Saturday, August 16, 2008

Arrival in Cairo, Egypt

After about 10 hours of flying we arrived at Cairo airport at about 06:30 this morning. We were greeted by a couple of very helpful IOI organisers who helped us through customs and such and took us all the way to our bus.

We then had about an hour bus ride to the Mubarak City of Education where we'll be staying for the next week. The ride was slightly crazy, with drivers straddling often lanes between two other cars in the actual lanes. Not nearly as bad as my recent trip to China though. We passed north of Cairo (the place we're staying is about 20km outside of Cairo) and got to see some of the less upmarket apartment blocks. What was very strange was the number of satellite dishes they had, all of them looking as though they haven't worked for the past 20 years. Click the images below to see what I mean.

When we arrived at Mubarak City we were welcomed by our guide Mustafa, who has been very friendly and helpful as have many of the other guides. He quickly took us to register which was so fast I was dead sure we had to return later, but that was not to be. He then took us to our rooms. The one thing with the IOI is that you almost always stay in student dorms and this year's no different. The four contestants are staying together in a single room while I share a room with four beds with our team leader Peter Waker. There is a single bathroom shared between two rooms and we share ours with the Spanish team leaders.

After sleeping for a few hours we went down for lunch at 14:00. Here we met up with the Fieke Dekker, the British deputy leader, and Don Piele, the US team leader. The locals consider lunch the big meal of the day so we had some nice sausage, chicken and rice with soup as a starter and some really nice apple pie for dessert.

After lunch we went to pay the registration fees, which once again was painless and quick. We then wandered around and met some more people. I bumped into Mohamed Taha, member of the host scientific committee which I'm friends with from the ACM ICPC. I had a lengthy chat with Troy from Canada, Fieke and her husband Richard with Kim from the Netherlands and Rob Kolstad from the US bumping in a bit.

We then went to the IMAX to watch some Dinosaurs: Back to the Crutaceous or some other documentary in 3D. The 3D part was awesome as always, but the story line and acting was shocking. We also met up with the contestants at the IMAX (we split up after arriving) and went to the Internet lounge together where we met yet more people. There was also this random-looking Arab guy with this huge pot around his shoulders handing out this very strong berry-tasting juice.

After hanging around we went for supper at 20:00, where we met up with the Dutch delegation which we are very friendly with. Supper was, as we were warned, basically bread with a couple small pieces of chicken.

After dinner they had a party with some loud music. Not usually my scene, but the chance to meet new people is always well worth it. I met the Swedish delegation, who are hosting next years ACM ICPC World Finals. Along with other very interesting things I heard, they told me they've booked out the top three hotels in Sweeden for the event! We also met the Serbian delegation, one of the few with a female contestant and the team from Ghana, participating for their first time.

New Zealanders and Aussies, interesting bunch that lot. Well we've met some of the contestants from both sides earlier on and now again some more. Well lets just say they were the ones who got the whole party really booming. Here's the main culprit (blonde dude):

And this is how they partied:

It's an early morning tomorrow with the opening ceremony starting at 09:00 and the practice contest at 11:00. This is then followed by the first lot of GA meetings which are always most entertaining with their extreme level of democracy, while the contestants enjoy themselves at some Golf park.


  1. None of the pictures seem to show up. I just see things that say "[P1040295.JPG]" and so on.

  2. Pictures to come? :) The blonde dude should be Jarrah ;)

  3. Yes the Internet here is dog slow and I haven't had much time on it. Will upload them when soonish. Tomorrow during the contestant should be a good time for Internet. :)

  4. Internet is blazing fast now so pics uploaded, no pesky contestants. ;)