05 December 2008

How to Drive in Cairo :)

When driving in Cairo, the only hard and fast rule of the road is that there are no hard and fast rules of the road. Take everything you learned in driver's ed and throw it out the window. Driving in Cairo is one part sheer luck, one part sheer lunacy and one huge part incredible hand-eye coordination

Difficulty: Challenging

Before you even attempt to drive in Cairo, practice your driving skills on a videogame, preferably a car racing game. Learn how to avoid other objects at high speeds, improve your hand-eye coordination and increase your reaction time. You'll need these skills in Cairo.

As soon as you get behind the wheel in Cairo, set yourself for optimal visibility. Adjust mirrors so that you have as large a field of vision as possible. Other cars, buses, cabs, carts, bicycles, people and animals inevitably will come at you from every imaginable direction.

Ignore the typical rules of the road and go for pure survival. If you look around, the cars in Cairo are pretty banged up. This is because driving there is akin to riding bumper cars. The car is essentially a metal casing to keep you alive, and should be viewed as a buffer against other objects while on your way from point A to point B. Though you shouldn't aim at the other cars, you have some leeway in how close you can get to them. Nudging them is potentially okay; totaling them is not.

Ignore red lights, stop signs, yield signs, turn signals and lights. Everyone else will. Even at night, lights are only used to flash other cars to tell them to get out of the way.

While you can use a GPS unit to navigate, it really isn't worth it. Streets change so often in Cairo that maps, even satellite ones, can't seem to keep track. The best way to navigate is to follow the Nile. Ask someone at the rental agency to give you north, south, east and west markers, and navigate with those. Driving in Cairo is all about landmarks. Pick out a few that are recognizable at 40 mph and memorize their location in relation to the river and where you want to go. A good one is the Egyptian Museum, as it is big and pink and hard to miss.

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