Tourist micro-blogs experience in Egypt

Updated: 2011-02-03 13:59


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The sudden breakout of anti- government protests in Egypt has turned Chinese tourist Lou Xiaoyu 's six-day trip to the "land of pharaohs" into an experience of turmoil and fear.

"I thought I could use my micro-blog to publish the anecdotes during the sight-seeing," said Lou, but then it became a channel to ask for help and render the records of disturbance and trauma.

On January 28, Lou, a bank clerk in Shanghai, went to Cairo with a 37-member tourist group, in spite of the massive protests there."The tourist agency assured us that everything will be fine, and there is no need to cancel our trip," she said.

However, when Lou arrived in Cairo Airport at about 5:00 p.m. Friday, she found a curfew had drawn across the city, and she and her fellow tourists stuck at the airport for more than six hours before they could hop onto a minibus and got to their hotel.

Three days before Lou's arrival in Cairo, tens of thousands of Egyptians began to launch protests against corruption, poverty and unemployment, and called for the ouster of President Mubarak.

The protests led to chaos in the capital city, Alexandria and Suez, as some prison breakout occurred in and around Cairo and looting and ransacking took place in some stores and companies.

"I saw tanks, real tanks," Lou wrote on her Micro-blog, not being able to visit pyramids and other historic spots in Cairo.

On Saturday, Lou's local tour guide insisted that it was safe to travel to Luxor in south Egypt and took them to Giza railway station to wait for a train. But again, they got stuck in the station for about 15 hours. Lou heard heavy gunfire at night and saw people fleeing from the railway station.

"Please save us and help us leave Egypt, please try to copy this message to your friends," she wrote in despair on her microblog.

"Egyptian people were very kind to us. When there was gunfire, they would let us hide in the station, while trying to block the entrances of the station," Lou said.

Some visitors to Lou's microblog saw her message, and provided her through mobile the hotlines of the Chinese Embassy in Cairo to help her.

On the morning of January 30, they were taken back to the hotel, but it was no comfort to Lou and the other tourists. They packed their money and necessities in handbags and were ready to run for life at any time.

"The curfew will begin soon, gunfire is heard around the hotel and thugs come out at night," Lou wrote on her microblog. "Our lives are threatened."

She heard that China will send two chartered planes to Cairo on January 31 to take Chinese tourists back home, and asked the local guide to take them to the airport. But the tour guide said they had to wait for their booked flights on the evening of February 2.

On the morning of February 1, the local guide finally agreed to take them to the airport, where they began another long wait for their plane.

The staff with the Chinese Embassy brought them food and invited them for a Chinese Lunar New Year's dinner at a hotel near the airport.

"We got our lunch today -- stirred-fried cucumber and eggs, and some bread. I'm really grateful for this," Lou wrote.

Micro-blog is becoming more popular in China, as it is compatible to mobile phones. China's Internet portal said last November that it had 50 million users of its Twitter-like service after 14 months of operation.

According to statistics released by, about 38 percent of new information everyday is posted through Internet-connected mobile terminals.

At the airport, Lou felt that the worry for the departure for home waned, but she developed a headache and fell sick. She is still waiting with her fellow tourists at Cairo Airport on Wednesday, the eve of the Chinese lunar new year, hoping that she will be able to fly home at night, and celebrate the Spring Festival with her family back in Shanghai.


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