Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Arriving in Aswan in the evening, I was once again confronted by a scrum of taxi drivers trying to convince me to pay an exorbitant price to the drive into the city.  At this early stage in my trip, it was already becoming tiring.  I couldn't understand why there wasn't a bus or a shuttle or some other form of transport to get me into the city.  Instead, I had to deal with being captive to the lies and deceit of the Egyptian tourism industry.

"It will cost £150!" declared one driver.

I looked at the group without a smile called him a liar.  He seemed taken aback by my curt response, but I didn't really care.

"Friend, please, Aswan is very far."

Aswan was not very far.  This was the next lie I was being given.  I told the driver exactly how far Aswan was and asked him whether he thought it was really that far.  I received no response.

This idiotic back and forth continued for the next twenty minutes until I was finally able to get them to £60.  I was still being horrifically overcharged, but I was tired and was completely through with having to speak to these drivers any further.  I couldn't imagine why tourists so often felt abused and mistreated in this country?

Arriving in Aswan, my hopes of finding a Nubian paradise were quickly dashed.  What I found was a near empty tourist town.

My search for a hostel in Aswan had been unsuccessful and so I had settled on the Keylany Hotel.  My hotel room was plain but clean.  It was strangely overpriced considering the complete lack of any amenities or assistance from the staff.  The advertised "pool" (which I was never going to use) was actually a raised suburban swimming pool sitting precariously on the roof.  I peered over the side and saw suspiciously coloured water.
My hopes for Aswan weren't looking amazing at this time of night.

I pulled on my jacket and I walked out of the hotel.  I looked down the street and saw some bright lights and so headed towards it.

I found a true gem!

It was a working souq.  An enormous working souq at that, several kilometres long.
This was clearly the heart of Aswan.  It was a very nice heart as well.  My step quickened with excitement as I walked from store to store and down each of the little alleys.  There was an array of little shops selling everything from food to fabrics to the most stereotypical of tourist trinkets.  In the middle of the souq, there was even a large fruit and vegetable market in the middle of the souq where families were doing their shopping.  I kept walking the length of the souq and eventually found myself a small restaurant at the end.  I ordered a roasted chicken, rice and a bowl of malukhiya (spinach soup).  The food was warm and satisfying.  The malukhiya in particular tasted intensely of its vegetable base and made me feel healthy again.  I ate it quietly and happily, listening to the bustle of the souq behind me.

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