Turkey + Egypt 2012

I think I'm crazy. Every time I go somewhere in winter, I will be freezing and cold. And yet I have no qualms about going to another place next winter to torture myself all over again ._.

So yup. I'm back from my Turkey + Egypt Christmas trip! They are both Muslim-majority countries so there wasn't much Christmas-ness, but it was real fun because I traversed three continents in one holiday. Turkey is 97% on Asian land and 3% European. There is a bridge between the two continents and I can be in both at the same time in the middle of it haha! And Egypt is Africa. And even though it is not a place where Christmas is celebrated by many, I still had my White Christmas in Turkey where it snowed and covered the sidewalks and shop fronts and trees, just like it would have in Mickey Mouse Christmas shows. AWWW ♥

I have no pictures because my cousin and my sister brought along their DSLRs so I decided to make use of them. So I wouldn't be too engrossed in photography and end up forgetting about looking around x)

Our family was on a private tour and our tour guide was Erkal in Turkey and Ramses in Egypt. Deryk says private tours are more expensive but actually I don't really know cos I've never tried group tour except for school trips, which is some sort of a private tour anyway. I was told that private tours usually get better guides. And despite all the so-called better guides I get all the time, we really got an amazing guide this time round! :D Erkal was super awesome and fun and helpful, my cousin started missing him right after we said goodbye at the airport /: Ahmed was good too. He's a really knowledgable guy, but I think the environment was causing me to dislike the place, so I didn't like him as much.

Turkey was way better than Egypt. In terms of hardware like technology and advancement, and software like the friendliness and courtesy of the people. But of course, we were looking at two drastically different types of historical sites, so I think it is still worth going to Egypt to see the Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx. But it's dusty because it's a desert and their hygiene level is not very up-to-standard. Even the plates and utensils I use at meals never looked completely clean >.<

And also, Egyptians think about money too much. They were disturbing my visit to the Sphinx and most other historical sites by their highly irritable touting and cheating. The Turks are much more friendly. When I told the person I only wanted one postcard instead of five in a pack, he gave me the postcard for free! And they smile and welcome tourists into their shops, and explain everything without the expectation that I will buy something. They are just hoping I might learn something about Turkish goods out of the conversation.

In Turkey, my dad bought a Turkish lamb leather jacket of highest quality at a really good price! Like maybe a quarter of the price I would expect it to be here in Singapore. And I bought a pair of dual-style leather boots and a pretty shirt (:

In Egypt, we got dried dates from a brand that apparently is the best in the world. And of course, Egyptian cotton is the best in the world, and I only use 100% Egyptian cotton bath towels at home, so there were steals there too. And I never knew Egypt made essence for big brands like Chanel, DKNY, Boss, CK etc. And the essence smell exactly the same as the perfumes, just without the alcohol. So we bought bottles of essence too. Really cheap, like US$40 for 120g of essence (10g of CKONE in Singapore is $136 because of the pretty packaging + alcohol).

As my daddy was calculating, he realised that if we sold Egyptian cotton in Singapore at less than 50% of the general price it is in Singapore, we would still profit after deducting all the shipping etc. Imagine how much those importers in Singapore make O: So he got the name card of the Egyptian cotton factory we visited. He's planning to import Egyptian cotton for our personal use so we no longer get cheated by branding, and maybe even import for sale.

But actually, there is something I think is the same in both countries, which is that they both have useless metal detectors at all sites of interest. They just let everyone pass without a physical check even if the detector sounds, and it has to sound because they just allow people to carry their bags through instead of placing them through the security scanner which is built next to the metal detector, and equally useless since no bags go through them.

In Turkey, I did many cool cool stuff like stay in a restored mansion built in the 1800s! And take a hot air balloon ride down the valley, looking at homes carved into rock. And walk on cold, hard ice barefooted. And step on stone blocks 5000 years old O: and visit the last home of the Virgin Mother Mary. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE TURKEY ♥

Our guide told us it rains only at most six times a year in Cairo, and we were lucky enough to see it rain! :D the Pyramids, the Sphinx, the temple ruins and the treasure found within were great sights. We even went to see the only natural waterfall in Egypt, and the whale fossils from 250million years ago when Egypt was sea, not desert.

While in Egypt, we spent four nights in Movenpick Cairo. A supposedly 5-star hotel, but I don't think it deserved that kind of rating. How does being Asian make me a lesser guest of that hotel as compared to Caucasians? Being Asian means our room for two only gets one bath towel, being Asian means our toilet has four bottles of shampoo instead of two shampoos and two bath gels, being Asian means I have to get tea myself during the morning breakfast while others get it served to their table the moment they are seated. Totally unlike Turkey. I'm proud to be Asian, and those people had better learn themselves some manners towards me who is paying to keep them in their jobs. HMPH.