2007 from Down Under. Sounds like you're having great time - the 'no fuss' pre-Christmas thing was similar out here too AND IT WAS GREAT! I even went shopping on Christmas Eve and had no queues. (Granted that was at about 8.30am!!) We're having a grand time - on hols for a couple of weeks so heading to Melbourne next week for our first real trip. We'll be sunbaking for a few days before that. Enjoy!
Love Hazel + Al xxxxx
From Sling
Happy Christmas Gin

I've been off since the middle of last week - getting nicely wound down now.
I passed my MSc - with a distinction to boot! I was up in Edinburgh briefly in November to get the old certificate and tap on the head. Had a brief catch up with the usual suspects, but it was a bit of a flying visit.
Glad to hear your still enjoying yourself - I'm sure you'll have a great christmas period - it'll certainly be different to what your used to.
Let me know when you'll be back in the UK and I can plan a trip to Edinburgh round that date.
Look forward to hearing from you in the new year.
(Sorry I won't be much use vis-a-vis the East Enders!)

Response: Thanks Neil - well done on your MSC - knew you'd sail through! Will keep you posted on details of my next visit, whenever that may be! Happy New Year
From Grandpa
Glad to hear you made it back safely. Thanks for details of tour - any possibility of tweaking it to include Sinai?
Response: HI Grandpa - you'll need to speak to mum! It's a 7hour drive from Cairo so it's a bit out of the way. Perhaps you could stay longer if you wanted to do Sinai at the end? Speak to mum (the boss) and let me know what you want to do
From Pamela
Hi Gin!
I've just been catching up with your adventure and your stories, photos and clips really bring your world to life for me - thanks, what a fantastic experience you must be having. Don't miss home too much, we'll all still be here whenever you visit or come back, just you concentrate on enjoying the moment and remember - you only live once so give it laaarrge!!! Lots of Love, Pamela xxx
Response: Heey Pamela - great to hear from you. Yes it's pretty great out here - we have our Christmas party tonight which should be good but not a patch on 'that' ELTB party! xxxx
From tour leader rowlands
Hello ghost!
This is one of those messages to brighten up your day ... hope it works ;-)

let's wax! nx
Response: Cheers bro, worked a treat x
From Brian
I have just seen some pics taken by
Dundee students on their recent
trip to Cairo and surrounding desert.
Amazing - they had a great time measuring old houses in Cairo and camping out in the desert. Lucky you
to see all that.
A ra best - Brian
Response: Hey Brian! Great to hear from you, yes Cairo is pretty amazing...

Enjoy the party next weekend and remember, it won't be the xmas bash unless you escort a drunkard home! xx
From May
Hello! How is everything going? I hear your coming home soon, to go to primark! ahhh you will love it, it really is quite amazing. Was looking at your photos, the dead see from up above is soooo amazing, such a good colour too!
hope to see you soon!
lots of love,
Response: Hi May - good to know you've been keeping up to date with the travels! Yes, the dead sea is fantastic, and you get a great tan there too!

See you soon
From Kirsten
SO good to talk to you on saturday!!! Can't wait to catch up properly when you are back ... lots to fill you in on! ;-) xxxx
From Sharon
Hi there,

Those donkeys can't have shift - top marks for the control. Not long now until you are back, counting down the days. I love the video clips, keep them up!!

See you real soon.

Sharon xx
Response: Cheers Shazza, looking forward to a Primark run!
From Kirsten
I've had my first scone ...... it's only downhill from here! xxx
From mim
I can't wait to see you on the 27th of november. Hope you are having a great time.Can't wait to visit you in Egypt.BY!!!
Response: hey mim - looking forward to seeing you too! Tell dad to make lasagne..

Gin xxx