Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Cairo oh Cairo

Cairo i must admit is a very interesting place to go to if you're looking for something different or perhaps if you thought that the city you're living in is such a crowded place to be.

Time and time again, i will definitely be filled with the same feeling; an amazement towards their driving skills; man and women alike, their disregards towards tourist or non-Egyptians; perhaps they had too many of them ever since, their overly crowded and dirty capital (Cairo) and Giza areas, their inflation rates and so much more.

Nevertheless, those things will never beat my endless admiration to what the country had to offer in terms of historical artifacts and all the stories behind them.

A three star hotel in the centre of Giza will be displaying their walk-in tariff at an exorbitant USD200 per room when it was only USD50 per person for a room in new 5 star hotel in 6th October city. The prices of some of these hotels keep on increasing but their services are hopeless. With deficiency in English; it made it difficult for foreigner to obtain certain information or ask for hotel related services.

I was told that the hotel prices and other things are getting more expensive in Cairo compared to maybe a year ago. And besides that, if you don't look Egyptian, be prepared to be slashed by the taxi drivers and all tourist area retailers. To avoid paying anything with an added 60 percent on prices of items that you buy especially in the souk area Khan El-Khalili, make sure you don't do eye contact, or just ignore them if you must.
However, should you be interested to purchase, and know it cost less than what they told you; bargain hard, as hard as how they pushed you into purchasing it.

My significant half was furious when he was charged in a USD for few T-shirt when the items was already in his hands and he was about to pay, whilst initially during negotiation he asked the seller a couple of time and told that the prices would it be in Egyptian pound.

He dare not provoked the seller much after an attempt to pay in Egyptian pound was declined by the persistence and hard selling chap. Because of my husband's nice and non-confrontational nature we walked away paying a rather expensive price for round neck shirts.

It was his first experience in this country, so be it. One should learn from experiences. And tricks and tactics these Egyptians will use to get what they want.

One funny incident i came across at a stall in the Citadel area near the Alabaster Mosque when we stop to get something for little Leeyah. We took two bars of small Cadbury chocolate and asked for the price; the man said 6 pound, then i saw one even smaller bar and took it, but when we wanted to pay, it became 15 pound! And the funny bit was when one Chinese/Korean chap looked at me in bemusement after the man told him he gotta pay 10 pound for one cone ice-cream and this chap asked me is it really 10 pound. I told him, if he really need it, pay for it otherwise ditch it back in the fridge.

Amazingly these people (the locals) would not feel bad overcharging tourist and especially those Arabs from the GCC countries. And through conversation with one local guy, it is confirm that these two cannot get along. The Egyptian will say they're snobbish, and the Arabs will call them cheapskate.

Despite my advise to their so-called 'help you take photos', my husband was once again being cornered to paying a man, sitting down with his camel for rides but actually his actual job description was sitting down smoking while waiting for tourist 'brought' over to him by his alliances for photo shoots. At first it seems he was just doing a favour but when he refused to let go of the camera and keep on asking to post near this and that, i realised this was a trap but we're too deep to escape by then.

The bad thing about these people was, they wont hesitate to ask for more when you pay what you think would be enough, and they can ask you later, "are you happy my brother", "I'm happy when you're happy"..... after putting bits and pieces, we worked out that he actually had some 'agreement' with our horse-carriage driver...duuhhhh......

One should compile and write a guidebook on tricks and tactics used by some Egyptians towards gullible tourist.

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