top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Midnight at the Oasis

Updated: Mar 20

Our final couple of days were brimming with Egyptian activity. Mo kept saying to us, "The vacation of the felucca is over. Back to work."


We boarded our luxury train back to Cairo, but this time it wasn't such a lengthy journey, as we had jumped on in Luxor, as opposed to Aswan. It was still rugged & ramshackle, but somewhat more tolerable, now that we all knew exactly what to expect.


I knew not to have an overabundance of confidence in the meals and not to rely too much on the lavatory facilities.

It was my turn to be up top in the bunk this round, which ended up being not as torturous as I figured it would be. Somewhere on an online train review, I had read that it was a much smoother ride up higher...


What a silly thing to write. I fail to see how 1 metre could make such a vast difference. Nothing. It did nothing. My sleep was still quite shit, as we bounded along the patchy tracks. I think I was jolted awake more on this journey than the last one. I didn't keep track though.


That evening, once we were situated in our coach enclosures and our steel bullet was rolling down the line, I decided to take advantage of choo-choo exploration and ventured down to the club car. Even saying the words 'club car' conjures an expectation of being somewhere with even a minimal degree of extravagance. Something perhaps featuring large panoramic windows, comfortable seating, a relaxing atmosphere and ... maybe bar service?


No.


There were some old, ripped swivel chairs surrounding a cluster of unbalanced round tables.There was absolutely no ventilation and what small windows there seemed to be glued shut. It was impossible to admire the Egyptian landscape, as years of neglect had taken its toll and each cracked window displayed the fogginess of heavy condensation.


It was a lot of fun sitting around chatting with everyone, until it wasn't fun anymore. After a while, the club car became almost suffocating, as each new arrival lit up a cigarette.


I had to leave.


My evening options were crap.

Smoky club car or top bunk?


I ended up crashing another carriage compartment to chat with some of my tour friend crew for a while before I attempted my clumsy crawl up and into my cage cot.

Once back in Cairo, we went directly from the train to the bus... and then straight into the city for a wee tour.


Our first stops was the Salah El-Din Citadel and the Mohammed Ali Mosque. The Citadel of Cairo is a medieval Islamic-era fortification in Cairo. It was the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years, leading into the 19th century.

The unique and distinctive architectural style was pretty impressive, both outside and in. Lots of photos were taken!


Speaking of photos and being impressive inside, my phone is definitely NOT the best when it comes to indoor photography. Actually inside or outside, if there are bright lights involved, my phone would be more useful at the bottom of a murky river. It's frustrating... but throughout the past few months, fellow travellers have been more than benevolent sharing their photos with me. My travel tip of the day is to all of you out there if you are planning on travelling ~ get a bloody good camera or camera phone! You will NOT regret it.


Our next stop... the famous Saint Virgin Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church, otherwise known as the Hanging Church. The church is famous in Cairo... and rightfully so. It is monumental because it is one of the oldest churches in Egypt, dating back to the third century.


Why is it called the Hanging Church?

I had to look it up because I couldn't remember...

It is called the Hanging Church because it was built on the southern gate of the Roman Fortress. Logs of palm trees and layers of stones were constructed above the ruins of the Roman fortress to be used as a fundament. The Hanging Church is a unique church and has a wooden roof in the shape of Noah's ark.


Simone, Katie, Sammy and I became obsessed with the perfect shot. We nailed it one more than one occasion. We also failed miserably on a few attempts, but we won't mention those!

When we left here, the bus delivered us all to the Egyptian Museum.


Most of us were fairly keen to see one of the oldest archaeological museums in the world, including myself. This building houses the largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, rivalling even the British Museum, funny enough! As usual, we were following Mo around, as he gave us the lowdown on what to see, what to do and what we should pay particular attention to.

Then... exhaustion hit me.


I don't know if it's an age thing, but when I get tired, it's over for me.

I have to sleep immediately.

I must sleep.


It's like trying to hold in explosive diarrhea... you simply cannot do it. It's impossible.


I started feeling unbalanced, an almost intoxicated nausea... and then the waves of claustrophobia swept over me. As much as I tried to keep myself alert and upright by bopping foot to foot, it was all useless. Egypt Museum or not... I knew that if I didn't sit down and close my eyes soon, I was going to pass out.


Sick and tired is really a thing. I always thought it was just an expression... but it's a real live thing! Sick AND tired.


As soon as Mo finished one of his many Egyptology speeches, I intervened.

"I need to go to the bus."


Unfortunately, that was not a possibility. The bus was gone.


Ok - next best thing. Cafeteria.

I'll take it.


The moment I was pointed in the right direction, off I went. I found an empty table off in the corner of the open-air café area, downed a bottle of water, put my sunglasses on so as to pretend I was casually watching the crowds go by, leaned my head on the table... and promptly passed out.


One of the staff members kept walking past me and almost yodeling, "You ok, lady!" 🎶


Finally after being jerked awake for the 9th or 10th time, I finally told him I was just tired and begged him to leave me alone and stop interrupting my slumber!

Man... let a girl sleep!


Bless...


When the time the crew started to filter out, I already felt a bit better, and was ready to tackle the rest of the day. See? Sometimes all I need is a wee cat nap. Not much... just a wee bit.

I entirely missed the museum... but what do you do?


Then we hit Khan El Khalili.

This was the bazaar I had been anticipating since the very beginning of the tour.

I really like using the word 'bazaar' and I intend to use it much more now. 'Market' is so yesterday.


Bazaar.

Bazaar.

Going bizarre in the bazaar.

Khan el-Khalili is a famous bazaar, in the historic center of Cairo. It's become one of the main attractions for tourists, and rightfully so. Its alleyways are an absolute explosion of the senses. This bustling maze is a treasure trove of Egyptian culture, craft & curiosity… and more. Definitely more. In fact, I have never seen so much stuff in all of my life.


And hustle.

And bustle.

Lots of it.


You know... for all the horror stories I have heard about Egypt... I haven't had any overly negative experiences since I've been here. Ya... the usual badgering from the merchants and paddlers, but nothing out of the ordinary. Still, nothing even holds a candle to the aggressive harassment from the vendors at the Maasai Market in Arusha. That's bad.


Egypt was tame in comparison.

Don't get me wrong... they ALL definitel;y put their best foot forward to sell you anything they can, but I didn't find them abusive or overly disturbing.


If anything, they were quite amusing.

One guy yelled out to me, "Hey, come show me how I can take your money!"


Points for originality.


There was a really great crew of us that stuck together during most of the trip.

Sammy and Josh from the UK, Katie from Hong Kong, Simone from Australia and I also spent a lot of time with Marcus & Jen from the States.


There was definitely a development of cliques , as expected where 37 people are concerned.

I'm not entirely sure why a couple of the girls came on the trip. They seemed more interested in FaceTime, selfies and carrying cute puppies around than they were in learning anything about Egypt or its history.

Half the time, they hardly even accompanied us on the excursions. Rumour had it that there had been a bit of a falling out between the two very pretentious girls. Maybe one of them wouldn't let the other borrow her charger temporarily to charge her computer.


Am I still a bit bitter? A little bit, I guess.


Our final night was back at the Oasis... the same hotel we had stayed in during our first evening on the tour. I did inquire as to the whereabouts of my charger... but alas... it was gone. Bishoo gave me a bit of a feel-good speech about how wonderful the hotel staff were and how they would never steal anything from any of us because blah blah blah... they really love the tourists and they respect the business Travel talk brings to the hotel... and they just want us to have the best time.

I wasn't really saying anyone stole it, per say.

I was simply implying that I'd left it behind and suddenly it disappeared. Perhaps it was sitting in the Lost & Found room, just waiting for me. I don't know... no one would let me in there. Bishoo said he was let in and there were about 20 chargers, but none of them were mine.


Boooooo...


His 'treat us like gold' speech made but a fleeting difference in my opinion of the hotel and their policies... and then they screwed up my laundry.


I had brought my large bag of horrendously soiled laundry to the front desk, begging them to help me feel fresh again... and of course, anything for a large fee. Nine days stuck in my sweaty rags was enough and having clean clothes was worth any price tag though. Much to my delight, my laundry arrived at my room, bright and early the following morning, all ironed and folded.


As I was leafing through it, looking for what I was going to wear, I came across a pair of fuzzy zebra pj bottoms.


Hmmmm....

Not mine.


I promptly returned them to the front desk, citing the mistake. Their English was fairly basic, so in my best Arabic, I tried to explain that I had been given someone else's clothes. There was still much confusion, so finally I just had to smile, push the pjs forward, throw my hands in the air, smile a bit more and walk away. Back to my room.

A little later... I realized I was missing a few things.


The penny dropped...


If I'd been given wrong items... who had my stuff?

I love this hotel... errrrrr

Back to the front desk to plead my case.


There were only a few things I could pinpoint that I was missing, off the top of my head...


One of the laundry staff members showed up at my room with one of my shirts. When I made the inquiry as to the other missing items, he told me that they weren't lost! I'd probably just packed them.


No. I hadn't.


THEN he told me my friend (referring to Allison, my roommate) had probably taken them.


No.


Then he picked up one of my shawls that was draped across the chair and implied that maybe this was the item of clothing I thought I was missing.


Ya... cheers, mate...


I realized this conversation was going nowhere, and finally just agreed to let my loss be a loss. In other words, it is what it is.


Attention to detail is not their strong suit... no matter how much like gold they think they treat us.


Our last night was full of drink and good cheer at the bar by the pool. I convinced most of the crew to be part of my latest TikTok - lip syncing to the song 🎶Midnight at the Oasis🎶. I really wasn't quite sure if it was going to work out, but I managed to semi-fit it all together. Check it out if you're on TikTok... @mycrushontheworld


If anyone from the tour is reading this - THANK YOU!!!


It's a song I never want to hear again... and I've only just managed to stop singing it. As I write this, it's probably back...

I have to say, Mo and Bishoo were the best guides. Travel Talk should be very happy to have them. I really only have the Nomad guides to compare them to... and anyone who read that blog, knows exactly what kind of crap they were!


These guys were a lot of fun... and they had to put up with a lot. Through thick & thin though, hours on the road, stupid questions, sleepless nights... they were always on their game. Despite what they might have thought about each of us or how annoyed they got, they always made us feel liked, appreciated and important.


Fabulous guides.


And Bishoo? ... well he took me to the mall the day after the tour ended and we got me a new MacBook charger.


Only $400... no biggie...

I'm rich, right?


57 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page