It’s been an interesting experience getting a car and its contents through Egyptian customs. Much more complicated and time consuming than I could ever imagine. My advice, Don’t do it unless you have loads of money and have plenty of time. That said, what an experience and it had to happen to continue my journey.
The above shows part of the queue outside (it was worse inside) the Sudanese embassy this morning where Jonathan and I started queuing at 8am. (Jonathan is a young Australian who has been travelling for over 2 years and we met at the hostel) The place opens after 9am but the immigration window(left hand side) that deals with visa’s didn’t get staffed until about 10.15. By then the queue was about 30 deep and growing. Fortunately we were at the front but only to be given application forms to fill in. ( it would be too easy to leave them in an accessible tray). Impossible to complete at the small counter so we had to leave the cou ter to fill them in.
Whilst I had a sponsor (Thank you Nabigh) Jonathan didn’t. The good news is the lack of sponsor didn’t seem to matter today. After we got our application photocopied in another queue and attached 2 passport photis with your passport you are ready to join the bigger than ever queue again. We managed to push to the front of the queue with a ,”Men Fadlak” Excuse me or please, and then just had wait and wait. No one tells you what to expect, which is very normal at embassies.
There is however a quite pleasant cafe area in a small courtyard that does great fool in bread with salad for 5 EGP. (20pence). We were joined by an attractive young lady called Victoria from Norway, who is travelling alone until April. I was really impressed at her travels and because she is married and was travelling without her husband. (We are an unusual bunch! ) She just has the bug to travel and challenge herself too.
At around 1pm a man appears dishing out all the applications so you can pay for them and join the cashier queue. It was a good job we met Victoria and that she befriended Jonathan on facebook or similar, because she was able to contact him later to tell him after we both paid $150 for our visa and rushed off that we only had a receipt. (It was in Arabic) and that we needed to go back to get the actual visa. I assumed we got it at the border. If it hadn’t been for Victoria I could have been at the Sudanese border with a receipt and no visa on arrival as I thought, so A big Thank you Victoria!!!
This afternoon I had a wander around Cairo to part of the Red Crescent volunteers office and as no one spoke English left them with a calling card. I am sure no one had a clue who or what I was doing. They were running some sort of health care clinic and posters were up for first aid training, education etc. They were however very welcoming and definitely more confused than me!
I managed to grab a tuk tuk, after walking away from my taxi that was stationary for about 10 mins in a traffic queue.
There’s only once thing worse than the driving and that’s trying to cross the road. You just need to walk slowly stare at the driver and hope he misses you! If you have a weak heart don’t come up Cairo!! Remember the population of Cairo alone is 9.7 million!
I’m now in a hostel called Egyptian museum hostel. It’s a bit rustic and basic as far as toilets and showers but in a great location right next to the famous Tahrir Square
where the revolution started on 25th January 2011. The owner Ahmed is a lovely guy. Very helpful and will do all he can to assist you with your stay. His prices are really cheap only $7.50 that’s £5.80 per night in a 4 bed dorm room. It’s a real bargain although I did tell him he should put the prices up. His price doesn’t reflect the location and service he provides. It was more than adequate for my needs and you get free breakfast. I missed it this morning as was up early for the visa run.
More good news the car cargo box has apparently been passed by customs at last. They will calculate the bill …..!!! hopefully at Egyptian rates and I can collect the bits including the spare wheel and the locking wheel nut socket and at last begin my trip towards Sudan.
I need to leave Egypt before 29th as my visa, driving licence and probably number plates all expire then.