. We then met Ahmed (have given up hope of meeting anyone called anything else), a recently qualified neurosurgeon who took us to his flat and showed us his skulls and books full of pictures of cut up bits of brain injected with dye before making us tea. Ismailia is famous for being built by the British, hence the avenues of colonial houses with the ghost of gin drinking, mutton chopped Canal builders, and also for being the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood. Well, I suppose they'd have the facial hair in common. It's a pretty impressive sight driving by the Suez Canal and seeing an enormous cargo ship that's come from Singapore or Japan casually floating past towards Europe. I hadn't realised how old it was either, apparently it was already well on the way in Ramses II's day. Seems remarkable he found the time to separate 2 continents on top of building ginormous statues of himself everywhere as well.
Modern Ismailia doesn't have a whole lot to show for it's former glorious past...it's nice and green I suppose, and much cheaper than Cairo (delicious fish lunch with lots of salads, bread etc was 12 GBP for 3) and it was nice to see water that wasn't murky brown. Give me the desert any day though.
I have officially experienced my first foray into the world of couchsurfing! Was a bit suspicious at first...so people let you stay in their house? For free? Whats the catch?! But there isn't one other than participants promising to think about hosting someone themselves at some point in the future. You can see references from former couchsurfers vouching for the non-psychoness of your host, and bingo, free place to stay and occasionally, as was the case with us, a knowledgeble local to drive you round in his air conditioned car and take you to fine restaurants. We arrived early afternoon (I slept in a wee bit after about about 5000 beers in Zamalek the night before...well gotta take advantage of being able to drink on the rare occasions it happens) and found ourselves a nice air conditioned restaurant to sit out the heat and watch the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. With a group of Chinese people randomly enough, who we spotted coming a mile off due to their slight builds and nice clothes