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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 9: 3 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysOccasionally an advertising hoarding stands out in the middle of nowhere. We pass one which depicts a huge bidet and washbasin.

The meter ticks over. It shows about 40 Egyptian pounds - nearly 11 sterling. I pray that we keep moving. As soon as we slow down flies fill the car. Not a lot of traffic anyway. Trucks containing oil drums and pipes. At least there are some mountains now rising to the south, and a lower range to the north, something to look at.

Pass ten tanks and about thirty troop carriers by the roadside, with people playing on them. It's not really surprising the Egyptians were clobbered so often by the Israelis. They're not warriors. They're shy, rather jolly, humorous people. Can't imagine them taking military life and conquest very seriously.

It's 5.15 and approaching dusk when I catch my first sight of Suez, a flame high in the sky marking the first of many oil refineries. This does look a god-forsaken depressing place. What vegetation there is here on the edge of the desert, small scrubby bushes, blossom with a thousand plastic bags.

It's a quarter to six when I reach the gates of Suez port. We are not allowed to board tonight, and there seems some doubt as to whether we shall find a boat tomorrow. And we can do nothing until morning as the shipping office is closed. A battered sign in English at the entrance to the port gates reads 'Goodb'ye'. A harsh joke as we turn back and trudge into Suez to find a hotel.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 9
  • Date: 3 October
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Suez
  • Book page no: 45

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