Posted by: englishdubai | August 18, 2009

Pyramids in the Sand


Usual business trips no matter where I am are typically the same. Busy airports, tired hotels and a stream of customer and partner meetings punctuated with a mad dash back to catch the last flight to Dubai. So it was a good change to be able to finally get to see the mighty Giza Pyramids.

For some reason I was expecting a long drive out to the desert to see them, but the Giza pyramids are literally on the edge of the city and the drive (other than normal crazy traffic) was short.

On arrival, my colleague Walid started negotiating with one of the many guides. There certainly was a lot of loud Arabic going on for quite a while. I busied myself by taking in the sights of the three large pyramids. Here are me and Walid excited at the prospect of seeing one of the wonders of the world:
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The initial guide negotiation yielded a short guided tour of some of the ruins alongside the pyramids and a brief history of the site. However, the guide was really more interested in taking some photos of me and who could visit the Pyramids and not have a rather corny “Perspective” photo taken? with due respect to my guide he knew exactly where I should stand:

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It made me smile because once done I spent the rest of the afternoon looking for other people taking such photos. My favourite being this lady “standing” on a Pyramid:

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Once the brief tour had concluded the real negotiation with the guide began. He wanted to sell us a complete tour of all the pyramids to conclude with a trip to the Sphinx. I was offered the choice of taking a horse ride, a camel ride or a ride in a horse and cart, it was an easy decision. As someone whose last encounter was riding a donkey on Blackpool Beach twenty odd years ago I was a horse and cart man every time. This was where the fun began.

After a little time my rather tired chariot arrived with possibly the most rickety looking wheels I have seen. Nonetheless ,with the temperature approaching 40c the shaded hood on the cart would be welcome. I was a little worried that an old cart and even older horse might be not be man enough to drag one hundred kilos of prime English beef around the desert for the afternoon. It was apparently no problem, they make their transport tough and wiry around the Pyramids:

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Upon mounting up and setting off with a second horse and cart pulling Walid – I was greeted with the lovely view of the horses behind. As it was hot the horse was working hard and I was getting an amazing aroma of hot sweaty horse to accompany my scenic trip. This only got better when the horse raised its tail and gave me a fruity burst of horse flatulence. Just beautiful.

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Now that my eyes were feasting on the treats of the desert and Pyramids (while watering a little) and my olfactory system was getting a special equine treat it would seem a shame for the my hearing to miss out. It was a good job that the horse and cart had been retrofitted with speakers, amplifier and a tape deck. I first thought they may play a recorded guided tour.

A fistful of tapes were soon found and some suitably upbeat Arabic music was played for my listening pleasure as we bounced along the trail. At one point the stereo seemed to be having a tough time with the harsh environment, after a couple of tape swaps not fixing the issue, more radical methods were used. A quick finger to into the tape machine to wipe the heads didn’t do the trick but a healthy lick of the offending tape had it going again. Sadly, after a few minutes it had given up again. Instead, I was left with the guide who would ask me every two minutes if he was doing a good job and that a large tip would be nice.

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Once we had seen the three great pyramids we sped downhill towards the Sphinx. This is something I thought I would never see. I was not disappointed. To my mind a true wonder. Huge, imposing and majestic. It was mind boggling.

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Energised by seeing the Sphinx we were sent to a tourist trap to see some hugely expensive Papyrus which were nice to look at. It was a fun couple of hours and something I will never forget. If I did it again, I would go for an air conditioned mini bus as the horse cart comes very close to the large tour coaches zooming around and I never felt entirely safe. Also I felt very sorry for the poor horse.

I now have a very real desire to see Luxor and when in Jordan next Petra. It is all about finding the time.


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