So before I delve into details about my visit to the pyramids, I must start with the beginning of the Egyptian chapter of my book thus far.
One thing's for sure. I'm sure as hell glad I made the decision to come anyway, despite the protests and post-revolution state!

First off, if you fly into Cairo, getting a visa on arrival at the airport is easy as cheese, but land crossing into the Sinai peninsula from Israel is as bad as it sounds. They "technically" don't issue Egyptian visas because Egypt has recently lost control of the Sinai, but as you know, most rules are flexible in this part of the world.
I ended up paying a big bribe ($85) to get my Egyptian visa at Taba, but it was well worth the alternative of being stuck in the Sinai. Getting the visa in Israel was a no-go, since then I would have proof of having visited Israel. 

I also met some new friends at the border crossing: Korken from LA and Kaori from Japan. The bargaining power of the three of us gave us a two and a half hour TAXI RIDE to Dahab for 18 bucks a person? I'll take it.
Dahab, a sleepy little beach town on the Sinai, was a wonderful way to ease into Egypt. After the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv, this place was quite nice to reflect and unwind.
Just a few hours into Dahab, we had some awesome koshary - the Egyptian vegetarian dish that even a week later, I am still hooked on!
The owner of the restaurant, Mohammed, was a bike enthusiast and asked us if we knew how to ride a motorcycle. Next thing I knew, I was behind the wheels and learning how to weave through the streets of Dahab!
Egypt is by far the cheapest country I've ever been to. After adapting to Israeli prices, I was shocked at how cheap everything was once again: hostels from as low as 4 bucks a night and meals for less than a dollar!
Korken and I made a midnight trip to climb Mt. Sinai - the place where Moses is said to have received the ten commandments. Watching the sun rise from the peak was worth every minute of that 10 mile climb!
I also went SCUBA diving for the first time since I got certified in July. Everything from the equipment to the guide cost a total of only 25 dollars! And the Red Sea felt wonderful. 
After a few calm days in the Sinai, I parted ways with my new friends and disembarked on a 9-hour bus ride to Cairo. This massive Egyptian capital of 16 million people is certainly not for the faint-of-heart.
While downtown Cairo was fairly upscale, other parts of the city were simply trashed beyond belief. The smog and air pollution during rush hour made it hard to breathe at times.

Some Egyptians told me the trash is temporary from the revolution, but I don't know. I've seen people throw their leftovers  directly on the street...
My hostel, close to Tahrir Square, was virtually empty as you can imagine! Because of the revolution last year and the recent protests, there were almost no tourists in Cairo. I could go three hours walking through downtown without seeing a single other foreigner. This was totally different (and way better) than the tourist-flooded Egypt I had long heard about.
Despite what you may hear on the news, I felt very safe walking around Tahrir Square at night. For the most part, it's just a hangout spot for the Cairo youth: there's even a KFC and a Pizza Hut there.
I talked to a few young Egyptians who protested during the revolution last year. "Egypt is nowhere near perfect yet, but we're much happier now than we were with Mubarak," one college student told me.

Of course, there are still remnants of the revolution.
Near the square, I walked to the US Embassy where barbed wire buffered the building a block away - to stop the protests.
The next day, I finally made my way to the Pyramids of Giza, something I had dreamed of seeing since I was a kid.

I splurged and hired a horse (hosan in Arabic) and guide since walking between the pyramids on thick sand is absolutely killer to the knees.
My guide, Mohammed, a college student working part-time at the pyramids, basically took me anywhere I wanted for a good two and half hours. He had a Chinese girlfriend in Libya and was thrilled when I told him I was from Taiwan.
There are basically 9 pyramids at the Giza complex: three large ones for 3 Pharaohs, 3 small ones for their wives, and 3 for their sons.

It's hard to imagine just how far away 5,000 years is! 2600 BC was a long, long, very long time ago.
Because of the revolution, I was almost completely alone most places with Mohammed! I felt like I was discovering the pyramids for the first time myself.

Where were all the busloads of tourists? Where were the long lines? Where were the aggressive vendors?
I don't think there's a better time than right now to see the pyramids! In a few years, once the new government is stable again, pictures like this will be impossible once again.
Oh hello there Sphinx!
After the tour, Mohammed invited me to see his grandfather's farm outside the city. In a spontaneous turn of events, I ended up spending that afternoon drinking tea with Bedouin farmers, all of which were thrilled to meet me!
After two weeks in Israel, I really missed that Arab hospitality!
He also introduced me to some of his friends and we picnicked and had koshary on the farm.
Of course, Mohammed's grandfather asked me to stay with them, but I had to go see the rest of Egypt.

Not only did they not have Facebook, Mohammed didn't even have an e-mail address! It was incredible to me to meet other young people completely untouched by social media.
I went from watching the sunrise that morning in Giza to watching it set on a Bedouin farm along the Nile.
Back in crazy Cairo (Kha-HERA mag-NOON in Egyptian Arabic), I did have a few run-ins with the usual tourist problems. I had a cop approach me asking for my "photography license" - something that doesn't exist - basically to ask for a bribe. Luckily for me, a kind Egyptian passer-by yelled at the cop to leave me alone in Arabic, and walked me out of there.

A few days later another cop approached me and directly asked for money, but I simply ignored him. If I didn't do anything wrong, what could he stop me for?

I also got pickpocketed for the first time on the Cairo subway. I lost about 50 Egyptian Pounds (8 dollars), which left me more impressed than anything! I'm still baffled as to how on earth the guy managed to get into my money-belt.

Despite these mishaps from corrupt officials, I realized quickly that the regular Egyptian people are just as friendly as Palestinians, Omanis, and Jordanians. 

It's sad to me that Egypt gets a bit of a bad reputation because of their tourist scammers.
On another day, I visited Saccara and Dahshur - home of the original pyramids. These pyramids are a few hundred years older than the Pyramids of Giza! 

Smaller, but built over 5,000 years ago...
The Bent Pyramid, funny enough, was not intentional. The pharaoh building it at the time didn't exactly have the best engineers and so, sometime about halfway through, they realized the angle was too steep to be stable and changed it.
The inside of some pyramids were lined with thousands of hieroglyphics, each one carved individually by workers once upon a time. I can definitely see why Egyptians are so proud of their culture.
Duck, owl, snake, slug, eye, foot...
They also illustrated some interesting stories in the tomb walls.
I guess this is where the PAUSE button was invented.
Even though so much sand, dust, and time had passed, I was surprised at how well most things were preserved. 

Note to self: If you want to build something that lasts, do it on stone!
Roman ruins feel almost recent compared to these ancient tombs. When the Romans stormed Egypt and defeated Cleopatra, these had all been around for almost 3,000 years!

Two millennia later, they're still here and thousands of years from now, they're still likely to be around.
My last few days in Cairo, I met Jay from South Korea who had traveled all the way to Egypt by motorcycle. He biked through all of Russia and Europe before ferrying from Turkey to Egypt. 

His ambitious round-the-world trip includes going all the way to South Africa, ferrying to Brazil, and biking up through the Americas, Alaska and back to Korea! I invited him to stay with me in LA once he reaches California sometime next year.
All in all, the Sinai and Cairo have been surprisingly safe and friendly places for a guy like me. Even in Egypt, I've realized just how different my experiences have been compared to what I expected.

More adventures to come as I drift further along the Nile and deeper into Egypt!
Oh and here's a mummy if anyone's interested. 

Warning: It's a little creepy.
Logan
10/6/2012 09:17:35 am

Bent pyramid looks really ART...
the horse you were standing seems unhappy for 5000 years.
never feel enough after finished reading...

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Rachel L.
10/6/2012 01:16:48 pm

Those pictures are amazing! My favorite is the one of you on the motorcycle, it really captures the spontaneity of the moment lol. Glad you're having fun :)

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Sis
10/6/2012 03:34:55 pm

Downtown Cairo looks EXACTLY like Madrid!
The Dahab beach looks like paradise...
You're right, this is the perfect time to take pictures of the pyramids without all the tourists.
I laughed when you said you SPLURGED yourself by getting a horse hahaha.
That hieroglyphics picture I saw of the Egyptian kissing a pig on the wall is pretty hilarious... lol

On a side note, today in Texas was 48 degrees.... and next week will be back up to 80.

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Nupur
10/13/2012 03:20:15 am

This is all so brilliant. Egypt has so much culture and history, I can't believe you are there!

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LaJuan Sterels
10/16/2012 09:45:13 am

OMG Dustin........I ask about you and get all of this! What an amazing adventure, and what a courageous man you are. I'm in awwww. Be easy and stop by my office one of these days and tell momma all about it! Muah, LaJuan

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Amanda
10/17/2012 06:37:05 am

I love the descriptions you have for the pictures :)

Egypt is and will always be a favorite place of mine..The cities have so many stories to share!



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