In the course of my work, I get to do a lot of travel (though my favourite place is to be at home.)
The latest course I did brought me to Egypt, a lesser travelling destination for the people around me, so I decided to write something that I hope, will be of help to people who may be travelling to Egypt soon.
There are 2 ways you can get this done. To “play safe”, I decided to apply mine at the Egypt Embassy in Singapore. They asked me for the reason for me to travel o Egypt, and when I say I am there on course, they put me on business visa application that costs SGD100. (Tourist visa are at SGD60). They only accept application 10am – 12pm each day and will return you on the 3rd business day from 2pm-4pm. Bring along actual passport , a photo of 2 inches by 2 inches, photocopy of passport, flight ite, hotel voucher and any other relevant documents to show what you are doing in Egypt Google for their embassy, it is found at CENTRAL, and you actually have to intercom their office before you can get into the lift which brings you to their office.
Now having said all that, there is another easy and cheaper way. The Visa on Arrival. You do nothing before you fly. When you land in Cairo airport, look for bank counters before immigration and buy a Visa on arrival for USD25. Job done. If only I had known earlier. T.T
CURRENCY & MONEY
You can exchange for Egyptian pounds at the airport. Everywhere you go in Egypt, tipping is expected. I have never been to a country where I need to tip so much. And if you did not tip them enough, they are not shy to let you know. For 3-4 days, about USD200 would be just nice, if you do not do excessive shopping. Just for sightseeing and add-on items, additional food, tipping etc.
My travel mate made prior arrangement over email with Egypt Unlimited Tours and liased directly with Mohamed Mustafa, their General Manager. (Mohamed.firstname.lastname@example.org). Mohamed is very hospitable and resourceful. He can cover everything from hotel, sightseeing, shopping and even domestic air tickets to Luxor.Just let him know what you have in mind and he will come up with the suggestions. He also charge reasonably. He has a good team of English speaking guides and the ones who came with us to the sites were Egyptologists who is very knowledgeable and speaks well. He has been doing group tours for Singaporeans too.
WHAT WE DID IN EGYPT
The Pyramid tours is a must. On ours, we went to Saqqara, Dashur, and Giza. At that time, the Dashur and the Great pyramid is open for visitors if you want to go inside the pyramid. We had to pay for extra ticket to enter the one at the Great Pyramid. Guide told us the one at Dashur (AKA the Red pyramid) was the hardest to do as the tunnel is low and long. I went up to the entrance, looked into it and decided that I would rather watch a youtube on it then to go down that long, low narrow tunnel. J At the Great pyramid, I had to go into the pyramid and climbed the first part of the tunnel en route the King’s chamber. I had to go after somebody who went in. THAT’s WHY. And after about the first 10 mins of ascending into that tunnel, the people involved had a glimpse into what else is to come and all the physical workout involved and decided maybe it is better to turn back, then to end up having to accompany the King. I would say it is not for the claustrophobic, the asthmatic, or those with heart troubles. For the fit and adventurers, I would strongly recommend you to go for it. After all, you have come this far. ONLY ONE suggestion – drink up and remove your jacket before ascending/decending into the tunnels. Google and have a look at the images or videos so you know what to expect.
We did not get to do donkeys and camels. Guess you have to request before hand if you like to include that as part of your ite.
Of course, we were also taken to the papyrus shop to see and shop.
TEMPLEs, LUXOR, ASWAN
It would be wonderland for people who are into Cosmology, Egyptology, Greek and Egyptian Mythology. For me, I went because it is part of what I am learning.
When the ancient built their places of worship, they did land survey based on the energy systems of the Earth. On example to illustrate this comes from the tour guide that brought us to the gates of Cairo on a night tour. How do the ancient find a piece of land with ‘good energy quality’? One of the way is they will hang pieces of meat at various locations. In some places, the meat will get moldy. In some they starts to rot soon. In a place where the meat does not get mold or rot, and just gets dried up, they knew then that that place has good energy qualities. They also learn to build their gates, door and paths according to the gridline system of the Earth. Part of all these are actually discussed by Dr Karim in Biogeometry, the study of what brought me to Egypt.
Another thing that amazes me the most from the beginning to the end, is how the ancient managed such architecture and art before the age of machinery. Structures were huge and all the digging and engraving are massive project with a lot of order and quality. With all our technology, we may not be able to achieve what they have achieved.
All the temples we have visited are in Luxor, as sightseeing time was limited for us. We took a night flight out of Cairo, into Luxor (1h 10 min) and spent the next 2 days visiting temples. Day 1 in Luxor and Day 2 in Aswan, a 3h car ride from Luxor.
The most beautiful temple at night: Luxor temple
The most powerful temple according to the guide : Karnak temple
The most intriguing temple: Temple of Isis, out on an island on Aswan, the present day temple is actually shifted stone by stone from its original site and put together again!
Other places we visited here would be the Alabaster school, where they sell crafts handmade from Alabaster and also crystals mined from Sinai, carved into shapes and symbols of ancient Egyptian Mythology. Yes, according to them, the accept anything – which means USD, Egyptian pounds, VISA, MASTER, AMEX. At shops like this, one has to bargain. Don’t be surprised if the final price you get is around 20-25% then how you started if you are really good at the ART.
While we are here in Cairo and not with the tour, we mostly get around on Uber. For the main reason that we speak no Arabic and the roads where we were, can be a mess. GPS would be a great help.
That’s about it. I hope this information will be useful to you when you plan your Egyptian travel.