One of the reasons Mike and I headed straight to Cairo from Sinai was to get my underwater camera fixed before doing any more aquatic sightseeing (in Dahab or otherwise) – but after a bit of research it proved to be far too expensive. Canon doesn’t honor their warranties internationally, and because the cameras themselves are prohibitively expensive in Egypt, repairs are likewise marked way up. Mahmoud warned me that it would probably be a shoddy repair job anyway, and I’d be much better off getting it fixed back in the states.
So much for that.
We decided to catch an 11 hour train to Luxor that night.
We headed to the train station to buy our tickets. It was a total flashback of China. Waiting in line and talking with the ticket salesman was a constant battle against those around us shoving directly in front and starting to talk over us. This was frustrating.
Eventually we managed to get ahold of two tickets. A tip for future train-travelers in Egypt: apparently the ticket price differs depending on which window you buy it from. And be careful with the ticket itself, as it’s handwritten on a piece of cardboard and the ink smears off quite easily.
Gotta love that Egyption Law and Order 😉
We hopped on the 10pm train learning that we’d ended up with an entire berth to ourselves – sweet! It looked pretty old and dilapidated, and half the fixtures were broken, but it did have power outlets for BOTH 110 and 225V which was more than enough to keep me happy.
The train pulled out of the station right on time – according to “Egyptian Time,” a phrase I learned from the locals themselves (aka 40 minutes late).
Shortly after, the attendant came by to pay us a visit.
Attendant: “Okay, is finish – this room all for you until Luxor. You can sleep good! Okay, you give me baksheesh.”
Justin: “Um, what?”
A: “Only you here, sleep good, finish, give me baksheesh.”
J: “What do you mean baksheesh? You want money because this room happened to be empty?”
A: “Is baksheesh! Finish! Sleep good!”
To appease him, we pulled out 4 or 5 pounds. He looked at it. He looked back at us.
“No, what is this? This very small! Is finish! Only you! You give me ten pound each!”
We told him that’s ridiculous. The fact that nobody in Cairo purchased the other tickets in our berth had nothing to do with him, and we’d be willing to give him a small tip as a courtesy. He wouldn’t accept our meager offering, insisting that we were required to pay more. We knew he was just trying to milk the tourists – our berth was right in the middle of the car, and he hadn’t stopped at any of the rooms carrying Egyptians. Eventually he figured out that we wouldn’t be bullied into it and stormed off.
Later, we learned that he hit up a group of students a few berths away for 20 pounds each and then had the nerve to tell them he wanted 20 more in the morning.
What greed. At least he should’ve accepted our SMALLER tip. What he took from those students was half the cost of the entire first-class ticket.
Whatever. We made it, and we got a good nights’ sleep. MUCH better than on any long-distance bus I’ve ever taken.
Feeling relatively refreshed, we hopped off, picked up our backpacks, and were instantaneously pounced on by one of the local hotel touts. “Hi, I’m Ahmed, the owner of hotel so-and-so from Lonely Planet!”
We told him that we’re not interested and would prefer to look around ourselves. He refused to leave us alone, following out of the train station and several blocks away. Finally we escaped.
2 minutes later another guy: “My name is Ahmed, look in Lonely Planet, I’m famous owner of hotel so-and-so!”
…Sure you are.
Walk a little farther.
“Hi, can I help you find a place to stay?”
“Nah, thanks though, we’ve already got a reservation at Hotel X.”
“Oh, you’re going to Hotel X? I’m sorry, it’s closed, but I’d be happy to show you another good place to stay!”
“I think we’d just prefer to check it out for ourselves.”
“Please, you can trust me, I’m a tour operator!”
“If there’s a problem at Hotel X, we’ll come back and find you.”
Sure enough, the original place was open for business. But we decided to try a few others in hopes of finding a spot with Internet (everyone working the streets promised their hotels had Internet, but when we got inside, they never did).
Eventually we settled on a more expensive place for the sole reason that nobody had lied to us there.
Alright. Done. Time to start exploring Luxor! 😀
(Note: This entry was originally posted on Aug 2; I later changed the date to fit the chronology of events.)