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The Orientalist


Canada Day Jul. 2nd, 2004 @ 01:06 pm
It's quite difficult to celebrated things like National Birthdays on the other side of the planet but when one loves their Queen and country they find a way. Although I spent the day craving Poutin and Canadian Public Broadcasting, the only way i could celebrated was to fasten a crude Canadian flag out of the back of my journal and tour around Newbia and photograph it next to camels, pictures to follow.

Dahab 2 Jun. 29th, 2004 @ 12:04 pm
Well everyone this is just a minor update, i am currently working on a post about my trip up Mont Siani, but that will have to wait in till tommrow. I am still of course in Dahab, in fact i am here much longer then i imagined i would be, but Dahab is that kind of place. Just like the weather, nothing changes in Dahab. The same 10 pond egyption breakfast each morning, the same snorking stop, the same place to watch the EuroCup. There are few few reason to leave Dahab, you can eat well for 10 ponds, sleep in a hotel room with a private bath and a balconey for 10 ponds and besides renting diving gear, and internet cafes there is not much to spend money on. I like Dahab, but its also a trap, because before you know it you have lost a sense of time and you have been here a week.
I wake up, read, eat breakfast, fall back asleep, eat again, go on the internt, write, write, take another nap, maybe snorkole then head to Adam's bar to watch the Euro cup which i am only somewhat intersted in. Although i am quite content in Dahab i miss the culture of Cairo, and Aswan. As anybody who has vistied Egypt will tell you Dahab and the Sinai is very differnt from the contry.

In fact my biggest past time in Dahab for the past two days is reading about the upcomming federal election in Canada. This is a private passtime because as much as this election fills with me with terror and excitement nobody else seemsto really care. Canadian politics, unlike Middel Eastern politics matter only to Canadians. Today i read an article in the Globe about how the rest of the world does not care that we have a sepratist party holding a bunch of seats, or that the country is splity 30/30/30, or that we had a big sponsership scandel and the liberals are going to suffer a big lose, gay marraige and pot laws may raise a few eyebrows but other then that it just me and the online globe and mail webpage.
Because of the time differance between Egypt and Canada watching the election unfold, which is euphoria for an information junky, is impposaible. I would have to find an internet cafa open a seven in the morning if i wanted to here the tail end of the results, never mind getting up at three to here then start to roll in on the net.

Hopefully tommorow I will leave for Taba, which is on the Israeli border, i think i am more excited to visit the holy land then egypt, but wheater i can leave tommrow is starting to look dicey. Inshallah I will be on the 1030 am bus for Taba, but then again inshallah means just that inshallah.
Also while chatting to my girlfriend on MSN yesterday afternoon i found out that her play won best of venue at the Ottawa fringe, yeah i know how to chose them :)

Well intill then

Dahab Jun. 25th, 2004 @ 02:57 pm
In Dahab the waves cover the beach and the Europeans are more beautiful then we are. The hotel owner wears a cowboy hat. When he speaks English he has an Australian accent. At night i can see lights from a city in Saudi Arabia. The wind from the Red Sea bends the veils across the faces of the Beduine children.

I bussed from Luxor, it took 15 hours. During the night I crossed a bridge and arrived in the Sinai peninsula. Sinai means sin, or rather the sins of the Isrealities who wandered aimlessly though this region because of their ignorance of God. In the last thousand years not much has changed in Sinai.

Dahab is where Israelites, Germans, French, Russians and Australians come and wander. There is the scuba shop, the koshery, the beer garden, the Internet cafe and the beach. Helen who is a scuba instructor came for a week, she has been here six months, Jason came for six months to work and has been here two years, and Beth came to do nothing, and one year later she still sits on the beach reading last years best selling paperback.
I have accomplished nothing since arriving in Dahab, I ate at a koshey, slept, ate again and soon I plan on reading.

In the afternoon i walked to where the paved beach and the sand stretches from the sea to the mountain. Brown children swam naked in the water. I had heard Bedouin children do not like tourists so i hide my wallet in my back pack and worried they might throw stones at me. Two camels sat with their hooves in the fine sand thats burred underneath the pebbles. I talked to a man who drives a taxi, he has a child for every week he has not worked. Between his teeth are gaps, too much sugar in his tea I think.

Before Dahab was Luxor, i remember little. There were many monuments. All were standing in sand and some where older then others. What has not left me is the politics. Today it acurred to me that Israel and Gaza are a two hours drive from here, not just a thing people argue about. People love their politics everywhere and here the actual politics are middle east politics (i hope that made sense). I am surprised by the attitudes of people here, for a part of the world drowning in violence people are tolerant and want peace. Most have the same political rant, they hate Blair, but not more then they hate Sharron but not more then they hate Bush. However, following their disgust of Israel, England and the United States everyone I have talked to has pointed out that it is not the Americans or Israelis they hate just the politics. What has struck me the most with those i have spoken to is there respect for Christians and Jews and their belief that they have a place in the Middle East. All want democracy and many are embarrassed by the lack of it in the region, but in till the Israelite/Palestinian conflict is solved this will not happen. One very nice Egyptian many pointed out that the root of the problem is that most Egyptians are not educated and have little idea of what is going on.

Anyways, I should go, i have accept an invitation to visit a good friend of thefamily in Israel and will, assuming i can find my way out of the hendoist wilderness of Dahab i will be in northern Israel around the 30th. Its nice talking to everybody, and if anybody has taken offense at my reading of the politics (not that likely) or just thinks i am plain naïve (more likely) let me know.

Aswan Jun. 17th, 2004 @ 04:55 pm
Hello all
Well it has been a while since I last updated my blog, so here goes. for the past few days i have been living in the youth hostel right next to the train station. Awane is hot, very hot actully aswane in the afternoon is about 45 degrees, although a cool breze blows off the nile you can't escapte the heat. As a result i spend my morning going to sites and monuments and my afternoon hindout in the a/c, only to emerge like everyone else at dusk. at night the town comes alive, its very diffrent then in canada, everybody goes at nigh, every night of the week, you see familes walking around with their children up to midnight. The people are very nice and in the evening when i have not westerns to hang out with i can just walk up and down the main drag, in front of the nile and strike up conversation with egpytions. I do admit i am getting a little borad of aswan mainly because there are not to many tourist here, most of them are here as part of package tours and simply shuttled on and off ships, but since i am here for two moneths i am taking my time and will not be leaving till sunday, when i will boad a train and take it to Luxor where i will spend a week or so. overall i am still getting use to adjusting to travling life, it reminds me a lot of frontier college in that there are not as many distraction as back home, no tv, no movies, no music (i don't walk around with my cd player cause i just feel like i am flaunting riches) and no friends ( i miss everyone very much) so like frontier college i just have to learn to get use to chilling out and enjoying my time, which means i spend a lot of time just walking up and done the the nile talking to people and saying to to boat trips (captions come up and harrese every five minutes into going on one of their boat trips).
anyways that is all for now, and i will send out another big email on sunday or monday when i leave for luxor.
in till then
much love

day three Jun. 15th, 2004 @ 06:23 pm
Cario, which i fell onto three days ago is a city of thiry million people, each of home are going in four diffrent directions at once. When you step out onto the runway at the Cairo airportnobdy lays a leal or reef of flowers around your neck or directs you to a tidy tourist desk, well stacked with brouchers but rathr you are pulled along by a loud current of sweaty infants, saudi buisness men, old women with rinkeld pimpels and young women in veils who will never make eye contact with you. Your swept into a shuttle which brings you to customes where men in military uniforms stamp passports like they were mosquitoes. finally, before you can even look back you are tossed face first into Cairo.

Inshallah is a common Arabic saying for 'God willing', and it is from this saying that cairo opperates. God willing that you will cross the street because there are no crosswalks or street lights, God willing you will find your way home because their are coutless streets but few street signs, God willing the food you bought off the street is well cooked, God willing the train to Aswan will take 12 hours, God willing the musem is still open and God willing yuo will make it across the street.

When i showed up in Cairo on a hot yellow afternoon, I felt like i was in a dream where you forget how to speak and read. I asked the airport shuttle bus driver to let me off at the train station, in the center otown, which he understood as the under the overpass where the man on the donkey is selling mellons. With a giant Mec backpack, a camera bag and a stylish grey side bag I looked like Captine America. Each person i asked for directions to the train station too me in a new direction, i passed a large gang of school kids that cheeard as i passed 'welcome to egypt'. When i did arive at the station i found that I could get a train ticket to Aswane as early as the next day, Aswane of cours is the most southern town in Egypt.

At this point i could direct your attention to serverl events that have happend in the past few days, like the manic late night taxie drive though the back streets of Cairo to the pyramids, or being harrased into buying 15 ponds of 'pure perfume', the orginal asking price was 100 ponds and after gave into his coutless please to buy he showed me a photo of an akwarde and bewilderd looking mohamud ali, which made me feel better since 'the greatest' had been taken in by the same guy. But of all the experiances the most rich was my trip to Coptic Cairo. I took the MEtro to the coptic part of town which is a small walled off area of thin street, a few churches, a single synagaog and tiny homes, most of which are built on top of cripts. It was wall after four and all the churchs were closed and as a result all th tourist had gone home, leaving me and those who live their. What was left was childing kicking soccer balls though empty allyways, old monks with prayer beads and a roster crowing a top a roof top. Away from downtown Cairo with its horns and touts i felt like i was in a village. I met and had a long conversation with an elderly jewish man about jews in Cairo and as we chatted we sat next to on old coptic women who was pealling potoats, when he noticed by dirty hands the women invited me into her house to give them a wash. I also drank some mange juice with a an english speaking prision inspect, he was just watching his fathers shop and as we sat children came running back and forth in front of his shop, a truly feeling of peace.

As for the fact that i am alone i find it difficult but i figure it will end up being rewarding in the long run. I have about two or three conversations a day which consiste of more thenthe how much is that fallaful or I do not need a taxie. INfact i feel trhis budding platonic relainship with my Rough Guide to Egypt guide book. I go where it says to go and when it suggest the haning church for 'an early exampl of coptic architexture" i do not take its suggestion lightl. when i am board i let it tell me about the significance of the music of sufi dancing or the early history of the coptic church. We walk hand in hand though the street of Cairo. Really the challage is learning to enjoy nobody else company but my own, i have not met to many other travlers and the ons that i ahve are part of tour groups and so are not intersted in meeting new people. but in the end 'travaling along can be a most rewarding experiance' or at least that is what my Rough Guide tells me.

I guess i should reveal that i am actuly writtign this letter on the overnight train to Aswane. The first class compartment is like th wide seats of ariplane buisness class dropped in a greay hound bu. The 800 kilomiter trip follows the nile, all the way down but out the window all i can see is darkness and the odd single light from a single house. Anyways the music on my diskman is from the graduate and maybe this is what this trip is about.

The Futurs in Plastics
Other entries
» I am here
i have arrived in cairo, safe and sound after a trip that took well over a day. i however, am quite exhusted and will wait till tommrow to write about what has happend.
» (No Subject)

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» Bon Voyage
The next time i update this blog of mind I will have reached my destination. I though before I left I would leave this copy of the email I sent out to all my friends before I left.

In two days I, the once young, now Communications grad will be boarding a
plan in the early morning to Cairo. I am informing all of you of this
fact so as to stop sending me all these, jobs, offerers of money,
approved Canada Conciel grands, movie deals and record contracts that i
have been inadated with since graduation, all right, maybe not. I am
actually witting all of you to let you know i won't be answering my phone
for the next two months and you are receiving the first of the many email
updates of my trip to the middle east. For those who have not heard of my
trip, i will be taking the next two months, maybe more if i get a job in
Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Three places that i am not really sure why i am
visiting or what i plan to do when i get there. When i do arrive in
Cairo, at eleven in the morning on Sunday I will be able to claim the
title 'the loneliest man in Africa' for the sheer fact that i know
nobody. Nothing is planned and in fact i have not even packed my bag
yet. Overall I hope at the very least this whole excessive will allow me
to distract myself with the bigger questions of what i wish to do with my
life, even though i have a sneaking suspstion it will involve lots of
grant proposals and day jobs moving lights around, but then again who
knows? Maybe I will wish to fufille my childhood dream of operating a
back-hoe. Now, I should finish packing, but i will end with a promises to
respect your inboxs, and not send updates every time thoughts of 'how
traveling puts everything in perspective' or 'we are so lucky to be
Canadian' both of which are true of course. For those however who do want
more then these little email dispatches i have set up a blog. The blog is
called 'The Orientalist' and can be reached at

In till Cairo

p.s. i will continue to write poor English in my email's so everybody
will be able to verify it is in fact me corspeonding with all of you.
» Getting ‘Yellowed’
I now know there are two ways you can get Yellow Fever, the least likely way to contract ‘Yellow’ is to travel to Africa or South America and the most likely is to hand over sixty five dollars to the Ottawa Riverside Travel Health Clinic. Once you get past the thirty dollars doctor consulting fee, a nurse will take you aside and stick all sorts of retro dieses up your arm. Being Canadian I really have difficult with paying for your health care with a visa or MasterCard. I of course know that every visit to a doctor is just builled to the provincial government, but it all seems to change when a doctor will not see you in less you can pay the thirty or so dollars, but it almost seems like to little. As if the gateway to prescription drugs, physiotherapy, immunization, rehab, paid days off work, and new children only costs thirty-five dollars. As for the immunization, this is all speculation, because my appointment is not in till next Thursday, which is turning out to be quite a day. After my immune system is ‘yellowed’ I booted it up to Montreal, to graduate from a little thing called University, come back to Ottawa for a reception at my parents house then head back that night because my flight leaves the next day.

Also, I bought a money belt today, it’s the same money belt my Girlfriend owns and it is the same money belt at the same price in every money belt stocking store in Canada. It appears the money belt market is cornered.
I now realize that there is no fetish, obsession or
perversion the internet will not serve. A week ago I became sick of
rereading my Rough Guide, and decided to search the Internet for photos of other peoples trip to get a better idea of where I would like to travel. I am sure I have talked about this in an earlier post, but when I travel I create this 2 dimensional slide show of my trip, composed of pictures from guide books, websites and pure imagination of what my trip will look like. So about a week ago I figured I should add a couple more shots to my premeditated slide show. To begin with I figured I would search out images for the very begging of my trip, so I looked on the Internet for shots of Cairo International Airport. I should have known better, that not only am I not the first person to look interior photos of CAI, but that on the internet such an interest exists that somebody built a whole site about it. At the http://www.cruisinaltitude.com/ section dedicated to CAI I found dozens of photos of the airport, in both day and night, at arrivals and departures and a nice shot of some wide escalators, which I now know lead to the duty free shop. I cannot figure out why this information is useful, the site does not offer advice, reviews or tips about CAI, but a collection of hastily taken snaps. The worst part is the site is really well designed; somebody really wanted to make sure they were working on the definitive CAI photo site.
Check out a few of these shots
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Or check out the CAI site
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