Travelling to Egypt as an Asian Canadian is interesting for many reasons. First of all, Asian backpackers do not exist in Egypt at all. Second, neither do Canadians. Shocked? You would assume there would be a lot of Canadian travellers because we are known to be well liked abroad.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. I did not see any fellow Asian backpacker or any fellow Canadian backpacker.
Asian travellers do exist but they come in the form of huge tour buses full of people from China. They have no desire to step outside the comfort of their huge tour bus gang and prefer to stick together in their protective shell. That’s too bad because they are missing out!
Perks of being an Asian traveller in Egypt
One of the major perks as an Asian traveller in Egypt is that you can use the Chinese tour group as shield from touts
I find this extremely laughable but it’s true! When touts try and approach my sisters, Karen and myself, we would give them two default answers which would repel the pesky touts like a mosquito repellant.
Default answer 1: No English.
That’s right, by simply saying no English, the touts would go away. My sisters can’t even speak another language besides English since they grew up in Canada but it works like a charm!
Default answer 2: *Point to the massive Chinese tour group*
By pointing at the massive Chinese tour group, we indicate that we are part of that group. For some reason, this causes the annoying sales people to leave us alone. It’s quite an amazing perk!
Surprise reactions from being an Asian Canadian
One of the neat things about travelling as an Asian Canadian is often times, the locals are shocked how fluent our English is! While riding the local train from Cairo to Luxor, the locals would often times have their eyes wide open the moment we start speaking to them in fluent English.
Their first reply is always: “Your English is really good!”.
Not all locals can speak English, of course, but those that do will give you that reaction.
Egyptian students love Asian Canadians
This is by far the best discovery we’ve had in Egypt was how much the Egyptian students love Asian Canadians.
During our time in the Pyramids of Giza, a group of Egyptian female students (probably early high school), was motioning for us to take a picture of them. Or so we thought. When we tried taking their camera to their picture, they wouldn’t give it to us and instead, kept motioning on their camera.
I then figured out that they want to take a picture with us! To the local Egyptian students, we were more of a tourist attraction than the Pyramids itself. The students than huddled between my sisters, Karen and myself and happily took a picture with us. They looked so pleased and happy afterwards.
While we were in Luxor and Aswan, often times, a mini-bus full of students would drive by and they would open the windows and start screaming happily at us. Those are some of the unforgettable moments of our travel in Egypt.
Group selfie with the pizzeria owner
This didn’t just happen with students. During our time in Aswan, the Nubian pizzeria owner that we visited was so happy to converse with us. His English was fairly good and we ordered a large Egyptian pizza from him.
While his staff was preparing the pizza, he took out his phone and he started getting us to take selfies with him. Before long, his entire staff started photobombing us and we all had a great time taking pictures together.
A reputation to uphold
Canadians are known to be well liked as a traveller and I am more than happy to represent our people by respecting other cultures. Also, being an Asian adds flavour to the interaction because frankly, Asian Canadian backpackers are non existent in Egypt! The locals love it and you should bask on the positive attention you get. However, if you are a female Asian Canadian traveller, do be conservative when interacting with Egyptian men because my sister almost got herself in trouble for laughing and giggling too much.
Also, don’t try the “No English” or “Point to the Chinese tour group” technique when you visit the Egyptian Museum. The Egyptian touts there make me look bad as they can speak Chinese fluently.