A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Our last day in Egypt… November 14, 2010

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 10:00 pm
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Originally 11/5/10…

On our last day in Egypt, we woke up on the train and got our stuff together. I actually slept surprisingly well (it’s amazing what a little sleeping pill can do, right!) I was just starting to think “maybe I was scared of this train for nothing…” and then I saw a huge cockroach in our room. Needless to say, I spent the last hour standing in the hallway with my bag zipped up waiting to jump off as soon as humanly possible. Ew.

ANNNNYWAYS… we dropped our bags off at the Victoria Hotel and headed out by bus to explore a little more of Cairo.

By the way, we could see (and hear) roosters from our hotel window… See them up there on the right?

The city is busy, congested and dirty, but also a little bit charming.

We headed to the Citadel which is a Persian style mosque high on a hill.

We know it has Persian influence because of the star and crescent on the top.

Our tour guide took us inside the mosque and taught us the proper etiquette for entering. First, you must take off your shoes, and women must cover their shoulders and knees.

The courtyard was really beautiful with nice marble floors.

Then Sherif taught us how to wash your hands, feet and mouth before going inside. (We didn’t really have to do this, but it was neat to see how the locals would do it.)

Inside it was really pretty. The floor is carpeted because they pray on the floor.

What a cool experience to see how other cultures practice their religion.

Inside the mosque was also the tomb of Mohammed Ali.

From the outside of the Mosque, we got some really nice views of Cairo.


Then we headed out towards the desert to see the Step Pyramid in Saqqara. It was built in 2700 BC. They didn’t know how to build the sides slanted like a triangle, but they had the structure down pretty good. They used stone to build six layers.



Surrounding the walls was a row of cobras who were thought to protect it.

All around us were tombs, little pyramids and other excavated sites.

This was thought to be the first ‘room’ in ancient history. It had walls, columns and a roof.


Then we had our last group lunch together. Per usual, I stuck with rice, fries, bread and a little veggies (cooked). You might laugh, but I was one of the few that didn’t get sick at all on this trip!

After lunch, we went to the Khan Al-Khalili market (which is the largest market in Cairo). It has been around since 1382AD.

It was a maze of vendors and souvenirs. Some of it was overwhelming, but it was a fun experience.

On our way back to the hotel, we saw one of the busiest markets for the locals. This is just a typical Saturday for them. Can you imagine?


Driving in Cairo is just crazy. There are no traffic lights, no lanes and no rules!

After cleaning up at the Hotel, we headed out towards the Pyramids for the ‘Light and Sound’ show. Once the sun goes down, people gather in seats to see the pyramids light up at night.

It started off pretty neat, it was awesome to see them light up against the starry sky.

But things got a little weird when the Sphinx began to talk via laser lights… (just sayin’)

Definitely a little hokey, but I’d still recommend it. It’s worth it to sit and gaze at the pyramids in the desert at night.

The next morning, we packed up our bags, said good bye to our new friends, and headed off to the airport.

By the way, the Cairo airport is the most disorganized thing I’ve ever seen in my life. We went through security four times. It was insane. But at least they had free wifi! (go figure!)

We are SO glad we went on this trip. It was the adventure of a lifetime.

And with that, I leave you with this. It was a store that sells placards… why on earth would anyone need a sign that says ‘chicken’?

Thanks for following us on our journey to relive our trip. I hope you enjoyed the stories and pictures.


Luxor and the Valley of the Kings November 13, 2010

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 8:06 pm
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Originally 11/4/2010…

Today, we woke up at 5:30am. As the sun was rising, we headed towards the Valley of the Kings. On the way, we saw Hatshepsut’s temple in the Valley of the Queens.

I was sad we couldn’t really get any closer than this. But apparently it’s closed for restoration now.

Our bus winded it’s way through the beautiful mountains until we came to the entrance of the Valley of the Kings.

They didn’t allow cameras to be taken onto the grounds (major bummer), but it was kind of nice to look around and take it all in without worrying about capturing it on film. The tombs are literally in a valley in the middle of big stone mountains. You have to take a tram to get to the main entrance.

There are 63 tombs that have been uncovered so far in the Valley. Each one is noted with ‘KV’ for ‘Kings Valley’. They are listed in order of being discovered. The newest one was found in 2006, I’m sure there are even more to find if they keep digging! It is the first tomb they’ve found since 1922 (when King Tut was discovered).


We went inside six different tombs. Each was amazing, magical and breathtaking. They are almost 4,000 years old! You read about them in elementary school and it was really inspiring to see them in person. Just incredible.

We went inside the following tombs, click on the links for amazing 3D images and descriptions!

  • Ramses IV which is KV2.
  • Ramses VI which is KV9.
    Ramses III which is KV11.
  • Tuthmosis III which is KV34.
  • King Tut which is KV62.

Tuthmosis III (or Thutmes III) was the most impressive of all the tombs. It was carved high into the rock, and Sherif explained that it was the ‘Indiana Jones’ tomb. There were booby traps inside to deter grave diggers. You had to slide down slick rocks, jump over deep pits and cut holes into the rocks to get to the mummy and it’s treasures (of course people still found a way to get to the tomb, but it was worth a shot!) It was so fun climbing inside.


The most decorative tomb was Ramses III, you could still see the paint on the ceilings as if it was still fresh.


But of course, the most famous tomb is King Tut. You have to pay extra to go into his, but it was totally worth it. Since he died so young, his tomb wasn’t elaborate or big, but it was jam packed with treasures when Howard Carter found it in 1922.

All of the tomb’s treasures, outer coffins and the golden mask are in the Egyptian Museum, but his sarcophagus is still inside the tomb.


On the other side of the tomb is King Tut himself. He doesn’t look like a boy king anymore, but his presence was definitely felt inside the tomb. Maybe they’re still afraid of the curse of king tut, or maybe it’s to make money from charging people to go look at him, but they left the body inside indefinitely. Oh Egypt.


It was such an amazing morning, we know we’re so lucky we got to see the things we saw. So much history in one little valley.
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We wondered, why would they pick this valley to bury their pharaohs? They believed that pyramids was the way to afterlife (directly to the sun). But pyramids became too risky since tomb robbers knew where to spot the treasure. But the top of this mountain looked like a pyramid! Perfect! Disguised AND still an express train to the sun.

While we were driving out, we saw archeological crews still digging. I wonder what amazing things still have yet to be discovered.

My memory is a little fuzzy on this one, but I think this is the Temple of Ramses. (The ordinary people were too afraid to go anywhere near the tombs, so they built temples to honor them instead).

After that, we stopped quickly at the Colossi of Memnon. These were built in 1350 BC.

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There was quite a history behind these statues, they’ve been through a lot over the past 3,500 years.


I love tour books, I always want to know what I’m looking at. lol NERD!

Then we took the bus to one of the highlights of the trip… the Temple of Karnack.

Sherif, our tourguide, led us back in time when he described the wonder inside.

This was a view looking back towards the Nile. Before they built the dam, the nile used to flood all the way up to where I took this picture!

Leading up to the main entrance was a row of Ram heads.

Each ram had a god under it’s head. Partly to give the rams spiritual protection, but also to physically support the stone so it didn’t crack. Genius, no?

Inside was a huge statue of Ramses II.

Around the temple were giant walls. And they built these walls by creating mud ramps. After it was complete, they’d remove the temporary ramp… but in this temple, they stopped building before they had time. You can see it here…

Inside the temple are huge pillars. They built these by filling the interior with sand as they built, then they’d climb up and keep building. When it was done, and the roof was on, they cleared all the sand out.
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The paint can still be seen on the ceiling!



There was a really pretty drawing on one of the walls that shows two Egyptians in love. This was extremely rare in Egyptian art.

Outside the temple, is a Scarab Beetle.

You’re supposed to walk around the statue 7 times and make 7 wishes.
So around and around I go!

Nearby is the sacred lake that the priests used to use as holy water.

It’s a long story, but one of the pharaohs didn’t like his wife (who commissioned the obelisk) so he covered it up. This is the reason it is now one of the best preserved obelisks in Egypt. (Joke’s on him, right?)
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Then we headed back to the boat to shower and pack up. Our three night cruise down the Nile was over.

We will miss this boat. It was a lot of fun. (In the background, you can see the Valley of the Kings lit up.

It was time to head out of Luxor. I assure you it’s MUCH better than the one in Las Vegas!
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Back to the train station for another night sleeping in a closet train compartment. Before we got on the train, we went to a supermarket to buy dinner. This consisted of Cookies, Nutella, Kit Kat with Hazelnut Cream and Pringles. Yes. I was definitely nutritionally lacking on this trip.

It wasn’t so bad though. You make the best of it.
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Tomorrow is our last day in Egypt. There is one more post left to share. I hope you are enjoying them!

Make sure you enter the contest! I’ll be picking a random winner, so give it your best shot!


Arriving in Beautiful Aswan November 11, 2010

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 2:00 pm
Tags: , , ,

Originally 11/1/2010…

After taking a sleeping pill and waking up on the train, we were excited to find ourselves in Aswan, Egypt.

Egypt Map


Since we avoided all the food on the train, here’s the breakfast of champions!
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Aswan was far less crowded than Cairo and very beautiful.

Our first stop of the day was seeing the ‘little dam’ and the ‘big dam’.
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A few decades ago, the Egyptians decided to build a dam to stop the yearly flooding of the Nile.

This then created the largest man-made lake in the world. Lake Nasser.
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Then we headed to Egyptian-Russian friendship monument. It was constructed by the Egyptians to thank the Russians for helping them build the Dam. The top is shaped like a Lotus Flower.
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Our tour continued through the village of Aswan. These are some old mud tombs of local families.

Next, we visited the unfinished obelisk. The Egyptians started carving this out of a granite quarry thousands of years ago. They used crude rocks to chip away at the stone.
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Unfortunately, when they were almost done with it, the stone cracked and they abandoned the project.

If they had finished this project, it would have been the largest obelisk in the world at 137 feet (even beating the Roman ones that were constructed years later).

This would have been the top of the obelisk:
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Posing in the quarry… (PS, those are the new sketchers I bought for the trip. I LOVED them!)




Next was one of favorite parts of the trip… a ride on a felucca.
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The Nile River runs south to north, but the wind blows north to south. This is how the ancient Egyptians were able to travel BOTH ways up and down the river (thus the reason their civilization thrived). Feluccas are a type of sailboat.

As we were cruising, we passed the Cataract Hotel. It was built by Thomas Cook, but made famous by Agatha Christie’s novel, Death on the Nile.


The views were amazing from the river. You can see the lush river banks shadowed by the dry Sahara desert.

Up on this hill was a mausoleum of Aga Khan.

We then docked at the Aswan Botanical Garden, a lush oasis rich with exotic plants.



This looked like a scene we saw in Cairo Time but then we heard it wasn’t. Still beautiful though.
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Then we took our Felucca back to the mainland.
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The Ride was almost an hour and it was SO relaxing and peaceful. There are no engines on the bat, so you just quietly sail along the calm waters.
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Our sailors entertained us later with traditional music and dance.

Then we arrived at our destination… our cruiseship!! This is where we’ll be staying for the next three nights!
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Our room was very big, and pretty comfortable (a nice change from sleeping on the train!)
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All aboard!

After a relaxing afternoon on the boat, we went to a local perfume shop to see how they make them.

Then we braved the Aswan Market after dark.
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It was crowded and noisy. The vendors are very aggressive and you have to know going in it will be like this. It can be a little overwhelming if you’re not prepared. It was definitely an experience.

We enjoyed dinner on the ship and slept like babies on the boat.

Stay tuned for the next post… we’re heading to Abu Simbel!


Embarking on an Egyptian Adventure!

Filed under: Cairo — Kelocity @ 7:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Originally 10/30/2010…

Early Saturday morning, we took the metro to the airport in Dubai and headed to Cairo. We had a fabulous time in Dubai, but a new adventure was awaiting us!

When we took off, we could see “The World” from the air. Those are the man-made islands that they are creating to look like different countries.

We also had some great views of the ‘palm islands’. It is amazing how they built those.


Emirates Airlines once again impressed us. Dubai to Cairo is less than four hours. Our flight path went directly through Saudi Arabia, just south of Iraq.

Nervous? Nah…I napped the whole way. (Which of course means obligatory photos of me sleeping. haha)

I woke up in time to get our first glimpse of the Pyramids from the sky.

Then we started to get REALLY excited that we were actually going to Egypt!!

We were definitely a little nervous, but we had an airport transfer from Contiki. They picked us up and brought us directly to our hotel (Hotel Victoria). I heard bad things about this hotel, but it was fine and we slept really well.

We were really lucky and have a friend of a friend who lives in Cairo, so she took us to have lunch at a restaurant called ‘Sequoia’, which is on the Nile. I played it safe and ordered a Pasta Dish. (In Egypt, I stuck to a ‘no veggies, no dairy, no meat’ rule to avoid getting sick).

At 7pm, we got to meet our Contiki tour manager, Sherif, and the trip officially began!

The next day, we woke up bright and early for our first day of sight seeing. It wouldn’t be Contiki without a bus!
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There is something so fun about being with 40 other world travelers who are equally as excited about seeing Egypt as we were. This is our third contiki tour, and we were anxious for it to begin!
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Sherif said to us: “Welcome to Egypt. You are going to see King Tut’s treasures and his golden mask, you will ride a camel around the pyramids and then go inside them, you will kiss the sphinx and walk on the Saraha desert—and that’s just today!”

Our first stop was the Egyptian Museum.
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This houses all of King Tut’s treasures, his tombs and the famous golden mask. We also saw the mummies of many pharaohs, including Ramses II. We couldn’t take any pictures inside the museum, but we had a fantastic guided tour.

The museum is really old (1902) and really hasn’t been updated since. It was kind of a shame to see such history and priceless artifacts being displayed on rotting wood pedestals with poor lighting. But they are working on building a new museum that is slated to open in 2011. They are financing this new museum by ‘putting King Tut to work’. The traveling exhibit of some artifacts from his tomb is currently on tour in the US, and the profits will pay for the museum’s new home in Giza.

Then we hopped on our tour bus and headed toward the pyramids. The Nile was glistening in the sun.
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Cairo has 22 million people, and most of them live in cramped, dirty apartments. A lot of them don’t have windows or roofs because they live tax-free until the building is completed…. so there is no incentive to ever finish building them. There was a staggering amount of trash everywhere (including the Nile).

Over one bridge, we looked over and saw a bunch of camels in a courtyard. Sherif told us they were going to be sacrificed… sad!
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Just beyond the bustling city of Cairo, the pyramids started to appear in the horizon.
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As we got closer and closer, they looked bigger and bigger.

I just couldn’t believe that we standing at the base of the pyramids. They were really beautiful.
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Tomb robbers looking for treasures robbed them thousands of years ago. Here, you can see the original entrance, and one dug by thieves looking for the burial chambers.
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As we walked around the pyramids, we came to the herd of camels waiting to carry us on a journey back in time.
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Our entire contiki group went as one giant caravan into the desert.

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The camel totally photobombed this picture:

Anyone who knows me knows how much I fear horses…. and camels are even SCARIER! But who could pass up an opportunity like this?
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Doesn’t this look photoshopped? It’s not, I promise! Irving took this!

October was the PERFECT time to go to Egypt. It was 80 degrees out. They told us we saw the first clouds they had seen in months. IMG_1329

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The three smaller pyramids were the Queen’s Pyramids.

My camel was NOT behaving. I think he was in love with the camel next to me.

I was afraid to ride them at first, but by the end, we became good friends.

Then it was time to have a little fun with the pyramids.

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Look mom, we’re at the pyramids!!
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We were SO lucky, we got to go INSIDE the second pyramid! (money can get you anything in Egypt!) We walked down the burial shaft into the room inside. There was nothing in there anymore, but it was SO cool to say we went in. It was SOO hot and humid in there though. We stayed just for a couple of minutes and hiked back out.


The pyramids are the only surviving ‘seven wonders of the world’.


Then we went to meet the Sphinx!


Reese, the gnome, got to kiss him!


But I got one too!



If you’re keeping track, we didn’t eat lunch that day. haha If we stopped for lunch, we wouldn’t have time to fit everything in. So naturally, we had gummy bears when we got back on the bus. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Then we headed to a resort nearby to relax by the pool and clean up for dinner.


Sticking with my ‘no dairy, no meat, no veggies’ policy… the carb fest continued. (Believe me, by the end of the week, I was craving colorful veggies and fruits!)

The outdoor restaurant was really nice.

Next came the part of the trip I was dreading the most… the overnight train to Aswan. We rode ‘first class’, but by American standards, it was far from that.


Each compartment fits two people…

But with the beds down, we could barely move. It was fun though, and we actually slept pretty well.

We both brought travel sheets with us (which were the envy of the group, we highly recommend them!)

Next stop: Aswan!

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win an Egyptian prize!


Cairo Time August 28, 2010

Filed under: Cairo,Dubai,Movies — Kelocity @ 11:13 am
Tags: , ,

Irving and I are planning a vacation to Cairo and Dubai! We are getting really, really excited but still a little unsure of what to expect.

Yesterday, we went to a cute little indie movie theater in Pasadena to see the film Cairo Time.


It was a little slow and predictable, but it was really a beautiful film. It was so simple, yet deep and passionate and I totally let myself fall inside. The film made Cairo feel romantic and exciting! So foreign and rustic, yet comfortable and real. In parts, it looked like any other European city. Irving and I giggled through parts because we just can’t believe we’re going!

The fashion in the film was just incredible. I think we were both blown away at the beauty of the clothes. They were soft and flowing against the grainy-ness of the Egyptian dessert.

I was in love with this dress:
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And Irving agreed that this guy’s suit was the most amazing suit we’ve ever seen…


And there’s one scene with an arabic wedding and the girl’s wedding dress was just GORGEOUS! I know nothing about fashion, but I know a good dress when I see one. 🙂

[note to self: get pretty clothes for our trip to the middle east!]

Needless to say, after the movie, our minds were spinning with excitement. We headed straight for a travel bookstore to do some more research!

Can’t wait!


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