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Middle East, 2003

a travel blog by Jason Kester




Three months were gone and I was still walking the earth and blowing through the life?s savings. Too much good stuff to report. Too many entries to reasonably expect anybody to read. Time to start a new chapter in the web log.

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Cha!

Dubai, United Arab Emirates


My hotel room has a little arrow on the dresser so that I'll know the direction to Mecca. Outside my door was the morning paper in Arabic. Today I shall swim in the Persian Gulf.

Life is good.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 22, 2003 from Dubai, United Arab Emirates
from the travel blog: Middle East, 2003
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Beer Run

Cairo, Egypt


Part of the appeal of travel for me is that you tend to find yourself in really strange situations from time to time. Big cities in the third world seem to be especially good for this. Cairo has not disappointed.

I've only been here a few hours now, but already I've found myself in a custody battle between two pensionnes in the same building, each claiming to be the Dahab Hotel. One of them is actually correct, but that is no matter, as the other is convinced that it is in fact a new addition to the real place. Good for bargaining though. I've got AC and a balcony for five bucks a night.

So I'm eating my Shawarma in the lobby, talking to the manager (who now claims that he used to manage the real Dahab and thus the misunderstanding) and his "brother", and it turns out that there is a big wedding party tomorrow night and they need a huge favor, as the only place in town where you can get imported liquor is the duty free shop at the Sheraton. Of course they're lying, but I've been lied to all day and I'm used to it. And besides, what could possibly go wrong?

As a newly arrived visitor, my passport is a valuable thing. It contains a dated stamp that entitles me to bring 3 liters of alcohol and 3 cartons of cigarettes into the country. I'm finally getting to repay karma for mooching off upperclassmen for all those beer runs back at school. I'm expecting to be handed some cash and a list, then be inserted quietly into the lobby and return a hero, but no. It's easier than that. All I gotta do is hang out while our brother goes shopping, then produce my passport at the proper moment. Kind of a let down.

Anyway, my services netted me a couple warm cans of beer to enjoy on the rooftop deck of the hotel. So much sweeter because of how they were earned. I woulda done it just for the story.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 23, 2003 from Cairo, Egypt
from the travel blog: Middle East, 2003
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Frogger!

Cairo, Egypt


Crossing the street in this town, you need to be a bit more suicidal than normal. The streets are all 8 lanes wide, without any breaks in traffic and no crosswalks. Basically, you wait for enough room to step off the curb, then cast off and Hope for the best. The drivers don't actually accelerate when they see you coming, which at least gives you a fighting chance, but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Just this evening I was taken out by a taxi that was backing up a one-way street. Nice one, Mr. Taxi. I'll be watching for you next time.

These last few days, I've been soaking up the antiquities and trying to breach security at the US embassy so that I can get some more pages added to my passport. I've completely filled the thing. I win! Unfortunately, they're on double-secret terror alert here, so there's 200 troops outside the embassy and the streets are blocked off for a half dozen blocks in all directions. This is my second day of effort, I almost made it to the front door this time. I've got a good feeling about tomorrow.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 25, 2003 from Cairo, Egypt
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Qasr al Farafirah, Egypt




permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 26, 2003 from Qasr al Farafirah, Egypt
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Al Qasr, Egypt




permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 27, 2003 from Al Qasr, Egypt
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Mut, Egypt




permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 28, 2003 from Mut, Egypt
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Luxor, Egypt




permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 29, 2003 from Luxor, Egypt
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Aswan, Egypt




permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 30, 2003 from Aswan, Egypt
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Sharm ash Shaykh, Egypt




permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 31, 2003 from Sharm ash Shaykh, Egypt
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BFE

Dhahab, Egypt



Last anybody heard from me, I was about to hop a bus out into the Libyan Desert in search of an Oasis or two. I'm happy to report that I survived the experience.

Farafra, Egypt. Aptly named, and about the second most remote place in the whole country. There's a little village, a couple springs, and a bit of irrigation to expand the stand of date palms surrounding it all. Apart from that, it's just sand as far as the eye can see, Lawrence of Arabia style. I blew a day there, hired a jeep to take me out into the desert to catch the sunset, then made my way to a hotspring in the middle of nowhere to relax and check out the stars. Yeah, this will do...

Next up was Luxor and Aswan for a bit of Tomb Raiding. Wow. Nothing I can say would do the place justice. If you've been there, you'll know. If not, you need to go before you die. Now is a great time to be in Egypt. With the combination of the off-season, the US government recommending its citizens to panic, and the resulting weak Egyptian Pound, it's like a fire sale over here. You can rent a camel for $0.50 an hour!

I'm on the Sinai now, chillin' on the beach at Dahab, looking to do some diving, and maybe give some attention to my recently neglected suntan. My room costs $1.50 a night. I should be able to hold out about six years...

permalink written by  Jason Kester on June 5, 2003 from Dhahab, Egypt
from the travel blog: Middle East, 2003
tagged BFE

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Hey! I wrote Blogabond so I guess that makes me your host. Welcome!

I spend about 9 months a year on the road, chasing the sun around the world in search of good climbing and surfing. I carry a laptop along with me, and take on small programming contracts to take care of expenses.
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