Day 14 Sunday 24th October 2010
Off the boat today thankfully, we sat on top deck with a few others and chatted about how we felt to be getting off at last. It’s been real test of endurance with not a lot to think about. The tannoy said we were close so we got showered and dressed in bike gear. in the cafe the passports were handed out and all the people (mostly French) who pushed to the front and stressed out the customs man were sat opposite us it the customs shed four hours later…
Dis-embarking was fairly chaotic; they were in a rush to get us off. We only then found that a pair of officials were in disagreement as to where we should be. With much arm waving by one as another approached from behind him he got a blow on the nose but luckily no damage was done or blood drawn.
We changed money with a chap we nicknamed the bank of Egypt and he gave us five and a half EP to the Dolla. We thought he had ripping us off a little, however we were shame faced as later in Cairo we change more dollar and still got five and a half EP to the Dolla!!
The customs wanted to search my and Robin’s bike, I made a long drawn out show of packing it all away and he gave up and lost interest in Robin’s. I did not want to open his bags anyway as he was in with customs.
When we walked back in the prayers was just finishing and unfortunately Robin walked in on them and he was close to doing a little jig on the carpet, whoops.
We emerged with our papers in order and got to the bikes with a crowd of French overlanders crowded around the KTM. They took lots of pictures and were really bowled over by it with that done and much hand shaking we tried to ride out of the port.
As the exit drew close, the motorcycle port police man who had been escorting us around was waving his arms about to catch our attention I looked ahead and rode on only to be told at the gate Diane had dropped her glove and he had picked it up. That was the first of many kind gestures and considerations we are to be shown by Egyptian police, officials and citizens.
Out into the mad traffic was mind bending compared to sitting around that we had endured. I had to be fully alert, looking in mirrors, ahead and at the road surface. We pulled into the kerbside at the hostel quarter and looked for a place to crash, it’s about nine pm and we were all flagging a little. Diane and Helen went in search of a room while Robin and I chatted to Chris who seemingly popped up out of thin air, nice to see him again. Sure it probably won’t be the last time. The girls came back with news of a shared room being one hundred and sixty bucks.
So We had spicy rice and voted to hit the road and see what we can find. We all felt awake and wanted to make tracks. The roads out were a mass of pot holes, mad traffic and tram lines with trams on them sometimes without lights on!!! Took us about an hour and half to clear Alexandria. On the outskirts of town I filled up and it cost thirtyEP which is three English pounds, far out!!!!!
After eighty km we stopped for tea, it’s now one thirty am. As we drank our tea I felt the adrenaline pouring out my boots (probably sweat) and fatigue pouring in my eyebrows. Looking at Robin I said ‘do you want to call it a day’. It took him five seconds to say ‘yes’. So we put a sheet on the ground and the mossie net over two straps strung between two trees and went to sleep on the road side in the middle of nowhere.
We all said we would try to sleep light. I usually woke up only to see one of the other two getting back into bed, bugger.
Day 15 Monday 25th October, Granddad Fenn’s birthday
Up at six (having slept through the call to pray by the muezzin) to find the others chatting to a man who was completely blown away by what had landed in the night at his favourite tea house. He spoke not a word, let alone English, in the thirty minutes he watched us for. He took lots of pictures on his cellphone and could not stop smiling. We posed for him and he loved it all. His co-driver sat in the cab and watched with amusement.. When we finally left with much hand shaking and smiling he was a happy man and I reckon we gave him a tale to tell in the local mosque that night. Robin thought that he would say to his friends ”you never would guess what I saw today at the tea house, spacemen”, I kid you not, space men with helmets and some weird looking craft that they took off on in a cloud of dust and noise.
Took an hour to get to Cairo then about two more to find the campsite. Saw the sights that most tourists don’t see due to GPS taking us the scenic route, really good. Spent the afternoon sorting out bike and setting up camp, the site is really good. Had two beers, Stella but Egyptian was ok though, just don’t get a taste for it as money is miles from now on.
Day 16 Tuesday 26th October
Taxi to Cairo British embassy to get letter of introduction for the Sudanese. Cost two hundred and twenty five EP but you gotta have it. Filled in the first of many visa forms to apply for Sudan visa, Diane filled them in as I was not thinking straight let alone able to write. The folks at the desk were really nice and helpful. That done we walked to bank and did the money thing. Gonna be a lot of that too!! All done by eleven thirty am and was told come back in the morning after ten.
Diane and I stayed in town and walked for hours looking for post office to send maps home and saw tons of great things. Even managed to find a spice shop for peppercorns!
The cost was too great to post our stuff but they said where to go where it’s cheaper, great people Egyptians. Did blog stuff for two hours then taxi home. Sat in campsite bar till nine PM trying to get netty fixed. The owner is an airbus pilot and thinks his friend can fix it.
Had tea and celebrated two weeks on the road by eating the dates I bought the day before which was delicious, unfortunately at the third date I realized that the maggots had moved in…. nuff said.
Day 17 Wednesday 27th October
Taxi back to town picked up Sudan visa and on Diane’s idea we went to Ethiopian embassy to fill in the application form. Sat in the street on a bench for the purpose. On completion handed them our passports and thirty bucks each in cash to a man behind a steel gate through a peep hole. He gave us a badly written receipt on photocopied form and said come back in the morning. And that constable is why we have no passport or I’d. on us, another golden rule broken dropped on the ground and stamped on… the four of walked round town. The traffic is completely mental in Cairo, but we never witnesses one accident there at all and always felt like all the drivers were very alert and mindful of other traffic. Much more than can be said for the Italians whom I feel are not so careful. Even though I have no evidence to back this up. It’s just a feeling.
Outside the parcel post office we walked over a foot bridge and looked down on a scene of complete push and shove dodgem cars, but no actually contact. We all had another great day.
Day 18 Thursday 28th October
We did bike maintenance till midday, then taxi to town for quick visa pick up at Ethiopian embassy, no worries back by three to get on with bikes.
After collecting (big relief) the passports from a very nice looking lady behind the steel gate, Helen noticed that her Sudanese visa was not correct. The day of issue was one day after the date of expiry. They had written the same month in entry and exit dates, the Ethiopian officials had not noticed that she technically did not have a visa at all!!. So we spent the rest of the afternoon back at the Sudanese embassy correcting it. Later that evening on our return to camp Diane and I decided to go to carrefor to purchase a new net book. We would be back in an hour or so……………!
I went the wrong way on the ring road I thought to came off at next junction only to find that it was not a European style junction. we sat in a very hot evening rush hour and took about forty five minutes to travel a kilometre and found ourselves under the same foot bridge in that madness of vehicles. We did not have a clue in what way to go to get home. Luckily we had GPS in the box and the site as a way point. Once it was fitted to the handlebars we set off through the city centre and got back after about two and a half hours, never again………!!!!! Although once we were moving and i felt cooler I did enjoy the riding. it took all of your concentration but it was exhilarating really….
Day 19 Friday 29th October
We all got on the road by six am to the pyramids. For some reason none of us could fathom why we could not park at the site and we left the bikes in a hotel car park for twenty pence an hour, they were much safer anyhow and with the hats on them as well we were very happy to pay the money(five EP).
We split up and walked around the site just two of us. Was nice to be alone although Robin and Helen are very easy to get in with I reckon it’s healthy to have time out. A few pictures were taken of the area and the pyramids, walking around we commented on lots of people we know that have been here and said how small they are, even though they looked pretty big to us. You would not want to wear them as a hat. We wondered where the sphinx was as our wondering took us around the rear or west face of the great pyramid when looking to the south i thought I saw the back of its head. So we went by foot down and there it was. More photos took.
Back upon the great pyramid area we thought we best get in and have a look because we had got there early to buy one of the one hundred and fifty daily passes. After half an hour we asked how to get in. it was not obvious. It was staring us in the face!!! Once in I was taken with how warm it was. Up a small set off stone steps through a narrow low passage for seven metres then up a forty degree wooden floored slop with batons on it for foot falls. It was a steep walk and halfway up the bifocal steps merged into one flight. At the top we entered a room roughly eight metre wide, twelve metres to fifteen long and about eight high. It is lit with one five foot fluorescent tube two thirds up one wall. As you spoke the sound did not echo, but is changed into a low murmuring nonsense, as if the designer did not wish conversations to be over heard, even by people in the same room. Any more than a quiet voice and it is difficult to understand what was said. At the far end were an open stone box, two point five long and one and a quarter wide on the outside, with all the sides one hundred mill thick. The stone blocks are fairly smooth and fit together like my dad had milled them from metal, very accurate angles and joints. Very little of what I thought was mortar are in the joints and every few block a key stone was inserted at the upper side of the blocks. I did not have any real thoughts of what would be inside but we only saw this and no other rooms. Outside a lady did say on other visits she saw others maybe three in total. Other tunnels were apparent but gated shut to us on this day. On our descent robin and Helen came up toward us, we met half way, the sweat was now running of me nose!! They went on up and we sat in the gloom and waited for their return. The voices that drifted down to us we akin to a Gregorian chant or a male choir, very strange. We sat in the complete silence while our ears rang without any noise. Outside in the thirty two degree heat it felt cool.. Done we collected the bikes, they went home and we went to carrfor.
It took an hour and a few wrong turns to get there but just as I said I’m beat, I can’t find it, we found it, bizarre. New netty bought we headed back to another warm night’s sleep.
Day 20 Saturday 30th October
Woke at four am and waited to be called by the folk singer. The first fifty clicks were very dusty and the road a mass of potholes and tram lines in the mud cum asphalt surface. The pollution and dust is so bad the sun gives off little heat and is a dull red disc in the grey sky. The traffic was fairly dense most of the way. Crossing the Nile was a nerve wracking affair as it was over a rickety bridge covered with sand. the two way traffic was a mixture of mule carts and fifty ton trucks. After dropping down onto the main road we headed out toward the good road. We munched some serious clicks on a wonderful new tarmac road which a guy tried to charge me what I thought was a baksheesh (bribe) but was in fact a toll road. Other big thumbs up for the Egyptians as so far we have been met with honesty and friendly folks.
Out in the desert we were stopped at a few police checks but at one we had to produce passports and say where we were going, when they were satisfied we were given a police escort which changed at every police post, was daunting at first but when we realized that the cleared traffic and waved us on we made good time and their presence was welcome.
We got to Asyut at two thirty pm and had tea with traffic police at the towns’ edge. We had a car front and back of us as they took us to our hotel for the night. It was cheap, basic with hot water and a shower and cockroaches what else do you want in a room. We washed and cooked while the other two went out for food. I reckon we miss out but it’s cheaper to cook and we may avoid illness through unwashed veg or whatever. Early bed and early rise.
Day 21 Sunday 31st October
Packed up and ready by six but police are late in coming and we get going by seven. The escorts got fewer as we got closer to Luxor, think the wanted us to be safe through the desert. Stopped at Abydos to look at temple but rather than pay two tanks of fuel to get in we sat in the sun and ate food with the tourism police, and watch small lizards in the dust. one pm saw us back on the road making good time to Luxor. At Qena where we had to cross the river we got a bit lost. I turned up a deserted road and at the far end was a stack of vehicles that filled the road. I wondered where I would fit in with that lot when the barrier came up, I could hear but not see the train coming. Robin rode up and explained that it was a one way street, ah best turn around and get out of the way before the barrier came up! We took Helens direction and went up a cull de sac. A man with two small children on a moped showed us the right road, straight into a big heap of vehicles heading up to the rail crossing. It was just like being I Cairo again but without the smoke and the darkness. Through that and over the bridge we were shown by the police the right road and made good time to Luxor until at three pm my bike had a slow puncture which I still think is unfair, again. One and a half tins of latex got us nine clicks to a clean garage with a tyre fixer. He fitted my tube for ten EP. Better than a struggle in the heat. Got to fantastic site at five pm. Once again we are riding in the dark, another golden rule busted. The other two had hotel food which smelt fantastic. We had four beers and fell asleep in a heap…bit pissed I reckon.
Day22 Monday 1st November 2010
Woke at six which felt like eight and headed for a cold shower, not through choice but no hot water at shower rose. Made messy egg rolls an felt grumpy as the flies would not feck off and leave us alone. Coffee was nasty too!! We all walked one mile or into town and wondered around Luxor temple, on the outside, as we are cheapskates. Fair amount of insistent people selling cart rides or “Taxi English! Taxi English’’
Temperature up to forty-four now but feels OK, must be acclimatizing. The other two went back to site after a couple of hours but we persisted in finding the local shops as we wanted veg and fruit. Found out later they have bad guts, maybe the food last night. Poor them. We got into the local market and saw and tasted and smelt all the spiced, shoe repairers, hens, goats cooking food and life in its more basic but very real form. The veg man handed me a bag and as we filled it we worked out what we thought it was worth, with our new-found experience. We thought about thirty five EP. The guy weighed it all out, added a tomato here and a courgette there and proudly announced we owed him thirty three EP, not far out we were. The bread shop was more fun as the boy who could talk nonstop for Egypt told us four bread was four EP. When we went back we were going to offer seven EP for eight loaves, the owner told us ten EP. I could not help laughing I offered our seven and said no so we walked. He called back and said OK, OK seven OK. We were still on tourist rate but not on the moon rate. I can cope with that. We slowly walked back to the camp as the temperature was about forty-four degrees. Happy with our purchases, the veg and bread was a good find. We managed to buy for forty EP, two five liter plastic water cans as the brake cleaner cans are starting to corrode on the inside at the seams. Back at the ranch I sat in the garden, no really, in the flower bed, (like a modern-day gnome with a laptop and not a fishing rod)and wrote all my diary up to date. took seven hours. Hope I, or somebody else will read it!
Day 23 Tuesday 2nd November
Woke at three, four, half four and got up at five showered, and washed sleeping bag liner and towel. The water ran brown with the amount of the Sahara that I stolen on the road. Sat in the sun and chatted about all sorts…
Diane fancied a slow day so I rode to the Valley of the Kings and tried to find the temple that I have always wanted to see. After being told by Selin at the Pepsi shop that it was Hatshepsut I found that one and had a look around for an hour only to discover that it was not the correct one for me. I called Selwyn, he checked the net and said the one I wanted was in Jordan which now was about one thousand clicks back toward where we was a week ago.. It was too far away even then so I did not feel such an ejut.
Had a lovely ride round the whole of the valley site in tee-shirt and no helmet.
Back at camp a Dutch couple had arrived I joined Diane at the table and a pleasant alcoholic evening was had by all. I sat up late and uploaded half a dozen photos to the blog and had a chat to Fillie on face book. First time I had used it and was great to have a conversation instead of just texting. Late to bed.
Day 24 3rd November
Woke at six and had slow breakfast and packed to ride on to Aswan. It was a warm way with temperature around the thirty-four degree mark. The scenery by the Nile was text-book, with the water sparkling blue, lush crops and tall palm trees on either bank. About ten clicks of twisting road, up and down through barren rocks made a pleasant change. Shame the road surfaces are unreliable in so far as pot holes goes as it means you can’t enjoy the view so much as you would wish.
We passed through a few very nice large villages and at one my attention was caught by a large pile of tyres outside. Fantastic, stopping on a sixpence and I was in the shop. He had no bike rubber but the shop around the corner was full of it. My only dilemma was to have one or two tubes. With my track record…. I decided that one would be fine as I now had a spare. Big lesson learnt, just because the first vulcanizer said it was shot I left it behind, always fix it. It might not be perfect but maybe better than walking.
We crossed the Nile again and camped at a fantastic place. Semi fortified farm it looks like. It’s all painted Moroccan blue although the owner would call it Nubian as he painted it and he’s from Nubia. Showered and tent up with were in bed by six thirty due to mozzie attack. Must have got nine hours sleep out of twelve, fantastic.
Day 25 4th November
We did not do a great deal in the morning, it was thirty-five degrees by nine. Then at twelve we all jumped up and dressed (poorly) and rode to see Mr.Asala who manages the Wadi Halfa ferry. It was a hot ride in loose trousers and tee-shirt, goodness how Robin and Helen felt in their bike. gear. When we got off at the office I saw how they felt, HOT. Adam and Robin went in and were told that we should come back on Saturday. We have a reservation, ans Mr.Asala’s word is concrete, lets hope. So we should be OK for leaving Egypt on the eighth. Robin stayed with the bike while the three of us went into a market area for food. Found nice tomatoes (as always), onions (which are a little mild for our taste), melon and sweet potato which was our first but not our last. Not found any yams yet though not too sure what to do with them apart from soupy stew thing.
Day26 Friday 5th November
Woke at five thirty, more or less got up as I was getting warm. Had the usual roll with toms and onion.
Robin came over to say we were going out to ride the sand before it got to hot. I got well and truly bogged down in the first five hundred meters!! We pushed it out and tried again numerous times over the next hour and a half, not much fun though Robin had got the hang of it big time. I got my last push out and headed for the road. The rest of the day was spent much more to my ability cleaning my sand ridden chain and sprockets and a little general maintenance.
Day27 Saturday 6th November
We woke and got food sorted and on the road to book the ferry by eight. The office opened at nine thirty, so sat and ”chilled” in the sun. Once we were registered we had to go to the traffic police to have my licence checked for any unpaid fines. They need my Egyptian driving licence and passport, oh dear my licence is in my leather bike trousers!!!! Left Diane there and rode to camp site and back in forty five minuets, (twenty five clicks round trip on local roads, got stopped by Nile bridge police as he did not believe a tourist actually knew where he was going….made a change to know where I was going!) got sorted with no problem. Was told to come back at five pm with everybody else as the needed seven or five hours to process the documents. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing a little shopping and updating the blog. We picked up the paper work and went home for shower and tea.
Day28 Sunday 7th November
Stomped out of the tent at five after not sleeping a great deal after eleven I guess, due to a wedding party being held in the village five clicks away. The mosque kicked off at the usual four am. So all feeling a tad bushed today. Rode off to the Aswan dams at seven, well worth a look. Were not allowed to photo of course but Diane has some good one from the road over the top, up and down the Nile.
Picked up breakfast and waited out side the ferry co. for nine am opening, all went smoothly so next update in eight or five days, maybe less or more, sorry to be vague.
Day 29 Monday 8th November
Got up at first light and packed for the ferry to Wadi Halfa. This was a bit of a nightmare as we had to bag up our riding gear and have one bag to take on the boat with us. The bike is most likely to be travelling on a barge with a cargo pusher boat. The ride to the police traffic office was a forty five km an hour affair as too much of the weight is on the back. On the same street as the police is a shop that sells wonderful oily flat bread, we had two each as they were still warm. Three litres of water washed them down over the next two and a hours as it was very warm by ten o’clock.
Diane stayed with the bike and chatted to other people in the same boat (pun intended) while I waited in line with the others, behind the usual elderly German gentleman that for the last few days has been at the head of us all, whether it be traffic lights or offices. When we all moved over to the correct window at nine o’clock I was a little sad to see that he was forth in line. Did not seam quite right to me. Now with no Egyptian plates or licence we were escorted in a large convoy to the port about ten clicks away. We were too spread out to take a photo but we did look an odd bunch of strange vehicles. At the port the custom was a mixture of following one of us who happened to know at the time which door or window to be at next and sitting in the shade of the big Dutch DAF four by four truck. The Egyptian with officialdom is very much hurry! Hurry! Hurry! And now you must wait…
When five hours had passed we filed to the water edge where the cargo boat sat while fifty or sixty workers hurled bags and boxes into the hold. I hope that not too many of then contained eggs or grannies best china.
Cars and bike on and secured we found a little piece of England on the top of the wheel house, after being evicted from the lifeboat. About thirty of us sat in the the rest of the days sunshine and watched the semi organized chaos around the cargo barge. The next twelve hours on and off I looked at a sky full of more stars than I’ve ever seen and the next six in the sun watching Egyptian desert pass by. On top of the wheel house is a great point to people watch from. The deck below was a village of bags and people who had been to Aswan to stock up on flip flops and TV remote controls. We saw much repackaging of goods going on, the duty chargeable electrical goods being black bagged up to look like bundles of clothing and the non chargeable good being boxed in the TV and white goods boxes. I may be wrong but they may be out to fool the customs for import duty…