Let me take a moment and tell you about the vendors in Egypt. And yes they are vendors, not merchants, and they are an experience all their own. Vendors in Egypt are everywhere - they stand outside the hotel entrance, wait for you outside the bus at all temples and tombs, and some even have small markets full of booths as you attempt to exit a location. These vendors make telemarketers look like timid kittens! They are in fact so aggressive that some of them call out to you, "No Touching! No Hassling!" They will crowd around you with their goods calling out mostly "One Dollar!" As they love to have US dollars. So far our group has seen one fight break out among vendors the police had to break up and one woman's arm was grabbed but Sira, our tour manager started yelling at the man and he quickly apologized. The problem with the souvenirs is that they are all the same and look like they could easily have come from Oriental Trading. Now where it is nice to buy a book for a dollar or five it gets very tiring to constantly say "No thank you," as you are trying to view a temple. The Step Pyramid had calmer vendors but they followed our group through the whole tour. Now we have come up with a few ways to deal with vendors. When gathering the group outside a site the "Wall of Fortitude" works well. This is where we stand in a circle with the least annoyed on the outside facing in and ignore them. And we have found that forming a chevron shape to force your way through an exit market forces them to stand off to the side. Think the "Flying V" from the Mighty Ducks. Now there are cheap items you want just for fun and our tour guide Mohamed has instituted "bus shopping" for us. This is where after we have boarded the bus to leave an area Mohamed will have all the vendors line up and he will negotiate the best price. Once a price had been reached Mohamed will hold up an item and asks who wants one. "Bus Shopping" has been fantastic and the other tour group who is sharing our boat was surprised and a bit envious to learn of "Bus Shopping". Taking a moment to go back to the pushiness of the vendors - there is also "Boat Shopping". There is nothing good about "Boat Shopping". This is where the vendors will bring their boat alongside ours, the La Fayan, tie a rope to our boat and throw their wares onto our deck. We have been told to ignore this and let the crew deal with them. So far it has only happened once but I hear there were a few near misses with some people being hit by a table cloth. This rapid behavior shows how bad the economy is here in Egypt. Once there were probably more than enough tourists to make them all happy but now the forty of us might be a big part of their day. If you really want to make their day tipping someone in a U.S. Dollar is huge. I like to tip the garbage collectors but that is a story for a different post.