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Mohammad, my Camel Driver, his Camel, their Pyramids
This young boy was my camel driver and could not have been more han 8 years old. He was good. First he led the camel (with me up top) through the neighborhood adjoinig the Great Pyramids. Then we headed out into the open Sahara to the back of the Pyraminds. This pic is from the 'back' side and taken by Khalid our accompanying teenager. Khalid's four jobs were to tell Mohammend where to go, make the camel go where Mohammed went, keep the locals from trying to sell me something (no problems) and lastly to earn/negotiate a tip. No problem. They were were both excellent tour guides, friendly and personable.
While I was just another paying customer I'm sure, they seemed genuinely interested in me and my life.
I must say I had some reservations about taking this camel ride. I first arranged for a private car and English speaking tour guide through the hotel. The hotel mentioned the camel ride was a possiblity. The next morning Mafeddy met me in the hotel exactly on time. He asked if I wanted to take the camel ride. While I do highly recommend the experience, I questioned the early moments. Mafeddy took me into Giza, the backside of Giza, which is covered in Arabian horses and camel stables. And I mean the the real back side consisting of dirt lanes, small adobe/concrete abodes where I could hardly tell the stables apart from the homes. People live very close to these great creatures. In one courtyard, the camel was asleep like a really big dog and the family was sitting just under the porch having the morning tea.
Mafeddy stopped at a little freshly cleaned courtyard. It was emaculatily groomed. It is like an open air, rug covered dirt floor, living room. Here the owner, with a puzzling bit of a frown on his face, asks you to sit. Then asks what you want to drink.. You are going to make your first deal in Africa, right now, right in the inner sanctum of Giza. The owner sits down to explain and deal. 'You see the big pyramids, you see the small pyramids,....'. No point haggling, just pay him $15-20 and get going. (Sure you could get it for less but at this point I didn't really want a disgusted camel livery operator picking out some nasty, spittin' camel for me. (Don't tell the camel I said that. She was quite nice.)
He took care of me. Gave me bottled water for the trip. Had my camel ready and kneeling down to let me on. He oddlly enough did not move to go with me, but rather that little squirt Mohammed who is siting on the camel with me in the pic walked away pulling the lead rope for my evil-eyed camel (see other pic).
From the time we rode deep into the alley ways until the time I actualy rode onto the desert, I was not exacly sure what to expect. The cautious me wondered if I was in deep poo - it WAS all around me. Camel poo, donkey poo, horse poo, chicken poo, okay enough.
Nothing was farther from the truth. This was my fav thing to do. You do have to make choices and take responsibility for yourself, but the Egyptian people were always friendly, helpful and at ease with everyone. My sestion, be a generous tipper. So what if you spend 5 dollars more than the next guy and you might make their day.
(Note: This part of Egypt and camel riding is not for everyone. You better be able to embrace - at arms length - a level of disorganization and shall I say 'tidiness' that you probably have only seen on TV. It smells. It's dirty. They are missing trash cans , or maybe every where is a trash can. For gringos, it reminds me of rural Mexico - well Mexico has pyramids to you know. But once you are out of the living area and in the open desert, albeit just the edge, it is as beautiful as an ocean beach.
Regarding camels... for tourists... in the desert... in August. It is a wobbly experience to ride these creatures. Not frantic, they just slowly plod along. You will sweat though. It is hot (similar to sweet South Georgia) and you need to relax your body and roll with the motion of the mammal.)
Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan.
My Historical P A K I S T A N.
The Badshahi Mosque (Urdu: ??????? ????), or the 'King's Mosque', in Lahore is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world. It is Lahore's most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction epitomising the beauty, passion and grandeur of the Mughal era.
Capable of accommodating 10,000 worshippers in its main prayer hall and 100,000 in its courtyard and porticoes, it remained the largest mosque in the world from 1673 to 1986 (a period of 313 years), when overtaken in size by the completion of the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad. Today, it remains the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world after the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca, the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina, the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca and the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
To appreciate its large size, the four minarets of the Badshahi Mosque are 13.9 ft (4.2 m) taller than those of the Taj Mahal and the main platform of the Taj Mahal can fit inside the 278,784 sq ft (25,899.9 m2) courtyard of the Badshahi Mosque, which is the largest mosque courtyard in the world.
Construction of the Badshahi Mosque was ordered in May 1671 by the sixth Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, who assumed the title 'Alamgir', meaning 'Conqueror of the World.' Construction took about two years and was completed in April 1673. The construction work was carried out under the supervision of Aurangzeb's foster brother Muzaffar Hussain (also known as Fidaie Khan Koka) who was appointed Governor of Lahore in May 1671 and held this post until 1675. He was also Master of Ordnance to the Emperor. The mosque was built opposite the Lahore Fort, illustrating its stature in the Mughal Empire. In conjunction with the building of the mosque, a new gate was built at the Fort, named Alamgiri Gate after the Emperor.
Badshahi Mosque was damaged and misused during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh Ruler of the Punjab. The four domes on top of its four minarets were used by the Sikhs for cannon practice and destroyed. The Mosque was converted into a stable for the horses of Ranjit Singh's army and also used as a gun powder magazine for military stores.
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