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MaureenT
09-25-2011, 09:33 AM
I need some specific information about Egypt, things that can probably only be answered by someone who has been there.

First of all, in the novel I am working on, the main character needs to mail a letter. What are the postal services in Cairo? Can you only get stamps and mail letters in places that are dedicated to that purpose, such as post offices, or do some tourist spots, such as gift shops, have postal services?

The other information I presently need is about the Great Pyramid, specifically the underground chamber. I am aware that, sometimes, it is closed to tourists, but I need to know exactly how the passage is blocked. Is it a gate? If so, what does it look like and how is it locked?

Down in the underground chamber there is a dead end passage. Is this passage open or closed to prevent tourists from entering it? If it is blocked in some way, I have the same questions as above on how.

Any information that I can get would be very appreciated. If no one here has the answers, could someone direct me to a site where I might find them?

mickeyDs4
09-25-2011, 09:57 AM
I had this same problem. Luckily I have a friend who lived in Egypt. She said that for the most part it was easier for tourists and such to go to the post offices. Most hotels I found will help you out with letters/postcards.

As for the matter of the pryamids, I relied on the various travel guides I found at Barnes and Noble. Fodors and Lonely Planet were the best of the bunch. I would reccomend investing in either because there is a lot of information in them that is helpful to writers.

MaureenT
09-25-2011, 10:16 AM
Thanks for replying.

I had this same problem. Luckily I have a friend who lived in Egypt. She said that for the most part it was easier for tourists and such to go to the post offices. Most hotels I found will help you out with letters/postcards.
The thing is that the characters are not staying in a hotel, and the letter needs to be mailed rather surreptitiously, the person mailing it striving to keep it a secret from his companion. I presently have him going alone into a gift shop that also has postal services, but if that is not possible, I'll have to do it in some other way.

As for the matter of the pryamids, I relied on the various travel guides I found at Barnes and Noble. Fodors and Lonely Planet were the best of the bunch. I would reccomend investing in either because there is a lot of information in them that is helpful to writers.
The problem is that travel guides are very likely not going to have something as detailed as a description of a gate that's blocking a passage inside the pyramid. I would need photos or to talk to someone who has seen it for themselves. That's why this could prove to be very tough to answer, and it is information that I absolutely must have.

Again, thanks for the reply.

Snitchcat
09-25-2011, 01:14 PM
Some description can be found in this NatGeo article:


http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/09/0910_020913_egypt_1_2.html

Have you tried searching through the NatGeo magazines? I recall one issue was about the pyramids but don't remember which one any more.

A few more links (that you'll need to read through for the descriptions, etc.) that may or may not help:


http://theomnireport.blogspot.com/2011/03/part-2-great-pyramid-controversy-big.html
http://a-vagabonds-journal.blogspot.com/
http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/piramides/esp_piramide_20.htm
http://templemountlocation.com/warrenmap.htm
http://www.initiation.cc/html/new_rooms.html
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/pyramids/khufu.html

What about contacting universities?

Hope you find what you're looking for. Good luck!

Zelenka
09-25-2011, 02:32 PM
For posting letters, many hotels will sell stamps and also collect the item and post it for you at the reception desk. That's always how I've done it when I've been there.

With the Great Pyramid, when I was last there, two or three years ago, the situation was that the public were greatly restricted when it came to entry. Only a certain number of tickets were issued each day from the ticket booth at the Giza plateau, something like 500 but don't quote me on that, but it was a three figure number, and you had to have bought the tickets before 7am. You also could not buy tickets if you were a guide or taking a paying party around, they were on sale to private tourists only.

I was in the pyramid prior to this, but it was oh, good eight or nine years ago (usually I go to Luxor, not Cairo), and if I remember rightly, you had very little choice in what you could see. You followed the path from the 'makeshift' entrance, past where the original entrance would have been, eventually up to the King's Chamber and that was the limit on what you could do. I can't remember specifically if there were gates blocking the way. I just remember you could only go the one way. It was extremely narrow and generally (when people were allowed in) quite crowded, we had about a dozen people trying to squeeze in and trying to climb up the shaft (and it's just a plank of wood on the floor with wooden bands across it to help you climb, not the easiest), so you had to keep moving pretty much all the time until you got to the chamber otherwise you had someone else run into the back of you.

I can help you on atmosphere and things maybe, but I really can't remember any gates or such. All I remember seeing as we were shoved up the path was the original entrance, as in not the one they blew out with dynamite but the actual door to the pyramid that the Egyptians sealed up. We passed that on the way. It was mentioned I think that there was a way down but we had no choice about going down there.

What might help you is to look at the Discovery Channel, History Channel, some of these things, as I know there were loads of "Secrets of the Pyramids" type programmes where people went inside, and usually on their own or with Zawi Hawass, so it'd be easier for you to get a look at the layout of the place that way. Maybe someone else who has actually got in more recently could help also though, but in the meantime that's what I'd look at. I know in the UK a lot of discount bookstores sell that sort of show on DVD for next to nothing.

Zelenka
09-25-2011, 02:34 PM
Oops, just noticed you said they're not staying in a hotel. Sorry. Again though all the tourist shops generally sell stamps - even if they don't stay in a hotel they could just go into one. If they're not Egyptian, that might draw less attention than them trying to use a post office - it'd just be another group of tourists sending stuff home.

MaureenT
09-25-2011, 09:10 PM
Some description can be found in this NatGeo article:


http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/09/0910_020913_egypt_1_2.html

Have you tried searching through the NatGeo magazines? I recall one issue was about the pyramids but don't remember which one any more.

A few more links (that you'll need to read through for the descriptions, etc.) that may or may not help:


http://theomnireport.blogspot.com/2011/03/part-2-great-pyramid-controversy-big.html
http://a-vagabonds-journal.blogspot.com/
http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/piramides/esp_piramide_20.htm
http://templemountlocation.com/warrenmap.htm
http://www.initiation.cc/html/new_rooms.html
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/pyramids/khufu.html

What about contacting universities?

Hope you find what you're looking for. Good luck!
Thanks for the links. I'll check them out.

MaureenT
09-25-2011, 09:49 PM
With the Great Pyramid, when I was last there, two or three years ago, the situation was that the public were greatly restricted when it came to entry. Only a certain number of tickets were issued each day from the ticket booth at the Giza plateau, something like 500 but don't quote me on that, but it was a three figure number, and you had to have bought the tickets before 7am. You also could not buy tickets if you were a guide or taking a paying party around, they were on sale to private tourists only.
I have already done a lot of research on the Great Pyramid, so I knew about the limited number of tickets sold, although the source I read said that they are sold twice a day, 150 at 8 a.m. and 150 at 1 p.m., but that was for the off-season, which is when my protagonists are there. I'll definitely have to confirm that info before completing the novel.

I was in the pyramid prior to this, but it was oh, good eight or nine years ago (usually I go to Luxor, not Cairo), and if I remember rightly, you had very little choice in what you could see. You followed the path from the 'makeshift' entrance, past where the original entrance would have been, eventually up to the King's Chamber and that was the limit on what you could do. I can't remember specifically if there were gates blocking the way. I just remember you could only go the one way. It was extremely narrow and generally (when people were allowed in) quite crowded, we had about a dozen people trying to squeeze in and trying to climb up the shaft (and it's just a plank of wood on the floor with wooden bands across it to help you climb, not the easiest), so you had to keep moving pretty much all the time until you got to the chamber otherwise you had someone else run into the back of you.

I can help you on atmosphere and things maybe, but I really can't remember any gates or such. All I remember seeing as we were shoved up the path was the original entrance, as in not the one they blew out with dynamite but the actual door to the pyramid that the Egyptians sealed up. We passed that on the way. It was mentioned I think that there was a way down but we had no choice about going down there.
I have seen photos of the passageway, and it did look like it was really tight. I have also seen a photo of the junction where the passage up to the king's chamber and the one down to the subterranean chamber meet, but the subterranean chamber passage was open in the photo, so I couldn't see what is used to block it to prevent tourists from getting down there. There were also photos of the underground chamber itself, which were very helpful. I'm just hoping that it isn't an employee who prevents people from going down there rather than a gate. That would cause a problem that would be tough to resolve.

My hero and heroine are only interested in the subterranean chamber, so they won't have to deal with the crowds and tight quarters up to the king's chamber.

I do have one question. I know that the interior of the pyramid is a lot cooler than the temperature outside, but what would you guess the temperature in there to be? Chilly enough to need a jacket or just a pleasant change from the Egyptian heat?

What might help you is to look at the Discovery Channel, History Channel, some of these things, as I know there were loads of "Secrets of the Pyramids" type programmes where people went inside, and usually on their own or with Zawi Hawass, so it'd be easier for you to get a look at the layout of the place that way. Maybe someone else who has actually got in more recently could help also though, but in the meantime that's what I'd look at. I know in the UK a lot of discount bookstores sell that sort of show on DVD for next to nothing.
If one of them explored the mystery of the subterranean chamber and the passageway that goes to nowhere, that would be great, but since any gates or doors would likely be open so that the film crew could go down there, it probably wouldn't help much.

Thanks for all the info. It's appreciated.

MaureenT
09-25-2011, 10:01 PM
Oops, just noticed you said they're not staying in a hotel. Sorry. Again though all the tourist shops generally sell stamps - even if they don't stay in a hotel they could just go into one. If they're not Egyptian, that might draw less attention than them trying to use a post office - it'd just be another group of tourists sending stuff home.
Yes, but that's the tricky part. The hero has to mail a letter without the heroine knowing about it, and she's sticking to him like glue. He has to do a lot of talking to get her to allow him to go into the gift shop alone. In case you're wondering, yes, there is a very good reason for that, and it's not that she's neurotic or clingy. :-D

So going into a hotel to mail the letter is out of the question since the hero would be unable to think up a reason for going into one alone. And, of course, using a post office would be out of the question, too. It has to be a place that he can come up with a reason to go into alone where he can buy stamps and an envelope and mail the letter.

Zelenka
09-25-2011, 10:37 PM
Don't know if it's any help to you, but there are usually ATMs in the hotel lobbies, so don't know if he could make the excuse of going to get money and drop the letter off at the same time? Or, if he can get away for a moment, feigning having forgotten something or whatever, could he drop someone some money to post the letter for him? (Although that then raises the question of whether or not the person is trustworthy).

I can quite believe that they've changed the pyramid ticket scheme. I was there in the off peak season but it's a fair while since I was in Cairo and even longer since I was in the pyramid. I'm really trying to wrack my brain as to the underground chamber and I think I remember there being the junction, round about where the old entrance was, and I think it was gated, just a standard metal kind of barred- gate, box steel sort of thing. Painted kind of salmon pink if I remember rightly. I'm not 100% sure on that though. I just remember we were herded along one direction and not allowed to stray.

In terms of temperature, it's not chilly enough for a coat. It was just nice after being out in the heat. I'm usually there in July when it's around 45-50C, so going into the dark and into the cool is always welcome. But you do still feel a bit sweaty just from the exertion of climbing the passage. I do remember my mother's friend was extremely insulted when we went inside because the guide we were with (this was pre-ticket restrictions) told her she might find it hard going as it was very tight inside and she was quite a large lady!

As I said, I'm more up on Luxor than Cairo and my memory is pretty rubbish.

MaureenT
09-25-2011, 11:17 PM
Don't know if it's any help to you, but there are usually ATMs in the hotel lobbies, so don't know if he could make the excuse of going to get money and drop the letter off at the same time? Or, if he can get away for a moment, feigning having forgotten something or whatever, could he drop someone some money to post the letter for him? (Although that then raises the question of whether or not the person is trustworthy).
This is where we run into a problem. I can't tell you exactly what's going on in the story, so you don't have enough information to know what would work and not work. I'll just say that the ATM excuse wouldn't be feasible, and the hero would not entrust this letter to a stranger. But thank you for your brainstorming anyway. It is appreciated. If you would be interested in exchanging PMs, I could go into more detail on the situation my protagonists are in.

I can quite believe that they've changed the pyramid ticket scheme. I was there in the off peak season but it's a fair while since I was in Cairo and even longer since I was in the pyramid. I'm really trying to wrack my brain as to the underground chamber and I think I remember there being the junction, round about where the old entrance was, and I think it was gated, just a standard metal kind of barred- gate, box steel sort of thing. Painted kind of salmon pink if I remember rightly. I'm not 100% sure on that though. I just remember we were herded along one direction and not allowed to stray.
Thank you so much! If your memory is even partly right, it means that I won't have to do a major and very difficult revision to get my hero and heroine down into that chamber, although the "herding" means that I'll have to do some smaller revisions. Do they herd them in small groups and wait until everyone comes back out before letting the next bunch in? It sounds like they'd have to since there wouldn't be room for two-way traffic. This could pose a problem for the story, but I should be able to work around it.

In terms of temperature, it's not chilly enough for a coat. It was just nice after being out in the heat. I'm usually there in July when it's around 45-50C, so going into the dark and into the cool is always welcome. But you do still feel a bit sweaty just from the exertion of climbing the passage. I do remember my mother's friend was extremely insulted when we went inside because the guide we were with (this was pre-ticket restrictions) told her she might find it hard going as it was very tight inside and she was quite a large lady!
Thanks again. It's too bad that I don't have tons of money. Then I'd just fly over there and check out the pyramid and Cairo for myself. I've always wanted to go, but I could never afford it.

Zelenka
09-25-2011, 11:40 PM
The herding, again, was before they stopped letting guides in. So (again not sure as I've never been to the pyramid since the regs came into force) I'd assume people go in in small groups, controlled by the guards at the entrance. I don't remember seeing anyone in there, in terms of the caretakers or guards, just at the entrance and around the base of the pyramid, keeping people from climbing on the stones.

If it'd help to exchange PMs, I'm more than happy. Not sure how much use I could be, but I'll do what I can :)

Snitchcat
09-26-2011, 01:15 AM
So going into a hotel to mail the letter is out of the question since the hero would be unable to think up a reason for going into one alone.

The hero needs to borrow the gents? Goes in through a side door that's the quickest route to said washrooms, only once inside, he detours to reception?

Just throwing an idea out there.

MaureenT
09-26-2011, 01:50 AM
The hero needs to borrow the gents? Goes in through a side door that's the quickest route to said washrooms, only once inside, he detours to reception?

Just throwing an idea out there.
I did think of feigning a need for a bathroom, but since they would never have been in the hotel before, he'd have to go into the lobby and find out where the men's room was, and the lady in question would go into the lobby with him, so getting to the reception desk unseen would be impossible.

Thanks for the suggestion.

debirlfan
09-26-2011, 06:19 AM
I did think of feigning a need for a bathroom, but since they would never have been in the hotel before, he'd have to go into the lobby and find out where the men's room was, and the lady in question would go into the lobby with him, so getting to the reception desk unseen would be impossible.

Thanks for the suggestion.

If he went to the bathroom, chances are she would take the opportunity to go, too (and he could always ply her with beverages to make sure she needs to). She goes into the girl's room, he walks into and out of the boy's room - given that men are usually quicker than women, she probably wouldn't think anything of finding him waiting in the lobby.

MaureenT
09-26-2011, 06:44 AM
If he went to the bathroom, chances are she would take the opportunity to go, too (and he could always ply her with beverages to make sure she needs to). She goes into the girl's room, he walks into and out of the boy's room - given that men are usually quicker than women, she probably wouldn't think anything of finding him waiting in the lobby.
That might be an option if what Zelenka and I came up with in our exchange of PMs won't work. Actually, I could insert some humor into it, which might make it work even better. This story is very tongue in cheek in places. Thanks!

MeretSeger
09-28-2011, 09:28 AM
In 2004, last time I was there:

-the intersection between the "Ascending Passage" and the "Descending Passage", where the way out turned into the robber hole, was a flimsy handrail/gate set up. It would have been possible to go over the rail and jump down into the descending passage if I was really motivated. And that guard wasn't standing there. Here's a photo, looking down from the ascending passage http://i52.tinypic.com/96vqsh.jpg

-The Mena House is right by the pyramids. It has full mail services. The ATM is outside its gates, though, by where the taxi stand is.

-I was there in a very cool year, but it was durned hot inside the pyramid. All of them, actually. Humid, and they all smelled of ammonia (bats) There was plastic piping to bring fresh air into the Great Pyramid running along the floor, so it was the least oppressive.

hope that helps.

MaureenT
10-03-2011, 03:17 AM
Sorry for the delay in replying. I got completely buried with work. Thank you for the info and the photo. It definitely does help.

I found a Web site that actually has a interactive tour of the inside of the pyramid, including the subterranean chamber. It did not have any views of the gate, but I did find out some other stuff I needed to know.

MeretSeger
10-03-2011, 04:59 AM
Cool! I always find with the tours and such, they leave out the mundane things, like what locks look like on the gates and such, so I'm glad I could help in my small way.

MaureenT
10-03-2011, 08:27 AM
It turns out that I have a couple more questions. I know that the entrance into the pyramid is through the "Robber's Tunnel" rather than the original entrance. Does that tunnel have a really low ceiling like the original tunnels do? Also, where was that entrance to the descending passage? The info I've found online is a little confusing and somewhat contradictory. Do you get to it while still traveling downward, after you start going up the Ascending Passage, or right at the spot where the entrance to Ascending Passage is? I know that the entrance to the Ascending Passage is also one that was cut into the rock by the caliph who thought he was going to get rich.