Khan el Khalili

A Large Souk in Cairo
- 21 May 2013 -

Vaibhav, a colleague and friend from India had joined us for our visit to Egypt to assist us with some additional work that needed to be done. He arrived a couple of days after us, but met us at the office. The previous day we had decided that we would like to go visit a souk in the city which was suggested by Mariza (another friend of mine) so we decided to make a turn after work. This resulted in me dragging my camera equipment to the office.

We knocked off slightly early in the afternoon and Pakinam (our very friendly host in Egypt) assisted us to get a taxi. It is a relative problem when trying to catch a taxi, although our colleagues in Egypt speak english very well, the remaining locals don't, at least not the ones we encountered, so my assumption is that a large portion of the Egyptian population does not speak English. 

After spending a good portion of our afternoon stuck in Traffic to get to the location  which is situated relatively close to the office, we arrived in the late afternoon with about 1 hour daylight remaining.

Zima's eye caught a mielie (corn) which was being grilled by a vendor and was very excited, smiling ear to ear she soon was buying a hot snack.

Snack in hand we started to explore the market. We took the first corridor that we found, and started browsing. At least Zima and Vaibhav started browsing, while I started taking photos.

Very naturally Vaibhav started to negotiate prices of the items on sale. I must say that he is pretty good at it, he eventually got the price down, but then declined the sale. I think the negotiation was just for fun!

This side of the market was pretty dull so we missioned on, just as the sun had start to set.

We found more shops with pretty much the same stuff in all of them. Although the harassment from the store owners was quite overwhelming Vaibhav and Zima stuck it out, when they approached me I just showed my camera and said I was only taking pictures (it worked somewhat). Vaibhav on the other was mostly addressed in arabic due to his darker complexion. Zima on the other had was polite enough to show some interested which resulting in people chasing her down the corridors.

I wasn't really interested in the curios, so I focused my attention on the surroundings.

The narrow corridors throughout the souk is quite interesting and seeing that it was dusk, the combination of natural light and artificial lights were confusing my camera, so I switched to full manual mode and snapped up some pics of the locals.

I moved back out into the main square to get some evening shots with my tripod setup on a slightly elevated platform. The main square has a reasonable amount of activity, complimented by some interesting restaurants.

At this point Vaibhav and Zima were done with their shopping so they were standing around waiting for me, I started feeling a bit guilty so I packed up my gear and set off in the direction of the taxis. Next we had the challenging task of summoning a taxi to get us back to our hotels.

Not all taxis stop and the ones that do, don't understand english, however Vaibhav was staying at the intercontinental which was situation right next to a popular mall, so he came right pretty quickly. Zima and I were not that lucky as we were staying in a different hotel in New Cairo, with no distinguishing landmarks nearby so we were not coming right. Eventually I approached a police officer and asked if he understood english, he confirmed he does and we requested if he could assist us in getting a taxi to our hotel, he kindly did and explained to the taxi driver where we were going.

You would think we would have been better prepared for the language barrier, but apparently we are not that clever.

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