It still feels surreal that I was able to travel to Egypt early this year, considering what’s happening now. One time, it dawned on me that we could have been stuck there for months, but luckily we were able to go home before travel bans happened. I was supposed to blog this experience right after the trip, but it just didn’t feel right, might be insensitive and all. But considering we won’t know when we will be traveling again, I might as well write my experiences here, at least those I can still remember.
We scored piso seats to Dubai back on March 3, 2019. Travel bloggers attested that it’s the cheapest way to go to Europe/Africa. I agree, but I wouldn’t mind paying extra for comfort next time. It was my first time riding a long-haul flight with a low-cost airline, and hopefully, I’ll have enough money next time for it to be the last. We also didn’t buy in-flight meals and instead bought from Kenny Rogers right before boarding.
I applied for our visas and booked Dubai to Cairo flights with EgyptAir in December 2019. (I wrote about how to apply for a visa here.) Our experience with EgyptAir is much better, as expected. We had blankets, mini pillows, in-flight entertainment, and filling meals.
We left for Egypt on February 19, 2020. We wore masks while in the airports and during the plane rides. This was the time when only Asians would wear masks.
Once we arrived in Cairo though, we stopped wearing masks. There was only one confirmed COVID-19 case in Egypt at the time.
It was freaking cold! I definitely wasn’t prepared for the weather. I was in Jeddah in February 2016, so I assumed that the weather would be the same. Man, I was so wrong. I wished I at least brought my Ultra Light Down jacket from Uniqlo.
I bought a prepaid sim from Vodafone. I got the cheapest one for 250 LE (~750 PhP), which includes 10GB of internet data and 200 minutes of local calls. I paid using my mom’s Visa prepaid card, which is convenient since we didn’t have Egyptian pounds yet at this point.
We were able to use the mobile data from Cairo all the way to Abu Simbel in the south with no problems with the signal. For 10 days, 10GB of internet data was enough for the three of us. We made sure we would only upload photos when we are using our accommodations’ WiFi.
They are located in one of the kiosks in the baggage claim area of the airport. This was before the last security check. I made the mistake of forgetting my passport here. I only realized because the person from Vodafone called me on the sim I just bought. When we got back to the airport, it was difficult meeting the guy because I can’t get past the security. 🙁 Thankfully, they were very patient and made sure I got my passport back. Shukran!
My parents brought US dollars and Saudi riyals for our pocket money. We exchanged US dollars at the airport. The exchange rate here was 1 USD = 15.07 LE. Based on the blogs I’ve read, the difference in buying Egyptian pounds in the airport versus outside is not much.
Ok, so, embarrassing story. While in the restroom, I thought the toilet flush wasn’t working. My instinct told me that there might be no water in the tank, so I might need to open a valve.
But, to my surprise, it was NOT the valve to the toilet tank. IT WAS THE BIDET! Ugh. My pants got soaked. Apparently, the flush is working; I just had to push harder.
Taking an Uber
In the lobby, several people would approach you for their taxi services. From my research, it would be cheaper to take an Uber, so we did not even consider using their service. They would say, “the pick-up point for Uber is too far,” but don’t believe them. It’s really just a short walk.
It was nice to be able to use the Uber app again. I did not even need to sign up; I used my old Uber account. We charged all Uber rides on my card, so we didn’t have to worry about change.
The Uber driver easily found us because of the designated pick-up point. Everything was fine until the driver decided that he would abandon us on the road in the middle of the trip. He was acting like he lost internet connection and that he cannot speak English suddenly. My parents would try to converse with him in Arabic, but he was acting like he cannot understand us. I think he just really wanted to go somewhere else, so we let him be. (I reported him later, and our trip was refunded.) Thankfully, we didn’t bring heavy luggage. We just booked another Uber, and we finally reached our Airbnb safely.