Sunday, August 2, 2009

Turkey Travels...

Here are two pıctures from Bodrum, Turkey, where I am currently backpacking around with my girlfriend.

I will do a full recap of the trip once I get back to Cairo and get some downtime.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Giza Zoo - A Cultural Experience

A few months back (yes, I'm still that behind...) two of my fellow interns and I visited the Giza Zoo. Here are some pictures from that trip.

It will soon be very apparent that I just downloaded an image framing program and I love playing around with it. The raw power of these lions is palpable, even when they are locked up in such horrific cages.

From this angle, this rhino looks kind of small. It was not.


I won't get into the animal cruelty issues here, since its been said many times before (google it), but using the horse pen as a garbage dump is cruel and very sad to see.

The day we went to the zoo, there was a huge party atmosphere and the place was completely packed.

No one knew why there were so many Scream masks at the zoo.


This was absolutely the highlight of the trip. COME SEE THE FEARSOME WOLF DOG! This exotic, fierce animal turned out to be...

...this! A house pet. It had an area covering more than all of the lion cages combined! I've been in Cairo for nine months now, but things like this still make me stop and scratch my head.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Cairo Campus in HDR

Here are some shots of AUC's New Cairo Campus, where I work, in full HDR.

AUC Library

Sky view from my office's balcony

School of Humanities and Social Sciences

View across the courtyard from the balcony next to my office

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cairo's Friday Market

Welcome to the Friday Market!

Need a severed camel foot? You can get it here.

Need a new, colorful comforter? Get it here (although it might smell like a camel foot).

Need a specific faucet head to match your sink?

In case you get hungry, there's always...lunch?

Need a new toilet from the garbage pile in the street? Everything has a price.

On January 16, a friend of mine and I went down to the weekly Friday Market in Islamic Cairo. Held in the middle of the City of the Dead, it is a market where you can find nearly anything you want (as long as you aren't looking for something made more recently than 1974).

He didn't seem to mean too much harm with this gesture...

Check below for some HDR images from the Friday Market.

Cairo's Friday Market in HDR

See above post for info and non-HDRs of the Friday Market.

Here is a steamroller that I came across while wandering around the market - it looks considerably more impressive in HDR.

The first in a series of HDR images of the horrifically unsafe Egyptian amusement park-esque rides for kids.

These would certainly fail every safety check in many other countries.

I don't even understand this one. It looks like a very tiny, very dangerous Egyptian take on the ferris wheel.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cairo Bar Crawl

A week or so after climbing the tower, my friends and I decided to go barhopping in downtown Cairo.

I was dismayed after reading this article, so we set out to determine if there was still a legitimate downtown bar scene.

The Baladi Bar website shows a variety of choices for bars downtown, of which we picked three to check out.

The first place (seen above) was nice, mainly for its history and location (right on one of the main streets and corners in downtown Cairo), but it looked more like the cafeteria of an insane asylum (think Cuckoo's Nest, minus Nurse Ratchet).

Dinner and a dessert

Window display on the street between the first and second bar

Our second stop was a "bar" called El Muriaz. I put that in quotation marks because it can only be referred to as a bar in the sense that it was an enclosed space in which alcohol was served. Upon entering, we were led upstairs, to what can only be described as a brothel for 60-year-old men. I don't think I need to explain why I didn't take pictures inside. We tolerated the horrific "karaoke" (of which we were expected to tip, of course), the 40-year-old overweight dancers and the Dutch-Egyptian businessman with terrible breath, but what we couldn't stand was getting swindled on the bill.

For twenty minutes after we asked for the bill, we watched them try to figure out how to rip us off.  When the bill came, the beer was more expensive than it was in the nicest places in Cairo, and on top of that, there was a curious $5 charge for "TORISM."  After some vehement protesting, we paid about a third of what they initially wanted us to pay and finally escaped.  

Still a little shell-shocked from that cultural experience, we headed off to our favorite downtown bar, Horreyya, to finish off the night well and joke about the ridiculousness of El Muriaz.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Climbing the Tower

Frustrated from not being able to get on top of a building in Zamalek, I packed my camera into my bag for work and set a plan in motion for January 8. After work, I traversed the ongoing construction site that is AUC's sports facility and made my way to Mobinil Tower (seen below).

Flashing my staff/faculty ID at anyone who raised an eyebrow, I reached the tower and began the slow climb up the spiraling stairs to the top. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, I was confronted with a locked door and a sketchy ladder of tiny metal rungs (seen below).

Looking down the sketchy ladder

Not one to give up after all that effort, I grasped the first rung and started to pull myself up. At the top I had to stretch to reach the next landing, and I only had the briefest moment where I was hanging above a whole lot of nothing before I was back on solid ground. After that it was a few more metal rungs and I found myself above the highest part of the wall. The aerial view of the campus was certainly worth it.

The colorful outdoor recreational courts

Looking down on the central part of campus

Great view of the soccer field

Looking out on still very much undeveloped New Cairo

Descending required a little bit of cleverness (Mom, stop reading and skip to the next part), as I had to hover over the gap and blindly reach for the ladder with my foot, but other than that, it was smooth sailing. There was no brilliant sky or sunset to capture but it was great to see my workplace from a different perspective.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Zamalek at Sunset

By special request (and the fact that these were the first set of pictures I had not yet posted) here are some more pictures of Zamalek, the residential area where I live.

A few months back, I had gone about ten days (since the Dahab trip) without taking a single picture, so I was starting to get a little restless. On January 7th, a friend and I set out just before sunset to try and sneak up to the roof of an apartment building or another high point in Zamalek to get a better angle during the fading light. Unfortunately the bowaabs (doormen) were not having any of it and so we were confined to ground level.

Taken from the bridge connecting Zamalek and Agouza/Doqqi, looking South down (technically up!) the Nile.

"Let's go down to the waterline..."

This is actually looking from Zamalek across to Doqqi/Mohandessin on the other side of the Nile. probably a dead body. I'm just saying...

My favorite picture from this photo expedition.

More to come soon.

Back in Action - New Macbook

Two weeks ago, my dad came to visit and with him came my brand new MacBook Pro.

Specs include a very fast processor, lots of RAM, a built-in camera, the ability to run both mac os x and windows through boot camp, and not having to store said computer in the fridge when not using it (which I actually had to do for my old computer!).

Now that I've got the tools, I'll start putting up the backlog of pictures that's been building up since January.

P.S. Unrelated but awesome - for all the Daft Punk fans out there, you will be addicted to this site - - for an unnecessarily long time.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hello Strangers!

Before anyone jumps on me for failing to update the blog consistently in the past month, I’d like to get my excuses in order. First, my laptop is dedicating all of its resources which were once used for photo editing, blog-writing, and web browsing to its ultimate goal of kicking the bucket in the most prolonged, dramatic way possible. It started with blue screens of death, and then progressed to screens of death in every other hue and shade imaginable. Thankfully, a shiny new laptop is on its way to Cairo, and the photos from a handful of recent adventures will go up on the blog when it does. 

In addition to this, I also had somewhat of an insane work schedule these last few weeks – I had to write speeches for something like 15 events on campus to celebrate the inauguration of our new campus and the 90th anniversary of the university. This increased workload meant a decrease in travel and photography adventures, but I do have some photos from around the city.

While I can’t post new pictures of my trips around Cairo (and I really wish I could, I have some great shots of freshly severed camel hooves for sale in the Friday Market in Islamic Cairo – NO JOKE), what I can do is link to two “photo tours” I made recently and put on picasaweb.

First, there's the walking tour from my apartment to downtown Cairo.
A lot of people have misconceptions about the Middle East - many are influenced by Hollywood's vision of the Middle East as only small rural villages that alternate as terrorist training camps, and think there are no paved roads or skyscrapers and that the entire region is thousands of years behind. Not true. Parts of Cairo, of Egypt and of the Middle East are much more developed than people expect. Unfortunately, that also means there are plenty of McDonald's and KFCs here.  

I probably came in more open-minded than most as a result of my previous travels, but I was still a little surprised. But Cairo does that in a way - it surprises you as being both more modern and more ancient than you would ever believe before setting foot in this fantastic city.

You can find the photo tour here:
Walking Tour to Downtown Cairo

Second, here is the bus photo tour of the ride home from the New Campus out in the desert to my neighborhood here:
Driving Home From New Cairo

Finally, if you look to the left sidebar of this blog, you'll see that I've put up some links to my selection of pictures on Flickr, my pictures on picasaweb, and my old blog.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dahab Part 3

After snorkeling, we hung out on beach chairs for a few hours while the waiters tried to sell us absurdly expensive drinks and food. I eventually got bored of my book and decided to hike up to the top of the nearby ridge.

This was an actual inscription in the wall of memorials of people who died at the blue hole while scuba diving. “Have a fun dive!”

This is an HDR of the small rock tunnel/crevice I climbed through to get up to the top.

View from the top of the ridge. The blue hole is over the first small ridge on the right.

That night we went back to “Quickly” for dinner and I had delicious shrimp and calamari spaghetti. After a great time in Dahab, we had no idea we were about to get on the bus ride from hell.

We boarded the bus at 11 pm and settled in for a nice night of sleep, but for the next 8 hours we were subjected to 3 full length Arabic musical movies being blasted at full volume. This, combined with being shoved into a tiny bus seat for 8 hours, made for one of the longest nights my life. All of that rest and relaxation that we had stored up from the trip dissipated in the loud cold bus.

Shot out of the window of the sunrise while we were coming into Cairo

When we finally got to Cairo, the bus driver dropped us off in Heliopolis, which is on the opposite end of the city from where we live. Immediately off the bus, weary travelers such as ourselves were faced with taxi drivers pulling bags out of their hands and yelling, “Taxi!? Taxi!!” in their faces. From experience I know that they only grow more insistent when ignored.
Rob and I pushed out way out of the bus station and then started walking down the street, bags in hand. Once we were far enough away from the station we got a taxi back to the dorm, arriving at 7:30 AM after a long night.