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EDITOR S note
Dear Readers,
ts June, the delirious season has arrived with its impatience to enjoy
a breakout. Youve probably just finished finals, the kids have just
gone on vacation, or if youre one of the misfortunate workingdom, I
wont lie to you; June would just mean that youll lower the temperature of
your AC in the office. Well, lets look at the bright side; that means youre
making money.
In the first issue of this magazine Id like to take the opportunity to raise
this question, why do we travel? Is it a thirst for a one-way ticket to
a sweet escape, is it a hunger for diversity, or is it a hunger for mere
change?
At this time of the year, especially for the working sector, its a time of
downright boredom. Weve reached the heart of the year 2016, and so
far were sick of it. This is when the thought of travel hovers louder and
louder over our crammed heads.
This is not a tourism magazine, this is a magazine of travel and travelers.
We offer you a collection of travel ideas and inspirational stories blended with history and culture, not forgetting budget details and handy
hacks.
I want to point out one thing before this note comes to an end; we liked
to combine several countries into a couple of articles (Where should you
go on your honeymoon & Watch what you gesture) as to give you an
idea. Later issues will hold more depth into one country at a time.
If youre stuck at work in June, I truly hope this issue really brings out the
Backpacker in you, and helps you get over your office misery. If not, I
hope this issue inspires an outstanding trip with someone special.

Have a brilliant summer!

Yours truly,

Leena ElDeeb

Editor-in-Chief &
Founder

germany resumes
direct flights to sharm
el-sheikh
US Hotels are
welcome in cuba

NEWS
SOLO

WHERE SHOULD YOU


GO ON YOUR HONEYMOON?
20

THE STORY OF LOVE


LOCKS

26

From valentina,
Argentina,
with love
7

Going solo:
Cuba
8

SPOtLIGHT

24

#FOLLOWMETO WHEREVER OUR LOVE TAKES


US

The Indian
Experience

THE BATTLE OF TRAVEL


9

kHOD 3ENWANY
11

LOVE
BIRDS

HIKE ON
13

OMAR SAMRA: Q & A


15

Tourism after the


spring
17

SO YOU THINK YOU


CAN PACK?
34

WATCH OUT FOR


PICKPOCKETS

EGYPT IN 52 WEEKS

FAMILY

AIESEC; what to expect vs. what to not

35

DINE IN LIKE AN
ITALIANO
36

MOVIE REVIEW: WILD


38

WATCH WHAT YOU


GESTURE
39

19

Travel
Pocket

28

TRUSTING CAMPERS
30

A CHILD WHO
TRAVELS
31

TAKE THE KIDS TO PERU


32

NEWS

he German Ministry of Transport has decided


to resume direct flights from Germany to the
Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, after removing a ban on checked luggage to the towns
airport, the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs announced on Wednesday, 11th of May.

solo is brought to you by:

Germany resumes direct flights


to Sharm El-Sheikh
in both countries, including the ministries of interior, tourism and civil aviation, has made efforts
to receive direct flights from Germany to Sharm
El-Sheikh once again, said the statement.

This decision came after the Federal Aviation Office officially informed all German tour operators
with the said decision in preparation for flight resumption to and from Sharm El-Sheikh Airport, the
ministrys statement reads.
The ban on flights had been there since November 2015 and was implemented in response to
the explosion of a Russian airplane over the Sinai
Peninsula in late October, for which the Islamic
State group claimed responsibility.

One of the beaches of the Egyptian resort


In the past six months, the Egyptian embassy in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Berlin, in coordination with relevant state bodies

US Hotels are now Welcome in Cuba


tamford, Starwood Hotels
& Resorts Worldwide, became the first U.S.-based
hotel company to enter Cuba
in nearly 60 years.

US hotels were not welcome


until a month ago, in response
to president Barack Obamas
visit to Cuba, being the first US
president to visit the communist
island since the breakdown be-

tween both nations in1959.


Later this year, Starwood Hotels and Resorts is expected to
begin managing two Havana
hotels, one near the citys Capitolio building and another near
the business district. Marriott International is reported to be in
discussions with Cuban officials
about running or developing
hotels on the island.
The two countries have moved
towards normalizing relations
after a breakdown following the
1959 communist revolution led
by former Cuban President Fidel
Castro.

Successive US government have


tried to oust the Cuban leadership, most notably during the
A Cuban woman hangs the flags of cuba and the united CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.

states as to welcome the new cooperations between the


two countries.

june, 2016

june, 2016

From the mouth came the Brahmans, preachers and


teachers in the Hindu society. From the arms came the
Kshatriyas, government and military. From the thighs
came the Varsiyas, farmers, merchants and businessmen.
And finally, from that beings feet came the Sudras, the
laborers. Brahmans, Kshtariyas, Varsiyas and Sudras are
called varnas, every varna has its own set of values,
customs and lifestyles. Below these four varnas comes
the Achuta, the Untouchables.
The Untouchables are a discriminated sect of the Hindu
society, usually for four reasons.
11. Fishermen, hunters or anyone who takes a life for a
life.
22. Pagans.
33. Anyone who deals with human waist for work.
44. Anyone who eats beef.

The Indian Experience


Its a land of wide contrasts in colors and culture; its a
photographers sweet harbor.
hree photographers flew to India, and came back
with three completely different perspectives of the
land of spices, reflected onto three photo albums. last
December, Butheina Shalan, Ayman Gamal and Ahmed
Hayman gathered in Photopia, a photographers hub
in the heart of Heliopolis, Cairo, to showcase their
photography, discuss their observations and share
their stories.

The Stare versus the Sadhu glare


Youll find people who
would stare at you
for 10 minutes, for a
photographer
this
is
g r e a t.
As a girl solo traveler,
Shalan started her talk
discussing the awkward
situations any girl traveling
alone in India could face.
Indians are very curious
people, starts Butheina.
The stare is something
universally known about
Indians, they dont do it
out of rudeness, as supposed to many cultures. They
just stare out of curiosity.

But when it comes to the Sadhu glare, its a different


story. The Sadhu glare is observant, not only curious.
Sadhus are saints of various sects, men and sometimes
women, who have left their homes to concentrate on
the physical and spiritual disciplines and also hermits,
magicians and fortunetellers. The term comes from the
Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language, for accomplish
and can refer to any religious, ascetic or holy man.

came to tell him to refrain from taking photos, he kept


talking to him and succeeded to get him carried away
with the conversation while Ayman carried on snapping
more shots.

Blending in

Beggars, gypsies and the Untouchables

Every photographers character revealed through his


or her stories. Ayman was a photographer on a mission;
before he flies to India he made sure his gear was
complete. Butheina was a dreamy wanderer; her photos
are very random.

Indias populace is divided in an eccentric way.


The photographers tell us that theyre all living in
peace with each other; even the snakes slither
between the people without harming anyone.
Beggars dwell without being bullied off neither by the
police nor by the locals. Butheina says Sadhus and
beggars would take peanuts as a substitute for rupees
yes, apparently Sadhus dwell asking for money too,
but they claim it is for charity.
Dont be fooled by their exotic looks, gypsies will never
offer their services for free, and just a mere pose to a
camera counts as a service to them.

Throughout the year, you can find Sadhus in large


numbers in sacred cities such as Varanasi (Benares)
and Harid war. Their costume and
ornaments differ according to their sect,
but usually youll find them in orange or
yellow robes.

Whereas, Ahmed Hayman, the third photographer


experiencing India had a different philosophy, which
was blending in. Hayman wore a jilbab and turban
throughout his entire stay, he even talked like them,
imitated their made-popular-by-media English dialect
and sometimes pretended to be a beggar in experiment
and actually made some money.

Pushkar
Its a place that gathers all Indians from different
provinces. In Sanskrit, Pushkar means the blue lotus, and
the reason behind this name dates back to legendary
stories about Gods and lords. Even though several
were destroyed during Muslim conquests, Pushkar still
embraces many temples. Its a place for pilgrimage of
many sects in the Indian religions.
At the Pushkar Lake, Ayman stood snapping shots of
the assembled varieties of Hindus, taking baths in the

june, 2016

Being a shy female introvert; if you cant stop


someone for a photo, just sit and observe.
That was Butheinas advice.

Blending in was Haymans way of getting to know the


culture, or in that case the many cultures of India.
Ayman made a decision, the entire trip will be reflected
in black and white photographs, its a country of
contradiction, he explained. Indians have long believed
that a primordial being has existed at the beginning of
the evolution, and from this beings organs the Indian
population has been born.

june, 2016

India is a world on its own, floating in its own bubble,


isolated from all the norms and modernized human
systems. Its an experience of no replica. The group flew
to Morocco a few months ago; we are at the edges of
our seats for the stories and photos theyll fly back with.

SOLO

SOLO

holy waters of the Lake. Its not allowed to take photos


in the Lake area for the holiness of the place, but Ayman
knew exactly how to overcome this. When the officer

SOLO

solo

From Valentina,
Argentina,
with Love

Going Solo: Cuba


Cuba is rich in culture and revolutionary heritage;
a solo traveler will never get bored.

An Argentinian journalist crosses the pacific to arrive at Egypt, and stay.

alentina Primo, a travel blogger, has been a nomad for


six years now. She packed
her bag, and left her hometown,
Crdoba in Argentina, for an unknown journey.
In 2010, she left Argentina for
Peace Studies in Roma Tre University, which is literally the third
university in Rome, Italy.

In the six years since I decided to


pack my life in a suitcase, I have
lived in 14 different houses and
shared my home with 31 different
people, and I wouldn't change it
for the world Because traveling
changed my life, it forced me to
face fear, to trust people with my
eyes shut, to open my heart and
see things devoid of conventions,

and bring my innermost self outside.


Primo started her travel blog
Mi vida en una valija - My life
in a suitcase in 2014, under the
motto: building bridges that can
teach us to appreciate other
cultures rather than fear them.

ts an island hugged by the Atlantic Ocean from


the east, the Caribbean from the south and the
Mexican gulf from the west. The word Cuba literally
means barrel in Spanish.
Things to do; mainstream & non
The word Cuba is synonymous to two words: Che
Guevara and Beach.
Go to Old Havana, take a walk around the Old Square
and have dinner at Plaza de la Catedral.
Or, you could go eccentric and trot on a horseback in
Trinidad. Go pay Kcho art studio a visit in El Romerillo,
young Cubans are enjoying their first free WiFi in the
country. The latter is a great way to find good talk and
valuable insight about their current situation.

Tips from other travellers


Grant Anderson says, on a personal level I particularly
enjoyed the horse riding at Trinidad. I had never ridden
before but the horses are so calm that I quickly gained
confidence. We had a guide to ourselves and for the
low cost this seemed far better than joining a tour with
8 or 10 people.
While Louis Tuhato encourages us to couch surf with
one of the Cuban families, our host families were very
nice, they prepared great breakfast despite the facts
that foods are not easily available in Cuba. The family
in Vinales made lovely sandwich for breakfast, while the
family in Havana cooked lobster for dinner.
Bring any medications you might need, as these
were hard to find. Even in the hot spots with locally
purchased Internet cards access was iffy. Be prepared
to be unconnected, says Christie Moody.
History & Background

A Cuban rides in Trindad.


The Cubans
Working as a senior feature writer
since 2012, in a renowned lifestyle magazine based in Cairo,
Primo made it a habit to travel
to different parts of Egypt on a
somewhat weekly basis and establish friendships out of the locals.
The first time Primo arrived at
Egypt was in the Eid right after
the revolution, 2012. I had never
been to the Middle East at that

time, the only Arab city Ive visited before Cairo was Marakesh in
Morocco, and it was such a calm
city, unlike Cairo. She arrived at
9 pm and was scared to her guts
from all the chaos and mess in the
neighborhood of the cheap hostel she was staying at. She was on
vacation, leaving work in Rome,
she decided to stay for 40 days
in Cairo to learn the Arabic language. But later she felt like home
and she decided to stay.

Traveling lets all barriers down,


says Primo, forcing you to get involved with those we used to call
strangers and recognize yourself
in them as a whole and that
is what you fall in love with; she
adds, that invisible, beating and
breathing bond that binds us all
together, that force that explains
why we understand each other without the need for common
words.

june, 2016

The people of Cuba are generally happy people;


they learn to overcome their miseries driven by politics.
Theyre generous, and because their economy mostly
depends on tourism theyre exceptionally very
hospitable.
Cuba embraces a
very interesting multiethnic community. You
will find a majority of
Roman Catholics, a few
thousand Jews and you
may even come across
other cult religions.

june, 2016

After Columbus arrival, Cuba fell into Spanishs grip.


The Spanish were bedazzled by Cubas gold mines, so
they enslaved the natives to excavate the gold. Later
the Brits took Cuba from the Spanish, but then they
exchanged it with Florida, so Cuba fell under Spains
monarchy once again. The Cubans didnt stop rebelling
until they regained their independence in 1902.
However, Cuba was never stable. The years following
the year of independence watched the revolutionary
governments practice corruption. So the Cubans rose in
rebellion again, this time against their fellow countrymen.
And ever since the revolutions toppling of the regime, in
the early sixties, Cuba has been ruled by the communist
party which is now causing so much misery to the
twenty-first century Cuban populace.
Cuba is beautiful. Its a great place for a solo,
getaway vacation.

Spotlight

SPotlight

The Battle of Travel


These people did more travel than you ever will.
amel, from Syria, had everything set, all his three bags
packed. His wife and son were ready too. Tomorrow
theyll take the microbus before the break of dawn, from
the 6th of October city to Alexandria.
Welcome to Alexandria, lads.
The director leads the batch to a room they call takhzeen, which is Arabic for storage. The room must be full
until they move to the beach.
They are at the shore, where are the boats? he wondered aloud. The smuggler laughed, Why, you think
youre taking a Titanic? The rubber boats were waiting
a long distance from the Alexandrian shore. The queue
of refugees had to walk quickly in the water to hop on
the boat and save a spot for their family members. So,
to Kamels bad luck, that meant he had to let go of his
luggage to the cold waters, manage to keep up with his
family and make sure they didnt leave anyone behind.

Sadly, this story told by Sima Diab - a photojournalist


who has worked with refugees - has been the case with
hundreds of thousands of refugees in Egypt, not only Syrians; youll find Sudanese, Africans and sometimes even
Egyptians. Two years ago, smugglers took from $1,500 to
$ 2,000 for each illegal traveler.

Statistics
In 2015 one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum stated the
UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). According
to the UNHCRs research, if this were the population of a
country, it would be the worlds 24th biggest.
We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked
slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly
dwarfing anything seen before, said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antnio Guterres, in a Press Release.
Europe has up to 51 percent of refugees, mostly from Syria and Ukraine. While the MENA region embraces only 19
percent. Syrias ongoing war has alone made the Middle
East the worlds largest producer and host of refugees.
It displaced 7.6 million people internally, and 3.88 million
people were forced to cross borders to seek refuge in
neighboring countries and beyond. Two other major refugee producers in the Middle East are Iraq and Libya.

june, 2016

Refugees & migrants arriving by sea in Europe, Jan - June 2015. Source: Governments and UNHCR
The grass is always greener in Europe
Hashem, also from
Syria, couldnt believe that he had
arrived to a sweet
haven. He crossed
too many borders to
be able to live this
moment; from Egypt Hashem in Sweden.
to Italy and from Italy to Sweden, the most welcoming European country
to refugees, side by side with Germany. He managed to
get his papers along with his wife and kids, who will be
following him the following week.
Syrian refugees population in Egypt has dropped from
350,000 to 120,000
in one year. Diab explained that Syrian
refugees in specific
risk their lives to leave
their refuge in the Middle East for another in
Europe for several reaSima Diab.
sons. One reason is for
their kids education, second is for their work, Ive seen
architects who refused to settle for a building worker position. In their mindset Europeans would give them a job
that would fit their degrees. Another reason that pushes
Syrians to resort to the European harbor, is peer pressure, everyone in their families have done it, why wouldnt
they follow?
Especially for someone who lived in both Europe and
the Middle East their whole life, how the people were
treated in Europe made me sick. Diab expressed. There
were some pictures I couldnt take, because I was crying.
Especially that I could understand what the refugees

june, 2016

were saying from cries to their beloved ones left behind,


to the sobs of a mother on her arrested child.
Locals in the destinations to which refugees were heading were the ones making the difference; they were the
ones who help not the governments. Diab witnessed this
everywhere, be it Middle East or Europe. When Italians
knew there were refugees at the train station they rushed
to help them out, Egyptians were always helpful to find
jobs and shelter and in Jordan, Jordanians and Palestinians were very helpful at providing the refugees with
food and medicine.
Due to political and ethnic conflicts, a family of five from
Darfur, Sudan, took refuge in Egypt then crossed the border to Libya and from there they traveled to the United
Kingdom. However, only three arrived; the father and son
were caught by the Egyptian authorities and are currently spending their time in jail, among other refugees
behind bars from different nationalities.
But these Sudanese
kids would not give
up to depression,
they were extremely talented at what
they do; drawing.
They drew comics
and
caricatures
that would speak for
them and retell their
stories of discrimination and displacement.
Travel in the case of refugees is a battle, a necessity
and a mean to survive. Without travel, they are stranded
between bullets and missiles, nonetheless, with travel they
are still stranded, but between racism, procedures, and
bureaucracy.

10

3enwany

A couch-surfing network
for & by Egyptian women

There are many cheap places to stay at in Europe,


good deals and offers that only locals know about, says
Seif, Khod 3enwany is supposed to provide a locals insight to the women planning to travel.
Governments seem to master leading tourists into spending half their travel budget on transportation alone;
Mona says that by the help of locals, travelers can minimize their spending on transportation drastically.
Seif argued that having the initiative be only for Egyptians strengthens the trust the women have for one another, very minimal cultural and background differences,
they know what fears and expectations they have in
common. She also added that the thought of having
someone at the destination youre traveling to, who is
both Egyptian and female makes travel seem so much
easier and perhaps less intimidating to the parents.

First Khod 3enwany experience

An idea floated in two minds of two strangers one night; a circle


of Egyptian women who live abroad, ready to be hosts to fellow
Egyptian women travelers, Khod 3enwany!
ona Mounir was talking to her friend, Layaal, the
other day about starting an initiative encouraging women to travel and to help each other
out to come around difficulties like finances, family worries, security and so on and so forth.
Omneya Seif, a stranger to Mounir at that time, posted
on a Facebook group called 7ad ye3raf which translates to does anyone know, that shes thinking of starting this initiative called Khod 3enwany which translates
to take my address and that she couldnt implement
it alone. Mounir read the post by coincidence, got in
touch with Seif and created Khod 3enwany; a Facebook group that assembles around 4K Egyptian women,
enthusiastic about travel.

Inspiration
Seif is a 33-year-old project
management analyst at Quintiles in Bratislava; a US clinical
trials pharmaceutical company.
She traveled two years ago to
Budapest, and found her soul
mate, a Slovakian gentleman to
whom shes married and settled
with in the Slovakian capital.
Ive always had this problem of Seif with her husband
traveling alone, my parents are in Verona, Italy
very conservative and religious.
They never allowed it until one thing happened, Seif tells
us, I went through a very rough break up with my ex-Fiance, my parents felt bad for me, so they let me fly to
Singapore and I couldnt get enough of traveling ever
since. This motive of sharing a common struggle with the

11

All alone in Kenya, at the age of 14, Mounir attended high school in a boarding school that assembled a
broad diversity of human beings. The culture shock that
hit Mona petrified her, it took her a month to be able to
adapt. Coexistence was a new thing to the 14-year-old
Mona, When I returned to Egypt I felt like I grew up too
much, people my age were too immature for the standards the Kenyan experience made me live up to.

What they offer


Khod 3enwany is basically a pro bono couch-surfing
networking service. Mounir lives in London, Seif in Brati-

june, 2016

Women keep flooding Khod 3enwanys timeline with questions, comments etcetera etcetera, and it turns out they
are not serious enough. I personally take the questions
asked very seriously, it really strikes me when I find that
these questions are just blabber without any intention of
real commitment, Seif was significantly expressive about
that aspect, I mean, we have lives too.
Mounir and Seif have completely different groups of
friends, but both of them realize that this is a very common trait. They still dont know the reason behind it, even
if the finances are worked out, the parents are totally
okay, the women freeze at the last step which is actually
booking the tickets, the hotel and applying for the visa.
We talked to different Egyptian women, from different
backgrounds to be able to find a reason behind this.
Well, Id consider it depending on my budget... to me
couch-surfing is a low budget go, says Aya Zahran, a
college senior from Cairo. I would ditch couch-surfing
because there are services like AirBnB and hotels; especially that I prefer privacy to myself.
Whereas, Aliaa Ezz, a college junor from Cairo said shed
love that and would definitely do it, it would be more
comfortable living with an Egyptian woman whos been
in that country and knows more about it and would be
less lonely. I wouldnt be in a new country, all alone, not
knowing anything.

majority of the female population in Egypt encouraged


Seif to start this initiative.
Mounir on the
other hand had
a different motive.
Shes
a
20-year-old college
freshman,
studying Media
and Sociology
in London. Mona
travels alone on
a regular basis, Mounir in Palestine
and she never
had a problem with her parents unlike the majority of
her gender in Egypt. That is what triggered me to start
Khod 3enwany; I want to help and encourage women to go through the travel experience, and enjoy the
privileges and opportunities that come with it. Mounir
explained.

Women slacking for no identified reason

Future
Mounir and Seif are not going to give up easily, or ever.
Theyre still working on collecting contacts from around
the world to build up a database and start a website.

Mona Mounir (Middle) and her friend Naira


Ghanem (Right) took Bassant Salem (Left) on a
tour around London.
A girl was traveling with her father to London, she was
staying in the capital for only two days then she was
flying off to somewhere else. She met up with Mounir who
helped them around the city of fog.
They wanted to hop onto a tour bus which was going
to cost them 30 to tour them all around the city, but
instead, we hopped onto a regular bus for 1 each,
with my Oyster card. Furthermore, Mounir explained how
London in particular takes advantage of the oblivion
of tourists, they make it seem that there is no alternative,
that the tourist has no other option than spending all
what hes got on a cab from the airport to the hotel for
example.
The first experience was not bad, says Mounir, but it
wasnt what they expected. The girl was traveling with her
father, not exactly the audience they were anticipating.
This was unfortunately the solitary experience with Khod
3enwany, there seems to be something that makes the
travel enthusiasts take a step back when everything else
seems to work out perfectly.

june, 2016

Theyre also considering making guide-videos to make it


easier on travel enthusiasts, encourage them and push
them to not go lazy on their passion. A lot of first timers
dont know how to find their guides to apply for a visa,
Mounir pointed out, listing down the steps clearly should
invest big time in encouraging them.

Annas Friends
This is not the first
network of its kind.
Dating back to February 16, 2013, from
the heart of England,
a similar initiative hit
the roads, Annas
Friends. Its an international community
of women for women.
Their websites says
that they are passionate about traveling, friendships, and
taking a stand for
womens rights; together we can enrich
our lives and those of other women around the globe.

12

SPOTLIGHT

SPOTLIGHT

khod

slava and theyre trying to connect with other Egyptian


women abroad to widen their network.

hike on

SPOTLIGHT

SPOTLIGHT

adventure travell

Life is full of uncertainties; adventure travel


brings you face-to-face with surprize situations (and sometimes theyre bad situations)
that you have to cope with.

Adventure travel entrepeneurs and enthusiasts talk to us about their


passion for adventure and how it changed them
he circle of adventure travelers in the Middle East
started very minute, now theyre slowly growing and
their insight is spreading with the great help of the
social media uprising.

People think that traveling is all about going to capital


cities to shop and see the major sightseeing monuments.
There is so much more to traveling than that. Gazefs
founder, Yasmine ElRashidy, said. Gazef is a travel enterprise specialized in adventure travel, the name is Arabic
for take the risk.

Wild Guanabanas adventurers push a 4x4 vehicle since its tires has been stuck in the
sand, during an adventure in Fayoum, Cairo. Via Wild Guanabanas FB page.

However, misconceptions never cease to exist. Many


believe that adventure traveling requires a lot of money, but this is entirely untrue, says Omar Samra, the first
Egyptian to climb Mount Everest, and surely the pioneer
of adventure travel in the Middle East.

Theres a lot of things that you can do with minimal


budget and theres a lot of things that you can do with
minimal experience and physical preparation. Samra is
also the founder and CEO of another travel enterprise
specialized in adventure travel called Wild Guanabana.

Where do we stand?
ElRashidy is hopeful about the future; she says that adventure travel is widely spreading especially among the
younger generations.
The revolutionary culture has invested in this change,
she believes, people have become braver in the sense
that they feel that there are no boundaries that could
restrain them. They feel more empowered and more willing to explore more.
Samra highlighted that the women travelers community
has been significantly growing, especially in a place like
Saudi, its the only market where we have women traveling more than men.
Adventure travel has been rising in popularity since the
past couple of years, travel troupes have made it a

13


Gazef hikers in Torrent de Pareis, Spain. Via
Gazefs FB page.
ritual to go to hiking in St Catherine, Sinai, for example every winter to enjoy the snow. However things get
tragic sometimes due to lack of security measures. ElRashidy advises that theres one aspect that travelers
would need to pay attention to, which is taking the right
safety precautions especially if they are doing adventure travel.
Benefits of adventure travel
Science sides with adventure travel; many discoveries
and studies have proven a number of health problems
to be resolved by adventure travel.

june, 2016

Getting dirty strengthens your immune system, making


you healthier.
Doctors now prescribe people with heart disorders,
obesity and attention deficit to go to parks for
walks; adventure travel takes park-walks to a whole
new level.
Hiking will keep you mentally sharp and will keep delaying Alzheimers.
Life is full of uncertainties; adventure travel brings
you face-to-face with surprize situations (and sometimes theyre bad surprizes) that you have to cope
with.
It will give you a chance to live another life for a
while and make you visualize how it will be like if you
live in this place and be part of its people.
Adventure travel feeds your dreams and builds your
confidence.

Alia Eissa is a 22-year-old architecture student. She had


been trying to fix a trip with her friends with no luck, so
she decided to go solo.
One day she was walking around campus and stopped
at a booth for AIESEC (go to page 32 for more about
AIESEC) and applied for an exchange program.
I received a random e-mail about a project in a place
Ive never heard about before; I couldnt even pronounce the name correctly in the beginning. She typed
in Mauritius in the Google search and found it interest
and that was it, she decided shell go for it.
It was a really nice experience, it was so different than
my normal type of vacations, and it was a big step out

june, 2016

of my comfort zone;
going
somewhere
where I know no one.
Also traveling for
almost two months
without any of my
friends even though
I do nothing without
them.
Eligibility
There are no eligibility
requirements,
according to both
founders. Like aforementioned,
Samra
says that you dont
need to be physically fit to be qualified
for adventure travel.
Any age is ideal;
traveling is an eye
opener and you never know at any age
you an get inspired.
Some authors made Eissa taking an adventure
their top sellers at 90
in Mauritius.
years of age. Traveling is the same. Your eyes will never stop seeing beauty
and your mind will never fill up with too many memories.
At the end of the day its about what you get out of
traveling, says Gazefs founder.

14

He is the first Egyptian and the youngest Arab to reach the cliff of
Mount Everest, Asia. Hes the founder and CEO of the travel enterprise, Wild Guanabana, specialized in adventure travel. He talks to
the Backpacker about the travel culture in the region.

Short Bio.:
Name: Omar Samra

Has the perception of travel changed over


time?

The perception of travel in general is somewhat the same,


I think. People in Egypt anyway, and maybe across the

beat and pattern, hes going to try and talk to people,


get tips and he wont be afraid to get lost.

What about adventure travel?

As a pioneer in the adventure traveling


among the Middle East & North Africa, how
do you find the new phenomenon diffusing
through the community?

If were talking about adventure travel, obviously there


has been a huge difference. We started this company
in 2009, there was no one interested, it was still niche,
now its still niche but its become a bit more mainstream.
Its no longer such an alien concept for someone to go
on an adventure trip, and the trend is increasing. As
people look to get more out of their vacation, so its
not just about going to a place, or like picking a box
and shopping or whatever, its more about immersing
yourself in the people and the places that you go. So
definitely well see a change in adoption, theres much
more adoption and again because theres a general
rise of fitness and alternative ways of getting fit and
health and this and that. Also, if people start to adopt
these kinds of lifestyles, theyre going to start thinking
that now that Im fitter, that I can move better and do
all of these things, how can I enjoy and make use of this
new lifestyle? They would want to combine it with travel.
They wouldnt want to go to a city and go sightseeing,
theyd want to do something; so its more of moving from
sightseeing to exploring this site being seen

Whats the difference between a tourist and


a traveller?

Age: 37

I dont know what the dictionary definition says, but a


tourist to me is somebody who is just going to consume
whatever they give them, so for instance Im a travel
destination, Im Dubai, so Id give you the fountain,
Burj Khalifa, and thats how Im going to promote the
destination and thats what youre going to do when you
go to Dubai. A traveler might go to all of these things,
since these are must-dos and he might not come back
to this place again, but hell also try and get off the

Graduated with a bachelor in Economics


and minor in Business Administration, Samra
was an employee in the banking field in
London, before he started his journey as a
mountaineer and got inspired to abandon
the corporate world and start his career in
the travel industry.

Lives between Cairo & Dubai.

Its growing at a healthy rate, its not growing


exponentially, I think theres going to be another sort
of point in the future where things are going to start
really gathering a lot of pace, reach a critical mass of
adoption. But so far, compared to seven years ago when
we first started, adventure travel is definitely attracting
way more people; there are more companies working
in the same sector, there are other companies around
it providing more services serving that industry, whether
its a company selling equipment or things that aid the
travel industry.

Has travel changed after the revolution?

Since the revolution there has been sort of a change


in the mentality; a bit of a can-do kind of attitude.
People have adopted the philosophy of life is just an
opportunity to gain experiences and learn through the
things that youre doing, rather than doing the same old
things that the previous generations have been doing.
And so adventure travel or this kind of travel benefits a
lot from that, as people are trying to also get to know
themselves better and explore their abilities and what
they can do.

Fun fact: In late 2013, Samra won a competition among


2 million participants to represent Egypt on a commercial
space mission in 2016. If things go as planned, Omar
would become the first Egyptian in space.

hy do you travel?

There is usually no rational reason for why people


are passionate about a certain thing . You can
try to intellectualize it, rationalize it and give reasons,
but its usually because theres something deep inside
that tells you to travel. And if you dont do it, you
feel that something is missing. But if I had to give it a
proper reason, I would probably say that Im attracted
to being in out in the nature, also meeting people from
different scopes of life; but nonetheless, travel is much
more than that.

Also..
Samra is the first Egyptian and one of
40 people to accomplish the Explorers
Grand Slam; which includes:

What are the misconceptions people have


on traveling?

Im going to talk about adventure travel, because


thats really my field. The misconceptions on Adventure
Travel is usually that it costs a lot of money, requires a
lot of experience or requires an individual to have a
high fitness level; all these assumptions are false. There
are different types of adventure travel, some could
cost a lot of money, but there are a lot a lot of
things that you can do with a very small budget, and
theres a lot of things to do with a minimal experience
and no physical preparation.

15

Samra, holds the Egyptian flag on top of


Mount Everest.

Completing the 7 Summits challenge in


2013, climbing the highest mountain on all
7 continents.

Skiing to both north and south poles.

region, arent necessarily very creative with where they go.


Its just a few tried and tested destinations that people
tend to go to all the time, at least thats how it is when you

june, 2016

june, 2016

16

cover

cover

The man who climbed

look at tour operators and travel agencies they keep


selling the same destinations over and over again.

The Middle East lives heavily on tourism, a sector heavily disturbed by


what is known by the Arab Spring.
The term Arab Spring was
coined by Marc Lynch of the
Foreign Policy, in an article in early 2011. Lynch used it to describe
the series of mass protests, rebellions
and the sudden awakening of political awareness among the masses,
influenced by Social Media.
We had a heart-to-heart talk with
some tourist guides from Cairo. They
can recall the few days before the 25
Jan revolution. It was an economical
utopia, as they described. All hotels
in almost all tourist destinations all
over Egypt were fully booked months
in advance. Two years later, the
country was completely deserted.
The Arab Spring hasnt only struck
Egypt. A research paper by Ali Said
and others for the Institute of West
Asian Studies, under the title The
Challenges of Tourism in the Countries of the Arab Spring Revolutions
states that the tourism sector in the
Arab world witnessed a significant
decline after more than a year of
the Arab Spring outbursts, because
of the insecurity and political disturbances. The paper identified the

countries mostly affected to be Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Libya, as


well as Morocco, Jordan and Lebanon.
One of the tourist guides, Samar
Rashed, said that after 30 June
2013, some tourists were very aggressively expressive about their
stances against the ouster of Mohamed Morsy, the first president
elected after 25 Jan who was then
overthrown by the armed forces led
by Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in response
to protests, who later became president. After the revolution, the tourist guides have all met at least one
socialist foreigner who asked them
about their wages and whether they
work elsewhere or not.
During Morsys rule, some tourists
started to show up, Azza Demerdash,
another tourist guide, said. But they
were far less sophisticated than the
troupes that visited before 25 Jan;
these were mostly from the lower socioeconomic classes.
With the decline of the Egyptian
currency against the US dollar, the

country has never felt a thirst for


tourism like it does now. No matter
how much Egyptians help tourism by
visiting Luxor and Aswan and Sharm
El-Sheikh, it still doesnt compare to
the necessity of the exchange of the
hard currency. Rashed said.
Surprisingly, in spite of the adverse
effects referred to, we find a number
of Arab countries in the region have
benefited positively from the course
of events, where the growth of the
tourism sector increased to varying
clear degrees. Such countries include the United Arab Emirates Qatar and some other Gulf countries.
However, that growth does not mean
they are free of problems; some services in these countries are failing to
accommodate those great waves of
unexpected arrivals of tourists, according to the research.

Efforts to fix things


Several misfortunate events occurred
last year, to further contribute in the
decline. One major event was the explosion of the Russian plane above
Sinai killing all 224 passengers. The
other event in Tunisia was a mass
shooting targeted at people at the
beach, killing 38.
Despite the efforts and verve of the
Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs to
overcome this conflict and the others
that followed, the ministry was heavily
criticized.
If I can use one word to describe
[the responses of ministry foreign affairs], it would be reactive; it does
not seek to create a solid uniform
policy just reacts to situations or incidents said Nahla Mesbah, a Political Science academic.
I find their performance extremely
weak especially in the face of such
disastrous incidents. They use a defensive approach instead of presenting a proactive image. While the
idea of waiting for investigations is

acceptable, there is never a mention


of how we are working so that such
incidents would not be repeated.
There is also no outreach to family
members of people affected in disasters as we see from other countries.
Citizens could be of a great help if
they show respect to the tourists and
enable [them] to enjoy touristic sites
with complete freedom and privacy,
said the Political Science professor,
Hoda Awad.
In fact, this was one of the key elements the tourist guides discussed
during our talk. They shared stories
about how kids were frightened
when a street vendor would invade
their personal space at the pyramids
in Giza, then theyd have to calm the
kids down and explain to them that
the vendor means no harm.
It would be a good idea actually if we could come up with a sort
of campaign to spread awareness
on how to treat tourists. One of the
tourist guides suggested.

The guides said that one major method they use to attract more foreigners to visit Egypt is word-of-mouth. It
has always worked, said Demerdash.
Id keep in touch with the tourists Ive
guided, then encourage her subtly
to share her stories and experience
with her friends so they could as well
visit later.
A similar campaign started by various sectors, individuals and groups
to promote Egyptian tourism and
bring it back
to the lead by
sharing photos
and stories using this hashtag:
#ThisIsEgypt.
The
Egyptian
authorities even
contracted with
an advertising
agency
and
they managed
to hang billboards in key
sites abroad, like this photo from
Times Square, New York, USA.

Tourism activities increased worldwide after the Spring; records


showed that there was a transfer
of tourists from the Middle East and
North Africa to Central and Eastern
Europe, Southern Mediterranean and
East Asia.

The growth rates of tourism around the world in 2011-2012:


Political unrest in the region since 2010

January. A rebellion that overthrew Ali Saleh, who later


teamed up with al-Houtheyeen, a militia based in the
deserts of Yemen and an enemy to all Gulf states.

It all started in Tunisia, on the 18th of December, when


hundreds of angry Tunisians took to the streets chanting,
The people want to bring down the regime, the chant
that resonated and echoed in several parts of the Arab
world.

Coinciding with Valentines Day, Bahrainis erupted in rebellion on the 14th of February; a rebellion driven by
allegedly discriminated citizens of the Shiite sect.

Mainly, it was Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain who


were vigorously affected by Tunisias rebellion. Egyptians
took to the streets on the 25th of January, overthrowing
the regime along with Mubarak, the Egyptian president
at that time who ruled for three decades.
A day after the Egyptian revolution, Syrians took to the
streets calling for the stepping-down of Bashaar al-Assad, the still-in-office Syrian president, and his regime.
In Yemen, rebellion started a day after that, 27th of

Later, on the 17th of February, the Libyans followed


their fellow Egyptian comrades footsteps and rebelled
against Gadhafi, the late president at that time.
Outcomes of the five years of political unrest in the region are still in effect. So far, six governments have been
overthrown, two of them in Egypt. The International community estimated that more than 384,255 people have
died, more than 80% of them are Syrians; as a result of
the Syrian civil war, which is not the only civil war the
Spring gave birth to, Libya and Iraq too have been
going through civil wars.

Source: aforementioned research paper and Statista

17

june, 2016

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18

SPOTLIGHT

SPOTLIGHT

tourism after the Spring

SPOTLIGHT

love birds is brought to you by:

egypt in 52 weeks
A travel group takes a journey around Egypt in 52 weeks, which
makes up a year.
t was the first Friday of February 2014, when Karim Morcos called a friend of his randomly to go to
the Citadel out of boredom and to Morcoss surprise
they had fun. At this point we decided to make it every
weekend to visit a new place.
On a personal level, Morcos decided to make these
trips weekly until he had covered all of Egypt in one
year - which makes 52 weeks, and that is where the
name comes from.

As the biggest travel community in Egypt, according to


the 25-year-old, we offer knowledge to youth, spirit to
explore and find the truly hidden gems of Egypt.
Moreover, the group sends tour guides over with the
traveling youth. Egypt52s tour guides are not typical,
by-the-book tour guides. Theyre young people who
traveled around Egypt before; the tour guides and the
travelers share the same kind of language and therefore makes it easier for both parties to communicate
and also digest new information.
Egypt52 works via social media; every time they have
a trip planned, they post its details and day-by-day
agendas on Facebook and Instagram. Interested travelers should contact Egypt52 to book their place on
the voyage.
Morcos is a GUCian who graduated in 2013. Hes currently the chief executive of Gondola Events.

Morcos takes a selfie with the


travel troupe in Fayoum.

19

Gondola Events is a new event management agency


that I started with two other friends of mine. Egypt52 is
one of the four programs offered. The programs mainly
target schools and universities, to offer trips all over
Egypt to help young generations discover and know
their country better and on a much deeper level than
they already are aware of.

june, 2016

june, 2016

21

LOVE BIRDS

LOVE BIRDS

Where should you go on

India

your honeymoon?

Costa Rica

Picking a honeymoon spot is no easy task;


well try and help you sort out your plans with your loved ones.
Extroverts

raveling with your lover, and especially as a newly wed, is extremely special. However, rushing the
picking-out could turn your dream honeymoon to a
nightmare. Before you settle on a place, you need to take
a few things into consideration. Is the destination suitable
for a honeymoon, is it suitable for you as a couple, is it
suitable for your taste as an individual, does it match
both your interestsetc.
Since its out first issue, weve compiled this giant list to
get you started; dividing some of the best honeymoon
destinations into six categories to make it easier for you
to choose.

Introverts
Whether both of you are introverts or just one of you is,
traveling to loud cities with extremely nosey locals will
probably cause you both so much agony. What you
need is a place where the locals respect your personal
space and privacy. And most definitely, you dont want
to be jammed with other tourists like youre going on a
school trip.
Its a given, the Nordic region is an introverts haven. If
youre big on adventure travel and would love to enjoy
natures greenery with your beloved, Finland and New
Zealand are our recommendations.

But if youre an outgoing, easygoing, sociable couple who travel


to meet new people
aside from new places then these are the places you
want to honeymoon at.
Youre most likely to pick up an intense chat with a fellow traveler at Bruges, Belgium. Or laugh your lungs out
with a bunch of Irish lads in Dublin.
If you fancy the urban life, how about you go cycling
down the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark together? Its known to be one of the most bike-friendly
countries in the world. Ride together to the old port,
Nyhavn, to see the pallet of old colorful houses, then
later in the afternoon lounge by the canal and listen
to jazz, and maybe dance a little to the rhythm while
the sun sets.

Go classy

Belgium

Youre a sophisticated couple. You want to dine in


and out with class and elegance, then matching this
interest with your honeymoon destination would be
possibly the best idea.
When we think of classiness, one word pops in our
minds: Paris. The city of sass and class wouldve
made it to this section, but were trying our best to
break the clich.

Denmark

Ireland

New Zealand

Trinidand + Tobago

Beach? That would be Costa Rica and Vietnam.


Other than being introvert-friendly, Vietnam is famous
for its turquoise beaches. Costa Rica is literally the
rich coast, it is famous for its Caribbean coastline.

Vietnam
Finland

Whats better than catching a festival in your honeymoon? Every fullmoon night in Koh Phangan, Thailand,
they throw a street festival under the dark Thai sky. In the
Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, a carnival is thrown
every Monday and Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday,
the first day of Lent in Western Christianity. At the other
side of the world, in Uttar Pradesh, India, the celebration
of Holi or also called celebration of colors takes place
between the end of February and mid March.

Antwerp, Belgium is
a lovely alternative
to Paris. Its the second largest city in
Belgium, embroidered
with castles and royal architecture. Youll
walk the streets as a
lady and lord in the
ancient times, arms in
arms.

Greece

Belgium
Or you can imagine
yourself as a Greek king
and queen, on top of a
Santorini building, planning your next war.

Thailand

20

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21

Netherlands

Book nerds
Finally, we arrive at my personal favorite stop books!
If you want to get lost in books and bookish events, then
youve got two stops: New York and Washington DC for
Strand bookstore and Politics & Prose, respectively.

Mexico

And of course, Milano lItaliano, a couple could strut the


Milano streets like fashionistas, with her heels so strong
and his shoes so sleek. Or pretend youre an artisan couple, with a web of thoughts so bohemian; youre almost
high on euphoria.

Italy

Italy

France

Or you can visit the activist societies in


cities like the Latin Quarter in Paris,
which embraces student activism. You can have chitchats
with some students and even
join their protests. Paris is always in
the frontline of student-run rallies.

If you dig Russian lit, then St Petersburg is your haven.

Another type of underground, go


to Neuklln [SAY: Noy-kuln] in Berlin,
the greatest of immigrant societies in Europe.
Neuklln is home for people from 160 countries, no kidding.

Germany

The Americas - Hop on a long flight to the new world,


and from there, party in Vegas baby! Want to party
Latino? Take a plane to Latin America, go samba and
party by the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Or twist
and turn in tango and jazz in Buenos Aires, Argentina!

Cuba has been going through a revolution since forever.


They still cant get rid of the authoritarian regime, but the
regime cant get rid of the rebels either. Take the risk, visit
Havana and take a stroll in the Plaza de la Revolucin,
now the base of the government and home of protests
and rallies at the same time. Talk with the people,

USA

Brazil

Party Animals
Well, honeymoons should be all about partying with
your babe, isnt that right? Well, we have eight places for you to pick out from.
Europe - Fly to Amsterdam, where the par- meets the
ty. Watch a movie at the 1920s themed theaters
and show up at the Red Light District for one hell
of a night to remember. Fly south to Rome. Dont miss
a mouthwatering dish, then hit the dance floor and
lose it! Or land in Stockholm for classy bars in the
North, and louder laid-back partying in the South.

Cuba

Sweden

22

june, 2016

june, 2016

India

Are you a hopeless romantic for vintage libraries and


bookstores? Paris, Paris, Paris! The homeland of the
Shakespeare & co. the one destination all bookworms
have on their bucket lists. Not to forget the bouquinistes,
or the used-book sellers by the riversides. Paris is all in
all a great city for fanatical classic bookworms.

Argentina
Asia - Want a different taste of
party? Go Far
East. Apparently
Hong Kong turns
into a huge party
house at night, its
not limited to the
pubs and bars, the
party continues to
the streets and
markets. Bangkok is
another option; its
famous for pubs
with
magnificent
breathtaking night
urban views.

Russia

Are you traveling in January? Then speak no more and


book a flight to Jaipur, India! The Jaipur Literature Festival is the largest literature festival in the world that
attracts both authors and readers around the globe.

Go underground
For those of you rebellious couples, you dont want nature
and beaches well you might want them, who wouldnt
like a dip in the beach, but you possibly want more depth
to your honeymoon. Anyway, all of the bellow destinations
work nicely as a blend of reckless, beach and parties.

USA

France

Thailand

Japan

See? Honeymoons are not all Hawaii, Bali and


Malaysia truly Asia... Theres more to it than that.
Just give it more thought and effort in planning,
and its going to be lovely.

23

LOVE BIRDS

LOVE BIRDS

Remember to stay sober though, you need your full


memory-storing capabilities for this crazy one-in-a-lifetime nightlife experience.

A similar setting to Santorini is miles away, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico.

LOVE BIRDS

LOVE BIRDS

The Story of Love & Locks

Several cities around the world hold bridges with stories of love and cherished memories sealed in padlocks hugging the railings.
t dates back to the early nineteen hundreds, when a
Serbian schoolmistress, Nada fell in love with an officer called Relja, and eventually got engaged. World
War I erupted, and so Relja took off to Greece, where
he met Corfu, a Greek woman, and later forgot about
Nada. Poor Nada fell into a deep despair, her broken
heart never healed and the grief killed her, literally.

In reaction to this melancholic tale, young women of


the Vrnjaka Banja, the city where Nada lived, were so
scared theyd meet Nadas sad fate. They wanted to
protect their relationships. So they wrote their names
along with the names of their loved ones on padlocks, and clamped them onto the railings of the Most
LjubaviBridge, Serbian for the Bridge of Love, where

Later in the early 2000s the love padlock ritual spread


in the rest of Europe. In 2006, Romes Ponte Milvio Bridge
received many love padlock hugs in result to the book I
Want You by the Italian author Federico Moccia, which
was turned into a movie the following year.

Today, love padlock ritual dispersed in cities across


the three worlds, from the farthest east in Mount Huang
(China) to the farthest west in New York (USA). However, many authorities and governments have decided to
raid the ritual and ban hanging padlocks. Some considered it vandalism; others considered it as a plague
on the their legacy.

But nevertheless, even if fewer, there are cities that not only approve of but also embrace love locks:

Paris
In May 2010, the Parisian authorities
announced their intention to remove
all padlocks hung on Pont des Arts
and Pont de lArchevch bridges. The
authorities explained their purpose by
stating, They [padlocks] raise problems for the preservation of our architectural heritage.
Some Americans living in Paris started a
campaign called No Love Locks calling for the removal of
the locks in Paris; the campaign received great media attention. Allegedly, due to the tremendous amount of padlocks hung on both bridges, they were at risk of collapsing.
And accordingly, the city of love was love-locks-free.

Nada and Rejla used to meet.

Cologne
Deutsche Bahn, the bridge operators threatened to have the
locks removed from the Hohenzollern Bridge. But the people
wont let them; they relented in
the end in the face of the public opposition.
New York City

In 2013, a group of locksport enthusiasts
organized to remove locks from Brooklyn
Bridge. Locksport is a sport of cracking
locks open without their keys.

Toowoomba

Scotland

The Australian city has been embracing love locks at Picnic Point,
a heritage-listed tourist attraction featuring a park and an
overview at the top of the
Great Dividing Range.

Mark Your Spot is a charity initiative that encouraged tourists


and locals to mark their spots by
clamping their love locks onto
the Forth Road Bridge. This initiative raised 10,300 for a
local lifeboat service.

Love lock culture might seem eerie and superstitious to some middle eastern communities, but they it still
exists although, on a very minimal level.
Babel
Algiers

Florence
5,500 love locks were removed from Ponte Vecchio Bridge,
because, as per the authorities, the padlocks both pose
an aesthetic problem as well as scratch and dent the metal of the bridge.

24

Dublin
Padlocks both on the Hapenny Bridge and on
the Millenium Bridge were removed by the city
council in early 2012, for almost the same reasons; the padlocks were criticized for being an
eyesore on the public.

june, 2016

In September 2013, ove


padlocks decorated a
bridge that was once
called Suicide Bridge
in Telemly. Some youngsters came one night and
brought tools to take them
down. The other day, an
Islamic preacher showed up in a video claiming that Islam
forbids love padlocks a newly termed reason for removing
love padlocks.

In the city of
Hilla,
Babel
province,
an
Iraqi journalist
pioneered
at
affixing a love
padlock as a
symbol to his love for his beloved to a bridge
that overlooked Euphrates, in winter 2014. The
state wasnt very pleased, for aestheticism
reasons as well. But the journalists move triggered many fellow Iraqis to hang their padlocks too.

Love locks are not restricted to bridges, theyre also hung on trees, like in Beuliea Palace House in the United
Kingdom, and the purpose-built iron trees on a bridge across the Vodootvodny Canal in Moscow.

june, 2016

25

One photographer follows his heart around and shares his


journey with the world.
urad Osman took his then-girlfriend and hopped on a plane that flew them to snippets of heaven.
Natalia Zakharova is an outgoing Russian journalist who likes to observe and capture the memories with her soul, unlike her now-husband, who preferred to capture them with his phones lens.

LOVE BIRDS

LOVE BIRDS

# F ollow M eTo

wherever

our love takes us

Hes a thirty-something photographer


based in Moscow, originally a civil
engineer graduate from Imperial
College London. Later, in 2011, he
made a career shift and started his
very own production house, Hype
Production.

In 2011, love has taken the Russian couple to Barcelona, Spain. Every time he stopped to snap a picture,
Natalias impatience kicks in but she moves along. Until this one time; she couldnt take it and stubbornly
pulled his hand. While his other hand was busy capturing the moment; Natalia giving him her back, pulling
his hand leading him to a beautiful view in an all-espaol daytime

Natalias
impatience
inspired
#FollowMeTo.
-Murad told the
media.

scan to
watch the
exclusive
interview
with the
couple:

Posting the series of photos on Instagram, captioning them with the hashtag #FollowMeTo drove Osmans
followers crazy. The number of his followers skyrocketed to almost 4 million as I write. This hashtag being
his trademark, Osman later decided to switch from phone camera to a proper DSLR to have a wider field
of view.

Four years later, the famous lovers crossed two milestones in their lives. They got married
and got their book published by Skyhorse Publishing under the title Follow Me To: A
Journey Around the World Through the Eyes of Two Ordinary Travelers.

26

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27

FAMILY

FAMILY

AIESEC; what

to expect VS.
what to not

AIESEC did not only change Tarek, it also changed


her father. I was never allowed to spend the night
elsewhere without parental supervision, or even stay
out past 12 am. Now, all these barriers vanished.

Plot Twist
However, the AIESEC experience of some applicants
was not as flowery. We talked to a random selection of applicants; the lack of organization was a
common factor - be it at the application phase or
at the travel phase.

AIESEC is a leading student exchange organization; Donya Tarek


tells us all about it.
IESEC changed my life started the AIESEC
(Misr International University branch, Cairo)
president, Donya Tarek. Before she joined AIESEC,
she had no idea what she was doing. She had
stage fright; she couldnt even pull off a presentation for college.

with a group of students, Jaroslav Zich from Czechoslovakia, Jean Choplin from France and Stanislas
Callens from Belgium. Primarily, their aim was to expand the understanding of a nation by expanding
the understanding of the individuals, changing the
world one person at a time.

But after she got introduced to AIESEC, everything


changed. She was put responsible for the marketing, event planning and recruitment. Tarek learned
to become more independent and think for herself.

What AIESEC did in Europe was no revolution. The


culture dated back to 1938, when representatives
from schools across the continent used to exchange
information about different programs and schools
that specialized in business and economics. Students were already carrying out internships in other
countries, but on their own. This however stopped
at the start of World War II.

AIESEC originally stood for Association internationale des tudiants en sciences conomiques
et commerciales, which is French for International
Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences because it was once specifically
designed for Economic and Commercial Science
majors, now its not major specific.

The Birth
AIESEC was founded in 1948, by an official in Stockholm School of Economics, Bertil Hedberg, along

28

Today AIESEC brings together 127 countries and


territories. It offers on an annual rate over 27,500
leadership positions, 500 leadership conferences
to its membership of over 100,000 students. It is
present in over 2,400 universities, and grants over
27,500 students and recent graduates the opportunity of an internship or even a fulltime post
abroad.

june, 2016

Rawan Ziad, an architect junior


chose a project in China; she was
supposed to be teaching English
for a month and the organizers
said they would offer accommodation, a double room and food at
a
school, but when I got there, there
was no school, no kids, nothing.
Ziads story doesnt stop at this point; instead of teaching she was given a job
of giving out flyers as promotion to the
school to get kids to sign up. The project said the working hours would be
from 7AM to 5PM and that Ziad would
have a day off every week, but that didnt
happen either.
They woke us up at 5AM to give out flyers for the
whole day and wed go to different towns everyday and sometimes wed go to 3 towns a day
and we could only leave when they said which
was at 9 -10PM. Ziad told us.

Welcome to Moscow

Aya Aly, a journalism senior had a similar problem.


She applied for a project in Moscow, Russia. The
project was not the same as the one she applied
for, we mostly did nothing. Most of the AIESEC reps
in Moscow couldnt speak in English so it was really
hard to communicate, Aly added.
She tried to solve this problem by reaching out to
AIESEC members in Egypt, and when that failed she
contacted high ranks in AIESEC Egypt, but also with
no luck.

There was also a very peculiar problem; all the


girls who asked for one-gender rooms went to find
out theyre mixed.

However, she never regretted this experience, some


went back home, and some others like Aly just
ignored AIESEC and enjoyed the country. This was
Alys second time with AIESEC, she said that the first
There were no dorms, the project organizers would time was far off better.
just pick a Chinese girl that was there and tell her
that shed have to take Ziad home with her for the Despite of the hassle she found in China, Ziad also
night. So every day Id have to take all my bags says she doesnt regret it. It was still a new expewith me because I didnt know where I was going to rience; something I got passed and would like to
end up that night. Ziad didnt give up to this chaos, go somewhere else thats new. In the end, I got a
she left off with a Russian friend who was also there friend out of this bad experience, and got to go
through AIESEC, and spent the stay sightseeing and sightseeing, which I wouldnt have had the time for
if I kept working with those people.
adventuring in China.

june, 2016

29

FAMILY

FAMILY

A child who travels

There are many benefits to travel especially for children; benefits


only travel can produce.
hildren who are familiar with
travel at a very young age
will be familiar with many sorts
of things. They will know how to look
out for themselves, requiring minimal
assistance.

Trusting Campers

To let your child travel with a group of specialized campers takes


courage and true passion.

other of two and expecting a third, Sara


Kashef says that, the maturity level of the kid,
distance and means of travel, in-room supervision,
proper segregation; these are all factors that
would affect my decision. Depends on the overall
behavior of the child, if hes not well behaved I
wont let him go.
Parents need to plant the love of discovery and
adventure in their children, says Yasmine ElRashidy,
Gazefs CEO and founder; Gazef is a campers
group specialized in adventure travel. They should
always keep pushing them to discover and extend
their boundaries. They should never make them
afraid of traveling and new experiences.
Campers should exert an effort to
make the parents rest assured;
ElRashidy says, we present them
with all the info they need, we
take high safety precautions
in everything we do. A local
guide and a certified Gazef Chaperone always
accompany the group. We take very good care of
everyone. We look at the smallest detail down to if
a child is allergic to something.
Whereas Wild Guanabanas Omar Samra, the first
Egyptian to climb Mount Everest, says that one way
to convince the parents to go with them. If the trip
is going to require the kids to travel alone, you just
have to be very detailed, in terms of explaining
everything thats going to happen, all the security
measures and precautions you have taken, Samra

30

added. He also shares statistics of previous trips


Wild Guanabana has done, proving that theyve
gone on so much trips without going through
tragic incidents. Just getting them to
understand what is it really that the kids
are going to be embarking on.
What to ask when picking a troupe:
Inji Hafed, a head teacher in Green
Valley School, a school famous for its
creatively well-planned educational
camps and field trips, gives parents a
list of things to ask when registering their child
in a camp.

You arent the center of the universe, is one lesson they learn. They
immerse themselves in stories about
other people; their souls almost
depart from their bodies and hover over other bodies and places.
Thats when they learn that everything they do isnt about them; they
learn benevolence.
In travel, plans rarely work; something always comes up. A child who
travels will learn that things dont always turn out the way they planned,
sometimes they learn it the harder
way. Therefore they learn how to
move on and be content with what
they have rather than what they do
not.
When a child travels, they try new
things. Trying new things exposes
them to different scopes of reality,

Parents should ask for reachable contacts; there


should be a specific time to receive phone calls.
Eating times is another aspect parents
should worry about. Hafed also pointed
that campers should provide parents with
the day-to-day program

Life is not about


the destination
its about the
journey.

Reading a map is an essential skill;


children who learn how to read
maps are slowly learning their road
to independence. Asking for directions marks you as a tourist, AKA: an
easy target for a con artist.
Everything related to travel requires
patience, starting with booking the
tickets, applying for the visa and
shopping for supplies.
Part of learning about a different
culture includes getting to know its
history. History is all around us when
traveling. A local is so used to it he
usually doesnt see it; it gets a traveller to notice the subtle historical
elements hidden within the architecture and culture.

The weather forecast should be accurately


researched to know what kind of clothes they
should pack.

A child who travels will gradually


learn that life is not about the destination its about the journey. Learning this philosophy at a young age
will save the child a lot of disappointments and will help them mature.

Hafed added, to reinforce


credibility, campers should
also provide the parents with
information and background
of instructors, whether theyre
locals or foreigners.

june, 2016

which therefore builds a good database that gives them confidence.

june, 2016

31

family

FAMILY

Things you must do in Peru


Machu Picchu
Spend a day here; get lost in the lost city of Incas.
Climb the Rocky Mountains, stop for fruits and
sandwiches, the mountains are beautiful and the view
from above is incredible.

Lake Titicaca
Row your boat gently down the stream of Lake
Titicaca; boost the teamwork between your family
members.

Cordillera Blanca
Walk between the green valleys and watch the clouds
as they float above.

Traveling with kids is a challenge, but in the end its all about the
journey and the journey depends on the destination.

ts like entering a fairytale. Everything about Peru is very


exotic in the fairytale kind of way. The South American
republic is located at the far west of the continent, its
side bordered by the Pacific Ocean from the west. The
dominant mother tongue is Spanish.
The reason why Peru with the kids is a good idea is
because of the nature glorifying the republics existence.
The blend of the remnants of the ancient Peruvian
civilization and the scenery is just magnificent.
Another reason is that most kids in the Middle East
nowadays are very aware of European and American
cultures from the media and westernized schools. Peru
enjoys a very different culture; its a multi-ethnic community
just like its neighboring countries in South America, where
people from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities live
side-by-side.
This will broaden your kids horizons at a very young age
and will help them deal and act upon differences with an
open mind later on.

Welcome to the Capital: Lima


If theres going to be any rules for traveling, never miss the
captial will definitely be one of them.
You must not leave Lima without visiting these four places:
Stir the wheel towards a spiritual ride blended with art;

32

the Cathedral of Lima is famous for its beautiful


wood work.

Things to know before you go

Take a tour around 3000 years of Peruvian art in


the Museo de Art de Lima. Travelers have estimated
that it would take you a couple of hours to absorb
30 centuries worth of art. You can even download
their mobile app to show you around using the museums free WiFi. The museum offers free entrance on
Thursday after 3 PM and all of Friday. The regular
price of the ticket is PEN 30, which makes around
USD 9.

You have to keep in mind that Peru is considered a third world underdeveloped
country; the level of cleanliness is generally
not up to royal standards. Always keep sanitizers and wet wipes in your bags.

Souvenirs? That means Artesanias Las Pallas. Its a


private house and store. The owner has been collecting unusual artisinal objects all her life, and the
displays and interior are as interesting as the objetcs.
You cant leave Lima without tasting the Peruvian
chocolatier and getting a chance to make some
yourself! Head to Choco Museu and try some of
their tea and some good to God chocolate. Some
nice fellow will tell you the brief history of cacao
and then teach you how to make chocolate paste.

june, 2016

Hikes will expose you to too much sun; youll


need sunscreen with a high SPF. You will also
meet flies and possibly mosquitos everywhere; an insect repellent spray would be
a good idea.
When commuting from one place to the other travel by Economico bus, the low-budget
Peruvian public transportation; other than
saving money, it will bring
you all in direct contact with the real Peruvian life. You will see the vendors entering
the bus to sell stuff; you will listen to the
popular music as the driver plays a song
from the folklore.

june, 2016

The best time to travel to Peru:




From May through October is known to


be the driest season in Peru.
The highest travel seasons, when Peru is
packed with tourists, are July and August.
From June to September, in the highlands,
days are clear and often spectacularly
sunny, with chilly or downright cold nights,
especially at high elevations. For trekking in the mountains, including the Inca
Trail, these are by far the best months.

The best thing about Peru is that its all


inclusive, youll find culture, nature and
more than one adventure!

33

TRAVEL pocket

TRAVEL pocket

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN PACK

acking your luggage is one of the first steps to


make your trip easier before traveling. So it needs
full concentration and careful planning and organization.

SPACE

Make traveling with luggage easier

Roll - dont fold. Rolling your t-shirts and blouses instead of folding them saves so much space in your
bag. Always remember to travel with a bag one-third
empty; you never know what you will travel back with.

Before you hop on to your flight or any means of


transportation, you are going to leave your belongings to the unknown for sometime. So you dont know
what kind of misfortunate coincidences and situations
your luggage will go through in your absence. Having
the insider of your luggage lined with water-resistant
elements and garments will save you a lot of worry.

Pack bubble wrap. Chances are youll always need


bubble wrap when packing souvenir mugs, delicate
gifts and others; it saves a lot of space rather than
keeping the items in their boxes. Dont count on finding
bubble wrap wherever youre going.
Stuff underwear, charging cords and socks into mugs,
cups, shoes to save space in your luggage.

You will need a shoe-in. Travel requires lots of walking,


especially that youll probably get lost most of the
time. Therefore having a shoe-in will help you take off
your shoe and free your swollen foot.

When you scatter so many small items all over your


luggage, it will gradually consume so much space.
Fitting these items in little sacks would keep the space
under control. Pack extra sacks for laundry.

Heres a very helpful trick that will save you so much


effort when going to the airport and when dragging
your trolley on your way to your stay destination. Pack
heavier items closest to the wheels, which are almost
always at the bottom of your bag.

Instead of putting your footwear in a different bag,


wrap them up with a disposable plastic shower cap;
this will also save space and protect your clean
clothes from getting contaminated with the filth on the
footwears sole.

For easily wrinkled items, theres a plastic bag trick.


Spread a plastic bag on your bed, and then spread
your garment on the plastic bag. Fold or roll the garment like you would normally do without the plastic
bag and place it in the bag.

Watch out for Pickpockets


Traveling puts you in confrontation with many risks, theft is one of them.

If youre a tourist, you are an easy-target.


e a traveler, not a tourist. Try not to attract attention, dont fuss a lot with maps and brochures, and
blend in with the locals.

Know your rights

Before you go to a country, make sure you know your


rights as a civilian on this foreign land. Dont underestimate the power of the information; it could save you so
much misery.

Keep a little cash with you

Its better to leave most of your cash in the safe of the


place youre staying at. Dont dwell around with all the
cash you brought with you. You could keep little cash
for maybe ice cream or some other expenses and have
a credit card with you, because if - God forbid - you
got pickpocketed youd be able to retrieve the cash
you have on your credit card.

Pack a collapsible laundry bag to air your dirty laundry in your room; this will help you organize your belongings. When the day of departure from your trip
arrives, youll know the clean clothes from the unclean
and things will be easier when packing.

Theres another very important matter that


needs to be studied; the kind of bag you
should buy. But that needs a whole article,
which youll find in the next issue.

34

june, 2016

Photocopies of important documents


Keep photocopies of key documents, like your passport,
rail pass, car rental voucheretc. And leave the originals at the place youre staying at, that way youll avoid
the risk of having your original documents pickpocketed
and in result spend the rest of your trip trying to retrieve
or replace them.

june, 2016

Leave the luxury


As much as its tempting, luxurious items make you a very
easy target even for the most amateur pickpocket. Just
leave what you can leave at home, and travel with the
least posh things.

Back up your digital photos

Secure your bag

Dont get distracted

If youre traveling with a digital camera, make it a habit to upload them somewhere or have them saved on
your laptop every night before you go to bed. I know
it would hurt you badly if you get your camera stolen,
but it would kill you to have all the memories captured
stolen along with it.

Either with your luggage or your cross or belt bag, securing it with a lock is always a clever idea. Anytime
youre inattentive to your belongings, the lock will do
its job.

Sometimes thieves would stage fights to distract you


from your belongings. They would pretend theyre cursing at someone and then maybe throw a couple of fists
in the others jaw, gathering some other locals blended
with a handful of tourists you among them. Dont fall for
it, dont get distracted.

35

TRAVEL pocket

TRAVEL pocket

Dine in Like an
Italiano

Directions:
1 In a shallow dish or bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and oregano.
2 Coat chicken pieces in flour mixture.
3 In a large skillet, melt butter in oil over medium heat.
4 Place chicken in the pan, and lightly brown.
5 Turn over chicken pieces, and add mushrooms. Pour in wine and sherry.
6 Cover skillet; simmer chicken 10 minutes, turning once, until no longer pink and juices run clear.

A good side dish would work great with this hot


stuff. So weve brought you Baked Tomatoes
Oregano. The recipe serves four people too
and takes around 35 minutes to be ready.

Ingredients:

Pizzas & pastas are great, but thats not the only
cuisine Italians are good at.

n this issue well melt your hearts (along with ours) with this magnificent Chicken Marsala recipe, which
serves four people and takes around 30 minutes to be ready.

Ingredients:
1/4-cup all-purpose flour for coating
1/2-teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano


4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves pounded 1/4 inch thick
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil

stitute:
sala sub
r
a
M
lic
o
on-alcoh
e juice
or this n
ite grap
h
w
f
o
xtract
1/4 cup
vanilla e
n
o
o
p
s
le
vinegar
1 tab
f sherry
o
s
n
o
o
p
les
2 tab

4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick


1/8 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2-cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).


2 Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
3 Place tomato slices close together in prepared
baking dish.

4 Sprinkle with cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley,


salt, pepper, and oregano.

1 cup sliced mushrooms

5 Drizzle with olive oil.


6 Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until

1/2-cup Marsala wine,

1/4 cup cooking sherry

cheese is lightly toasted.


TIP: Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist,
cook it evenly, and make cleanup easier.

36

june, 2016

june, 2016

37

Gesture
What seems friendly at home could mean otherwise at another end of
the world.

This Issue's Movie Review:

WILD

Powerfully moving and emotionally resonant, Wild finds director JeanMarc Valle and star Reese Witherspoon working at the peak of their
respective powers.

Rotten Tomatoes
heryl is a wreck. Shes a damaged thirty-something
woman, who walked out of a failed marriage and
took off for a long hike near the Mexican borders.
Our hero here seems to juggle an ongoing dilemma inside
her head throughout her hike, she keeps telling herself
you can quit anytime, but she doesnt. Her memories of
her mother seem to keep her going, refusing to fail her
mothers hope in her as a human being.

backpack more than half her length, which of course


causes her back pain. When she stops at Kennedy
Meadows the cook starts filtering what she needs and
what she doesnt to save her the strain. Cheryl learns how
to let go of things she doesnt need, she additionally
comments, I dont know what I was thinking when she
packed a saw.

Awards:

Before the hike, Cheryl hated herself. The hike brought her
to peace with herself, completely isolated from people
and routine. She reads poetry and turns the pages
of flashbacks. She reflects events and people she met,
things shes done.

Witherspoon won best actress for


this film in the Dallas-Fort Worth
Film Critics Association Awards in
2014 and Iowa Film Critics Awards
in 2015.

Wild is about healing the emotional damage(s) through


self-discovery. Self-discovery doesnt happen overnight,
it takes courage, effort and time. The movie is packed
with symbolism; Cheryl has been walking around with a

While
Valle
won
best
breakthrough director in the
Hollywood Film Awards in 2014.

38

scan to watch
the trailer:

1. Thumbs up
hile its universally acknowledged
that a thumb up is an encouraging gesture that implies
that youre doing well or that
everythings alright, some parts of
the Middle East consider it offensive.

However in Greece and Turkey, if youre a guy and


flashed the three-fingered OK sign it would mean
youre gay.

2. Come here

5. The V Sign

The curled finger that gestures to come here or


get closer is normally interchanged between humans in the west. Whereas in some parts of Asia the
gesture is so rude it could get you arrested; its
only used for beckoning dogs.

Its a sign for peace or victory, became popular when used by American protestors marching against
the war on Vietnam. However in the
UK, Australia and South Africa when making the V
sign with the back of your hand facing the other
person, its very offensive.

3. Rock on
While the Rock on sign is universally
known to be a sign used by rock
music enthusiasts and others to signal rocking on, in Latin countries its a
different story. In Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Cuba, Spain, Italy and Portugal
this sign means to tell a man that hes so oblivious
he doesnt know his wife is cheating on him.

4. Three-fingered OK
When Richard Nixon visited Brazil in the fifties and flashed a

june, 2016

three-fingered OK sign at the Brazilian crowd he


was met with a roar of boos.

june, 2016

6. Looking at your watch


While it may be an innocent move to many cultures, in the Middle East looking at your watch in
the middle of a conversation is very rude.

7. Fingers crossed
Its originated from the pagan symbols that mean to ward off evil. So if
you were in an ultra religious culture,

39

TRAVEL pocket

TRAVEL pocket

Watch What You

TRAVEL pocket

this gesture would be most likely frowned upon. In Vietnam, however, they resemble crossed fingers to
the lady privates. So, as sexist as this might sound, flashing crossed fingers at someone would be very
insulting to the Vietnamese.

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8. Pointing a finger
Pointing a finger at a stranger is no big deal in some places. However, in the Middle
East for example, its like youre telling the person at the other end to get ready for
a disciplinary lecture.

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9. Finger snap
A finger snap is usually done to signal hurry or something similar. But in parts of the Far East, snapping
fingers close to someones face is considered very rude.

10. The wait sign


The wait sign often means, wait. But in Italy, the wait sign means what the heck do you want now?

120 EGP per 6 months, 200 EGP per year!


For feedback, send to:
editorial@thebackpacker.com

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sharing?

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Send us through!
Send your
contributions to:
stories@thebackpacker.com
They say Italy is the land of 250 hand gestures. Well see
about that in the next issue.

40

june, 2016

june, 2016

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