Monday, January 25, 2010

The pyramids - finally!

Last Friday (in Egypt weekend has started then) we decided it was finally time to visit the pyramids of Cheops., after having lived in Cairo for 5 months now...
Our driver Yahye came with us, it was only a 15 min drive from our house, can you imagine how close they are? Arthur passes them everyday (desperately trying to take pictures, but alas..). Of course the city moves closer and closer to the deserts surrounding the pyramids. But also this has its charms.
As you can see on the this picture you can see the city from the Pyramids grounds

I was amazed to experience the ticket office, it seemed time had stood still here sometime in the sixties.. Although the roads up to the entrance are fine, police checks are done to search for bombs etc, the ticket office was dark and men in (leather) black tried to withhold as much info as they could. No shop or stance with refreshments in sight, so if anybody is up for a career that combines ice, tea and coffee.. this is the place to go!
So, Yahya (don't ask, Arabic names are written in Latin differently continuously) could park the car a bit further and did not need to buy a ticket, which is what we used to have in Turkey in the past also (Arthur always was pushing his knowledge of Turkish to the limits just to sound like a Turk at the ticket booth, to get a lower price of course... the depths this man is willing to travel for money ;) respect).
When we entered the area YeahYeah requested our tickets and for a reason, we were immediately harassed by a man who wanted to see our tickets to talk us into him guiding for us 'at no cost of course, you're free to give later if you want to'. Good trick! Didn't see that one coming, the minute you give him your tickets, you'll be in for a little discussion.
Anyways. Camels, horses, strong wind and good sun made for a perfect environment to see the pyramids. Its amazing. Standing there in front of these imposing buildings really only leads to a status of awe. Especially the Sphinx is a masterpiece, looking like a woman though in the past donned with a beard! That fell off. Ok!
Dus. Perfect two hours spent, also us oYeah willfully and with huge joy chased Femke for two straight hours giving us the chance to walk around a bit, definite worth the visit.

Baby 22 weeks

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Dubai Experience- Jan 2010

Arthur monthly visits Dubai for work and mid January I decided to join him. We had 4,5 days to explore Dubai, let the good times roll! Our family, especially Di Mama's, were very excited about our trip, haha, actually everyone we know in the Netherlands is more interested to learn about Dubai than Cairo. It appeals as Dubai is doing a great job promoting itself on CNN, travel programs, with world's largest this/fastest that/ladida. Soww.. is it worth it?

I think that is a 'yes indeed' indeed.

Its not Disney world as you'd expect. But a well organized, clean city where the government is travelling length to make sure you are enjoying your stay.
Also January was a good time to travel as temperatures are OK, in the mid twenties, there are (very low) lowseason prices and hardly any tourists can be seen.
Femke and I traveled alone to Dubai on Wednesday. The flight was 3,5 hours, quite longer than I would have thought it would be, and the time difference with Egypt is +2 hours. When we arrived at the airport, the stroller was waiting by my side: Femke now weighs 13 kilo's and with my pregnant situation I can't hold Femke in my arms longer than a few minutes!
Interesting to see all these customs officials in their white cloaks, Kandura they are called, and the Guthra their headscarf. Most popular colors of the headscarf are white or red and white checks. Then Egal, a black rope is used to tie the scarf on the head. See here what I mean...
From Dubai jan 2010

Arthur picked me up at the airport and soon we were heading in a new and clean taxi to our hotel... One cannot help comparing everything to Cairo! Taxi drivers in Dubai are usually from India or Pakistan and speak very well English. Actually; only 10% of Dubai are Emirati, the rest of the people mainly are Indian/Pakistani/other working in construction/service industry or enjoying these constructions/services (Europeans, Iranians & Arabians mostly).

Nice trip. It looks like what I expect Florida to be. Even at the beach I felt as if I could lounge for a bit and later take my surfboard out to do some 'sharky dippin'' (one takes a shark..). Very relaxing, nice week out from Cairo and actually I'm considering to accompany Arthur again in March :)

= The fountain light and music show at the Dubai Mall, Femke is still shouting at her highest notes when she sees the video's
From Dubai jan 2010

= The boat ride at the Madinat Jumeirah hotel / souk, great souk, amazing what they build here, very relaxed.
From Dubai jan 2010

= Mercato shopping mall, because of the Venetian style architecture. All other malls looked quiet futuristic
From Dubai jan 2010

= Beautiful beaches, there are public ones and private ones; the latter have more shade as there are trees planted on the beach, and beds and umbrellas available.
From Dubai jan 2010

= The waterfall at the Mall of the Emirates
From Dubai jan 2010

Check out other pics in the presentation slide below...

It was a strange experience though, to see this wealthy city where everything looks perfect, like in fairy tale from the future. Also good to see how modern and tolerant many cultures live together there. Travelling and sight seeing is comfortable, one sees hardly the poor and ugly and dirty side (of which can be found in Cairo everywhere), it is like a large suburb where all cars are new and clean, and people are rich, many restaurants and shops available. Tourists seem to like that for a change, its not cheap for a tourist here, but its not crazily expensive either (think London/Paris/New York)

It was a nice contrast to our next holiday destination early February, to Sri Lanka!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

If I were a rich man...

It is always interesting, I think, to dream about winning the lottery and what you would do with that money.. I came up with the following list. I am not so much focusing on material things I could buy though, because that would be more ore less a natural thing to do (buy). It is more about making my life easier by getting rid of time consuming activities! But read till the end, because my conclusion might be quiet surprising...

1. I don't enjoy doing groceries, so I would order it online and have it delivered to my home.
2. I don't like to shop for clothes, so I would shop for items in one time and be rid of that activity for a few months!
3. I would go much more often to a hairdresser, massage and all other 'personal care' related things. Perhaps hire a personal trainer to give me advice on nutrition and exercise.
4. I spent a lot of time now searching for good travel deals, I would delegate this work to a virtual assistant
5. I would organize the quickest and easiest way to use the internet
6. I would never go into a post office again, but use a courier like DHL.
7. I would choose the most comfortable car for myself
8. If I would not choose for an eye operation, I would treat myself on the thinnest glasses possible and vary the frames on a regular basis
9. I would hire a maid that would do all household chores
10. I would finish our house in Urla in a quick and perfect way, the heating system, garden, swimming pool etc
11. I would do more tidying up of my books, papers and stuff, more than I did so far
12. I would travel the world more often than now.
13. I would go to the Netherlands more often to spend more time with friends and family.

Last but not least no.14 : I would choose a project that gives fulfillment and satisfaction, this could be a charity project, but also starting a business, open a shop, start a private school, write a book, make documentaries, help young entrepreneurs with great ideas, sponsor poor but talented students, or be involved in an environmental project


There is actually nothing to keep me from doing all the 14 things on my list!
Now in Cairo a few things are already possible; I have a maid who cleans and does laundry/ironing, she comes 4 times a week, from 9 till 2, so my household chores are minimal; groceries can be delivered home and if coordinated well, ordered on a regular basis.

My life would not change drastically, yes I would have more free time, but one will get used to that as well. For sure I could delegate a lot to a personal or virtual assistant if I want to afford one.

More importantly: I have a 2 year old child who needs to play with other kids, so I would always be occupied with arranging that !!! (I would never hire a nanny to take over my mother role!).

Will I really be happier if I am a millionaire? Or will I lead my life less intense, because my life would pass by in a slower pace for small time consuming activities are already organized. Or will I live my life faster because I would feel I HAVE to do all kinds of things now I have the money, otherwise I would feel guilty ? I think I CAN organize my life NOW in such a way, that the time consuming, boring, activities are at least minimized. Even no. 14 is not impossible without having a lot of money.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Is Egypt a developing country?

I was curious if and why Egypt was a developing country... A quick research on the internet gives the following interesting details...

Developing country is a term generally used to describe a nation with a low level of material well being. There is no single internationally-recognized definition of developed country, and the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries, with some developing countries having high average standards of living."

Some international organizations like the World Bank use strictly numerical classifications. The World Bank considers all low- and middle- income countries as "developing". In its most recent classification, economies are divided using 2008 Gross National Income per capita. In 2008, countries with GNI per capita below US$11,905 were considered developing.

Egypt had a GNI per capita (US$) of 1580 in 2007 and Norway one of the highest ( 76450 dollars), Liberia one of poorest countries a GNI per capita (US$) of 150.

Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, defined a developed country as follows. "A developed country is one that allows all its citizens to enjoy a free and healthy life in a safe environment."

There is criticism of the use of the term ‘developing country’. The term implies inferiority of a 'developing country' compared to a 'developed country', which many such countries dislike. It assumes a desire to ‘develop’ along the traditional 'Western' model of economic development which many countries, such as Cuba, have chosen not to follow. Thus Cuba remains classed as 'developing' due to its low gross national income but has a lower infant mortality rate and higher literacy rate than the USA.

The development of a country is measured with statistical indexes such as income per capita (per person) (GDP), life expectancy, the rate of literacy, et cetera.
The UN has developed the HDI, a compound indicator of the above statistics, to gauge the level of human development for countries where data is available.
Developing countries are in general countries which have not achieved a significant degree of industrialization relative to their populations, and which have, in most cases a medium to low standard of living. There is a strong correlation between low income and high population growth.

Life expectancy at birth, as an index of population health and longevity
Egypt: 70-72.5 yrs versus 77.5n to 80 yrs in Norway and in Liberia only 45 years!
So Egypt scores not bad at all with its life expectancy...

Knowledge and education, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weighting) and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weighting). For Egypt these figures vary from 72 to 90 %, this is also quiet good compared to other countries