Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hurghada lesson one

After making the move out of Cairo and deciding finally to move to Hurghada, there are always a lot of things that need to be taken care of, as with any move. Shuffling through your belongings, wondering where the eff you've managed to acquire all the new things, questioning how you'll get all your boxes in the car (which I didn't manage), and how long will it take to settle in your new place.

Moving here was easy. Hurghada has many places available to rent, it took no more than a day to find somewhere nice to live, in a nice location, close to the necessities. Of course transportation here is just as easy as in Cairo, although the taxi's are certainly of a higher standard. Clean taxis with AC! Wooo hooo!!!

My new place is in a great location, I'm very fortunate to have found it. It's within walking distance of no less than four supermarkets, pharmacies, shopping areas, and importantly for me, Western Union, as I seem to be in there more often than not haha. Having dollars doesn't bother me, it was always easy to change in Cairo. Either with a CBS automated machine, or at the Nile Exchange across from Golds Gym in Maadi. I never had a problem with the place at all, I always got a fair exchange rate, and it was open at all hours of the night - perfect for the night owl :p.

My first Western Union transfer came through to Hurghada last week. No problems picking it up, the office is just down the road from me too. While walking back, I noticed a Nile Exchange here too. I popped in to change 200 dollars, and was shocked when the guy returned to me 1008 LE. I asked for a receipt, and he pointed to the exchange board which had the dollar at a rate of 5.04 LE to the dollar. Much much lower than I remembered, but I hadn't checked the exchange rate earlier that day. I figured that the dollar was suffering from a horrible drop, and I'd wait to change the rest of my dollars until the dollar strengthened.

As luck would have it, later on that day I was walking down the main tourist strip, and passed another exchange place. I figured I'd pop in and see if the exchange rate had changed. To my surprise, it had. By four points. Miraculously, the exchange rate was at 5.47. I had to ask the cashier if the dollar had jumped astronomically throughout the day. He looked at me comically, asking why I ask. Once I mentioned I'd changed money earlier in the day, he immediately asked if I'd gone to the Nile Exchange.

Turns out I'm not the first one to be duped by them, and I probably won't be the last. What these douchebags do, is add a 0 to the rate, for all currencies they exchange. Thankfully I only changed 200 dollars, but it still cost me close to 100 LE in an unfair rate. So, for anybody thinking of coming to Hurghada, or even just visiting, please learn from my first mistake, and don't change at the Nile Exchange!