Dendara and Abydos Temples - Middle Egypt

Trip Start Oct 24, 2010
Trip End Jan 16, 2011

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Flag of Egypt  , Sūhāj,
Monday, December 20, 2010

We submitted our passport copies to the hotel. They arranged the day trip downriver, northward to the Temples of Abydos and Dendara. We left the hotel early, around 6:00 AM, jumped into a mini van, and were suprised to find a couple of nice guys from Memphis in the back, and another quiet Brit and his chinese wife and child. We were off and running with our breakfast in bags heading down river to visit yet more temples.

By my count we passed through 27 checkpoints all manned with various armed guards. There were red and white portable fence structures  placed across a lane on each end of the checkpoint. There were often spike strips behind the gates, which would puncture any car tires, if they ran the checkpoint. The police at these stations would carry an assortment of arms, usually Kalishnakovs, and Ak-47s. Occasionally we could see a small tek- 9 under the jackets of a plainclothes member of the team. I was careful when trying to photograph these stations, but managed to get a few shots from a distance. The armed personnel stand behind a movable metal shields that had wheels on the bottom and a bullet proof glass in the middle. They were placed at intersections along the route.  At one major bridge crossing, we saw 4 armored personnel carriers with uniformed troop standing around outside and on the bridge. It was a bit reassuring to see their presence, yet a bit disconcerting to wonder why they were there. At one point, later in the day, I used Barb as a blind and took a photo of one of the metal shields. Barb was waving at the camera and I snapped the security point. 

Periodically, the check points would ask our driver , Mohammed, a question in Arabic. He would say something, then reply "Canadians and Australians. " We all said nothing. 

It was interesting to see the amount of security in place along this road. Ninty five percent of Egyptians live along the Nile River. They all live on a long strip of land sometimes only a mile wide. We laughed nervously when we passed the signs that said "Have a happy Journey." We drove past hundreds of posters featuring the smiling, yet stern image of Hosnei Mubarek. One of our earlier tour guides called him Hosnei the first, calling him Egypt's new Pharoah, since he has been in power for nearly 30 years. Some believe he is grooming his son, Gamal, for the job as he is now in his 80's. 

Our trip northward carried us through agricultural land, full of farms of sugar cane, Camels, poor villages. Villagers were burning piles of palm leaves.  Near Qena, we passed two maxi vans covered in wire cages.  Each van had two gun ports on the back, and four along each side. We continued on passed more posters of  Hosni the first.

Over a week ago I met a young man in a temple. I thought he had a tripod under his casual street clothes. On closer inspection, he had a tek - 9 machine pistol barrel protruding near his waist line. He was a plainclothes security guard. He said Eqypt was in need of new leadership, but he could not say so publically. He said if he said the words "Mubarek, no good", he would be handcuffed, and "never see the sunshine again."  Given that, I think I will change the subject, as I am still here for a week or so. Moving right along.,...   

Other than the check points, the drive was really uneventful. I am glad of that. We first visited the site of Dendara temple. The Egyptians held a festival each year that ran for 40 days. They would unite the God statue of Hathor from Dendara with the Statue Horus from Edfu , many miles upstream. The purpose was to provide some "Honeymoon" time for the two Gods who were married, but unfortunately, had their main palaces many miles apart. This annual procession took 40 days to complete.

Both the Dendara and Abydos temples showed signs of Greek occupation as well. In one for example was a stome head of the Greek God Bes, it looked very dissimilar to the Egyptian Gods.    
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don mckee on

Boy, this is the first of your posts that made me a little nervous. There is so much evident security that it makes you wonder if they might be expecting trouble. As usual, the pictures are wonderful..

thomasgillam on

Don, I had the same feeling. In Middle Egypt they have a strong fundementalist attitude. There are opposition parties. Sometimes blocked from running candidtates.There are areas in the country that are simply off limits to tourists! Makes you feel a bit unwelcome.

On the other hand the Tourism Industry is EVERYTHING to the Egyptian economy. The loss on 12./26/10 of eight American in the bus crash between Aswan and Abu Simbel was a traffic accident. But their are no traffic enforcement her and ill equipted vehicles abound. Wait til my next post. T

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