Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Have Found A Nice Apartment to Stay

Today is my sixth day in Cairo and I have found myself a nice apartment to stay for the next four months. Over the weekend, which is the Friday and Saturday in Egypt, I moved my stuff from the Nabila Hotel over to the apartment with the help of my property agent Tarit. Although the apartment is quite well furnished and equipped with crockery and utensils, I still need to get my daily essentials such as shampoo, soap, dish cleanser, bottled water and sustenance like bread, biscuits and jam. So I was running to and fro the Metro Supermarket nearby to get things ready.

I must say that I am quite lucky to find this apartment. It’s located at the junction of Mahruqi St and Gol Gamal away from the busy roads jammed with honking cars and yet it is only about 10 minutes walk from the places I will need to frequent – the language centre, supermarket, laundry shop, computer mart etc. While it is quite a walk from my office, about 30 minutes walk away, I can easily commute by taxi. Yesterday, I finally took a taxi by myself and I managed to get home simply muttering out “Gol Gamal” and “Muhruqi”. I don’t think I will have a problem flagging taxis along the roads as long as I can name the place I wish to go.

Besides the convenient location, I also have a pair of really nice old couple as my landlord. The landlady, Nadia, speaks some English and we were able to make some interesting small talk. I believe that in choosing a place to rent, the friendliness of the landlord is also an important factor to consider. If you get a good landlord like Nadia, or my landlady for almost four years in Taipei, you will have a blissful stay. Nadia helped me called up the laundry man to pick up my clothes, got her driver to show me to the laundry shop, asked her son-in-law to subscribe a broadband line that will be ready in two weeks time, referred a part-time domestic help to come in once a week to clean up the place for EGP40 (about S$12) and even buy me brand new frying pans. Here are some photos of this nice apartment to share. I will find an opportunity to take a photo with my landlady and post it on as well.

Now, my one and only goal is to learn Arabic as quickly as I can so that I can converse with Nadia in her mother tongue and perhaps have a few exchanges with the taxi drivers during my rides around the city. The second day of my lessons will start in about two hour time. I have a lot to memorise and practice so I will end here for today.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Settling Down in Cairo

Today is Friday, the start of the weekend in Cairo, and my fourth day in Cairo. Over the past few days, I have been walking quite a bit, from the hotel to the language centre to the office and back to the hotel. That's about 1 hour and 20 minutes of walking per day along the dusty roads of Cairo. I have read about the infamous taxi rides in Cairo. Since I landed, I was not brave enough to hail one down. Fortunately, I experienced my first ride with an Egyptian real estate agent and I think I will be game to take one on my own soon. Here is a video clip taken during the bumpy ride.

The taxi ride was taken on my way to see an apartment that I will be renting for my four months of stay in Cairo during my language training. Compared to the four apartments shown to my back another agent the day before, this apartment is a godsend. It's clean and bright with three big bedrooms and a nice kitchen topped with three balconies. Seriously, I don't need such a big place but this building is just five minutes walk from the language school. The others I saw were a good 30-40 minutes walk away. While this apartment will cost more but the premium is very much worth it considering the savings in walking time. I will be signing the lease later this afternoon. I will post some photos after I moved in and settled down.

I started lessons yesterday at the Kalimat Language & Cultural Centre. Two hours of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and two hours of Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA). MSA is for the read and write while ECA is for speaking. They are quite different but yet similar. If you know Chinese, MSA is like the Chinese writing while ECA is a local dialect such as Mandarin or Cantonese. But unlike Chinese, Arabic words are formed by alphabets which is similar to English. I basically need to memorised the alphabet and the pronunciation and script of each alphabet. It's quite a difficult language for me as there are sounds that I have not been using like "Rrrrrr" and "Kh". I find the lessons very interesting and challenging. For a moment, I felt like a kid learning ABCs, very refreshing indeed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kee Chor is in Cairo Egypt

I've safely arrived in Cairo, Egypt on 23 Oct 07 10PM Eygptian time. Cairo is six hours behind Singapore and this moment is 24 Oct 07 8:10AM. I just had my breakfast at the hotel (Al Nabila) before taking a walk to a nearby supermarket called the Metro. I'm quite glad to see such a well-stocked supermarket so I don't think we will have a problem getting all our daily necessities.

But I must say that the air pullution in the city is quite bad as mentioned by the few guidebooks I've read before I came. You can literally smell the pollutants in the air. My lungs are adjusting and I can feel phlegm collecting at the back of my throat. This may be a problem for my young boy who will be joining me next year. I will need to take some precautionary measures, find an apartment with good air filters and limit our outdoor activities.

I'm now blogging using the one and only Internet terminal in this hotel. The hotel's breakfast is pretty good with a mix variety of continental and local food. The room is clean and the service has been commendable. While the hotel is okay for me, I will probably put up my family at a better hotel next year.

My colleague will be bringing me to the language centre later in the morning and probably show me the way to our office. All in all, I'm having a good start so far and I hope to keep it that way. Do check out my photo album on Cairo in Facebook from time to time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007





Heading to Cairo

I’m writing this blog while watching Surf’s Up on SQ 492 bound for Cairo Egypt. This is the first time in my life I am flying to the west of Singapore. I’m heading to Cairo alone for four months of language training in Arabic. I will be returning to Singapore in mid Feb 08 for a two weeks of pre-posting briefings followed by two weeks of leave before I head back to Cairo again to begin my three-year posting in the land of the Pharoahs in mid Mar 08.

Naturally, my wife and son will move to Cairo with me. This time, I’m no longer a lone nomad on the move. With a family with me, there will be more things for me to think about that I don’t need to when I was still a bachelor. Do they have paper diapers, baby formula and other necessities that our one year old boy needs? Are there well-trained doctors there with good medical facilities and well-stocked pharmacies? Are there playgroups for our boy to join? How is the living condition? Is the pollution really bad? Fortunately, I have four months in Cairo to recce the ground and check up all the things we need.

It has been almost ten years now since I first board an aircraft to Taipei in Feb 98. I have been on the move quite a bit. After returning from Taipei in Nov 99, I joined MFA and was posted to Phnom Penh for four months in Sep 01. Next, I was back in Taipei in Jun 02 where I stay for almost four years. During that period, I courted a girl, married the girl and bought a flat. Just after I returned from Taipei in Mar 06, we had our first baby in Oct 06. And now, barely two years in Singapore, I am moving off again.

For my friends, I know it is hard for us to stay in touch. I will try to blog as often as possible but I really think a good way for us to stay connected is through Facebook. If you are not acquainted to this online social utility, do pay a visit and seriously consider signing up. Hope to see you friends in Facebook soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I was inducted into Facebook a few days ago and I'm feeling a little addicted to this powerful networking portal. Calling all friends to come join me in Facebook now!

This is my Facebook profile.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shanle's 1st Birthday

Time flies and our boy Shanle turns one today. One of the two reasons why I did not make any blog entry yet this month is because much time was spent preparing Shanle's birthday party which was held on 13 Oct 07. Here is a video clip with the highlights.

One year ago on 18 October 2006, we welcomed the arrival of our first baby boy. Shanle has been the main force behind this blog of mine and his growth provided rich fodder for sharing. Today, we brought him to the Singapore Science Centre before going on a shopping spree at IMM pampering our birthday boy with new clothes and toys. Here are some photos to share.

Music Nournishes The Soul & Mind (Chinese Songs)......