CROSS EGYPT 2013

One more sleep or 6 more cups of the brown stuff, and I am off

I land in Alexandra Egypt Air from CAIRO Flight MS180 00.01 on the 5th November, then fly home on the 18th November MS777 Cairo – London 09.20

The Alexandria curfew starts at midnight and I land at 00.01, I have been told IN A MESSAGE that the Alexandria Scooter Club owns the city so there’s no problem with the trip from the Airport to Winston Churchill’s choice of a hotel.

I have this vision of me sat pillion on a scooter three up with a the third passenger facing to the rear carrying a un loaded firearm.

Any how bags packed, driver organised just have to choose my face furniture and I am away.

Very strange intelligent claim here at Gate 26 Terminal 3 Heathrow, with talk to my right of unrest but controlled and segregated.
With all hand held devices looking at The World News and the 42 inch screen on the wall showing Mr Morsi getting out of a guarded van a quite hush resumes, Egyptian tourist look up from their ipads whilst filing though endless very poorly taken photos of their companions standing outside Big Ben on a very overcast London day.
On boarding the Plain a full business class and the rest of the plain looks empty, 21 in business and 85 in economy seems light, So I pick a seat and its straight to the bulkhead for me, Egypt airways is very good.
On landing in Cairo the smell hits you immediately and one of the reasons for my return, not a pleasant smell but I know its differently got to get better, off to the the visa bank kiosk “no not this one that one” the guy doesn’t even look up at me, he`s done it so many times before, then domestic flights.
Passport control inflight, bags on a security belt and again the guard carries on texting not even looking my way, then off to the Lounge only to be told that my Priority Pass card has no priority in the First Class or business class lounges, nothing changes then.
This new Toshiba laptop has an automatic spell

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I have never heard tanks on the street since I used to go to work in the 1980s driving on the famous A303 following the cruse missiles convoy to Greenham common they used to pass the house at Thruxton village that sound of tank tracks. ” WAR ” said the man on the desk, its just the curfews in place at 12am moving around at 2am, but having tanks outside your hotel how cool is that.

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A day alone just lost in the back streets of Alexandra, seeing the likes of me you can see is giving hope to the fact that a tourist has returned, FREE food, FREE taxi rides it is all a bit embarrassing at times as folks refuse money for these things.
Not badgered once to buy goods, only when walking out of the hotel ” El Alamaine Sir ” 400 EPS return, and a quick slap on my thighs and pointing at my shoes I walk off.

My legs are beaten by the constant pulling up of taxis thinking I need a lift and I just wave them on, final a thumb out to a loaded van with about 6 others in I hope in and become that strange tourist in the van.
4 miles of coast road and I am invited to sit in the upgraded front seat, we get to the place where he turns and returns no his journey happy for me to spend the rest of the day just riding this route I am offered a cigarette, I try hard to pay but hes having non of it, I hop out bang hard on the roof of the van and hes away.
The market looms smoke and smells, the last place you want to be if you are wild have feathers or look anything like a domestic family pet as your destined for plucking weighting and dumping into a small hand held black 20 micron bag, even the scrawny looking pigeons cop it, passing veg, all types of fish,the ground is mud ages of dust mixed with the melting ice from the fish stalls turning this market road into a farm track in the middle of a city.
Traffic all types is at you as you have to walk in the road, the stalls and shops sprawl off the pavement causing everybody into a walking obstacle to be avoided, by trucks cars vans and toctoc`s.
For the first time now I have sat down and drank tea and opened my small note book given to me by a dear friend just before I came away, there something about sitting down and writing, it puts you into another world without the photograph and or those it must be illegible to others I am looking back now on it as reference for the day.

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It is a massive thing this here, and I was asked to help yesterday, lining up scooters and stickering up and for this I was able to pick my scooter and my number.

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At 10.00am I have a driver from a friend here that is taking me out to El Alamein,
we went though here last year but as a convoy of some 30 scooter we I was unable to stop, it the north coast road and seeing as we are close to remembrance Sunday, I have a small poppy bought from home, good reason to go.
Always had a massive interest in North African conflicts of World War 2 so a place to visit, and so so baron.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Second Battle of El Alamein took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942 near the Egyptian coastal city of El Alamein, and the Allies’ victory marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. It followed the First Battle of El Alamein, which had stalled the Axis advance into Egypt, after which, in August 1942, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery had taken command of the British Eighth Army from General Claude Auchinleck. This Allied victory turned the tide in the North African Campaign and ended the Axis threat to Egypt, the Suez Canal, and of gaining access to the Middle Eastern and Persian oil fields via North Africa. From a psychological perspective, El Alamein revived the morale of the Allied side, being the first major offensive against the Germans since the start of the European war in 1939 in which the Western Allies achieved a decisive victory

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Poppy came from the bakery and I picked JONES as he must have loved horses and he was 24 same age as my son

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Strange how the German War Memorial looks out on what was lost,

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and the British looks over what was won.

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for two days the well spoken English taxi driver that was outside the hotel that was very knowledgeable has been offering to take me, talking to my dear Egyptian friend Magiad how said ” NO I will send my driver he speaks good English he must drive you” so we arranged a 10.30 pick up, I spoke to him in Egyptian “HELLO” he returned it in English “helloah” and that was it for the next 6 hours he never said another bloody word.
I did ask him if he had any children and he said “SAKODA” here he is at the entrance to the German War Memorial waiting for me.

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We have had or briefings all met each other been dished out or scooter cloths helmet and sponsors goodies had our UBH Sponsors dinner and walked Alex for the last time until next time, I would love to show somebody around here one day.

Today was our first days ride in the CROSS EGYPT CHALLENGE, we have just arrived in CAIRO where we finish in 8 days time, we had to make the city curfew which starts at 7pm and we arrived all 40 riders at the check point to the city with just 10 minute to spare, the guards were just dragging the the bollards across as we arrived after 2 hours of ridding in the dark

This is not for the faint hearted and probably the hardest two hour of the whole challenge, all pot hole pointing out goes out of the window you just have to keep a very tight formation in riding in the dark with notorious Egyptian drivers switching lanes with no care for you or your right of way.
to the non Egyptian It is probably the most dangerous form of travel but it works goodness knows how.

We are a train of vehicles about one kilometre long, a moving circus train of 40 Taiwanese scooters a petrol tanker, film crew, photographers and police and army trucks, but so well organised with riders this year from 12 different countries.

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Happy Birthday Fletcher xxxxxxxxxxxx

Up at 5am out the door by 5.05 small room and it gives my room mates more room to move about, I have now witnessed snoring from others, the loss of a stone in weight I thing has stopped mine but hearing others now makes me smile big time.
So out of the escalator and hoping to be first to find one other waiting and ready, within the hour everybody’s down and eating breakfast, and the fouey is filling up with some 50 bags awaiting loading into the Cross Egypy Challenge truck, I wont report this ritual again as its dayly 5am start.

Back to Bahareya Oasis our second day the place where my HOME page photo was taken.

350 KMS today and Bahareya the internet is very poor here so sorry have to wait for better times,
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The scooters only hold 3 lts of fuel so every 60 miles 100kms we have a filling stop a well practiced system of two bikes pulling up getting filled and moving on, this year a petrol tanker is following and is a lot easeyer for all involved.

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300Kms today and we have ridden thought the BLACK desert and the WHITE desert and how beautifuull they are too, one of the many reasons for my return

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We are now in FARAFRA OASIS the road to here very harsh in deed, we were on scooters as we know, but in the middle of nowhere we came across a French family on three bicycle’s Dad pulling a buggy two children in the buggy Mother following with her son on a bicycle he we about 7 the two in the buggy 4 and 3 years old ridding to Ethiopia.

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the lad in the green trousers was riding the green bike, and they had another 50kms of that widerness to ride, they had taken 5 months to get from Paris. I have been to some places but this is widderness beyond extreme, 300+ today of nothing but tarmac and sand, and not seeing many cars trucks or lorries, thes folk we in the middle of the Sahara desert, and they found a full on party, food water, music bread Tuna and crisps, dancing and all.
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Last two days we have been out of FREE Internet reach, last night in a desert camp and the night before away away in the desert, just no internet.
Yes last night was our one night in the desert camp, tents for all not for me I slept on the sand some away away from the tents.
The camp is all set up for us, all we have to do is eat relax, and sleep in an environment in the way of camping that most have not done for years or not at all.

Here I am with the minister of tourism he’s loving the face default.

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http://www.crossegyptchallenge.com/

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I am getting well behind on this blog due to time and no internet access, I purchased a VODAPHONE internet package at the start of the event, but I have finally found out its a PAY AS YOU GO and it needs credit.

Just had one of those moments, of nightmare proceedings here at the resort we are in, I tried the shops for a scratch card, then the market outside, then I took a taxi had to pay in 5 US DOLLARS for a 5 mile trip into the Vodaphone shop, with the taxi waiting outside, I was given a number 396 and sent upstairs to find its servicing number 311. So I turn turtle and go.
The internet is a wonderful thing until you cant access it.

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We have reached the RED SEA, and last night we were on the coast at Helargar, we had the most amasing reception again at the city hall, then on to the Hotel Restort GRAND Plaza, a most depressing ride some 5 miles, though empty roads and thougher fairs.
Zero occupancy in this massive resort with hundreds of empty shops and half built hotels its like I would expect
the Costa Del Sol looked like in the early 1970s with all the info structure in place and nobody much about.
The odd tourist that’s about one or two walking away from the entrances of the hotels looking to see what was going on as 50 scooters enter.

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Working my away around Windows 8 and not having much internet connection as I am relying on hotel lobbies is not helping its way for me to entertain you, we have finally finish the Cross Egypt Challenge here in Cairo and after many long good byes there are just a hand full of folks left in the hotel.

Group dynamics I need to study also when to say things what to say and what not to say, this would help big time when traveling with others, I can see the different types of characters, it help to know how too handle them.

Traveling doesn’t really give you an idea of living with people countries that you may be visiting but this scooter trip does that for me, 12 different countries some 50 riders, 4 from Canada, 4 from Brazil, 4 Mexicans a French an Australian a South African English men this gives you a massive incite of living with people for 10 days.

The route for next year has not been announced but the question and answer secession we had at the end of the trip the riders asked for a rest day, mostly to see LUXOUR another reason for my return as the trip is very fast moving at a slow pace, my deposit is paid.

I have laid the first stone, and I know what to pack now, one pair of pants and a tooth brush and tooth paste, same old mistake over and over again tons of stuff.

I was soon to jump up and book my 3rd Challenge, the challenge for me is mixing with folks over a 10 period, as for being on a organised trip this is very different its a very well-run package trip with a very tight team whom all have total respect for Ahmad the brains of it all.

The ride into The Pyramid court yard was a fantastic ending as it was our starting place last year,
4 deserts, numerous County Hall receptions, many petrol stops, 4 major City drive thoughts, thousands of speed bumps and check points along with 50 special needs people, now all with massive smiles heading home to their prospective loved ones, with stories of a truly amazing country visited.

If you want to see the really Egypt it’s an option or plan a holiday at one of the hundreds of resorts we have passed, they are desperate for the tourists to return.

Now I need to find the warranty of this suit case as this indestructible suit case must be for folks who don’t destruct things, the zip on the interior broke on day one and the handle you pull it by doesn’t pull out anymore.

I managed to do something for myself for the first time in 10 days, booked a taxi, paid a doorman 20EL that just opened a door, paid a taxi driver a tip 50EL and I am at the airport, small change does not excite for the tourist.

I have two people how want to carry my bag from the taxi, start quarrelling between themselves who’s going to push it 50 feet, while this is going on I have done it. Then they realise that their time wasting has cost them an Egyptian pound they start again on who’s going to lift the baggage 18 inches onto the security belt.

As I was saying small change is a big deal in Egypt, give somebody a £10 and you get £7 returned, then you wait 30 mins and its £3 returned, as why and its because it’s a different shift at the bar etc.
Change is very useful for tip giving as its expected of you, not just big notes but 10p 20p 50p,£1.

Home now, and back too work, with a nice reception from everybody and not many thing to sort out, all is well, I can see that 2 weeks is fine, but 4 weeks is a little bit to long to go away.

I think a flight OUT to somewhere one way and hitch hike home is looking good, next.