Monday, April 11, 2016

Egypt part 2 - Khan al-Khalili Market

April 11, 2016

We decided to relax at the hotel in the morning and have breakfast. Instead of a huge tour we chose to go and see the famous Khan al-Khalili market.

We arranged a local taxi to drive the 15 minutes through the crazy traffic. The local taxi drivers tend to drive more aggressively than the higher end cars. As we were driving the driver pulled out his phone and called an english speaking person to see if we had any plans to see some other sights around Cairo. We had already booked our tour with Emo Tours and had to decline his offer. The people and economy are suffering and they are desperate for work.

typical traffic
We made it to the edge of the market and were dropped off on the right side of the market. There were throngs of people selling their wares. As we started to walk we were approached by a fellow. He stuck to us like glue and started to show us around. We were extremely skeptical as we knew that he was hoping for baksheesh but, this soon turned into appreciation. He took us to shops where goods were being made. We followed him throughout the maze of back streets.

Egyptian bread being baked
back streets
Our first stop was where the inlaid jewellery boxes were being made. The workers explained how to tell the difference between real and fake abalone. The real definitely sparkled more than the fake. They showed us a variety of sizes and shapes. We declined to purchase any of the boxes and departed to find the next shop. It happened to be a copper lamp shop run by a father and his son. We then walked though a street that had huge bags of low grade cotton that they use to stuff mattress's and along streets touting tourist trinkets. There were stores that only sold burkas. Who knew that there was such a variety. We came across a store that made Fez hats (these were banned in Turkey back in 1925 as part of Atatürk's modernising reforms).

copper lamps
low grade cotton destined to be stuffed into mattress's
huge selection of burkas
Fez shop
At one point Shaun had terrible heartburn so I asked our guide if he knew a store to buy milk. He directed us through the maze of back streets to a shop that sold milk boxes. As Shaun was drinking said milk we looked around and noticed all of the crates of animals (chickens, bunnies, and ducks). I realised quickly as a fellow came out and gruffly grabbed a bunny that they were a food source. I was hoping that the butcher area was not in plain sight. That would have been a hard one to handle.

bunnies waiting to be eaten.... sniff, sniff, sniff :(
Once Shaun's burning subsided a bit we decided that we would like to check out a jewellery shop. Shaun had been looking at pendants online and thought it might be nice to have our names in hieroglyphics also known as pharaonic. Our guide took us through a super crowded ally that must have been dubbed fabric land. We barely squeezed through the people and fabrics alike. On our way we came across a spice shop that our guide was affiliated with. Of course we stopped. I was able to get vanilla beans (woohoo), garam masala, and cumin. The spice guy even tried to convince Shaun to purchase a batch of spices to take for 10 days to get rid of heartburn for good. He didn't buy into it LOL.....

We followed our guide back to the main street and downstairs to take an underground walkway to the other side of the street (so glad we didn't have to test our road crossing skills, it would have been mayhem). We made our way to the jewellery shop, Pharaonic Works Gold & Silver. This was a really neat experience. We chose silver as the gold way pricey for the weight that we actually would have received. Paige, Shaun and I each chose to have our names in hieroglyphics and Jordan decided upon the cat goddess Bast. She did regret her decision as we were watching the jewellers adding our letters onto the cartouche. Paige decided that she wanted to buy herself and two friends the eye of Ra pendants. Our purchase made we headed back to grab a taxi and go back to the hotel. It was a great experience all round.

throngs of people
fabric shop
fabric land, we weren't sure if we would get swallowed up into one of the shops
spice fellow
underground walkway saving our bacon from the traffic

jewellery sales guy and crew

firing to add letters
the finished product
our guide Mohammed
random pictures
Egyptian bread
the trip back to the hotel
Another great adventure!

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