Week 1 in Egypt - Cruising the Nile

Trip Start Dec 10, 2005
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Luxor Hotel

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Gem and Wayne's adventures in Egypt - Week 1- Cruising the Nile

Day 373 -Monday 5th March - Gatwick to Luxor....Hello Egypt
Up early to drop Mike at work and then off to Gatwick airport to catch the 5 hour flight to Egypt. We arrived at 7.00pm, got into a crazy airport where all these men hustled us to get a visa, when we eventually got our luggage we spent about 40 minutes going around in circles trying to find the transfer to the boat. As you walk out the doors of the airport all these guys come up and take your trolley off you and push it about 15 meters, load your bags into the coach and then want money and lots of it!!. The hassling has started!! We saw lots of interesting sights on the way to the boat with donkeys pulling carts and cars piled to twice their size with stuff. We got to the boat, the MS Treasure, which was docked just outside the magnificent Luxor temple. The boats line up horizontially next to each other and we had to walk through 5 other boats to get to ours. Then we met the guide, got told the rip off prices for the extra tours and tipping (all in English pound and even the English people were shocked at the high prices), met the fellow English speaking people (the rest at Spanish) had dinner and crashed.
 
Day 374 -Tuesday 6th March - Luxor to Esna - Happy 8th Wedding Anniversary
Up early this morning to beat the heat and we were off to the west bank of the Nile to see the magnificent Valley of the Kings. The scenery here is quite amazing, the Nile really is the life blood of this country as everything is green to within about 1 km of its bank and then it is just barren desert. The mountain range where the Valley of the Kings was amazing and although it was totally barren it was very beautiful. The ancient Egyptians used this spot to bury their Kings and Queens and dug the tombs into the mountain sides. They chose this spot to try and keep secret the location of the tombs as they soon realized that the Pyramids were just a giant neon sign inviting tomb raiders. Unfortunately, the tombs here were also discovered and raided, except for Tutankhamen's which was the only one found in tact...can't wait to get to the Cairo museam to see it's treasures. We visited 3 tombs which were all rather amazing with painted and carved hieroglyphics. Bloody hell it was hot though...we looked like lobsters after only a couple of hours in the sun!! Next we went to the absolutely amazing temple of Queen Hatshepsut who was the first woman ruler of Egypt. Words can't describe this place, it was just amazing. Next we visited an alabaster factory where they showed us how they make vases etc from the alabaster found in the mountain side. Next we visited the Colossi of Memon which are two giant seated pharaoh statues that used to mark the site of the vanished temple of Amenophis.
 
Tonight we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary by cruising down the Nile. We stopped at the lock on the Nile as only 2 boats can go at a time. However, when we arrived there were about 50 boats ahead of us and each one takes about 45 minutes to get through the lock so it will be sometime tomorrow until we can go through. They certainly are not very organized!!   
 
Day 375 -Wednesday 7th March - Esna, Edfu
We were woken up at 6am by locals who surround the ship in their tiny rowing boats trying to sell stuff....they never shut up and are constantly yelling at people on the boat to buy stuff (which gets very annoying when every second they yell olah and just don't stop)....they did not stop until 11.00 when the boat finally moved to go through the lock.  Each time a new boat enters they swarm like flies around it. We finally got off the boat at about 2.00pm and then visited the small town of Esna where we visited the Temple of Khnum which was to worship the ram headed god. Then more cruising up the Nile to Edfu where we got off the boat and where accosted by young and old people selling things...they were much more aggressive here and normally they take a horse and carriage to the temple but because they have found people to be so aggressive they now organize a bus. We got to the temple and were accosted by more people at the shops that you have to walk past to get to the temple.  However, it was worth it because The Temple of Horus was unbelievable and just awe inspiring and we got to watch the sun set over the temple. Tonight there was an Egyptian theme party on the boat and everyone had to dress up in the local dress called a gallabeia which is the long dress like outfit both men and women wear.
 
Day 376 - Thursday 8th March - Kom Ombo to Aswan
Woken up this morning at 4am by the call for prayer...which sounds quite beatiful and hypnotic but not at 4am!!!! Had to be up at 6.30 to get to the Temple of Kom Ombo early because of crowds and the heat. This temple was dedicated to the crocodile which they made a god as well and we got to see ancient mummified crocodiles. Next we did more sunbathing and reading as we sailed along the Nile through to Aswan. There are so many boats cruising the Nile as well as all the local feluccas. The boat captains are so funny as they all have different sounding air horns attached to their boats and each time they pass each other they beep there horns over and over again...bevans in boats!! When we got to Aswan we got on one of the local boats and did a trip through some very beautiful parts of the Nile that were full of rocks, papyrus and bull rush. The local Nubian children great the boats in their tiny little wooden boats that they power by padding with small rectangular paddles made from wood. They latch onto the side of the boat and sing to you "row row row your boat and singing ah yah yippee yippee yih". We entered the local Nubian village and got to see how they live in their primitive houses which often with no roofs as they don't have to worry about rain here. We also got to visit a local kindergarten and learn how to count in Arabic. Next we got to go into a local Nubian house and chase a baby crocodile, get henna tattoos and smoke a big Turkish style pipe...even Gem had a go smoking and did not choke!! Gem gave all the little kids kangaroos and tried to explain what noise they make and how they jump...they just looked at us as if we were nutters!!! It was a very fun afternoon though.
  
Day 377 - Friday 9th March - Abu Simble and Aswan
Today we got up at 3am to leave to go in a guarded bus convoy to Abu Simble which was a 2.5 hour drive through the desert. The convoy was interesting because as soon as you left the main town the bus drivers turned into Michael Shumachers and raced each other to the temple, even driving on the wrong side of the road. We watched an amazing sunrise from the bus as we tucked into our breakfast boxes they had packed us. We arrived at Abu Simble at about 7.30 and we were happy to go at this time as the heat was not too bad. Well what can you say about this place, it cost us a small fortune to get here but we are glad we came as it was breath taking. What is even more amazing is that these temples and statues were relocated to save them from the rising Nile and were cute free of the cliffs they were carved into at a cost of over US $40 million. We got to go inside the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Hathor and were totally amazed by both. After having a nap this afternoon we caught an "Egyptian Ferrari" which is just a horse and carriage into the Aswan Markets tonight and got ourselves a few bargains as well as being constantly hassled. We had agreed on a price with the driver before we set off, we agreed to go into his brother shop and we bought a few things from him, and then he insisted on waiting around for us only at the end of the night to tell us that he had not agreed to a price and he tried to rip us off. We were really pissed off as we had given him a big tip as well as the agreed price and he was still trying to scam us for me...Wayne just stood his ground and said he could take it or leave it.
 
Day 378 - Saturday 10th March - Nile Cruising
This morning we visited Phila Temple which were also moved between 1972 and 1980 after the island on which they stood was flooded after the building of the High Dam...the High Dam was built to stop the Nile from flooding and wiping out all the towns that are reliant on it. This temple was also rather amazing. On the way back we stopped at a Perfume Palace and got to smell all the amazing perfumes and oils that they make here. Next we went on a Felucca Ride where we sung and danced like Nubians down the Nile. They dropped us at our boat and we set sail back down the Nile to return to Luxor. 
 
Day 379 - Sunday 11th March - Nile Cruising to Luxor
We sailed through the night and this morning we arrived back in Luxor. Unfortunately, despite taking every precaution and not eating certain foods Gem was very very sick today with the runs and stomach cramps so was unable to go on the tours. Wayne got to visit the Temple of Karnack and the Temple of Luxor which were both rather amazing. Tonight Gem managed to drag herself out to attend the Sound and Light show at Karnack Temple...we were a bit sorry we went as while the temple was amazing, the show was rather boring and Gem was in pain. Gem unfortunately got even sicker tonight and spent the night chucking and extreme pain with none of the gastro medicine working. Fortunately, one of the men on the tour is a surgeon and bought with him some antibiotics especially for killing the bugs over here....Gem took them, threw them back up, took some more and passed out for the night. Wayne got to go to the Belly Dancing show on the boat but apparently it was not that good.
 
Day 380 - Monday 12th March - Luxor
Gem woke up feeling relatively better this morning and very thankful Dr Frank gave her the antibiotics!! We said goodbye to everyone today and then got transferred to our hotel in Luxor....Egyptian 5 star is certainly not the same as 5 star elsewhere in the world!!! Never mind it is clean and the pool is nice. We went for a walk to find the internet, got ripped off and constantly hassled as soon as we stepped outside of the hotel. We managed to organise to go on a hot air balloon trip tomorrow over Luxor...they started off at 55 English pound each (on the boat it was 70 pound) and within 5 minuets we had her down to 30 English pound each  without even haggling....very amusing. We went back for a swim and watched an amazing full burning sun set behind some date palms. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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