Arrived in Cairo at 3am. Was on the lookout for hotel touts at the airport because Lonely Planet advised they work for huge commissions, which are included in the cost of your room. I was very surprised to run into them before I cleared customs. This basically means that the first big scam you come across in Egypt is sanctioned by the Egyptian Government. Not a good sign at all.
Chose the cheapest accommodation out of the Lonely Planet, which turns out to be a mistake. The place looks like it is about to collapse. The only other person there is a guy called James from Florida who tried everywhere else in a ten block radius first. We agree to seek a more suitable place first thing in the morning. By 9am our packs are relocated to a much more stable hotel.
I spent the day trying to sort out some of my visa woes (Saudi Arabia) to no avail and exploring Cairo. I probably walked around 40 kilometres and ran into the only other person I know in Egypt at this point in time, terrible Teryle. How freaky is that. During my travels I found a massive second hand book market with tens of thousands of books, many of which are in English. Despite looking through every bookstall I fail to find a copy of the Lord of the Rings to read before the movie comes out at Christmas. The search isn’t aided by the fact that none of the booksellers read, let alone speak any English so they are all in huge random piles. This doesn’t stop any of the Egyptians trying to sell me a book or two. One guy was particularly good. He would pick up a dusty old novel from the top of one of the piles and read the name of the author on the sly. Then he wound say “What about Mark Thornton?” or some other author nobody has ever heard of. This was followed by “He is pretty famous you know”. When I said no he would repeat the process with another equally unknown, unfamous author. Very fucking funny to watch.
That night we went to some Sufi dancing. This is dancing and music done by people from one of the weirder Islamic sects. It is free so demand is high and we ended up having to bribe our way to the front of the queue for 20 Egyptian pounds each. We were pretty chuffed with ourselves about the scam (when in Rome after all) when the entire rest of the queue were let in free of charge 15 minutes later. It was all worth it in the end as the music and dancing was really mental and everyone including the performers had a blast. The highlight was a dancer who spun on the spot for over 30 minutes while everything went mad around him.