Note: I wrote this a while ago, but I’m just posting it now.
I’ve been here 15 hours now and I hate this place so far. You are literally a tourist piece of meat in this country. Right off the bat in the airport you get directed into a line to buy a visa, which you need if you’re going other places in Egypt besides Sinai. It cost $25. I get to the desk and the guy says 25 Euros. I point to the official sign on the wall that says $25. He says they don’t take dollars only Euros. What? Apparently this stupid line is a private company issuing the visa and they just pocket the Euro/Dollar difference. Cool. Off to find the ‘official desk.’ Why do they allow this kind of BS in the airport?
Next I made the rookie mistake of not having a pen around to fill out the immigration forms. Usually there are some pens available or someone working will let you borrow one. Not here! Both people I asked told me to use the pens on the tables. There are no pens on the tables! Finally someone begrudgingly handed one over. Then you’ve got the airport taxis, which are basically a cartel. No one will give you even close to a reasonable price, even if you’re just going a few miles down the road. “Only 20 Euros my friend!” they’ll say. Ha! I told them I would rather walk than pay them 20 Euros. So I started heading towards the main road and one of them followed me and I got him down a little bit, still at least double the normal price, but I was too tired to deal with these guys any longer. Then he acts like he’s my best friend on the ride to the hotel. I’m not your buddy, guy!
The next day the first thing on the agenda was to buy a SIM card. Walking down the main tourist district during the middle of the day is kind of depressing. It’s a bit of a ghost town. Some of the hotels had been shuttered, all the stores in the shopping mall were closed, almost no one was in the streets, and the heat was oppressive. A couple guys approached me to sell boat trips, but I was having none of that. I found a vodaphone stand and I handed over my phone and he slipped in the sim card. I asked him how many gigabytes of data and he kept telling me it’s 4G! 4G!. Riiiight. I asked how much. 30 Euros he says. Oh god damn it, here we ago again.
Of course they can’t just have a price list that says X amount of gigs costs you Y amount of money, you pay that and be on your merry way, like most other countries in the world. No, no, no it always has to be a game to see how much they can squeeze from the tourists. I ended up paying $15 for the SIM, which I’m sure was also a ripoff. These guys drive me nuts. I guess prices on almost anything are negotiable in Egypt, including convenience stores, pharmacies etc. Which effectively means they’ll try and rip you off on anything if they think they can get away with it. Fun times. At least the country is cheap!
Next I took a taxi to the bus station, where there was supposed to be a 2:30pm bus to Dahab. I get to the station, there is even a schedule posted confirming the 2:30 bus and I try to buy a ticket. The guy tells me to wait till the bus gets in to buy the ticket. 2:30 rolls around, then 2:45 and I start to inquire about where the bus is. “No 2:30 bus, only 5:00 bus”. I point the schedule, which says 2:30. “No no, that is old schedule, no 2:30 bus now” Arghhh. I don’t feel like waiting in the bus station, which is hot as hell, so taxi it is. 90Km (60 mi) to Dahab.
I agree on a price with a taxi driver and of course once we get there he insists I need to pay more so he can pay off a bribe to a police officer or something. I have no idea if he’s bullshitting me or not (I assume he is) and I tell him no, we already agreed on the price, I’m not paying any more. He starts getting mad at me, I’m getting mad at him for throwing in this hidden charge at the last second and eventually I cough up the extra money and storm off. How many people can try and rip me off in less than 24 hours?! It’s definitely the worst first impression of a country I’ve had so far.