Kindness Knows No Boundary

You cannot dream yourself into a character;
you must hammer and forge yourself one.~Henry David Thoreau~

Don’t talk to strangers.
A reminder that was instilled in our mind since we were kid.
I do understand where this sentiment is coming from. Especially in this era, where trust has to be earned.

But what I experienced in Fayyoum, Egypt showed that not everybody shares the same sentiment. There are people who demonstrated an absolute trust towards complete strangers without a drop of hesitation.

We were on the way to Qasr Qarun (will talk about this in another post) when our guide, Thaaqib, stopped at a village that we passed by to find a loo. He simply knocked the door of a random house but was greeted by a friendly family.

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Witnessing the nice hospitality, we decided to ask for a permission to use the loo as well. What awaited us after that was a nice, warm cup of tea.

The kindness didn’t stop there. The family insisted us to have lunch at their house!

We refused the offer at first, but they kept on insisting, and their sincerity made us give in to it. Accepting it turned out to be a blast. We were served with what I could describe as the most delicious homemade Egyptian dishes I ever tasted throughout my stay in Egypt.

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I wasn’t exaggerating when I said the dishes were super yummy!

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The home of the kind family.

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In the end, we could not visit the oasis in Fayyoum as scheduled, but what we gained instead was such a valuable experience.

This whole experience made me wonder – how could someone be so trusting?

I remembered clearly, a long time ago – an old woman carried a basket of snacks, going from one house to another trying to sell them to earn some money. There were times when she would ask for a glass of water. Given her age, it would make sense that she was exhausted from the long walk under the hot sun. Of course I would give her the drink. Even so, there would always be a speck of doubt within my heart.

What if, that was just an act?
What if…
What if…

The high crime rates in Malaysia simply prevents most of us from developing this good quality. Creative con artists are blooming rapidly, causing us to be on high alert most of the times.

Who could blame us for having such a thought?
Still, it would be great if we were able to live in such environment, peaceful and harmonious, with nothing to fear.

One could only dream.

Lake Qarun, Fayoum

The only medicine for suffering, crime, and all the other woes of mankind, is wisdom.

~Thomas Huxley~


Lake Qarun in Fayoum is the third largest lake in Egypt. The water is salty, which makes it unfit for drinking. It was said that the lake was a lot larger in the past.
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There are a lot of origins associated with the lake, with the story of Qarun to be the most popular one. The story of Qarun was mentioned in the Holy Quran, in Al-Qasas:76-83.

Verily, Qarun (Korah) was of Musa’s (Moses) people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. Remember when his people said to him: “Do not exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah). Verily Allah likes not those who exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah). “But seek with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of lawful enjoyment in this world,’ and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupters).” He said: “This has been given to me only because of the knowledge I possess.” Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected? But the Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners) will not be questioned of their sins (because Allah knows them well, so they will be punished without being called to account). So he went forth before his people in his pomp. Those who were desirous of the life of the world, said: “Ah, would that we had the like of what Qarun (Korah) has been given! Verily he is the owner of a great fortune.” But those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: “Woe to you! The Reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and this none shall attain except those who are AsĀ­Sabirun (the patient in following the truth). “So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. Then he had no group or party to help him against Allah, nor was he one of those who could save themselves. And those who had desired (for a position like) his position the day before, began to say: “Know you not that it is Allah Who enlarges the provision or restricts it to whomsoever He pleases of His slaves. Had it not been that Allah was Gracious to us, He could have caused the earth to swallow us up (also)! Know you not that the disbelievers will never be successful.” That home of the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise), We shall assign to those who rebel not against the truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do mischief by committing crimes. And the good end is for the Muttaqun (the pious and righteous persons)

Whether the lake was where Qarun was swallowed or not, only God knows. But one thing for sure, there are a lot of things that we can learn from this story, regardless of your belief.
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This lake is definitely worth a visit while you are in Fayoum!

Great Pyramid of Giza – The Royal Tombs

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
~Marcel Proust~


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Sometimes known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops. The pyramid was what brought me to Egypt in the first place.

One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Great Pyramid of Giza is truly mesmerizing. Surrounded by deserts, the scenery is unique.

The entrance fee is not that expensive and if you are traveling as a student, with your student card on you, you’ll get a discounted price.

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What amazed me the most is the structure of the pyramids. Build as the tombs for the royals (the Pharaoh), the bricks that made up these pyramids were insanely huge!

How did the ancient people, with the so-called sophisticated technology not yet developed, be able to carry and stack these cubes on top of each other? It is really a mystery to me.

I was told that the bricks were brought all the way from Aswan, which is at the southern part of Egypt. Roughly takes about 11 hours if you are traveling by train, and 17 hours by car. Just imagined these huge bricks being transported along the Nile River. Impressive much?

The pyramids are not just to be seen from the outside. You can climb up these big bricks. If you pay a little bit more, you can go inside it to see the tombs, or what used to be tombs.

I was on a budget trip, so I did not pay to enter the big pyramids. However, there are a few smaller ones where you can enter for free. These belonged to Pharaoh’s wives.

Double-standard? Oh well, that was how the women were treated back in the ancient world.

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The Sphinx, which takes the form of a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head, is another attraction that should not be missed.

Though The Sphinx and The Great Pyramids seem close to each other, these two attractions are not within a walking distance.

Since I was following a tour (there were only four of us: me, my friend Yi Tian, Lan, who also joined the trip and Sam, our tour leader), getting to the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx was not much a problem.

Furthermore, our driver was a student from the renown Al-Azhar University, who can speak Arabic fluently. One thing that you need to be cautious of when visiting Egypt – if you don’t speak Arabic, you’ll be the best candidate to be ripped off by them!

And not just that, they will try their best to trick you into buying stuff. Yi Tian and I, upon entering the entrance, were separated from the rest of the group. We were approached by an Arab, who took our tickets and tried to lure us somewhere. Luckily our tour leader saw us and we managed to get away from that guy.

Children were also sneaky. One boy followed Yi Tian around and forced her to buy postcards. When she refused, he got really angry. But who could blame them? With the situation in Egypt at that time, where people lived in poverty, they had no choice but to resort to this kind of life.

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Anyway, don’t let this small thing bother you. Visiting the Great Pyramids is well worth it!