Victor Mao, his wife Yue Zhuge, their sons Colin (12) and Stanley (7), Qihua’s father Kecheng Mao, his aunt Xiaolan Lu and Yue’s mother Xiang Chen.
Instead of celebrating Chinese New Year in China, the Maos opted for an exciting trip to Egypt with the extended family. The eldest and youngest of travelers were 70 years apart.
The Maos flew from Beijing to Cairo via Dubai. In Cairo, they spent two days visiting Giza, the Sakkara pyramid and Coptic Cairo. Then, they boarded an evening train from Cairo to Luxor, where they spent three days. An evening flight with a local airline took them to their next destination, Sharm El Sheikh. After three days there, they took a van back to Cairo via Suez. Their last day was spent in Cairo visiting a citadel and local markets. After their big adventure, the Maos flew Gulf Air back to Beijing.
All the flights and hotels were booked online through Expedia.com and Hilton.com. With their Hilton HHonors Gold membership, the family received free upgrades to Executive Club status, which allowed them to enjoy early check-in and late check-out.
In Cairo, they stayed at the Ramses Hilton for its downtown location and view of the Nile River. In Luxor, they stayed at the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa, situated on the east bank of Nile across from the Valley of the Kings. In both Cairo and Luxor, the Maos booked a local tour agency to guide them through the Pyramids and Valley of the Kings. In Sharm El Sheikh, they stayed at the Hilton Sharm El Sheikh Fayrouz Resort.
The Best Part
Victor loved the awe-inspiring Royal Mummy Room in the Cairo Museum, where he stood face-to-face with a mummy of Ramses II that was over 4,000 years old.
Luxor was the best part of the family’s trip. The clean, quiet city was very peaceful in comparison to the noisy streets of Cairo. The Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa offered poolside views of the Nile and Valley of the Kings. The Maos spent an afternoon at the Temple of Luxor and saw a laser show performance before hopping a nighttime horse-drawn carriage to the Temple of Karnak. The family recommends setting aside two days to fully enjoy the Temple of Karnak.
A hot air balloon is the best way to see Luxor. Early risers can take a boat ferry to the west bank and a van to the starting area. The one-hour ride gives travelers a bird’s eye view of The Valley of the Kings, the Nile and the endless desert.
The Worst Part
Renting a van in Sharm El Sheikh proved to be a hassle. The group wasted an entire morning waiting for the driver and the guide to obtain the necessary permit for guiding tourists. The four-hour delay put a wrinkle in their plan, ultimately allowing them only a glimpse of the Suez Canal and its ships passing in the darkness.
Most Unexpected Moment
Trying to cross the street in Cairo is a challenge. Cars ignore pedestrians and do not slow or stop to let them cross. On the plus side, the Maos met a friendly Egyptian who offered to help them cross the street, all the while apologizing for the bad driving habits of the locals.
Since they stayed at Hilton hotels, language was never a problem. The staff at Ramses Hilton in Cairo and at Hilton Luxor were all especially friendly and helpful.
The Maos recommend using Wikipedia to brush up on your Egyptian history. Visit www.expedia.com to book international flights and www.hilton.com for accommodations.