Our first day in Cairo Mike and I visited the Egyptian Museum, just a couple blocks away from where we’re staying. That place is so massive it’s overwhelming, with over 100,000 relics and antiques from all throughout ancient Egyptian history. Apparently there’s so much there that if you spent just one minute at each exhibit, it would take over nine months to see it all.
We did it in 3 hours.
It was pretty cool to see the actual items on which so many costumes, movies, and cartoons are based. Due to pop culture we’re pretty used to seeing hieroglyphics or huge golden Pharoah masks (think Stargate). But yesterday, we saw the real things. Actual painted statues and carved figures that have been around for a staggering 4600 years. It’s pretty mindblowing when you think about it.
Kind of makes you wonder what types of things people will be looking at in museums 4600 years from now…if mankind is even still around.
The exhibit that stood out the most to me was without a doubt the Royal Mummy Room. It was quite expensive – an additional $20 over the base admission price – but well worth it: A room with the actual mummified remains of the Egyptian Pharaohs and kings from 3,500 years ago. And I’m not talking about a couple human-shaped rolls of bandages. Or even skeletons. I’m talking about faces. Skin. Hair. Fingernails. You could almost tell what King Ramsus II was thinking at the moment he died. For such an ancient civilization, these guys sure knew a lot about preserving organic material. Truly a chilling sight.
Also interesting was the fact that 99% of the exhibits were posthumous items – coffins and sarcophagus(es?) and even mummified pets that were buried with their masters.
My question is: what did the Egyptians do while they were alive?? 😆
Traveling in the third world is so different than in Japan. You literally can’t go anywhere without people hassling you or trying to get something from you. Just sit down in the street for five seconds and they start gravitating towards you and pushing souvenirs into your face, pulling you into a store, or ushering you into a taxi. Simply walking on the sidewalk, every single empty taxi that passes will honk and pull over so the driver can lean out the window to offer you “Tax?”
It’s almost funny in a way…taxi after taxi after taxi after taxi. In the US, if you want a taxi you have to flag one down. Here, all you have to do is be caucasian.
“You want go hotel?”
“No, I want walk without you having to tell someone ‘no’ every fifteen seconds!” 😛
In Brazil, it was so humid that my laundry would never dry. I’d wash it in the sink, wring it out, hang it, and a day later it would be wetter. Here, there’s so little moisture in the air that virtually any item will be dry in 2 hours. And I’m not talking about synthetic travel clothes – I’m talking normal, thick, heavy denim jeans.
I kid you not: 2 hours. 3 if I hang them up at night.
The religiousness in this part of the world is pretty intense.
I already mentioned the mesmerizing chants that emanate from the various Mosques five times a day. In addition, most parks or town squares have towels and blankets set up on the ground for civilians to stop, kneel down, and pray towards mecca whenever necessary. In the Egyptian museum, I often saw a few staff members huddled in a corner, down on their knees with their heads on the ground chanting quietly. Well over half the population seems to be wearing religious attire, many women with the complete black robes that cover them head to toe. There’s even a light mesh over the eyes so you can’t see one inch of skin. It’s almost intimidating at times. But maybe that’s just because I’m not used to it.
And don’t forget that Egypt is actually one of the less strict Middle Eastern countries when it comes to this sort of thing – according to LP, many countries don’t even allow alcohol to be carried through their borders. Some will scrutinize magazines upon entry to make sure there are no photos of women with short skirts or the like. And in most Middle Eastern countries, homosexuality is illegal. Penalties if caught can include fines, imprisonment, and in Iran, death.
(Note: This post was originally part of the previous, later split into two.)