Crazy heat in the Valley of the Kings

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
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Trip End Dec 22, 2007


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

To get from Hurghada to Luxor is an interesting process. We had to be on the road by 5.45am to get to the meeting place by 7.00am. All tourist buses making the trip to Luxor have to go in a police escorted convoy that leaves at various times throughout the day, the earliest being at 7am. We were given a number of lame ass excuses as to why, but security was barely mentioned. Driving in Egypt can be fairly sketchy but even more so when you're in a convoy of 50 tourist buses of varying sizes and speed capabilities. Being overtaken by a coach with oncoming traffic closing in is fairly scary, so we decided we would be better off not watching out the front. Halfway to Luxor we stopped off at a toilet and refreshment stop, all 50 busloads of us, so tranquil. You could even get a camel ride here if you want to. The good part about the convoy was that the local police close down the traffic along the way so there is no stopping or traffic problems. We arrived in Luxor in one piece and were immediately hit by a wall of heat. After a few days on the Red Sea coast the heat here is a shock to the system.

Late in the afternoon, after it had cooled down to only 39 degrees, we were taken by Calesh (traditional horse drawn carriage) to the Karnak Temple. It's a remarkable place that dates back 4000 years, consisting of 134 giant pillars rising 20 metres, etched with hieroglyphics. Two massive solid granite obelisks tower over the ancient site. It can be easy to get blasť about the Egyptian monuments but then you stop and think, pharaohs have walked where we walked today thousands of years ago...amazing.

Early Sunday morning we walked down to the River Nile to catch a boat to the west bank. From there we were picked by a 1970's Peugeot taxi which we somehow squeezed 8 of us in for the 20 minute drive to the Valley of the Kings, where over 60 Pharaohs were entombed.

All the big names are here Thutmose 1-4, Rameses 1 - 10, and the star of the show, Tutankhamen. (That's why they charge an extra 80 pounds to enter his tomb) We went into three tombs - Rameses II and Rameses III, both quite large tombs containing clear and colourful hieroglyphics. The third tomb was that Thutmose III, and it was a different story altogether. After walking up a large metal staircase, you enter the tomb via a staircase that descends back down into a narrow low tunnel. About halfway down the lights went out and we were plunged into darkness, absolute pitch black. Mandy started to freak out a bit but after 15 seconds or so they came back on. A guy on his way back out said it was the third time it had happened since he went down. Great!

The tight tunnel opened up into a large room with a massive stone coffin and more hieroglyphics. The air was very hot, humid and stale so we didn't stay too long, and by the time we climbed all the way back up and out we were all overheating but at least the lights stayed on.

Another 70's Peugeot took us to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (pronounced Hat Cheap Suit - just like a day at the races). By this stage the temperature was over 40 degrees so we didn't last too long here. The setting of this temple is what really makes it special, with a back drop of a sheer cliff face and the front staircase it's main feature.

On a day of interesting transport our next form probably takes the cake. To get back to the restaurant for lunch we spent an hour riding .....Donkeys. Enjoyable at first, bloody uncomfortable after 10 minutes, and downright painful after an hour. As I was the largest of our group weighing in 5 kg's above the recommended maximum weight, I was given the biggest strongest donkey, the alpha male, to ride. I had to be forceful because he didn't like taking orders or being at the back. At varying intervals he started eeehaawwwing very loudly, especially when he noticed a particularly attractive female donkey tied to a post at one of the farms we went past, that's right I got the horny donkey to ride. Mandy wasn't the most proficient donkey jockey, and went to pieces a bit when another girl went over the handle bars of hers, landing with donkey on top of her. (It was quite serious but looked very funny from behind). From then on Mandy had the donkey guide assist her. She hung off the right side of her donkey so she didn't fall off the left side, that's how she explained the logic anyway. Upon dismount at the end the pain and relief were incredible. With no stirrups, your legs just hang down each side and when you try to get out of this position after an hour, that's where the pain and relief are simultaneous.

Our last dinner as a group was at a riverside restaurant on the Nile. The next day we all went our separate ways. After a great trip with our new friends, we are ready to see some greenery, maybe a cloud or two and leave the heat and sand behind. We're off to Amsterdam to start the next leg of our trip, 4 months in Europe...

PS Travelling with a surfboard can throw up some interesting situations. When we were checking in for our flight from Egypt to the Netherlands the man at KLM airlines asked me if my surfboard, all 6 foot 8 of it was "for golf or fencing?" I said fencing.s
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Comments

carlainthepark
carlainthepark on

Why Did I Bother with a Journal?
I didn't need to bother journally during my Egypt trip - whenever people ask me how it was, I'll send them to your blog!!

It was truly a joy to be able to spend 10 days schlepping around Egypt with you two. You are both so much fun and a pure delight to be around. Oh, and the vodka helped too Pete ;-)

I am looking forward to reading more about your travels. Take care and play safe.

Carla the Canadian

nic_reece
nic_reece on

Thanks for the photo guys
Hi you two!

How good do I look hauling myself out of that tomb?!

Thanks for your great company and the pics. I'm going to read on now to see what you're up to, but just to let you know - feluccas are very very cool, even if they do sometimes crash!

Will be keeping an eye on you.

Nic

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