Believe it or not but there are still some people in Europe and the West who believe that Egypt is so far behind in technology that they are under the impression that we still ride around on camels to get from one place to another. In some strange way I wish it were true. At least then the roads wouldn’t be so congested with traffic and the air wouldn’t be polluted with the gases that all the cars emit. All we would have to worry about are camel thieves, where we would park our camels and cleaning up after the animals in the street.

For those of you who are not familiar with what transportation that is available in Egypt let me give you a quick run down. We have planes that fly locally, regionally and internationally. We also have trains that run on train tracks to and from major governorates and cities. We have public buses of every size and shape, there are cars EVERY where.  There are tube stations and trams as well. The most recent addition to our transport system are the Asian tuk tuks. We still have Camels and Horses but we mainly use those for tourists not to get from one part of the city to another.

I own a car, but I gave it to my sister to use when I moved from Alexandria to Cairo. I have seen how the people in Cairo drive and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I’ve got the balls to drive here. When I need to commute long distances I’ll either hitch a ride with a friend heading in the same direction or take a cab. You maybe wondering why I won’t take the bus, tram or tube. I don’t want to come off sounding like a snob but the public transportation in Egypt isn’t the most comfortable or friendly. The buses are usually jam-packed like a tin of sardines and most people don’t use deodorant so the smell of peoples sweaty B.O will knock you sick!!

In Cairo there are 3 kinds of cabs;

1- The old black and white ones.

2- The Yellow Cabs (City/Cairo Cab (company name))

3- White cabs with black checkers (new)

The old black and white ones have been on the road since ‘taxi’s’ first started being used in Egypt. The drivers  can either be very helpful, polite and friendly or be very aggressive, rude and temperamental. One thing is for sure though, they probably know the streets better than anyone who’s live in Cairo their entire lives! They will get you where you want to go. Depending on the driver they may take you the short or the long route to make extra money. Their meters no longer work, so you will be at their mercy if you don’t agree on a price before you hop in to their cab. They have no air conditioning and they like to crank their radio up loud and blast your ear drums. Some times the rides can be entertaining and other times you can be scared to death at the speed they drive. They can drive so fast some times that if you though you needed a face lift, you may no longer need one! Most of the cars would be taken off the road in Europe or the West. They would be considered ‘CLUNKERS’. I swear some of them are held together with cello-tape!

The Yellow Cabs are privately owned. What I like about them is that if you need to call a cab and reserve it for a certain time to pick you up from some where, you can. You just call the hot line number give them your details and the address to pick you up from and the address of the destination. The Yellow cabs are comfortable, air-conditioned and some even have seat belts. Their meters work, so you won’t have to haggle, you just pay what is owed and out you get. The meter starts at 3.50 LE. I use Yellow cab when I’m going somewhere that is new and unfamiliar or if I am going to be heading home late from a night out or from a wedding. The down side is that some times your reservation gets lost or the driver comes REALLY late!

The new white taxis are presently my new favorite mode of transportation. Most of the chauffeurs used to drive the old beat up black and white cabs and traded their old car in for a new Hyundai. The cars are comfortable and have meters that work. The meter starts at 2.50LE.  So far I have nothing negative to say about them. Just make sure that their meters are working first before you get in, otherwise, the driver might decide to charge you a ridiculous amount.

The war of the cabs! The black and white taxi cabs are not fond of the new white ones. They think they are traitors in some way and resent the fact that people would prefer to ride in a white cab rather than theirs. I’ve noticed the glares the white cab drivers get from the other cab drivers. The reason I like to take white cabs is because, I know they can’t over charge me like the other cabbie do. They see me and think ‘foreigner, CHARGE TRIPPLE’.

LADIES, do not get in a cab wearing tight or short items of clothing! You will be asking for trouble. Make sure you are well covered to avoid any form of harassment and always sit in the back seat of the cab. Try and avoid eye contact in the rear view mirror. Some drivers may mistake it for an ‘invitation’!

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