No blog entries from Sudan as Sudan is banned. We are trying to bypass this
and i think i might have got a way round it but the net is so slow it might
not be possible from my mobile. I've asked my Dad to try to update it and
will send Emails with blog stuff he can post. Also if you notice the twitter
box to the right of the blog page i can try to use that for daily updates in
Twitter style. Fr that i need to get twitter for my phone and with a slow
connection this is difficult. When i say slow, i'm talking 1992 speeds!
So we arrived in Wadi Halfa...the ferry trip was less than great. We slept
on deck and arrived to the boat early at the request of the fixer. This was
as it turns out a VERY good idea. We secured a space under one of te life
boats and this became out home for oer 24 hours. The boat gradually got more
people on board. At the end there wasn't one square meter of deck space.
Gangways filled, stairs sat upon and boxes piled on boxes all over. If you'd
been unlucky to arrive late then you had little chance of getting anywhere
to sit let alone lay down for the night. Our spot was suggested by my Mum.
Thanks Mum !!! It was partially fenced off so there was little chance of
being pushed out of the way which was attempted in normal Egyptian style.
The middle east and africa have no concept of space, personal space of
quiet. Everything is loud and everything is NOW! The push and heave and
cannot queue at all. When we were boarding we were first so not much of a
push but still and BIG push. When getting off we waited a long time for the
rush to subside. There was to customs processes on board and one of them was
as you get off so a big problem. This involved a short interview!
The trip itself was OK and we managed to get some sleep. A pretty good
nights sleep to be honest and had i not been using a very nobbly bag as my
pillow i think I would have gotten 8 hours of proper sleep. IT was cold and
we needed the sleeping bags. We didn't eat the free food.....our travel
companion Henning did and he said it was surprisingly OK. The restaurant
wasn't though. I hate boats and they are never clean and this was a whole
new level. The toilets get a 2 on the 1 to 10 toilet scale. 1 is
unusable....2 barely useable and 10 is the ones in Japan and one of the ones
in a department store in Japan ! Our one at home is an 8....Karen needs to
try harder. (Karen cleans our house and is Julies sister for those who do
The barge with the car has still not arrived....
the car left Sunday at 15:00 and we departed at 17:00 Monday. We arrive in
Wadi Halfa at 11am on Tuesday and the car still isn't here as i type this at
17:30 Wednesday. It may not arrive till tomorrow. I think they towing the
barge with a row boat.
We got a permit to take photos for $10usd and got our permit to travel and
registered as a tourist at the police station, this was £230sud (£115sud
each). This took about 2 hours. We can now drive around Sudan anywhere and
take photos...no Abu Simbel incidents here!
Another night in the hotel. Its too damn noisy. There's some unspeakable
grunts and throat clearings in the morning from 6am and these continue until
all the locals have cleared their nasal passages. The toilets are 2 meters
from our window.
The car is meant to be coming today. This is allegedly "for sure". Well I'm
not sure that their "for sure" means the same as it does in Formula 1.
The car came about midday and took a few hours to unload. The Customs
process was easy using the fixer, allegedly the same one Ewan and Charlie
used and this i believe as there's only two here. The car was untouched and
we could at last sleep in the car again. A reasonably quiet night.
Omelette for breakfast again with the Danish biker Henning. He's almost
become part of the trip and we've just made him Spaghetti in the desert.
He's staying in the crappy hotel in Abri and we are outside of town. This
could be the last time we see him as his trip is longer than ours so unless
we run parallel in Sudan we might not see him again for a few years. We
could bump into him in South America as he also plans to go there next.
For those that need to know the new Sudan mobile is +24 99 60 11 62 38
complete with its super slow internet access. Text messages received are
free. Email is also working to the usual birdmail addresses.
Sorry to have to inform you all that while we are in The Sudan we will not be able to update the Web site. This will be for most of January.
The rules of the country.
This is a difficult blog to write as we have so much to tell you....
Firstly we went to abu Simbel last monday and i got thrown out ! I can hear you asking "how?" well i can tell you. Photos are not allowed and i took one too many. Actually it was probably 10 or more too many. This annoyed the guards so much they asked for my camera and i refused. This they didn't like and started manhandling me so i lost my temper and told them to stop touching me in the usualy calm English way.....the rest is history. We'd been round inside for ages so I missed nothing and its not like i was using flash or anything. I was careful to not do that as that does actually affect the colours. the drive was long as the cost was al lot. The tour operator for the permit wanted £60E for the permit to go in the convoy. We also took along our Peter Austrian Biker friend in Matilda. Pick up the permit at 10pm and get up for the convoy at 3am. Convoy leaves at 4am and goes at 110kmh for 3 hours....we do not. We arrive an hour after they do. We get 2 hours in the site and leave an hour before they do. Argue with every check point all the back to Aswan where they passed us a few km outside town. When i say argue with the check points, it was more of a negotiation. I'm getting good at those.
Today we loaded the car on the barge for Sudan. We go on a ferry. The barge cannot sail at night so takes two days and we take 17 hours. This is 17 egyptian hours which are variable in length ranging from 60 mins to 120 mins per hour. So who knows. We actually went to the port yesterday to load the car at the demand of the booking agent who got rather annoyed at me for complaining at the rush. We had been given one hour to get the car to the port and get ready. (In actual fact this took us almost 4 hours in the end). When we got the port the customs guy wanted to know why we had come on the wrong day Saturday and as we had finalised all the paperwork wanted us to leave the car in the port and come back the day after to load, Sunday. We asked why we had been told to rush when they wanted us Sunday not Saturday. The booking agent was firmly blamed. This the the guy that got annoyed when i compained about the rush. Turns our we had 24 hours not 1 hour to load. These people just like to feel important. He even threatened to throw me off the barge (next one Jan 16th) so i was extremely worred yeaterday that we wouldn't be allowed on Yesterday at all. Not that anyone was allowed on in the end anyhow. We all got on today,,,, only just !!! The barge isn't designed very well so getting Matilda on was really difficult taking many hours. So we are all on. By "we" i mean 3 Swedish Cars, a Danish Biker and Us. The Dutch arrivals were not able to get on. This isn't the same dutch that we went through Syria with but another couple in a Land Cruiser. They may have to wait 3 weeks !!! I hope not.
More Later,,,,i want some food and after all its Xmas Day !!!
First pic is Peter the Austrian. The other guy with the bike is Henning the Danish Bikes going south on a longer trip than we are. The other shots are Abu and loading the barge (thanks to Henning for being a good photographer). Note the inside shot from Abu......cost me a lot ! LOL.....
fun and games start on saturday. Hopefully we will secure a space on the boat on Monday and the boat will run to schedule. I don't fancy the week in Wadi Halfa some of the last travellers had to do. Hopefully the barge is fixed.
Once we leave egypt the Egypt SIM will no longer work so messages may take longer to be read and replied to. The UK mobile numbers will be back in use till we find a Sudanese SIM and that may indeed be more effective than we think as we've been told coverage is good. Failing that use the sat phone. We are not sure on Email or Web access via Sudan Mobile SIMs. We might be back on Texts only for some time.
We should be in the local paper
today we arrived in Aswan a week ahead of schedule so we can secure our place on the ferry and car barge for the 26th. We need to be sure to get that one so we have turned up early. We are employing a fixer to get the tickets and help us through the custom process which is as bad as the one on the way in. We are also trying to get the tickets for the Swedish team.
The last few days in Luxor in the camp site have been good. We've had two showers in 24hours !!! The overland truck driver Mark has given us a lot of tips for the two countries ahead. Thanks Mark. At least we now have an idea where we are going as we never planned any routes south of here !
We are staying at the overlanders camp site in Luxor. We've had a shower and done the washing. Altough they have a machine we hand washed the clothes. They charge £25E for the machine when the last load we got washed and dried and ironed for us was £17E....so as you can see £25E is a rip off considering a service wash is cheaper!! The beer is OK at £16E per bottle. The wine is £18E and Julie has sampled that a couple of times. The food is a reasonable £45E for the evening meal which tonight is fish. The camp site is £85E and the showers were hot although they could do with some renovation. So all in all a resonable camp site and considering the state of the last hotel this is Luxorious. Julie also asked me to say the showers are HOT which is a change. If this is a Trip Advisor review it gets a solid 4 star rating using the official guide for star use. Not the 5 star for everything that seems to have become the norm on there.
On the way into town this morning we encountered the normal hassle and we met a English guy on his own walking to Karnak. He was in his late 40's i'd say and may be 50+. We chatted for a while and it turns out he's been here 3 days and wanted to go home already. He was sick to death of all the hassle and pushy sales people for Boat Rides, Horse Carrage Rides and Taxis......We both remember Julie going through this phase when we came in 2002. Its shame they do it but we understand they are making a living however i doubt many people will return. In fact we said as much when we left in 2002. Some things never change.
We've resisted the urge to do anything of a tourist nature today. We went into town for two hours to look at things we rememder from the last time we were here and get some groceries. I've washed the car using the pressure washer the other overland truck has brought along. Wounldn't it be nice to have that much space i could have brought my own pressure washer! I need to grease the propshafts tomorrow, not something i enjoy doing. I tried doing it in the desert but its just too sandy (no pun intended),,,, and one spec of sand can ruin my day sometime in a far flung location.
Thanks for all the blog comments so far. Please keep them coming
....and to Mustafa we all make mistakes and theres really no need to correct them. I doubt i'd notice to be honest. I've made enough in here myself. I i could correct them i would but for some reason i only have the option to delete a post not amend it. And Neil....where exactly is that Pub? We cannot find it.
So not much to report. The good Doctor Mustafa has posted a concise comment about our route. We got through the escort from SIWA to the next oasis with out escort driving too fast. We then stayed at a campsite for the second time in the entire trip. Tonight in Luxor we have the third camp site. The oasis towns were marvellous and i can honestly say the best is SIWA. Its more set up for the tourist and the facilities to use the actual springs are better. The SIWA tourist office was helpful but did'nt have the literature we needed. We only got this in the last oasis (isn't that always the case) and wev'e realised we've missed quite a bit of stuff out but its no problem. The information was thanks to Farhat Shera the assitant manager in the Tourist Office in El Kharga. This is the same person who provided us with the nice omlette and breakfast this morning. Arn't the Egyptian people turning out to be really helpful and friendly! I Think Mustafa worries more than my family does although they have now posted some blog comments also. Possibly spurred on by our Egyptian host?
The drive today from Baris (Paris) was escort free so was more enjoyable. We saw a whole different aspect to Luxor with the drive across the desert becoming a bit same same.
no its not a Bruce Forsyth but one of the lovely Oasis we've been through. Mustafa was worried so we've stopped in Baris (Paris) to post an update. Today we go to Luxor in another Police escort. They are a bit annoying as we cannot just stop to take photos and take the journey at our pace. Its about 230Km from here to there.
We have a load of photos that need posting and we've just stopped at the Tourist Information mans house in Baris. e saw us on the side of the road and invited us for breakfast. So we ar having eggs, cheese and tea. Sound and smells like an omlette at the moment as i'm in his front room trying this post.
I'll cut it off there so as not to be rude.
I dream of UK ADSL speeds.....
I'd love to post some photos of Siwa oasis. You'll have to wait.......
Actully mate.....we've had a Ali Barber today. I've cut may hair.
The story is we slept on the side on the road just before the desert road to Siwa. You can see this on the map. We slept near Marsa Matruh in a layby on the side of the road. These Layby's are every so many kilometers and we presumed its OK to sleep in them as we had seen Lorries in them on many occasion. So we slept.
In the morning we were hassled by a morobike cop actually checking to see if we were OK but hassle none the less. He moved on commenting on the fact I was washing up the pans from the night before and that Julie was doing nothing. Actually she arrived just after this to dry the pots. This he didn't see but he wasn't impressed that i was washing up. Neither was I. I managed to get my farther out of washing up the other day by calling him just as he started. Can someone do the same for me please.......
Just minutes after this an none English speaking Policeman (in a van) stopped, this was actully a turn round come all the way back to hassle us manouver. These are never good. He didn;t speak a word of English unlike the other motorbike guy and just kept repeating "no alibaba, no alibaba" over an over. This we took to mean we cannot sleep there. Considering it was about 8am and we'd just made coffee it was unlikely that we would be bedding down again. However he thought it so important that he U-turned his large "detention" van twice to relay this wisdom. We took no notice. So now i keep saying "no alibaba" to Julie and I both smirk. Today Ali the Barber has cut my hair. Actually his name is Wahl Homecut and he doesn't like running of a Black and Decker 240V modified sine wave inverter......who would have thought a trimmer would be so fussy that it needs a true sine wave on its mains feed. Anyhow after a lot longer than usual my hair is cut. I have the before and after poses to post but we are doing this in the middle of the desert off my mobile. Not exactly fast internet.
Tomorrow we drive 400km across the desert to another Oasis. For this we needed special permission and a convoy. We meet our local man in his Land Cruiser at 6:30am in town and off we go across the desert with 7 police checkpoints on route. For this we need to pay around £50 quid. I will try not to pay more than the £10 we already have. The local is either a scam or he's legitimatly going the same way. We shall see. We'd already seen him once as he passed us on the way here about 400km ago. I recognised the car and he said the same. He speaks good English so at least i can find out what the score is in the morning. Getting secret police permissions is a pain in the arse......Hopefully this is the last one.
We've today left the hospitality of Cairo and are back on our own. We've managed to find a place outside the University to sleep and a guy is watching the car (at least we hope he is).
We didn't get chance to say goodbye to all of the Doctors Family but we should again say thanks to Mustafa, Amr and Lamiaa for looking after us although its all Mustafa's fault for coming past the Ethiopian Embassy at just the correct time.
The first photo is of a guy with a bit of bread on a tray which he successfully delivered to the man on the corner.
My hair is getting long and getting cut this week. Allegedly I'm loosing weight? At least Mustafa thinks so. Was he trying to get in my good books?
The pyramids were OK actually.They was the usualy hassle but noting too bad. Once Julie got into saying "La, La, La" to everything we were OK. She managed to get a beer in the Oberoi Hotel and never said "La" to that !
Tonight we are agin treated to a meal with our host. His Brother and Sister in Law have come along to meet us as we are becoming quite famous i think. they also all want to come along on the trip but i'm not sure we have the room. The Doctors brother, Amr is a Engineer and worked on the airport in Sharm and is at the moment working on a new tram system at the airport in Cario. His wife Lamiaa is head of electronic resources an has just come back from a conference in London. (she's also just had to correct my spelling !)
Julies grasp of Arabic is limited to No ("La" in Arabic) and she's starting to overuse this term. He attempt to say "No Sugar" has been misunderstood as no tea. So whilst i'm sat here drinking lovely tea shes gone dry....although she has a plate of cake (baqlava)
We put our passports into the Ethiopian Embassy in Cairo. A 24 hour process and it doesn't seem to matter when you put them in they are ready at 2pm the next day. They wanted the sudan Visa in our passport first but we got round that hurdle with relative ease.Its $30US each and a pretty simple form. All they wanted was a single passport photo paperclipped to the application. We need to buy a box of paperclips......Can someone send us the stapler and paperclips we got especially for the trip?,,,, and forgot.
The sudan Visa will be tomorrow having picked up the completed Ethiopian today. We went to the Sudan office and the UK office to check out th process. The Sudanese want :-
2 passport Photos each
Copy of completed applications form
Origional application form completed
Copy of Passports
Copy of Egypt Visa
Origional Passports of course
A letter off the UK Embassy (costing £45 EACH !!!!!)
$100US EACH !!!!
So tomorrow we go the UK Embassy for the letter. Get ripped off to the tune of £90 and then go to the Sudan embassy and get ripped off to the encore of $200US.
We also went to the Museum in Cario today. Its nowhere near Tahir square honest.......So we survived that. We wern't impressed by the museum, its poorly layed out, poorly signed, poorly run, poorly lit and is very dirty. The artifacts altough wonderful should be dusted once a century. The security is laughable and its expensive. If you want a guide (and really you actaully need one) its £100E for one hour. Worth it, but it shouldn't be required. Its shame that such a marvellous collection is so poorly presented. I was actually more interested in some of the old photos of where the stuff came from before they moved it to a Museum. The statues from Abydos should have stayed there and would make that wonderful temple even more so. Anyhow enough museum bashing.
We yet again got a Taxi driver who decided to rip us off.blatently going in completely the wrong way to which i started telling him off. Once he realised i know which direction was north and which direction we needed to go he started to go in almost the right direction only to attempt the same at the other side of the river comning off at the wrong junction. At this point i started ranting and rattled him to the point that he had an accident ( Justice ! ). I said "we're gettign out and you can have £5E" leaving him to sort out the accident. The meter was already at £8E and we should have been at our destination at £7E. I wasn't happy and we wern't where we wanted to be. So we walked. The Taxi in the morning reset the meter half way through the journey. He also got £5E which i threw on the dash when he asked for £15E ...I was going to give him £15E for the journey (actually about £7E as the same journey) until he tried to rip up off. Again, not happy. Why do they do this. I tip very well having already paid £30E for journeys costing £20E ! Its only 3 quid for £30E so not really worth bothering about but trying to rip me off no mater how small is unacceptable. One of the non-meter taxi's wanted £40E ! We walked away.
Photo's of the pyramids and stuff later as this battery doesn't last long enough to do it without power and somewhere to sit down.
The Doctor (Dr. mustafa farhmy. A doctor of Engineering for my mothers benefit and not a medical Doctor) has been looking after us and has even got me a new Axe. Would you believe it. I can now threated the border guards with something larger than a swiss army knife. We even got an excursion to the market and coffee houses last night and altough the market wasn't full of the normal tourists you could have certainly spent way too much money and filled the land rover. Julie and I both agreed that we'd like one or two things but just cannot get them in here for the next two years and sending them home is impossible.
Just a few photos and a quick message. We've found a very nice Englishman who's Egyptian and lives here. He's a Doctor and has give us a lot of pointers. Thanks to him we are currently parked on his drive in a very nice quiet area in Cairo. The Shooting Club district. I thought the shooting club was in Syria and we past that already......
Photo's below from a few locations. Mostly Sharm. My foot does hurt and i've got some cream. The one on the boat was before i found out we'd been robbed !
Jacqui,,,no diving. Sorry.
Visa applications tomorrow. Ethiopia first then Sudan. The Sudanese Embassy and the UK one are near the trouble spot in Cario but by all accounts its fine most days and we can safely pass. The British Embassy have removed the warning from from their web site for the time being so no need to call them any longer. We will be going to Sudanese and UK embassies later in the week.
First garage.....£5000E for 5 litres,,,,second garage £97E for 5 litres......
Slightly different type but i don;t suppose there was actually that much difference in price. Tourist rates !
So we now have an almost complete stock of fuels again.
In more ways than one. Julie has been bitten all over by what we presume is Mosquitoes,,, and for the first time ever i'm showing signs of bites. This is a first for me. So hopefully they don't carry anything here. Julie has even been bitten on the face and because its Julie they swell up rather large so they look like teen acne on steroids. We are now running the killer in the car all evening. I didn't expect to be running that in Egypt at all !
We've met another local whos offered some hospitality so we are planning on dropping in on them this evening for a drink. By local i mean an ex-pat.
We replaced my grease gun today at the parts market as mine gave up this morning and rather than mess around for hours fixing it we got another. We managed to replace the tyre pressure gauge and also got Matilda a wash. She also gets the five star treatment ! The pressure wash guy obviously hasn't encountered a Land Rover and managed to soak Julie, who was sitting inside. He didn't realise every door seal, roof seal and panel on a landrover leaks and they just cannot handle a downpour let alone a 150psi pressure wash. So julie is good for another 3 days before she needs a shower. hehe
The other night crawlers relates to the noise made by the bars we slept near last night. One of them playing Arabic music on FULL until midnight and then the other dance music until 4:50am. We didn't get a good nights sleep and awoke at past 9am. This is the lastest we have gotten up on the whole trip. The Arabic music is just bad, i'm not sorry to say that if i never hear another Arabic "hit" in the rest of my days i'll be very happy.
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