A first trip backpacking to Egypt from Perth

After leaving Perth , Western Australia and spending 6 days in balmy Kuala Lumpur it was time to catch our flight to Cairo , Egypt . It was our first big trip away from home and our first as a couple. At 21 years old we had decided to see the world.

We left our hotel in KL at 5:30pm to check in for our flight to Egypt . We had packed, repacked and made sure we both had our tickets, passports and credit cards all stashed safely in our money belts.

As we boarded the plane that would take us to Cairo we knew that this leg of our trip would be the most trying for any couple.

After a sleepless 10 hour flight we touched down in Cairo at 11:35pm local time.

We had booked a Geckos Grassroots Tour of Egypt. The tour was 10 days long and covered all the great Ancient Egyptian monuments. We had been careful to make sure we booked transfers to and from the airport with the tour company so that we didn't end up lost in Cairo .

Nervously we walked off the plane and toward customs where, to our surprise, a representative of the tour company was waiting for us inside immigration. We were not expecting this but were relieved that he could tell us where and how to get Visas and claim our baggage.

It was then that we began to realise how important tourists are to Egypt . Tourist Police stand on every corner ensuring that tourists feel secure despite the rifles slung across their backs. We tried to avoid being alone with these tourist security guards as they are just as desperate for tips, or baksheesh, as any other Egyptian. They also seem to think that calling out and harassing women tourists is part of their job.

We purchased the two Egyptian Visa stamps for US$15 and were shocked when our passports were barely looked at by customs officials. We waited with a group while we all got our bags and instead of having our bags ripped apart we were ushered through without a second look.

At 3am from our two single hotel beds we were woken by the wailing of mosque speakers all over the city broadcasting the first of five daily preys.

We were three days early for our tour and too nervous to do any sightseeing on our own. One adventurous trip to a cash machine was enough to keep us indoors in our basic two-star hotel in the back streets of Cairo . The men took great pleasure in beeping their horns and yelling at me even though I was completely covered wearing pants and a jumper in 35 degree heat.

It was difficult being in a place where even the men working at the hotel would take whatever opportunity they could to put their hands on me and my boyfriend did well to stay near me and try to ignore it.

However, traveling in Egypt as a couple was the best thing we did. As our tour took us further south down the Nile I felt extremely lucky to have a male by my side the entire time. Single females on the trip were alright in the group but when venturing out alone the attention they received was a bit daunting.

We found it is a lot cheaper traveling as a couple. Paying for extra sightseeing and food is easier with two contributors.

Seeing the pyramids, the Sphinx, cruising down the Nile and walking through ancient tombs means so much more when you have someone special to share it with. Having another person with you at all times also means that you can always have your photo taken with a monument without having to pay an Egyptian baksheesh to do it for you.

As we flew out of Egypt and into Prague the practicality of traveling as a couple had proved itself as well as the feeling of having someone near who cares whether or not you make it through customs.

Discovering Egypt was such a diverse country that is entirely different from our own, made us grow as individuals and as a couple. We had so much fun together and meeting so many others on our tour. Together we saw some of the most amazing monuments on the face of the planet. The photos of the two of us in front of the pyramids will be my favourite forever.

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