Do they still have the white lines painted on the ground on the streets surrounding the temples that the touts are not allowed to cross?
There are definitely Touting Zones, everywhere but Giza, which was open slather. Those zones are positioned so you have to go through them, both going into and coming out of, the site. I didn't notice lines, but I might not have. When we were at Kom Obo, our guide spent some time negotiating with a little boy over a necklace. Every time she made an offer, the boy would have to run back over to the Touting Zone to check with his father. Once they'd agreed, she slipped him twice as much, and told him not to give it to his dad. She was a total sucker for kids.
One of my favourite memories is sitting on top of one of the little water taxis in Aswan as we cruised a bit further down the Nile stopping off at a Nubian village.
I forgot to mention this. The part of the tour that I was dreading most was the "dinner with a Nubian family". I was really concerned that it was going to be all Roto-Vegas style fake performative indigenous culture.
Instead, we went to a genuine village where Nubian people lived, into one of their houses, sat on the roof, and the woman of the house cooked us dinner. We got to talk to them (mostly the man) about their culture, the land confiscations, their identity, how much they felt "Egyptian". It was one of the best parts of the trip.
Because almost everything is more complicated and because the simple-minded version of the world news we get is so very very inadequate.
The reporting on Egypt since I got back has been making me bugshit. To pick a random minor annoyance, I've seen two Beeb reports refer to the Muslim Brotherhood as "recently banned". The Muslim Brotherhood was banned in 1948. They were only legalised again in 2011. It's more complicated than that.
isn’t a bra pretty much by definition a “bondage bra?” It’s kind of the point…
I have many, many responses to this, but the safest is "No." In my vanilla life, one of the reasons I wear a bra is to not be in pain.
The vessel in the pic of me looking at the water is the Spirit of New Zealand and contains the daughter of one Emma Hart.
I showed her this photo when she got home. She was dead chuffed. And then the "my spies are everywhere" implications sank in...
I know print journalists are often upset by commenters on their own paper’s website. These comment threads seem to attract the bottom-feeders, and are barely moderated. There’s a simple solution here: introduce proper moderation, and ban trolls.
The solutions are a bit more complex, surprising, and nice than that. F'r'instance, there's a body of research now confirming something I've noted as anecdata: comments are nicer on threads where the authors of the original piece (journalists, columnists) actively engage with the commenters. Stuff and Herald writers don't tend to do this (some do, but they're exceptions) and of course this can't be done if you're getting all your Life and Style content from the Sydney Morning Herald.
It’s not that I wouldn’t love to go there, it’s that there’s still a whole lot of places in the world we haven’t traveled that involve so much less stress about our personal safety/comfort, yanno?
It's comfort, but it's not safety. The Middle East is more relaxed about demonstration of affection between members of the same sex than the West is. It's, can I stand having my relationship constantly misread? Can I handle being assigned twin beds all the time? And it's okay if the answer is 'no'. But it's not that travelling as a pair of women is dangerous.
I met a lovely woman on the Egypt tour who was bi, and who'd been working in the UAE. She talked about the LGBT scene in Abu Dabi, which functions on plausible deniability. She'd been watching women twerking in one of the underground lesbian nightclubs, and she asked one of the local women about it afterwards. "Not Emirati," the woman said in disgust, at something she'd just happily watched. "Egyptian."
And yes, as Bart implied, one of the reasons we're very glad we went to Egypt now, is that it may actually get worse in future. This might be your best chance. Pure democracy would absolutely make Egypt less safe for women.
I didn’t deal nearly so well with the Arab world
I am glad we chose to go with a guided tour, particularly in Egypt. Not only was it more secure, it meant we weren't wasting energy on customs and taxis and dodgy guides.
But I started to get sick towards the end, and spent our last two, "extra" days in Amman basically asleep in my hotel room. And there were a couple of times along the way I dipped out of activities just to get some time alone.
I would still like to go to Morocco.
Hey, I’m even reluctant to travel to America with all there border control rules at the moment.
See, I wouldn't do that either. And there was nearly a slight fracas in the last night of the tour when I said I wouldn't go to Israel. I probably wouldn't have gone to Egypt had we not already booked the tickets, and yet I'm so glad we did.
I did, of course, take a photo of one of the things we weren't allowed to photograph. One of the twenty or thirty tanks (all right, APCs) around the Egyptian museum. Or, here are some pretty gates and a pretty redhead.
Bottom line: has travel widened your world view?
Our trip through Egypt made me seriously question some assumptions, which is awesome.
But it seems like you had some bad Jordan luck as well…
Man I wish I'd thought of that joke.