Egypt Blog

Trip Start Oct 06, 2005
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Trip End Dec 24, 2005


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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hello,

Thought would try and continue the blog, as long as Africa's internet cafe access permits anyhow!

What have we been up to? Where do I start, but saying that Egypt has a hell of alot to see, thinking of coming?, then leave at least two weeks, as you will need some time on the beach after travelling this country!!

Cairo:

Wow! This is a city designed for 2 million people, largely with British influence (actually was more like governance!) and actually has 20 million people, and you seem to notice every single one of them, and especially the pesky taxi drivers and shop owners!!

Giza, Pyramids

These really are spectacular and photos speak volumes, but is a bit bizarre that the city goes right up to the edge of them, to the extent that as you are restricted in walking around some of them, you could just get nearly as good a view from the car parks than you do when you get out of your car! The three pyramids can be seen from a long way off in the city and so you are looking at them from your car for 20 minutes as you drive nearer. Hence you dont really get the "WOW" factor as if you came around a corner and there they were (this is why I think I liked Abu Simbel so much - plus stuff worth seeing inside Abu Simbel but will write about that later)

My idea to increase the build up is to make people walk to them for four days (ala Machu Pichu) throught the desert!

Anyway all said and done they are very impressive, and being 140 metres in height scarily bigger than you imagine. The fact that they were covered in polished white limestone (one still has this around the top) would have made them look truly awesome in Pharoah days I am sure. The only problem was with this approach of marking where you were buried so promiently is that everyone knew the approach to burial of the pharoahs and so if you were building a headstone that big, there was sure as hell of alot of booty buried underneath. Hence it was quite a big clue for thiefs as to where to get some gold, and consequently is bugger all left inside!!!

The Egyptian museum was a good visit if only to see just how much booty they buried themselves with. Tutankamun (just because I visit the country doesn't mean I know how to get the spelling correctly!!) who was a totally insignificant pharoah that died at the age of 19, never went to war or had any kids, was buried with a silly amount of gold. Beds, chairs, chariots, toys, jewellery weapons etc etc. all were buried with him, and take up about half a floor of the whole museum - and to remind you he was as about as significant as Prince Andrew!! He was the only pharoah who's tomb was found intact out of all of them because they built another tomb on top (told you he was that important) and hence the theifs found that one, and didnt think there would be another one underneath. History lesson over! But basically if this one tiny pharoah was found with so much booty, imagine how much the important pharoahs and those who built the pyramids (not the most significant out of all of them incidently) were buried with. Now I figure that there are alot of private collectors in this world with a fair few egyptian artefacts knocking around, or a fair few women in this world wearing jewellery made from 4000 year old gold!!! Rant finished!

We had a good day seeing Giza, another step pyramid at Saqara, and Memphis (the main egyptian pharoah town), plus swinging by the usual papryrus, perfume, statue and carpet factories/museums - where a 5 minute demonstration is followed by 10 minutes of hard selling.

With the main Egyptian museum and pyramids done, we were good to get out of Cairo, whose only saving grace was a peaceful sunset feluccs ride on the Nile.

An overnight train to Aswan, saw Vic have a broken seat, and gallantly I offered my working recliner chair. Politely refused by herself, all the same I then offered that I would fall asleep for the first half of the journey and then she could have my chair for the second half. Well let me just say that I have always had a bit of abilty to fall asleep on transport, so add in a recliner and a nice twoing and froing on the train, saw me sleep til dawn (Ooops!). All gallant intentions out the window the glaring girlfriend next to me told me that it was time to switch seats. In my defence we didnt get on the train til 11pm and sunrise is 5am, and we still had 4 hours left, but I think we both knew the best of the nights sleep was behind us (and had by yours truly!!).

Aswan:
Arriving in Aswan saw an afternoon to both the old (British) and new (Egyptian/Russian) dams of the Nile, and to Philae temple on an island in lake Nassar.

A 3.30am wake up call (this became part of a horrible pattern!) saw us set off for Abu Simbel the next morning - to beat the crowds. The fact that we joined a 30 bus convoy all heading towards the same place, was not mentioned and so every photo neatly has a couple of hundred tourists in it! The reason for the convoy is that the Egyptian government makes traffic travelling across country move in timed police escorted convoys for security reasons, as purely a preventitive measure. Nonetheless 3 hours drive through the desert saw us arrive at one of my favourite temples. The photos dont quite do it justice as it is like Petra in Jordan but there is good stuff to see inside to. The fact that they moved this from its original site (due to the creation of Lake Nassar) actually takes absolutely nothing away from it, as they have in fact recreated the whole thing in exactly the way it was, including constructing the big hill that it is embedded in.

Returning to Aswan we then boarded a felucca for a leisurely two days sailing towards Kom Ombo and Luxor. A great experience that I would recommend to all, as you silently float down the nile where desert and palm trees meet the great 'river of life' (a little dramatic you might think?) but it really is a good experience. Just be prepared to squat in a field whilst donkeys casually strut past!!


Luxor:

A brisk wake up was had by all as a large five star boat was moving towards our tiny felucca and was about 10m away from my face. It was busily trying to back itself into its reserved dock where we just so happened to be docked. Meanwhile our very, very laid backed and partly stoned Nubian captain - was busy telling the local constabulary that was pointing out, that we shouldnt be there to, f**k off in english, as he hurriedly pulled the boat along the quayside!

A visit to Kom Ombo temple, and then further visit to Edfu temple saw many a hieroglyphic of people offering sacrifices to the pharoahs who are represented as various gods. This is definetly a case of when you have seen one, you have seen them all, as after your 20th it gets a little boring.

Arriving in Luxor we then visited Luxor temple at night which was spectacular and provided a very different ambient atmosphere, with the photos again doing the temple more justice.

Another 4am wake up call saw the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and Hatchesphut (pronounced hot-chicken soup) temple visited. All worth while, and worth getting up early for to beat the heat, and it was good to see some 3000 year old hieroglyphics with the colour still on them.

Dahab:
I am now writing this in Dahab, which is a great laid back town with very little hassle, hotels on the sea, and a good selection of smoothies and breakfasts to be worked through. All while you lounge around on rugs and cushions. Having been here six days now, in all seriousness we have not seen a single cloud, as blue skies and blazing sun are kept cool by a strong sea breeze.

Ramadam:

LESSONS LEARNED:

You will meet alot of Aussies in Egypt, all of which seem be "on the way home"?!!

QUOTES:

"Beep, beep"
Not strictly a quote, however Egyptians seem to think the car horn is an extension of their voice you tend to hear it alot. I thought Lima taxi drivers were optimists, however I dont know if the Cairo taxi drivers are worse (but they are certainly on a par with them) or just that their are more of them. Either way it is very annoying after a few days, to not walk ten paces without a taxi beeping you, and slowing down to say, and this is a quote...

..."taxi mister" or "you want taxi".
Regardless of the fact that the aforementioned taxi may see you step right out of a taxi, if you are fair skinned and walking around the streets you get will hear these three 'quotes' constantly.

"Good morning, excuse me, where you from"

Walking past any shop in Egypt you will hear this, or..

..."I give you good price" or...

..."I give you no hassle" or...

..."just come and look" or

..."you want waterpipe" (substitute waterpipe for any one of the following depending on what shop you happen to be walking past: spices, T-shirt, statue, painting etc etc)

This constant hassle again gets very annoying especially as you politely engage in conversation with the first few, as you walk past but after ten or so, not understanding the words no thank you, it really can become a constant annoyance, and you end up being rude to the one guy that is just trying to say good morning!!
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