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Wednesday, 13 May 2009

El Korba Festival 2009 (Cairo, Heliopolis)


Just a quick note as people are looking for it!!! I have been informed that the El Korba Festival for 2009 will take place on FRIDAY 15th MAY - presumably in the usual place - El Korba area of Heliopolis - Baghdad Street.

Nearest tram stop is Roxy (20 mins from Ramses Train Station for 25pst) and its about 10 mins walk from there.

Please note I accept no responsibility if this festival is not happening, I am passing on information received!!!

El Korba's nice enough anyway - cafes, bars, green stuff etc.

Here's a link to my post about last year's festival:



Just thought - I guess if it isn't happening we could do one of those 'flashmob' things and all show up anyway!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Marriage between foreign women and Egyptian men.

If you are planning on marrying an Egyptian (or believe you already are!!!) please check out inheritance, divorce etc laws as they are NOTHING LIKE the US or UK.

This is the position as I believe it to be:

There are 3 levels of marriage in Egypt - foreign women often don't realise this.

Basic Orfi - done in a lawyers office. Allows you to be with the guy unhindered by police. Because this is quite similar to a UK 'registry office' very basic affair, some western women think its a full marriage. It isn't, but you are STILL married. Some hotels or flats will accept it as a marriage but by no means all. This is the one where you can be divorced by the guy just by tearing up the paper. Women - make sure you get both copies of the paper - getting divorced from this one can be very hard if he does a runner and marries someone else and you, the woman, are still married under the law (all the hassle and none of the benefits - women, you can't marry again while you are still married with this one). First you have to find him, and then you have to persuade him to divorce you.

Court-Registered Marriage - its a full legal marriage in Egypt - and the only one you can get if you are a second wife (by which I mean he is still married to the first wife not divorced) - but is not recognized internationally. You can get marriage benefits with this paper - residence, Egyptian rates in hotels etc - while protecting your assets outside of Egypt (if this is an issue for you PLEASE take legal advice - I am just given to understand that this is the case). The marriage contract has both your photos on it. If it doesn't its a basic orfi. (Update 8th June 2009: I have been informed that you can register your orfi in Court and then it is a court-registered marriage but doesn't have your photos on it). Many foreign women are happy with this as they are legally married within Egyptian law. Make sure you take advantage of the opportunity for 'contract conditions'! It's basically a 'pre-nup' but you should explicitly state things such as freedom to travel without husbands permission, and if you have kids things round that (but obviously you have to work within Egyptian law). Don't leave anything to chance!

Internationally recognized marriage (UK and US anyway) -has to take place at the Ministry of Justice in Cairo. You can't get this one if you are a second wife. MoJ checks whether he is already married (and you) as you cannot have a legal polygamous marriage under UK or US law.


There are many lovely Egyptian guys out there but ladies, do be warned. You may wish to check out your 'honey' on one of the following two sites:

Put Egypt in the 'search country' to get the Egyptian list


Russian site but a lot of the Egypt stuff is in English

As I said, don't shoot the messenger. I personally know 3 British women who have been ripped off for many tens of thousands of English pounds - over £300k in one case.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Travel in Egypt by Bus: Sharm El Sheikh by bus from Turgoman (Cairo Gateway) Bus Station

I went to Sharm El Sheikh by bus for a few days, here are some notes about the journey. The journey took about 6.5 hours going and about 7 hours returning.

From Cairo to Sharm El Sheikh

My travelling companion and I met outside the Ramses Hilton where he had already ascertained that the next bus to Sharm from there was a couple of hours wait, so we taxied up to Turgoman (old name) Bus Station. It is in the centre of Cairo, and is now part of the Cairo Gateway Plaza - a new shopping mall, still being constructed. So if you are looking for it, follow signs for Cairo Gateway.

I haven't been able to find an accurate map of the location, but I think the nearest metro station is Orabi on the Helwan/El Marg line. It looks to be about 5-10 minutes walk - but don't quote me - I didn't walk it!!

Here's a link to a photo of the front of the bus station:

Photo of front of Turgoman (Cairo Gateway) Bus station

Its a very modern bus station and I was rather impressed - it reminds me a bit of the done-up Victoria Coach Station in London. You have to pass your bags through the usual scanners on entrance and the ticket windows are right there in front of you - to the left and right hand sides. The left hand side seemed to be focused mainly on Cairo / Alex / Delta, Siwa, and on the right hand side on Suez, Sinai (Sharm, Dahab, Nuweiba, Taba, St Katherine) and Upper Egypt. Destinations are labelled in English. There are two different bus companies (at least) so some duplication of destinations with different prices.

We took the East Delta bus as it was the next one due out - they seem to be every 2.5 hours - we just missed one so we had to wait until 1.30pm for the next one. My Egyptian companion paid 70LE and I paid 80LE.

We had a long wait down in the bus station waiting area which has departure gates and quite a lot of seating. It didn't get very busy at all. We were travelling on a Friday midday though which possibly makes a difference.

There are a couple of cafes on the entrance floor to the shopping mall, the ones you see first are quite expensive and not particularly good. At the far end, though, there is a traditional Egyptian food - much to my companion's relief! We got 2 fuul sandwiches for about 2.5LE.

When time came to board the bus, the destination was called - Arabic only so listen out. Bags go in the side of the bus as per standard, and a sticky label is put on the bag and on your ticket. Sit in the seat indicated on your ticket. In my experience, Egyptians rarely deviate from 'their' seats even if there is room elsewhere - whether its a bus or a cinema.

The bus was reasonably comfortable, the airconditioning functioned well for most of the trip and there was a w.c. on board (good because that guarantees you don't need it )

The bus departed exactly on time, and we picked up at Abbassiya and another location in Nasr City eventually exiting Cairo after about an hour.

There were 12 passengers in all.

There was a single rest stop at about half way (3.5 hours in to the journey). This rest stop is after Suez Canal and before Ras Sudr. Its not beautiful, but any loo is a palace in a time of need.

We had 3 police checks en route - 1 just for foreigners (going in to Suez Canal), 1 for Egyptian men, and the third for everyone on entering Sharm.

Two films were shown on route, on each portion of the journey. Both in arabic - something called A Lion and 4 Cats (slapstick comedy) DVD of Lion and 4 Cats - even though it was in arabic, it was so obvious that you could follow it without understanding the words! And a rather blacker film called Casino (can't find a link anywhere on line).

We arrived at Sharm (East Delta Bus Station) about 8pm where our friends met us. If you are not getting met, you can get taxis, and if you walk out to the roadside, there are microbuses available. I don't know where they go or the cost though - I am told that fares around there on microbuses should be around 3-4LE.

If you haven't been to Sharm before, it is very long - stretching up the coast for many kilometers so unless you know what you're doing, its probably best to take a taxi but haggle well for the fare as they will try and rip you off big time.

IMPORTANT NOTE IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING WITH AN EGYPTIAN AND YOU ARE A FOREIGNER if you are travelling and planning to stay with an Egyptian friend of the opposite sex to whom you are not married: my friends are renting their home and it is ILLEGAL for unmarried Egyptians to share bedrooms with persons of the opposite sex (in any case my companion is "just a friend" so from our point of view this wasn't an issue). My friends had to show the security at the place they live that my companion and I were on separate floors and bedrooms well apart. Landlords knowingly letting unmarried Egyptians of opposite sex share a room could be in trouble with the police.

From Sharm to Cairo

On the whole this was a rerun of the outward journey, but there were some differences.

We took the bus from East Delta bus station, prices the same. Departed exactly on time again. The bus was rather more full than on the outward journey. The toilet 'filled up' - apparently someone shoved lots of paper down there. The driver cleared it, then the same guy went to the loo again and it all backed up again. After half way it was not possible for women to use it because of the height of the water in the pan so take full advantage of the single facility for women at the rest stop.

There is a passport check for foreigners before leaving Sinai - this is because foreigners can be on Sinai without a full Egyptian visa, but if you want to leave Sinai you MUST have a visa.

Also note that we ALL had to get off the bus near Suez and get our bags out for a sniffer dog check - presumably for drugs or explosives.

The film 4 Cats was shown again, and another slapstick film called KatKoot Katkoot movie info

The bus reached the edges of Cairo around 445pm but as it as rush hour took about another hour to get to Abbassiya bus station where it terminated (I think this bus station is referred to as International Bus Station in "Cairo Maps". If you are meeting people off a bus coming from Sharm or anywhere, CHECK WHERE IT TERMINATES!!!) There does not appear to be a nearby metro station. You can get buses outside to Ramses and presumably other destinations. Another note - the ladies toilets at Abbassiya bus station are both 'squat' style.

Personally, I would avoid travelling on Sinai by bus at night - the roads are treacherous, many Egyptians drive very fast, without lights and not keeping to one side of the road. Also, the edges of the road as it encroaches in to the desert are not particularly clear.

Nothing to do with Egypt - Facebook - How to see friends status updates

As a service to my readers - having arrived back from a few days break and gone on to my Facebook to open up my friends' status updates to see what was cooking, its no longer possible and you are expected to comb through the 'stream' on the homepage or click on individual friends (totally timeconsuming!!!)

Anyway, here is a link to the Facebook mobile phone website which allows you to see your friends' status updates in one fell swoop:

Link to see your friends status updates on Facebook all in one go

Frankly, this latest change has rendered facebook virtually useless. I'm not interested in 'finding friends', I want to see the present status of people who are ALREADY friends!!!! and I don't want to wade through stash loads of 'Bloggs got a new egg' kind of rubbish since you are no longer able to block applications which you don't sign up for posting rubbish on your home page.

Facebook - get your finger out.
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