things I wish I'd known before I went to Egypt

Jan 12th, 2010, 03:51 AM
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Poor Ivy, I just feel bad that you had so many negative experiences on what should have been a perfect trip. I agree with justshootme that it could have been because it was your first 3rd world country, but I'd have to add that no one explained to you (prior to your trip) that there can be a tremendous culture shock when someone from a developed country goes into an undeveloped one for the first time. I guess it's not what you'd expect your travel agent to warn you about and maybe you don't know anyone else personally who'd been there to explain this you. I also think that having been so ill for 3 days probably increased your frustrations. I hope you will be able to 'forget' your bad experiences enough to look back and enjoy your memories. And maybe someday in the future you will feel confident enough to go to another 3rd world country. Or maybe not. It's not for everyone, that's for sure.
tinydancer is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 04:04 AM
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Having lived in 2 different 3rd world countries...I agree. It's not always easy to deal with. To be honest, I was nervous about my DH's aunt and uncle coming to visit us in Egypt. They had never been anywhere except Europe and the Caribbean. But they were great.

On the other hand, I knew some expat women that couldn't even make it a year. They just couldn't take it.
Grcxx3 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:11 AM
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I think some of you are missing Ivy's point. She had a great trip but... Her points are very helpful and maybe one should think of 3rd world travel as an experience and not just a vacation. 3rd world travel CAN be very difficult and tiring. I have lived in Iran and travel a lot of the world including Asia, India and Africa but not Egypt. So using my experience in India, these trips are wonderful and exciting and more fun when you do get home and can reflex back on the trip. There ARE lots of times that are uncomfortable in the moment but make the best stories/memories once you're home and comfortable again. In fact these may turn out to be the best parts of your trip in time. I will never forget my drive from Deli to Agra, do I want to do it again, never, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. (The Taj Mahal is definitely in my top 5.)

I have always want to go to Egypt. I was told that it was worse/harder to visit than India or Nepal. So for the last 20 years Egypt comes up on my radar every couple of years and I put it off because I'm not quite ready. Well this is the year so I'll let you know my thoughts in 11/2010.

Back to Ivy, thank you for your thoughts. Knowing what to expect is the best preparation. I have to say it made me chuckle to see the bathroom at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. It is bill as one of the worst in the world and it is. But if I was expecting to use it I would have cried! They have started construction on a new one but it is believed without water it will never open.
wildlifepainter is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:59 AM
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This is the key for ANY destination. Of course, it also helps to "expect the unexpected!" That's when a sense of humor comes in VERY handy!
Grcxx3 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 07:57 AM
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Absolutely! It's a "trip" rather than a "vacation". It may be a vacation from home, work and day-to-day responsibilities, but it's "work" in itself and therefore not what I would call relaxing. Paris can be the same (since you run yourself ragged trying to see it all, but at least you don't have to "fight" with the country itself). Ivy, again, I wasn't at all trying to negate your experience, I just wanted others who read this to know that your experience/expectations are not [necessarily] the same as everyone else's.
sf7307 is online now  
Jan 12th, 2010, 08:04 AM
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Grcxx3 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 08:40 AM
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Opinions and thoughts on trips for this board are ALWAYS appreciated by those who have been and those who might be going.Its what makes us so much more savvy when we are visiting those areas.
dutyfree is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 01:05 PM
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I'm a new member, not yet traveled to Egypt but long to do so when funds allow, so I've spent months/years reading, studying, and planning in the meantime (including here and on other travel boards). This is my first post and I apologize in advance if it's too long or inappropriate in some way.

This thread is very interesting to me because Ivy's experiences are an almost exact echo of what a good friend of mine says about his Egypt trip! He and a friend of ours went to Egypt (independently, no tour) for a couple of weeks in 2003? 2004? or so. They are both male, white, 30s, American, non-Muslim, non-Arabic speaking, and had not traveled outside of Western or First-World countries before.

The one friend, especially, is fond of ranting about how awful his trip was. He, too, was shocked/discouraged by the constant onslaught of touts; baksheesh demands; bad toilets; and so on. Then, too, he and the other friend, like Ivy, both became pretty sick. I'm sure that had an impact on their view -- it's hard to enjoy a country if you're throwing up on the beautiful monuments or stuck in the water closet for three straight days!

Fortunately, it's not kept me from wanting to go! Unfortunately, my friend is now adamant that not only will he never visit Egypt again, but he will never visit ANY Muslim-majority country (even drastically different ones, e.g., Indonesia).

My point(s), I guess, is that

(a) Ivy's not the only one to come away from Egypt with a less-than-stellar experience in some ways. I've read similar views from travelers on other boards as well as hearing my friend's experiences. I don't think it makes someone a bad person or anything, if they don't like Egypt (or Lithuania, Bhutan, the U.S., or any other country). It's down to personal taste, is all.

(b) As a not-yet-been there person, I really appreciate hearing views and experiences of ALL types, great, awful, and neutral. If nothing else, it prepares me for the range of possible reactions that *I* might have, and the types of things that I might need to expect if/when I go.
Xari is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 01:42 PM
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The more I read, the more I'm certain it's all about expectations. If you expect it to be like what it is - a poor, third-world country, you won't be surprised by conditions there. If, on the other hand, you expect it to be like Manhattan, or London, or Hawaii, you'll definitely be both surprised and disappointed.
sf7307 is online now  
Jan 12th, 2010, 02:10 PM
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Xari - How sad that your friend has given up the idea of visiting any Muslim country. There are so many places he'll be missing - Turkey, Malaysia, Jordan, Morocco, UAE, Oman, the Maldives, all the "stans". Oh well, his loss.

sf7307 - I agree that expectations are the key. But even with all the preparation, research, and knowledge possible - I also believe that some people just can't handle places that are outside their comfort zone.

As I stated before, I was very concerned about DH's aunt and uncle coming to visit us in Egypt. As a matter of fact, when we visited the family in the summer before they were due to come, we really tried to talk them out of it! We told them all about Egypt - the good, the bad, and the ugly. We talked about the dirt, trash, smells, pollution, smog, food issues, uneven surfaces, poverty, vendors, etc. We did not sugarcoat anything. We were quite blunt about many things. In the end - they decided to come and they had a blast. Even now, 7 years later, they still consider it one of their best trips. However, I think the outcome would have been much different if we had not thoroughly prepared them for what to expect.
Grcxx3 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 03:51 PM
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and those people should recognize themselves, and stay in their comfort zones. If you require the Four Seasons (as a metaphor for "everything is perfect" including the evenness of the pavement)everywhere you go, then don't go to places where the pavement will be uneven (or the milk not pasteurized, or the air polluted -- you get my point I'm sure). I remember the one and only time we went to a Club Med (we had a blast, even though the hotel itself was somewhat less than "first class" --the primary reason for choosing it was that it was a "baby club" and we had a 1-year old at the time--talking to some people at dinner, and they they bemoaned the fact that it was n't more like a Holiday Inn (I kid you not!)
sf7307 is online now  
Jan 12th, 2010, 04:22 PM
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Grcxx3, I agree, especially as I myself am eager to see most of those countries someday! But, "different strokes for different folks," as they say. I am hoping that by trying to learn as much as possible beforehand, from books, blogs, travelers, ex-pats and so on, perhaps I can prepare myself a bit and have a better experience than my friend had.

I liked the comments above about travels or experiences vs. "vacations" -- I actually don't see my (eventual) Egypt foray as a vacation at all, quite the opposite actually, but I do expect -- or hope -- to learn a lot.
Xari is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 04:36 PM
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OMG! If you ask my DH and sons to pick our absolute WORST would be a unanimous vote for the Club Med we went to in Sicily. I picked it...mainly because we had just finished an international move (Egypt to Azerbaijan) and I needed to plan something for our October break, but I didn't have the time to do major travel planning.

Now, we did end up having fun (sailing lessons, rollerblading skate park, archery, manicures/pedicures, rock climbing wall, etc) - but it just wasn't our thing. I know some people love them, but we got bored with the endless buffets (even tho the food WAS good), didn't like the mediocre (altho free) wine, the boys had no interest in the "teen club", thought the nightly shows were kind of dumb (altho I appreciated the work involved), etc. Oh - and our rooms had no AC (had to sleep with the balcony doors open) and the black flies were HORRIBLE!!!!! Never again............

That year, for our Christmas trip to Germany, I went back to "travel planning mode" and we had a blast.
Grcxx3 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 07:02 PM
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grcxx, obviously, we never went back to Club Med either -- it's not our "thing" like it's not your's. But we had fun the one time we went, only because we were willing to "go with the flow"!
sf7307 is online now  
Jan 12th, 2010, 07:06 PM
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sf7307 - that's how we got thru the week. We made the most of it - but wouldn't ever do it again. The mere mention of an "all-inclusive" place makes the Y-chromosomes in my family cringe!
Grcxx3 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 02:22 AM
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Ivy, you said get used to not being treated as an equal. I was out recently with my husband and I was tired so I was walking slowly 1-2 feet behind my husband. He said "what are you doing darling, practicing for Egypt!"
MissGreen is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 05:56 AM
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thanks everyone! Xari, especially thanks to you as you are exactly the type of person my OP is meant to assist. I think the nail on the head comment here is that travel like this is not a vacation, it's an experience. Which is fine if that is what you are after. But if you work hard and have the tiny amount of vacation time and funds that most of us have, and you want to relax - go to the Loire valley and tour chateaux or go to Australia and see the outback. But at some point in life - you have to see the sphinx. it's awe inspiring.
Ivy is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 06:00 AM
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What kind of access did you have to the Sphynx?

Real soon after we moved there, they started doing work in the area around it and you really couldn't get close. But by the time my DH's family came to visit, everything was done and we could get right up next to it. But later on, I heard that there were barricades up, preventing you from getting really close. Just curious what the sitation is now.

(When I went in 2007 with my son's school trip, I didn't go out to the pyramids with the kids. I went shopping!)
Grcxx3 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 06:47 AM
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Why a "tourist" and a "traveler" are not one and the same.

MissGreen - "practicing for Egypt" had me howling. Reminds me of a time in Las Vegas dallying behind my BF when he turns around, claps his hands and says "chop chop, this ain't China."
sandi is offline  
Jan 13th, 2010, 07:10 AM
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Go to Egypt and enjoy!!! I have done India and Egypt twice (once with my husband and once with my mom and my teen/preteen kids). We went the expensive way, but only because we were a group of all women. I didn't want to take any chances with my kids. If you have done India and Nepal, Egypt will be right up your alley. I would go again in a heartbeat. DEFINITELY TAKE GOOD GUIDE BOOKS. The Cairo Museum is so packed full of wondrous things that you will walk right by treasures if you don't know to look for them.

My advice is to take 50% more than you think you will need of the following: camera cards & batteries, flashlight batteries, toilet paper, tummy meds, granola bars, purell, extra collapsible suitcase, bug spray, cortisone cream, suntan lotion, sunglasses, CAMERA CARDS AND BATTERIES!!! Also bring little binoculars. They are one of my favorite travel accessories for anywhere.
jmcdo is offline  

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