Luxor (Ancient Thebes) and the Pharoahs

Trip Start Dec 16, 2005
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Trip End Jan 08, 2006


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Friday, December 30, 2005

In stark contrast to the rest of the trip we arrive at our hotel after an unfeasibly long drive through vast desert scapes, where flat golden horizons meet perfect blue skies, to find we are booked into a 5 star hotel ...

I must explain that 5 stars in Egypt is not the same as elsewhere, and while this half built clean hotel is of a good standard ... the owners seem to think being rude to guests is the way to go ... and push over priced drinks on us the minute we walk in the door, insisting on payment almost instantly ...

they need at least ten stars in Egypt more because there are so many level below ... even Mohamed's roof top gets 2 stars ... so the rest I'll leave with your imagination!!

As I clean to dirt and sand of the desert away in my room, I stand on the balcony to catch my first view of the upper Nile ... it all seems so tranquil from here ...

The next morning we set off for Karnak and Luxor temples ... Petra may be one of the highlights of this trip but I'm not sure it gave me quite the wondrous surprise as did Karnak. This is truly a magnificent achievement of the ancient kings of Egypt ... as they successively tried to out do each other in building grandiose monuments in this holy city to the god Amun-Ra. Even surrounded as you are by 100's of other tourists I would defy anyone to stand amongst the giant pillars of the Hypostyle hall and not feel completely awestruck and the achievements of this great people. Everywhere you look you see hieroglyphic inscriptions beautifully reproduced in stone and in some places still coloured with the pigments of the day.

They even managed to make sure there is no litter, and there are no hawkers ... though the curators do look for money if they do anything at all for you !! Alas tourism corrupts ... as exemplified by out "private" viewing of one cordoned off area when my room mate Jaime gave the curator a 10 pound tip after the rest of us gave him 1 pound ... causing instant inflation in local bribery.

The temple is also a dramatic place ... originally linked to Karnak via a 3km Sphinx lined road of which now only about 100m remains.

At this point I leave the rest of the group who head via convoy to Hurgada while myself and Latha join Mohamed (yes another one) our guide to plan a day of temples. He brings us to his house on a back street which he is sharing with a group of others. It is a basic place in a broken down block with very little facilities, but they do have a computer and Mohamed proudly plays some of the latest Arabic music and finishes off with a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

Later we drive to Karnak once more to view the kitch and overly dramatic "by Night" experience ... The place is quite haunting by night and despite the Anthony Hopkins and Suzannah York style voice over supplied through the sound system, you would swear you could just make out the whispers of those who created the place amongst the many pillars.

Today and we drove along the Nile to the North to the temple of Abydos. The drive itself is an experience as you have to go in armed convoy through town after town along the Nile banks waving to many smiling children along the way and enduring the stares of old men.

Abydos and the Temple of Seti 1 is yet another jewel, dedicated to 7 different gods (I guess Seti was playing his cards carefully here, not wanting to take any chances) including the god Osiris who had the dubious honour of being the first mummy after begin cut into pieces by his not so nice brother Seth while trying out a new coffin. His bits were collected and reassembled by his missus Isis and her sister Nephtys (with the help of Anubis) ... only to find one specific part of himself being re-incarnated and used by Isis to create his son Horus ... here you get to see richly coloured painting, hieroglyphics and art adorning the walls and many columns of its halls. The temple is finished in two different styles thanks to the fact that it was completed in the reign of Rameses II after being started by his father Seti I... or something like that !!! ... according to my Lonely Planet. This temple is probably one not to be missed ... for the most part thanks to the completeness of the art work...

Check out the photos ...

We take lunch with Ahmed our guide and the driver Mohammed ... the food is interesting but I struggle to eat the apparently famous cheese which tastes more like something from the dead sea than anything else...

... on the way back to Luxor we stop at another temple in Dendera ... here you can see the Egyptian calendar ... por at least the copy ... the orignial was stolen by the French and placed in the Louvre ... they did at least have the decency to provide the Egyptians with a fake ...if only every theif was so polite !!! ... On the back of the temple you can also see Cleopatra and her son Cesarean ...
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