CNN International posted an article by one of their travel tip staffers living in Cairo. Although I agreed with most of his statements about the "crowded, chaotic, polluted and noisy" city, there were other parts that made me raise and eyebrow. As I read the article, I chuckled to myself at the points of unfortunate, superficial reflections of a Western, white male completely unaware of his surroundings. Admittedly, I'm still bitter about my experience this past weekend. Here are some highlights:
And despite all the stresses of life here, Egyptians manage to remain by-and-large polite and friendly, with a raucous sense of humour renowned throughout the Arab world.- I guess I'd think people were polite and funny as well, if they never tried to touch my unmentionables in public or didn't hurl racial slurs at me as I shopped. Must be nice...
In Cairo, tourists stick out; there's no getting around it. Spend a few years here, and you will develop the "I've seen it all" look that Egyptians are so good at, and no one will give you a second glance.- EVERYONE notices tourists! Tourists are like prey with their fanny backs and Lonely Planet guides. There are slick men who specifically hang around near tourist attractions and Tahrir Square to lure tourist into scams and tourists traps. Some of my favorite scams:telling you the Egyptian Museum is closed and insisting that you follow them to a nearby "bazaar", the friendly guy who offers to take a picture of you with your camera then refuses to give it back until you pay him, and the "tour guides" at the Egyptian museum who offer to take you on a tour of the museum for a ridiculous amount of money, eventhough they don't know one Egyptian dynasty from the other.
There are hundreds of tourist shops where you will be invited in "just to look" and for a cup of tea, but in general Egyptians try the soft approach to trap the tourists. So my advice is go ahead, allow yourself to be trapped.- ...I'm uncertain as to why anyone would, in good conscious, advise you to "allow yourself to be trapped" anywhere. Some store owners at tourist shops can be quite pushy and aggressive. If you aren't interested in buying something, it's best to not stop at all and continue on your way.
What seemed to him as standard advice clearly wouldn't apply to everyone. Cairo is an experience of your own that depends on multiple factors, some you can control and some you can not.