A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about backpacking

The Dawn of Egypt

sunny 28 °C

Cairo is clearly an amazing place to live - 22 million Egyptians can't be wrong. But when all 22 million hit the road each morning in swarms of clapped-out fume-spewing minibuses and tuk-tuks, the air turns blue.
Here is the iconic view of The Pyramids from the roof of our Giza hotel.
Can you see these 4,500 year-old wonders of the ancient world through the haze? No - Neither can we.
But we have not come to complain about the pollution and the constant din - everyone else does that. We are here to be overawed by the ancient monuments and to marvel at the skill and ingenuity of craftsmen whose fingerprints and chisel marks can still be found on the building blocks of history. We have come to visit The Land of the Pharaohs and to walk in the footsteps of men whose handiwork has survived more than four millennia. We will block out the blaring horns and the calls of the muezzins from a thousand mosques, and be transported to a time when Egypt was at the birth of modern western civilization.

And we will start here at the Great Pyramid of Cheops
(Jim is vexed to discover that this pyramid is only 2 inches out of true, while his new deck at home is nearly 5 inches off kilter)

This is the Sphinx

Tonight we had our first Egyptian meal - and what an experience it turned out to be.
The restaurant - El Sisi (The foal) on Haram Street, was gaily festooned; there was even a red carpet to the door. There were flashing lights and music, and huge bouquets of flowers. There were dozens of uniformed staff and hordes of well-dressed customers. But no one was eating. "Can we order? we asked, but no one spoke anything but Arabic. Here is the outside...

while inside, the displays of food looked fabulous.

If only we could get someone to serve us!
Waleed, the owner, eventually came to our rescue and we discovered that we had wandered into the opening night celebration of his brand new restaurant. And we were his very first customers.
Waleed ordered us a feast and we were introduced to all the VIP's who had been invited to the event.
For a terrific meal the next time you are in Cairo - go to El Sisi and give our names. You won't regret it.

Posted by Hawkson 13:07 Archived in Egypt Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

It's a Wet, Wet, Wet, Wonderful World!

semi-overcast 31 °C

It’s the monsoon season in this watery world. The oceans of rice paddies are daily turned to steam baths by the scorching noonday sun, but by dinnertime the overburdened sky can take no more and it lets go with a warning clash of thunder and lightning. Bucketfuls of warm rain deluge the paddies in a nightly demonstration of the reciprocating cycle of life. In the midst of such a downpour in Ubud, Bali, we watched the Legong dancers in the amazingly ornate community centre.
The suppleness and precision of the dancers was spellbinding whilst the accompanying gamelin was …interesting. Regrettably, we can only show you images of the gongs, drums and primitive xylophones of this orchestra. However, for a close approximation of the percussive cacophony, empty your pots and pans cupboard onto the floor and let loose a dozen of the neighborhood kids with hammers, mallets and wooden spoons.
Water has been the key element in our travels: from crossing the Pacific to Japan; zipping along the Phrao in Bangkok on the water buses; lazily cruising down the Mekong in Laos; and sailing a junk on the South China Sea. The list is almost endless: the Andaman Sea, Indian Ocean, Sea of Bali and Straits of Malacca – we’ve sailed them all. And now as we plan the ending of this journey we have decided to carry on around the world – to cross the Indian Ocean and Asia to England and from there across the Channel to France and the Mediterranean. We will then return home via the Atlantic, the Arctic, Hudson’s Bay, and finally the Strait of Georgia.
Everyday, as we check our emails or talk to family and friends by phone, we marvel at how small the world has become. But then, as we backpack our way around it, we are awed by its enormity and diversity. Despite all the doom and gloom, this truly is a wonderful world.

Posted by Hawkson 22:12 Archived in Indonesia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Rebecca's Backpack

sunny 28 °C

This is Rebecca. She is usually a very chipper Aussie. But today she is looking glum because she took the cheapie junk tour of Ha Long Bay - Crikey! What a BIG mistake Rebecca!


But this is Rebecca's backpack with Sheila and friends. Unlike glum Rebecca, her backpack looks jolly cheerful because it took the luxury cruise with us - Way to go Rebecca's backpack.


We can't be certain that Rebecca's backpack planned it this way, but while Rebecca thought her faithful piece of luggage was lounging securely in her hotel's baggage room until her return, the crafty sack slipped aboard our tour bus and came on the cruise with us to Ha Long Bay. And what a time it had - five star accommodation, superb haute cuisine, and even a visit with the captain on the bridge of our junk. It is a trip that Rebecca's backpack will never forget. Poor Rebecca. She'll only have memories of a vomit blocked toilet and fifty drunks singing "Waltzing bleepin' Matilda."

Apologies to Steve Butler of The West Australian newspaper for scooping this splash.

Posted by Hawkson 01:50 Archived in Vietnam Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Lao Adventurers

sunny 27 °C

Riverside watering holes take on an entirely new meaning in this famous Lao town - the self-described "Tubing Capital of the World."
Bus loads of exuberant young backpackers all said, "You've gotta go tubing on the Nam Song - everyone does."
We snaked for 7 hours on a bus through spectacularly tortuous mountains, anticipating an adrenalin driven ride down rapids, whirlpools and watershoots in inflated truck inner tubes. We'd heard of zip-lines, bungee jumps and water slides, together with tales of of broken limbs, bruised bodies, smashed cameras, and all manner of foolhardy falangs' goodies being dredged from the river by the locals.
Would we risk it all?
Would we hire inner tubes and join the madness?
Would we shed four decades and take on the mighty river?
Not flipping likely!
But wait - where are the bone smashing rapids and the foaming surf? Where is this Niagara of S.E.Asia?
Certainly not here, but the entrepreneurial owners of the numerous riverside bars have found a niche market - thousands of beer hungry backpackers drifting gently down this softly flowing tepid river, who go home with intoxicated tales of bravado as big as their hangovers.

This week's question - where are we?
The prize - an inner tube and a bucket of Lao whisky on this idyllic riverside. (airfare not included).

Posted by Hawkson 01:51 Archived in Laos Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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