Trip Start Jan 14, 2010
13Trip End Feb 01, 2010
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Our first adventure in Aswan was to see the temple of Isis , the god of love. The temple is on an island so we had to take a small ferry boat. We had to laugh because the boat ride was about 5 minutes in length, and life jackets are not provided. However, there was a group of tourists in front of us who brought their bright orange life jackets from their cruise ship to wear for the short trip.
The temple itself was very interesting. Its another "fake" temple. The interesting thing here is that it was actually disassembled and moved to higher ground a number of years ago because of the flooding. Each piece was numbered and reassembled. I can imagine how tedious a job this would be.
Later in the afternoon we hired a Felucca to cruise around the Nile for a couple of hours. These are sail boats with a big mattress in the middle. We simple sprawled out on the mattresses and watched Aswan from the river. We saw the hotel where Agatha Christy wrote Death on the Nile. Also, there is the palace of Aga Khan, and Elephant Island (curiously, there were no elephants though!).
Eventually we ended up at a Nubian Village. Nubian’s are the dark skinned “native” people from the South of Egypt. They used to live in the Desert until the High Dam was completed and lake Nasir was born. The resulting lake displaced the Nubians to various areas throughout Egypt. I had originally thought that this village would be like the ones in Kenya… very primitive. To my surprise, the houses were “modern” with running water and electricity
We also went to the school. This was a bit rougher. The classrooms were small, the computer lab quite sad and all of the teaching material was littered with American propaganda trade marks. I was followed by a couple of children that were absolutely delighted when I gave them chewing gum. Gum and candy is considered a luxury to them.
After and early night to bed we were awaken at 4am to catch an early morning flight to Abu Semble. It is about 300 km away. There was the option to take a bus, but 6 hours on a bus was not worth a few dollars difference. Besides, a couple of years ago, a bus load of tourists were killed by gun fire along this road. Buses now have to be accompanied by a military convoy.
We arrived quite early after the 30-minute flight. The temple at Abu Semble was once located about a mile away, but it had to be moved when the high dam was built. In its original position, the temple was built in such a way the that the sun would shine on as stature of King Ramsey’s on only 2 days of the year; his birthday and coronation date
Returning back to Aswan we had a free afternoon to relax before the 12 hour train ride back to Cairo. None of us were looking forward to this. The first overnight train ride was horrendous. Arriving at the train station, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the sleeper cars were a bit more modern. This time they looked like they were from the 1980’s. Not as smelly, and a bit roomier. The bed was still a foot shorter than me. Throughout the night the train still slammed on its breaks when there were animals on the tracks and I was catapulted from my bed to the floor.
Before boarding the train, we stopped at a pizza shop to get some take away for dinner. Even though dinner is served on the train, we now know that it is crap and to be avoided at all costs. After eating rice and strange “meat” for a week, the pizza tasted heavenly.
Overall, the food has been for the most part quite bad for this trip. Carbs, carbs and more carbs. Often the food is a bit bland and in spite of this, I have had the runs for the last 4 days
Our tour leaded, Aymen told us that we would be able to buy booze on the train. This would ease the pain of the 12 hour ride. I have stuck it lucky with this group. We are all very social people who love to have beers and chat. Some of the other groups don’t even know each other’s names. However, for this train ride, Aymen was wrong. Because it was Friday, (the holy day) there was no booze available. You could imagine the 15 long faces staring at the bar man when he told us this. Crap. 12 hours on this thing and we have to be sober.
After the crowd in the club car thinned out a bit. The waiter guy beckoned me over and quietly whispered to me that he can “arrange” for some whisky but I had to keep quite and not show the other train staff. For 80 pounds the guy gave me a very large glass of whiskey (about 700 ml) and a can of coke. Fantastic! There is hope. We all sat around sharing it for an hour before heading to bed. I did manage to fall asleep until about 6am when the train driver slammed on his breaks and I ended up on the floor; a very rude awakening.