Monday, May 31, 2010

When traveling in Egypt, don't forget proof of who you are...


It has been a while and I'll try to catch up this week on the blogs. Quite a bit is to be blogged about.

So I went to Sharm el-Sheikh last weekend, it was the second time this month. First I went with my family to Sharm, about which I will blog in another post. Last weekend I went with what turned out to be 'buddies' of mine as we went scuba diving.
Last Wednesday I went to Maadi Divers in Maadi, Cairo. They're on road 218, which is walking distance from my apartment, but only because Maadi is a rather small area in Cairo and pretty much everything here is walking distance. Keep that in mind if you ever plan to live in Cairo. I went there because I had to try on a BCD and a wetsuit for my scuba trip that weekend. And because they needed a photocopy of my passport. And I thought that was it, so on our trip the following day I didn't bring my passport... Oops, there're all kinds of roadblocks on the way from Cairo to Sharm el-Sheikh. My buddies had their passports and ID's ready for the showing, but I had only my driver's license on me.
Sure that has a photo of me on it and a recent one at that, but it doesn't show that I have a valid visa for Egypt. And that is kind of important as well.

So we were stopped quite often between Cairo and Sharm and more than once all passports were requested by the policeman at the roadblock. But for some reason they never questioned the fact that they didn't see a passport for me. Although we were very honest about the fact that I'm Dutch. Guess the Dutch are welcome everywhere or something. Or maybe I was just lucky.

Anyway, after a two nights at the boat on our way back at the very first roadblock they gave us a hard time and all passports were requested and checked. My driver's license was handed over as well. But again, for some reason they didn't get around to check and wonder about that pink little piece of plastic that didn't mean nothing as all text on it is in Dutch. So we got to go on our way back to Cairo.
The interesting thing here is that you can fly into Sharm el-Sheikh and stay there without a visa, but you're not allowed to go to Cairo without a visa, so if you want to leave the Sharm-area, they are very keen on people without a visa and without an Egyptian residents ID. Still I got away with it.

On top of that we got stopped for a speeding violation... guess what. The police officer ran out of tickets and we were told to move along. Guess we got some good karma this weekend.

Anyway, the lesson I learned and would like to convey to you, is that when you move around in Egypt, you should always have your passport with you so you know who you are and have proof of it, but you also have that ever so important visa to show.

Enjoy your stay in Egypt when you get around to visit this interesting country.