Day 17 – Abu Simbel

Trip Start Jun 26, 2009
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18
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Trip End Jul 16, 2009


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Where I stayed
Tourist Train
What I did
Aswan Rail Station

Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Sunday, July 12, 2009

We had to get up and check-out early for our flight to Abu Simbel. It is a complex of two tombs built by Ramses II.  One is for his wife Nefertari and the big one is for him.  We only had an hour and a half to tour, because we had a return flight scheduled.  We met our representative and tour guide at the airport.  This one thing I really enjoy about having one tour company coordinating the trip; there is always someone to meet us at the various connections.  Our guide was very good.  I was surprised Kim didn't hit him.  He told her to be careful; his grandfather was looking for a new wife.  Now that I look at her, she is looking a lot older on this trip!

The temples are not painted as brightly inside as some of the others that we had seen, but there were still impressive.  Our guide could not go in the tombs, because they are trying to keep the tourists from clogging the monuments, so he had to talk about the interiors outside before we went in to see them.  From all of the temples we have seen so far, we are starting to recognize some of the gods.  As we walked around the interiors, we could name some of them.  This helped us locate the painted scenes he explained earlier.

The main temple has four huge seated statues of Ramses in the front.  An earthquake in ancient times broke one of the statues and it lies in front of the temple.  Inside there are four statues in the "holy of the Holies".  On February 21st and October 21st, the sun shines into the room and aluminates three of the statues.  One statue is the god of the darkness (maybe) and is not illuminated.  The original location of these temples is now under 70 meters of water.  UNESCO helped to rescue this temple and many more.  Several countries, including the US, donated money and expertise to move the temples to higher ground.  For their efforts, they were each given a temple.  The one given to the US is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

On the way out, we were paraded through the bazaar.  At each shop, they would call out Nefertiti for Kim and Ramses for me.  One vendor tried to block my way.  I turned around and walked around behind him.  He was not expecting the move.  After that, the vendors called me Aladdin.

The flight back to Aswan was a little un-nerving.  We have experienced turbulence before, but never this close to the ground.  It must have been caused by the hot desert.

We opted to do the Nubian village tour.  Since we did not make it to the two villages yesterday, we thought we should see a village.  We started with a boat ride up the Nile to the village.  The many small islands below the dam are very pretty.  Because the vegetation is so high, you cannot really see Aswan.  At one point, a small boy paddled out in a barely floating box with pieces of wood strapped on his hands.  He paddled out in front of the boat.  He barely made it past the bow of the boat.  I actually thought we hit him until I saw him hanging on to the boat.  He started singing in different languages.  One of the men on our boat would prompt him to change languages.

At the village we were ushered into someone’s house, well, it was their tourist house.  They have a “modern” one behind this one.  Because there are many tourists that visit this village, each house has a crocodile or two.  We were treated to a show.  The owner would poke the croc to make him snap and hiss.  Then the owner would stick his head in the pen and the croc would try to grab him.  Luckily, the owner was a little faster than the croc.  There was a baby croc in an aquarium that was brought out for us to hold.

Kim wanted a henna tattoo.  I now have a painted woman!

We were then taken to the school.  They wanted to teach us how to say the numbers.  Luckily I had been practicing them for the last few months.

We went to the representatives’ local office for an hour to wait until we could board the train.  We were like celebrities.  Everyone in the office had to come by to see the Americans.

We had assumed that the “Tourist Train” would be very modern.  When we were looking the pictures on the Internet, it looked nice.  When we got to the platform, a very old looking train was all we saw.  We asked the representative where our train was.  He informed me that we were looking at it.  Hmmmm, we started to think that we were going to have a problem.  However, inside was much nicer than the outside.  It was still old looking, but clean.  About an hour after we started to move, supper was brought.  We also assumed that we would be going to a dining car.  Hmmmm, this is not like AMTRAK.  The meal looked and tasted just like a bad airline meal.  Jon lost a crown tonight. We hope he doesn’t have any problems.  We are not sure how or if they have dentists here!

(Kim) Here we go again, another bathroom predicament. My biggest problems on these trips revolve around the eating and eliminating of food. I know this wasn’t going to be pretty as soon as we climbed aboard the train. The bathroom was hot. Metal boxes sitting in 100 degree plus heat tend to get that way. With heat comes stink. The toilet was a metal box. There was no water in the toilet and no toilet paper. Not a problem, I learned a long time ago to carry tissue in my pocket. Okay girls, this is what you do if you ever find yourself in this situation. Pull your shirt up over your mouth and nose to help control the gag reflex. Bite your shirt to help keep it in place. Pull down your pants being very careful not to let them touch the floor, toilet or anything. The room was small so you can lower your head and wedge it against the wall so as to support yourself into a hovering position above the toilet because there is no way in hell you’re going to sit down. Say a pray and hope the pee comes out quickly and not down your leg. Get out as fast as you can.
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