Rising Above It
Trip Start Jan 01, 2009
56Trip End Ongoing
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The ride there was comfortable because through an administrative snafu Intrepid booked a van for 24 when all we had was 12. Intrepid paid for the difference between the two charter, so everyone only had to pay 145 EGP for 6 hour round trip shuttle and 2 hours at the temple. With the extra leg room everyone enjoyed a comfortable nap on the drive there. At sunrise most people started to dig into their breakfast box provided by the hotel for 15 EGP. I started my breakfast early and did not have enough light to notice that the rolls came with a separate container of fig jam, so I finished the rolls and then ate the jam without bread. Also it took me 30 minutes to figure out how to get juice out of the juice box without spilling it all over myself. I noticed I was not the only one with that puzzled look. It was amusing but everyone managed to get juice even though I think everyone use a different approach.
For the evening I wanted to see the light and sound show at Philae Island. Philae Island was another UNESCO rescue project where they moved the entire Temple of Isis complex to another island with higher elevation (Agilkia Island). The engineers even went as far as land filling the island into the shape of the original Philae. A lot of trouble caused by the creation of the High Dam especially considering in an effort to control the flooding of the Nile the dams now also prevents the rich silt from fertilizing the farm land along the Nile. Not thoroughly thought out plan in my opinion.
Since in my sleep deprived stupor, I forgot to see if anyone wanted to go and see the show; I will be on my own for the evening. They have several showings each night in French, Arabic or English. The English show was at 7:45. Arriving early I grabbed something to eat at the docks before hiring a river boat to the island. Fortunately I teamed with 4 Japanese tourists, an Israeli and her guide on the ferry ride. The guide was able to negotiate 10 EGP round trip combined with 75 EGP entrance and 55 EGP round trip taxi (you should definitely negotiate a round trip pick up because the taxi will not queue there waiting for a fare after the show) it turned out to be a cheap night for good entertainment. Wandering through the lite temple at night was quite delightful. The commentary was a little kitschy but informative on some Egyptian mythology and history. Ironically, the best part of the show was when we were in the courtyard between the 1st and 2nd pylon and they turned off all the lights. It was amazing the outline of the pylons framing a sky full of stars.
I actually ran into 3 others from the tour group, Roy, Ruth and Rachel. I think they may have been mad with the price I was able to negotiate because their ferry rammed into my ferry on the way back; BTW they paid 20 EGP for the ferry and 60 EGP for the taxi. I gave 5 EGP baksheesh when I noticed the taxi driver had to pay 5 EGP to entry the dock area. I know he should have already factored this in on the price, but I was glad he showed (of course he would have showed up I did not pay him until the end) and did not try to scam a different price.
I am glad UNESCO and the countries of the world decided to rescue these historical treasures. I would have hated to see Abu Simbel and Philae erased from history because of some stupid dam.