Sunday, March 23, 2008


Total expenses for Spring Break: $1565.40

Egypt portion: $1378.82
NYC portion: $186.58

Daily Egypt cost: $98.49
Daily NYC cost: $186.58

Saturday, March 22, 2008

to do

  1. Take fewer than seven classes in my last half-semester of business school
  2. Stop buying books that I don't have time to read
  3. Shave off that ridiculous facial hair

Friday, March 21, 2008

bizarre air travel experiences

Cairo Airport:
Having to wait outside security to check in. We waited for about two hours before we could check in, and only after going through the unecessarily complicated process of clearing security. They asked for a paper copy of our electronic tickets. What the hell? Also, even
though all checkpoints went to the same area, we could only use one, even though there was an open one immediately next to the one I was required to use.

Bucharest Airport:
More waiting for arbitrary security measures. Waited for about ten minutes to pass a security gate for reasons unknown. Guy told all of us to wait while he waited. For what I'm still not sure. Eventually someone came and said we could to through, but not anyone else. Then, we couldn't check in for another four hours (till after about an hour before the flight) because of new check in procedures where some guy has to ask it anyone has done anything with my bags or if I packed any weapons. Not sure what this is supposed to accomplish aside from make the process longer.

TBD. Still on the plane. (-:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

day 14

Today we hit up our final destination of the trip: Alexandria. Saw the new library, and then walked along the coast to Fort Qaitbey, where we people watched for a few hours. After that, we headed back to Cairo.

Right now we're sitting in the airport waiting to check in. We're a little early, and we just blew the rest of our Egyptian Pounds on a driver to get here. In other words, no more local cash, no more cheap falafel, no more koshari. )-:

Today's expenses:
Train tickets: E£58
Food: E£11.25
Drive to airport: E£22.25

fort qaitbey in alexandria

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

day 13

Late blog entry for today because of our hotel's severe mosquito problem. Sucks.

We spent our last day in Cairo exploring the Northern Cemetary, aka the City of the Dead. It's an old area of Cairo where people have squatted in mausoleums. It was pretty interesting. We also came across quite a few ruins of mosques and funerary compounds. It would have been interesting to explore inside of those if it weren't for the fact that people lived all around. We also stumbled across where the cabbies work on their cars. Saw all sorts of car work being done, as well as a fair share of abandoned vehicles.

For our last day, we'll be hitting up Alexandria, then making our long journey back to New Haven via Cairo, Romania, and NYC. See y'all soon.

The day's expenses:
Beverages: E£5.50
Lunch: E£3
Dinner: E£8
Hotel: E£44

Total for the day: E£60.50 (about $11).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

day 6 addendum

Day 6 was by St. Katherine by Mt. Sinai. After the hike, we
immediately went to town to see if we could get bus tickets back to Cairo. On the way there we passed by a falafel place and also some cow tied to some building that kind blocked our bee line path.

Unfortunately, the ticket office was closed, so we headed back to the hotel for breakfast. This time we knew we had to avoid the cow.

After breakfast, we headed back to town hopeful that the office would be open. We passed the falafel place for the third time that day, but the cow was no longer there. "That's odd," I thought. Then I noticed that the cow was still there, it just wasn't in the same place munching away; and it wasn't any random building - it was a butcher shop. Goodbye, cow.

theft is not a problem - passing through el minia

Convenience stand is closed, but everything is still out. Water,
twinkies, tissues and probably everything else. Just like FFT.

dawn along the nile

passing through luxor station

day 12

It's the end of another day, and I'm on another night train. Today was a good mix of sightseeing and relaxing. Woke up at 2:28am to catch a bus to Abu Simbel, which was fantastic. Because we left so early, we got back to Aswan around noon. Here, we got some falafel for lunch, bought some souvenirs, and just chilled out for a bit.

The next two days we'll be chillin' in Cairo. We've already been there for four days, so we don't have much of an agenda. Depending on the weather, candidates are the Northern Cemetary, the Pyramids again, or another area downtown.

We've also been considering hitting up the place that we affectionately call "Top Falafel" because it's been the best we've had so far. Only question is whether out stomachs will handle it. Yep. It's the place I mentioned before with the alternative health practices. But it was damn tasty!

Surprisingly, we still haven't gotten sick of eating falafel and koshari nearly every day. In fact, we'll probably miss having such good, quick, healthy and cheap options. Why don't they have these
places in the US?

Today's actuals - ouch!:
Tour: E£55
Abu Simbel: E£46.50
Lunch: E£2.50
Souvenirs: E£39.25
Beverages: E£4.75
Tipping: E£1.50
Dinner: E£6
Night train: E£110

driving back to aswan

Monday, March 17, 2008

ramses ii temple at abu simbel

the temples at abu simbel

day 11

Today was a travel day. Left Luxor this morning after eating a final great breakfast at the Happyland Hotel, the cleanest, cheapest, and overall the best place we've had so far here. Yep. Happyland is the best.

After getting into Aswan, we found our hotel, which ended up being more challenging than it should have been thanks to the Lonely Planet's grossly inaccurate map. Place here is good, but Happyland has spoiled us. After booking a tour to Abu Simbel, we got train tix back to Cairo for tomorrow night, got some postcards, and some dinner. Surprisingly, Aswan has the best postcards by far so far this trip. It also has the most outrageously priced falafel. The guy wanted E£3 ($0.60) when most places charge E£1 ($0.20). We quickly left that place and found one on the non-tourist street for E£0.50 ($0.10) each. We had four each.

Today's expenses:
Tip for breakfast: E£0.50
Train tickets: E£25
Hotel: E£51
Beverages: E£7
Dinner: E£2

Today's total: E£85.50 ($16)

Tomorrow's expected expenses:
Tour: E£55
Admission: E£20
Snack: E£1.50
Dinner: E£2
Night train: E£110

approaching aswan

Through the broken train window

the nile valley

Through the broken train window

first class? second class?

Note to self: Second class trains are better than first class.

I've never been one for first class travel. I'm here in a second class car on the train to Aswan and it's actually much nicer than first class. Cleaner, more legroom, and cheaper. Only downside is that the seat is a little narrower, but leg room clearly trumps that.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

day 10

Feels like we've been here for weeks, but I guess it's only been ten days. Wow. Seems like we're almost wrapping up too.

Tomorrow we take a train to Aswan, which is the southernmost city in Egypt. There we intend to book a trip to Abu Simbel, waaaaay down south to check out the temple. Then, depending on scheduling, we may stick around and chill for another day, or head back up north, perhaps checking out Alexandria, or maybe some other pyramids. We shall see...

Forgot to take iPhone photos today. You'll have to wait. The Temple of Seti I and the Hathor Temple at Dendara that we checked out today were both awesome. Good exploring and good touring of the countryside. And yes, we spent big today. E£165 each for the driver, E£30 for the sites, E£7.25 for food, E£1.50 baksheesh (tipping), and E£40 for hotel. E£243.75 each for the day. That's almost $45. Yeesh!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

day 9

Today we explored the west bank of Luxor, visiting the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple, Medinat Habu, and the Collosi of Memnon. Of the sites we have seen so far, Medinat Habu has been the biggest surprise. It's not listed as a top attraction by the guidebooks and we almost didn't see it. So far it's been the best temple we've seen so far. It's largely intact and relatively peaceful, without the large crowds we saw at the temples at Luxor and Karnak. Why? It's parking lot isn't big enough for tour buses.

We also spent like crazy today. E£61 each for admission to the sites, plus E£65 each for a driver for the day. That plus E£5.50 for food and E£40 for hotel means we spent an astonishing E£131.50 today (although I made E£1 today by doing some forex transactions with the locals - bought $2 for E£10). Tomorrow will be even worse. Booked a tour to see the temples at Abydos and Dedara for E£150 a head.

It should be interesting. Those are two of the most well preserved temples in Egypt. We'll also be accompanied by an armed escort for both sites. Hopefully that doesn't cramp our style. We're not much for crowds of tourists.

P.S. I finally washed my pants. Yes. The ones that I've been wearing every day since I got here except for the Mt. Sinai hike.

hatshepsut temple

medinat habu

Friday, March 14, 2008

day 8

Got in to Luxor this morning and worked our way to the Happy Land Hotel. It was an interesting experience getting here as expected. A guy claimed to be the manager of the hotel and followed us for a quarter mile till I said the magic words to make him and the other fellow go away. What were these magic words? "Bye bye!" in an exaggerated Chinese accent.

Today we hit up the temple at Karnak as well as Luxor Temple. I'm beginning to get a bit templed out. Two more temples to go though. Probably going to the Valley of the Kings and Hatshepshut's Temple tomorrow and then the temple at Dendara the day after. After that, Abu Simbel, and then who knows?

Today's expenses:
Lunch: E£3
Sights: E£60
Dinner: E£9.5
Hotel: E£40
TOTAL: E£112.50 (about $20)

Today in photos:

karnak temple

a light snack at karnak temple

luxor temple

Thursday, March 13, 2008


It's 8am. I've been on this train for ten hours. Almost to Luxor.

day 7

We spent another day wandering Cairo today, hitting up the sites that we missed on our first tour. It was good to be back, but at the same time we are both getting the sense that it's time to move on... and move on we will. In a few hours we'll be catching a train to Luxor (or Aswan if they don't let us off).

Right now we are back at the hotel. Just showered and enjoying the lounge and wireless. Today in pictures...

looking over cairo... see the pyramids?

two mosques next to the citadel

the salon at the pensione roma

E£88 a night for two, baby.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

bussing it to sinai

day 6

So today we made like Moses and went to the summit of Mt. Sinai. It was definitely an experience, although not quite the experience that we had expected. We did the prescribed night hike to catch the sunrise, which meant getting up at 2:00 in the morning.

The way up was quick at two hours, but it was two hours of dodging camels and breathing in the aroma of fresh camel poop and urine. When we got to the top it was still completely dark, and it wasn't really crowded at all. But just because it wasn't crowded doesn't mean that it was peaceful. There was a group of people there who were loudly chanting, and periodically yelling. Surprisingly, they magically disappeared just before sunrise. It also started raining a few times, which is pretty unusual for these parts. It was certainly an interesting experience atop Mt. Sinai in the middle of the night, with people chanting, others yelling, sky raining, wind gusting, and trash swirling. Yep. That's right. They had plenty of trash cans on the trail, but I'm not sure if they are emptied frequently enough. But when the wind blows, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and whatever else turns into projectiles so you'd better be careful.

Right now we're on a bus headed back to Cairo. Tomorrow, Citadel!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

day 5

Hard to believe that it's only day five. Still on the bus, and it's looking like today is going to be just a transit day. The bus is allegedly supposed to get there by 4:00pm, but the people in the know say that it'll be more like 7pm.

So far today I've seen the Suez Canal, a bunch of desert, and the Gulf of Suez. That's about where we're at right now. Looks like there are oil rigs out in the gulf spewing out fire. Not positive they are oil rigs, but that's my guess. That's all for now.

goodbye, cairo

I'm on a bus again, about to cross the Suez Canal.

Cairo has been great, but now it's time to move on to something different. Headed to St. Catherine over in Sinai, which is at the base of Mt. Sinai.

Oh... Look at that. I'm in Asia now. Just crossed the Suez Canal.

Plan for today is to find a place to stay, eat, get bus tickets back to Cairo, then set out for the peak at 2am or so to catch the sunrise. After that, Luxor!

Monday, March 10, 2008

day 4

Today was another good day. Got bus and train tickets for St. Catherine and Aswan. Funny thing is that this is the third day in a row that we walked by the bus station. We came across it the first day while wandering, came across it yesterday while lost (but we got unlost the moment we saw it), and today we were actually seeking it out. Oddly, we had no idea it was a bus station until today.

We spent the rest if the day exploring the length of Islamic Cairo. Hit up a few mosques, climbed a few minarets, and had some great street food. Got some fantastic falafel. At $0.20 a sandwich, we had two each. Sure, there may have been some cleanliness concerns, but we haven't gotten sick yet, so who cares it he used his bare hands to smush the falafel, wiped his hands on his dirty sweater, picked up the tomatoes from the bowl surrounded by flies, and then used those same hands to grab us change while he left our bills on the food prep surface? All we know is that it was damn good.

So for dinner, we may either have more falafel ($0.30 for a sandwich near our hotel) or get some koshari for once.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


hello, sphinx

Paul Ip
Class of 2008
Yale School of Management

day 3

Subway ticket to Giza: $0.20
Sharing a cab to the Pyramids: $0.50
Bus ticket back to the Metro: $0.10
Subway ticket back to Cairo: $0.20
Share of tip to local who helped us find the bus and treated us to
cane juice: $0.50
Visiting the Pyramids on our own terms: priceless

After 16+ miles of walking yesterday we went for another action packed today, hitting up both the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum.

Rather than book organized transportation for the Pyramids (which would have cost us an astonishing $10! That's insane!), we decided to go there ok our own terms. We rocked the metro from our hotel to Giza, which is 9km from the Pyramids. There, we found a cabbie who was willing to take us there for E£5 (about a dollar). Seemed too easy!

Well, it kind of was. He dropped us off in some random place where some people tried to sell us camel rides, which we of course refused. After all, E£50 (about ten bucks)! That's insane! The fake tourist police guy then pointed us the wrong way to the main entrance. Basically he told us to go take a walk in the desert. After passing by the edge of town (about 200m), things didn't seem quite right and we turned around, following the wall the other way. My guess is that they would strand us and then subsequently "rescue" us for some even higher charge. Not us!

After taking a walk through the town, which was mostly stables, we got to the main entrance. We would be constantly accosted by people offering camel rides, ranging from E£25 to E£50 (five to ten dollars). After a while we got tired of it and started speaking exclusively in Cantonese and pretending not to know any English. The trick worked pretty well! In the end we walked to all the places the camels would have taken us, and it didn't cost us anything, just the E£25 entrance fee. Good times. Only issue was the air quality - pretty bad today. But as I said, it was a great experience.

Getting back to the metro was a bit more of a challenge. No one was willing to take our cheapass offer of E£5, although one did offer E£10. We were about to go for E£10 when we ran into some random dude (Abdul) who told us that we should take the bus instead. He took us to the bus stop and waited for the bus with us, even treating us with some cane juice. E£0.50 later, we are back to the metro station. As George W. Bush would say, mission accomplished.

After the Pyramids, we headed over to the Egyptian Museum, which is conveniently located on the other side of a ten lane road, which we crossed, because that's what we do. We are getting pretty good at dodging cars, although I have to keep reminding myself that just because its comfortable doesn't mean it's safe. (-;

Tomorrow: get bus and train tickets for Mt. Sinai and Luxor and probably return to Islamic Cairo.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

hello, cairo

day 2

So Patrick and I did our typical "explore a whole city in a day" trick in Cairo today, exploring almost all of central Cairo on foot. Left to do: Pyramids, Egyptian Museum, and Islamic Cairo (where we're heading right now).

Highlight of the trip so far:
Wandering in some random area in Cairo that looked interesting (read: outdoor market), where we shared some lunch and some tea with some locals. They knew no English, and we knew no Arabic, but I think we were both entertained by each other's company. We did teach each other how to say "motorcycle" in our respective languages, but we didn't take them up on the offer of a tour riding the bike. Then PMA almost killed himself.

Friday, March 07, 2008

day 1

Just got into our hotel here in Cairo. It's a little past midnight local time. It's 5:42pm in New York...

Got in fine. No issues with luggage or getting in. Had a good time haggling with people for a ride to our hotel. Saved E£5 or spent an extra EL15 depending on the point if view. People here so far are friendly, as long as you play along. We are willing to play along. (-; We're also speaking more Chinese for more private conversations. Good times.

We almost got a room on the fourth floor. Instead, we're staying in room 28!

welcome to cairo

Our room at the Windsor Hotel.

welcome to europe

Exchange rate now at about $1.50 for €1. That $12 burger wasn't even
that good.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

prospect park

still looking for those pyramids!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

these don't look like pyramids!

Cavs against the NY Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

goodbye, new haven

I'm on my way. Heading to NYC on the Metro-North. GO CAVS!!!

Monday, March 03, 2008

packing list

For comparison purposes, the Chile/Argentina trip:


Planning on packing even lighter this time. This trip's packing list (excluding camera and bathroom stuff):
  • Three pairs of cotton boxers
    I feel like I can get away with two. Three makes me feel more civilized, and serves as insurance against equipment failure (remember Janet?).
  • One pair of synthetic boxers
    These kind of suck, but are good for swimming (with shorts), running, and hiking.
  • Two pairs of synthetic socks
    They dry quickly. Nice.
  • One pair of jammy pants
  • One pair of shorts
    In case I decide to run or take a swim
  • Two pairs of linen pants
  • Two linen shirts
  • One synthetic t-shirt
    Might be sleepwear, or day use, or hike use, or bus use, or train use. It's comfy, and cleans up well.
  • Two cotton undershirts
    One for sleepwear, the other as a potential pillowcase, towel, whatever.
  • Merrell Jungle Mocs
  • Nike Sandals
The following stuff is for the day in New York City and the night hike up Mount Sinai:
  • Wind breaker
  • Long sleeve cotton tee
  • Fleece vest
  • Jeans
  • Cheap-ass gloves
  • Hat
  • Flashlight (one set of batteries)
I'm assuming Patrick will be bringing:
  • Camera charger
  • Sunscreen
  • Shaving cream
Common stuff I'll be bringing:
  • Power adapters (the round pins)
  • iPod charger

Sunday, March 02, 2008

our hotel in luxor

plans plans plans

I wake up this morning with an unsettled stomach from last night. (Happy Birthday, Patrick!) Yesterday was a great day and we got a lot of stuff done. I still have an 8-10 page paper to write that I haven't yet started, but we made a lot of progress in planning out things that need to be done between now and graduation.

  • Watching a New York Knicks game (NYC)
    This will be done Wednesday by leaving immediately after a meeting to catch the 4:24 Metro-North train to New York. Go Cavs!
  • Watching a New York Yankees game (NYC)
    Done last year. Might go again in May after classes end.
  • Watching a New York Mets game (NYC)
    Tickets booked for April 13th.
  • Watching a Red Sox Game (Boston)
    Discussion in progress with my peeps in Boston
  • Performance at Sprague Hall (NYC)
    Done. Although I wouldn't mind another one.
  • Performance at Woolsey Hall (NYC)
    Missed out on this one. I'm out of town the weekend of the last performance of the year (April 26).
  • Yale Repertory Theater (New Haven)
    Need to organize a group, but they're around till May 16th, so this is an after-classes-end activity.
  • Shubert Theater (New Haven)
    Might check out Hairspray when it comes to town later this year.
  • Yale Symphony Orchestra (New Haven)
    Planning on attending the free concert the weekend of commencement.
  • Visiting random Yale buildings (New Haven)
    Will do some random Friday with Klee?
  • Group outing to Chinatown (NYC)
    Will be combined with the Mets game, and all other excursions to NYC.

In addition to figuring all this out yesterday, we also managed to plan out a few other trips this weekend. Finally did planning for the Egypt trip (since we'll be there four days from now) and initial planning for three other trips - another drive across the country, attending a wedding, and going to Cleveland right after classes end to catch an Indians game (and visit the fam, or course).

Perhaps I should do some class work now?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

the plan

oh. hi.