Email update from 23 Jan, 2012
14.01.2012 - 22.01.2012
Sitting in a very dusty internet cafe in Aswan, awaiting the ferry to
Sudan, leaves tomorrow, takes 1.5days......
Biking has been an experience, I luv challenging the traffic, which is
somewhat crazy.....cars going up and down in wrong lanes but it all
seems to work....no headlights used in the city...apparently they
think it saves on their gas....???? Amidst all the constant honking of
horns and yelling from kids we dodge the donkey carts and the constant
stopping of the "taxis".....which range from tuk-tuks to closed in
utes.....the latter always overfull with people actually standing on
the back running board.
Cairo was frenetic with many of us trying to get our Sudanese
visas.....the Pyramid Resort was about 30mins out of town.....any trip
in a taxi in Cairo is chaotic.....4 lane highway becomes 6 and the
speed of travel is "fast", dodging, weaving, at times I closed my
eyes.....all drivers honk and there is no "road rage"......us Aussies
need a lesson!!! There appears to be no speed limits....police have
better things to do? The rubbish is appalling, it is everywhere,
piled high...plastic the scurge of the earth!!! Tahir Sq was quiet
and no political unrest...still some tents set up, but no agitating.
Unfortunately it was impossible to do any sightseeing as everything
takes forever......wait, wait wait...no hurry....time to learn the art
of patience!!!! We managed to get to the museum for 2 hours. Huge,
with so much history and artefacts.....lots of dust and very poor
lighting....as bit a a challenge for this girl!! Viewed King Tuts
tomb and all the goodies that he was buried with. Lots of mummies,
fascintating the way they are so well preserved. Bound with cloth and
reed-like binding. Toured (by taxi) Old Cairo cemetry. People
actually "live" in it....most appeared to be tidy and clean. The dust
pollution is chronic. Lots of men, women all covered and hidden
So much housing not completed, but apparently if your house isn't
completed you don't pay taxes.....
Everyone we spoke with about the "revolution" were happy and hopeful
for a better life.....time will tell.
14 women - yeh! Youngest is 22 (Esther) from Australia. Eldest is
Beverley, 61 (5 months older than me). Majority from Canada, with 1
Irish, Dutch, Brit, South African, 3 Aust. All with varying
experience with biking, all sorts of bikes but mainly mountain bikes.
Men: Some "serious" racers.......again, majority from Canada, with
Swiss, Dutch, German, South African, US, Brit, NZ, Belgium, Italy.
Eldest is 65, with quite a number over 60, retired.
Riding out of Cairo was so much fun......48 people + staff, trying to
control the traffic. We have had security all the way through Egypt,
tourism police, police, army, ambulance and hangeroners who we assume
are also helping.....Negotiating roundabouts with 48
people....yeh....I just stayed at the front and moved with the
traffic. So glad I'm "traffice savvy"....thankyou Townsville!!! We
thought our roads were bad!!!! Spend a great deal of the riding days
calling and pointing.....
The Nasser highway was bliss....no traffic as a toll road.... Great
tail wind, sunshine, but cool. Scenery......dirt, desert, mountains
of sand and very little population.....Lots of trucks driving through
the desert, going somewhere, carting dirt....????
First crash - I stayed upright, the other person hit the
deck.....badly scrapped face....but OK, put in the van to campsite.
She was back riding the next day - black eye and swollen face.
First campsite.......rocks and dirt - no facilities, same for next 4
days....Bad luck it you are a "cleanliness fanantic"...
First sunset, special.....night comes quickly as does the
cold....Brrrrr. Everyone in bed by 6.30pm!!! Warm in sleeping bag.
Silk liner, therml liner, skins and socks!!! Most attractive!
Packing up takes me 1hr. Getting dressed while still in sleeping bag
and organizing clothes to fit back into bag. Have it down pat now,
but still 1 hr, which includes pulling down and packing away the tent.
So its up at 5.30am and breakfast at 6.45. Hands freeze and everyone
laughs.....washing of hands and own plates has created
dermatitis....ah....the joys of roughing it. Finally purchased jar of
vaseline and lather it on at night and wear gloves to bed!!!
Population of Egypt = 82million!!!!
1000kms through Egypt and all on tar...varying degrees of condition.....
Second night was a challenge setting up tent.....very very windy, had
to help each other and with very sandy soil the tent pegs pulled
out....boulder gathering expedition to keep tent grounded!!!! The
second day leg was 169km...A big one for some, they had to be picked
up by van as could not make it into camp. Huge windfarm for miles -
financed by the Chinese government!
People have settled into group riding, pelaton style. Fast boys take
off early and arrive in camp before midday most days.
I've settled into several groups, but work really well with three guys
(all 60) and 1 other girl, in her 50's. We sit on 28-35 and more if
tail wind. Good group. Another lot of younger girls work well
together, but too fast for me, especially up hills!!!! Ah, youth...
They call me "mum" now.....
Our first big climb was only 836m but it was for 58kms.....up and up
and onward and upward....lots of people just riding on their own.
Lunch stop was much appreciated after that. The mountains were
closed in around you, with trucks, cars and buses flying past a
breakneck speeds...they all toot.....oh the constant noise.....
Our first 4 days were all big kms, over 130 each day.....the last
couple have been around 117km. One day with strong headwind, so
shortened the campsite stop.....what a relief that was. All desert
campsites have no water, or facilities and are on side of road. Trucks
begin at 2.30am....so not much sleeping!. Arrval at a campsite with
facilties....we had two rooms booked in an hotel for showers or all to
use. Ah, bliss, washed hair!!! Townships the same, dusty
alleyways, half built buildings, lots of little supermarkets, clothing
shops, car repairers etc. Just like any town....
Finally to Luxor.....the Nile River, fertile land, vegetable plots and
green, green, green.....such a change from desert, and it all appeared
so quickly. Lots of mud brick housing along the canals, kids calling
out "hullo, money".
Campsite with washing facilities. Into the Souk, but too much
hassling for me.....ahhhhhh. Eating off street carts, yum food.
Sightseeing to Karnak Temple. Originally found 1830 and most of the
excavation done up to 2004, but still being dug up....it is
phenomenal... huge walls. Rather more impressive than the pyramids,
mainly because you could walk amongst it all.....pillars 30m
high....look it up on web for information....just too much to tell.
Spent several hours just wandering through it, listening in to other
people's tour guides!!!!
Feluga trip on Nile with sunset....how romantic....well, with three
girls and a male....very calming, peaceful. The car honking could
not be heard....just the whoosh of slicing through the water under
sail. Again, no tourists so trip very cheap.
When in town campsites the "prayer" calling is crazy. Begins at 4.50
and goes on "forever"....inbuilt alarm clock.....So monotoneous......
Have registered for racing, from day one, and a couple of days ago was
ranking 19.....not bad for an old girl. Yesterday I won the
"stage"(daily time).....Yeh.....you receive a place card. Won't be
able to keep it up once we hit the gravel, dirt and stone areas.
Well guys, enough from me. All's well, food is great, vegetarian is
the way to go. Have bought lots of fruit for the ferry crossing...we
are in cabins, but will spend most time on deck. Weather has been
sunny, my face is as mess, but have found wearing your scarf Lauren,
prevents sun and windburn......Yeh to you. Some people are seriously
burnt with blistered lips. So odd to ride all day with a covered
face....feeling like a local woman.
Time to go....luv to all my friends...keep safe and I'll update again when able.
LeeLee, thanks for your txts and deciphering mine on to family. Big
hugs to you Safta.....luv you lots....Keep smiling sister mine and