So I went to visit my dad's friend who works as Pegawai Attache Pelajar (whatever that is) over in Cairo. What a far cry from all the other houses I've been to so far his place turned out to be - it was massive! Spacious! Luxurious! It had Pharaoh written all over it! (am I starting to sound like a Brit yet?). My logic cannot even begin to comprehend how such a beautiful home could exist amidst all the dust, rubble and uncompleted buildings.
After spending the night in the 'Ramses Hilton' - which happens to be a real hotel in Cairo - the next morning, my 3 friends and I headed off to the Malaysian Hall, or Arma as it is called here, to meet up with our female classmates. According to an agreement made beforehand, we were supposed to go to Asfour (a crystal factory) together. However, you can imagine our manly surprise and dismay when we arrived at Arma only to discover that the girls had left without us. What kind of agreement is that? We felt like Palestinians betrayed by another of Israel's so-called peace treaties.
But to give them credit, at least the girls gave us the mobile phone number of a male student who could take us around Cairo so that we wouldn't feel all lost and left behind. Charming indeed.
While waiting for our guide to arrive, we dropped by the warden's house who happened to be a nenek saudara to one of the boys in our group. Although I had never met these people before, I instantly felt at home with their graceful invitation to stay for tea and even lunch.
Since it was already 2 o' clock and our train back to Alexandria was in 5 hours time, Helmi decided that it was best we took the taxi around. Over here in Egypt, the taxis don't use meters and the fare has to be agreed beforehand - a consumer's worst nightmare, you could say. We hurriedly flagged down one of 'em battered cars and made our way to Asfour to buy some crystals for members of the fairer sex (read: mums and sisters)
What was initially thought to be a 30 minute affair turned out to take one hour and a half just because of the
Having snapped several shots together, our little group crossed the street to the other side to pay a visit to Saidina Hussein's Mosque. It is named as such because in it, it houses the tomb of Saidina Hussein. This tomb is said to hold the head of Rasulullah's (PBUH) grandson after he was killed in the Battle of Karballah. This mosque is also said to house The Prophet's hair, sword and several other items which are sealed off in a room adjacent to Saidina Hussein's tomb. I don't know if it was just me, but the mosque smelled extremely fragrant from the moment I stepped into it. Subhanallah.
We spent several minutes offering prayers at the mosque and then made our way to Khan-Khalili which was situated just beside Saidina Hussein's Mosque. Khan-Khalili is the place to go if you're shopping for souveniers. It also happens to be the place to go if you have a lot of money and are in the mood to get cheated by fraudulent traders. I tell you, the second the sellers identify you as a tourist, the prices will instantly go up from 5 pounds to 30 pounds. There's so much cheating going on here that even President Bush would probably blush a bright red.
My male instincts told me these would look better on women than men, but polite behaviour dictates that I keep my opinions to myself.
Update: I've just received a full-length explanation from one of the girls concerning the messed up plans. Turns out that it was a case of miscommunication. Don't you just hate it when that happens?