Tips & Advice from our visit to The Great Pyramids, and Giza Plateau

I realize this is the post everyone has been waiting for. What's worse is I have tons of photos, but to put it all into context is going to be a bit hard. The actual experience was nothing like what we expected, yet in retrospect, every expectation of what the Pyramids themselves are, were, is still all true to us.

You see, I had this image of coming to Cairo, going out to the pyramids (which are way out in the desert) and standing beside them being humbled by the scope and size. (holding hands while humming the Indiana Jones theme song.) I'd try to grasp touching and witnessing something which are thousands of years old. Before Christianity, before Jesus, and before anything else I could possibly imagine. (before time began!!!!) It was supposed to be deep and moving, it was supposed to be spiritual, but it wasn't. Well at least not in the way I romanticized it. Unfortunately the place is covered in beggars and cons who won't leave you alone. Shan quickly became flustered as she managed to create an infinity knot with the two neck-cords of our passport purses in the metal detector and left me to sort it out. It's hard to take it in when people won't just shut up.  Yet somehow, they're still so big and powerful you realize it's still something great you're participating in.

"My friend, my friend..."
If the "new" Egypt is ever to succeed it must do so either by finding some oil, or bar the 7 year old children living in ruins from selling "gifts" 15 feet from their national landmark. Not that you shouldn't go or that I want to take away from this marvellous adventure, it's just unlike anything I've ever experienced. The pyramids are worth this pain and much more, it's just not one single online review mentioned how to handle their sales techniques:

It goes like this:

1. They see white Americans or English being dropped off by taxis.
2. They run up to you and pretend to be a tour guide and ask for your ticket saying "My friend, my friend..."
Never give your ticket to anyone unless they're carrying a gun or official uniform (white)
3. This is when they confirm you're a fat white American by asking you where you're from.
4. If you say America, they'll say "Oh Americans.... nice people.... Welcome to Egypt" If you say somewhere else, anywhere else but say it in English they'll say "Oh the English.... lovely people..... Welcome to Egypt."
"You're from wonderland?... Oh English.... Lovely People"....
5. They then tell you you're beautiful if you're a woman and attempt to dress you with head-dresses they sell, throw you on a camel and ride you off into the desert to demand money.
Never get on the camels! 

On a personal note, if you're blond, they may forgo the sales technique and just want to make you their wife. They love fat girls and blond girls. I was like Paris Hilton there.

6. If they give you a tour, they want to be tipped about 20EP. Say "NO" or better yet DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH- learn or pretend to speak French, German, or even Klingon and they'll go away!
7. They are not your friend. You can't "connect" with them. Get mean, get rude, and when they tell you it's free- They're lying! NOTHING IS FREE!

Note: In fact I started to figure out the whole "don't speak English thing" when I simply started saying "no, no" in a French accent and they went away. (No with accent is universal around the world as "leave me the ___ alone") See they can't speak anything but English and Arabic, (a few speak Spanish) so they can't sell, or talk you into things. Don't respond with looks just pretend like they're not even there and speak in another language. If you can't speak another language pretend you're deaf.

NOTE: If they get your ticket, you can't go into the other pyramids, and they "GET YOU and YOUR MONEY". Don't hand anyone your ticket, your camera, or anything you remotely cherish to anyone. Despite the fact some of them are genuinely sneaky saying they're on "salary" with the pyramids, they're  LYING!

NOTE: Don't be scared of the white clothed military people: the tourist police... they're there to protect you from the cons. Well not protect you, but to prevent you from being stabbed or robbed. Always count your change, and never walk behind some back portion of the pyramid without a tourist policeman shadowing you.

Side Note: We thought by learning some Arabic it might help... it doesn't. Don't respond to them. Though it does make them laugh. "Ha, ha... the white girl said la shokran to you in Arabic Ahmed!!!" (they then fell to the pyramid floor laughing.)

Side Note: Some will even come up to you pretending to be teachers or archaeologists, and not like the "others".... it's a lie! They think you're stupid.

Descending into the burial chamber is frightening.
So if I knew all this prior to going, it would have made the process easier. Being I didn't it was a learning curve enough to make you start puppy throwing the seven year old children selling souvenirs. Also I'm sure it's easier if you have a man with you. A wrestler to make "Hulk Hogan threatening" faces at the persistent salesmen.

While it's possible the true explanation may or may not border on science fiction the one thing I can say without a doubt is that there's more history, and more than we understand about the Giza Plateau and the pyramids than meets the eyes. I mean, if these people were so smart that they could create precision cut bricks that must weight tons, then align them perfectly with the stars (particular stars at that), design it so it aligns perfectly with other celestial and earthly position points, you'd have to believe it's for something more important than just burying mummies. Intelligence tends to breed less egocentric individuals and less religious people, the two core ideals we associate with our explanation of the pyramids. It's like Stephen Hawkings and Einstein getting together and saying they're Gods, and building something they know that will be around in 10,000 years. On the other hand if I'm wrong, then our current explanation means the pyramids were the biggest waste of human productivity in the history of mankind. Oh well...

I had the opportunity to climb down in a burial chamber. The almost vertical staircase required us to bunch ourselves over into little balls. Once below another 200-300 foot passage way is crossed in a similar bent over position. It's rather scary.

It's tough to take in a the hieroglyphs and sarcophaguses while you're there. The constantly blathering from the quasi-con-man-tour guides whom we royally upset by not paying made it difficult for us to stand there and comprehend. I'm quite sure their explanations were all made up anyways. Yet still, there's so much more. A feeling of hiraeth as you realize someone carved these words into the wall 6,000, 10,000 or 12,000 years ago (or older). Yes I did look for the Stargate.
Shannon looking a bit Indiana Jonesish
The bottom line is Giza, and the Great Pyramid is an awesome, once in a lifetime experience. It's evidence mankind is capable of building some of the greatest, most amazing wonders, and do so in a manner that makes them look like Gods. Then over thousands of years their descendants will pillage and destroy their creation till society resembles what it does today: men in dresses selling Chinese made pyramid paper weights outside the entrance and breaking off a piece of the pyramids to make money from the fat Americans. Bucket list this one baby, because one way or the other it's an experience you'll never forget.


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