You know where you are with the Safely App
With personal GPS, Emergency Response - and our 6 Top Tips for Safe Travel - Egypt's never been safer
If you've seen "Breaking Bad", you'll be familiar with tracking devices. But they aren't just for casing Walt and Jessie's methamphetamine barrels or the DEA's last lie-down. Now Lady Egypt's Safely App brings tracking to the ordinary, everyday people visiting Egypt. The app (for android and i) lets friends and relatives know your exact travel co-ordinates at any time. It might sound over-cautious but it's also fun - you won't need to send them a "wish you were here" postcard - they can simply look up your old sundress on Google Earth.
Gone are the old ways
The Safely app is powered by satellite magic in the form of a Global Positioning System.
It's the same as your robot that does a lot of backseat driving (albeit from the dashboard) - he who has no missing map pages and does no nagging. Gone are the old ways of navigation- your partner with an out-dated map - on which most roads lead to divorce.
Now Lady Egypt have put this same technology in your pocket- and sends travel co-ordinates to friends and relatives' that you nominate. With Safely, you'll never go missing again!
The Safely App takes a load off your mind
But it's not just a gimmick - the tracking device could save your life by linking you instantly to the nearest medical aid centre in an emergency. One call automatically puts you through to the nearest Embassy recommended hospital and has you picked up quicker than a drowning surfer on Bondi Rescue - something not to be sneezed at.
Under the weather? The Safely App also includes emergency response
6 Top Tips for Travelling Safely in Egypt
Do NOT cross the road!
The Cornich on a Friday (the only time it is quiet)
Don't be the chicken that had to cross the road! If you're already feeling a bit flat - look right, look left - and realise - the only option is to take the subway, especially on the famously deadly Corniche in Alex. Locals may be game to thread their limbs into the mental, metal melee but it's not as easy as it looks. Go the extra meter on your tired old feet and take the tunnel - don't be tempted to jay walk here, ever. The statistics are horrible - deaths on this road are updated weekly - and the fine for dangerous driving (pedestrian death) is only Le200 - the price of 2 salami and tomato pizzas back home (not wishing to make any metaphors).
When there's no subway, hail a taxi and ask them to 'meshi-gay' (go and come back - via u-turn or roundabout). And that brings me to the next tip...
All Hail the Taxi Protocol
Cairo taxis can really give you the hump
Blood pressure can soar in taxi rides, which are famously fraught, especially in Cairo.
Choose a white cab with a meter and air-co and ask them to close the windows. Carbon monoxide poisoning can make you ill, especially on long journeys - and remember - this is how people commit suicide. Any distance can be lengthy in Cairo, traffic-jams are more of a gridlock-puree here ('zamar'). No meter? Then set the price before you get in and if the driver seems less than polite, wait 'til the next one. When it comes to your destination, step out and pay through the window. Any quibbles, walk smartly on. Do not worry about feeling rude, it's normal.
If you are ripped off - stay calm, think of your heart-rate - and forgive. Is it much in real terms? A few dollars are not worth a ruined evening- and consider - would you like to ride in a sea of lead and noise pollution for a living? It could turn anyone to the bad.
Do not try this in a Cairo cab
If you are female always sit in the back - no matter what your attire, the driver might suddenly have a spare gear stick.
And talking of fast flowing traffic, another thing you might encounter in Egypt is "Pharaoh's Revenge"..
More germs are swapped in a handshake than a kiss
Some bacteria are a bit too "friendly". It's a fact of life when visiting Egypt and up to 80% of travellers succumb. But don't worry - at most you'll probably just have a day off from sight seeing to sprint to your own Pharaonic throne. Don't bother packing any meds from home though- your fancy, foreign ways won't work here. You need something that knows, tracks and kills local microbes. Send out to El Ezaby (http://elezabypharmacy.com +20 19600 home delivery) for Entocid (pronounced ento-seed) and you'll soon be back on dry land.
When you finally leave the bathroom, another thing to be wary of is too much "fun in the sun". If you're elderly, overweight, on medication, or partying too hard there's a risk of..
If sunstroke strikes you'll need more than a cola
It doesn't sound too bad, especially when you've spent half the year dreaming of getting a tan, but it can be a Serious Medical Emergency. Forget about the sun supplying your daily Vitamin D - a bad case will need A and E.
Sun can raise the body's temperature to a dangerous 40% centigrade or higher. Symptoms can include cramps, high blood pressure, hyperventilation, vomiting, skin rash, confusion, anxiety and even seizures and hallucination. Moving the patient to a cool dark place and cool showers may lower their temperature- otherwise seek medical help.
In future, buy a handy noggin-scarf from the bazaar and do like the locals- you might look more like Uncle Ernie with a knotted hanky than Laurence of Arabia, but at least you'll feel cool.
Another thing that looks more wonky than dangerous is..
The Henna Tattoo
Thinking of inking? Give henna tattoos the finger
You probably thought the only risk with this one was staining the hotel bed sheets and looking like a floral curtain - but "henna" tattoos actually contain no henna at all, which is a harmless, herbal substance. Instead, it's made from para-phenylenediamine, a nasty, un-pronounceable, toxin commonly known as printing ink. As your "tattooo-art" dries on your skin, up to 60% of this dubious chemical will be drawn into your body to do battle with your liver and kidneys or otherwise lodge permanently as an unwelcome, carcinogenic guest. In rare cases, allergic reactions can cause raised skin, itching and even scarring.
Frankly, it's more sensible to wake up with "Arsenal" tattooed on your bum -even if you're a United fan.
Who got out of bed the wrong side then?
A power cut is not likely to do much harm, unless you're in the middle of a delicate operation with the toe nail clippers, and most hotels have generators - but they are common. Knowing that fact takes a bit of the magic out of Howard Carter's story where the mummy's curse plunged Cairo into darkness the moment he broke the seal on Tut's tomb. Power surges however, can seriously injure your shiny new laptop, (we've seen cables blown clean off innocent appliances)- so a Power Surge Adaptor is a nifty investment before you travel (around 20 Euros).
That's it - how to do Egypt "Safely" - with clever tips and a smart phone, you've all you need to enjoy Egypt's many delights once again.
Lady Egypt Director, Ramy Nicola, said he commissioned the Safely App because "When it came to saying goodbye, customers were thanking our tour operators for such wonderful times - then adding they hadn't felt unsafe for a minute. There was still that perception of Egypt being a dangerous place. So we thought, what can we do to make visitors more confident? Plus, I admit, it was fun to design a gadget, and we're constantly updating the app with more information as well as titbits of local news and flavour."
So, pack up your cares and worries in your old kit bag - feel the Safely App snug in your pocket - and enjoy the warmth of Egypt's people and places (not to mention the weather) once again.
With thanks to Old Photos of Egypt, and Karin Gath-McClain at Graphics Fairy