Archive for December, 2010

Egypt Day 10: The Ruins of Karnak

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Wake the Sun? »

For our last day in Luxor, we headed off to see the Temple of Karnak. Karnak was amazing! Karnak is considered Egypt’s best preserved temple. It is dedicated to Amun (the principal Egyptian god) though there are several temples dedicated to various gods within its confines. The entire complex is huge and covers 100 hectometers. Of this only about 20% remains. Excavation and restoration is constantly being done.

(more…)


Egypt Day 9: The Valley of the Kings

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

1 Woke the Sun »

Today we got up bright and early for a trip to the Valley of the Kings.  First was a visit to the Colossi of Memnon, two massive statues that are all the remained of what was once a large temple complex made of mud-bricks. One of the statues is full of holes where excavators attempted to put it back together after it had been found in ruins.  As a result, scores of pigeons had made their home in the cracks.  It’s a bit disconcerting to see one statue full of pigeons and other other free.

(more…)


Egypt Day 8: Edfu Temple, the Gateway to Luxor

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Wake the Sun? »

I spent a rather fitful night on board our felucca.  The felucca was parked against the bank, and the mattress was comfortable …. but the temperature, while comfortable during the day, dropped to pretty cold in the early morning.  I found myself waking up fairly often due to cold despite the fact that I had all of winter clothes and a sleeping bag.  To make matters worse, a cruise ship had pulled up next to us and left its running lights on all night shining it straight into my face.

(more…)


Egypt Day 7: Cruising Down the Nile

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Wake the Sun? »

It wasn’t nearly as cold as I though it was going to get and I had a rather pleasant sleep.  In the morning we had another home cooked Nubian breakfast (and Jack got himself a henna tattoo) before departing on our now-fixed felucca down the Nile.

(more…)


Egypt Day 6: Life with Nubians

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Wake the Sun? »

Due to yesterday’s arduously long day, we had a fairly low key day today.  Ingird and I headed back to the Temple of Philae to get some day views while Jack and Alissa walked the Nile.  I think we may have gotten overcharged but it turned out okay.  Our taxi driver was quite nice.

(more…)


EgyptDay 5: Mighty Abu Simbel and Gentle Philae

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Wake the Sun? »

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
– Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley

When I said ‘early’ I mean EARLY!  As in 2:30am in the morning early!  Due to its proximity to Sudan, all tour groups heading to  Abu Simbel must have an armed escort.  The convoy leaves only twice per day, and it just so happened that ours was the 4am departure.

(more…)


Egypt Day 4: Merry Christmas from Aswan!

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Wake the Sun? »

Merry Christmas from Aswan!  Our overnight train from Cairo got in at about 9am  Aswan is one of Egypt’s most southern cities and is home to the Nubians, a race of people that occupied ancient Egypt’s southern border and were its primary enemies.  Today it thrives primarily due to the tourist industry.

(more…)


Egypt Day 3: Of Camels and Pyramids

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Wake the Sun? »

Christmas Eve day was the first day with our tour group together as one happy family (nicknamed “Sawa” by our tour leader  … which means “family” in Arabic) and we left bright and early in the morning to see the Pyramids of Giza (again).  The morning mist was quite heavy and when we first got there you could barely make the outline of the pyramid.  It was a tad depressing but slowly the sun started burning it off.  Made for interesting photos at any rate!

(more…)


Egypt Day 2: Age of Pyramids

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Wake the Sun? »

Jet-lag had us going to bed at 7pm and not waking up till … well 7am.  During the night the call to prayer must have sounded at least 2 times and the horns never ceased their honking.  In any case we had arranged a private driver/tour guide that day for a foray to the Pyramids. (The guide turned out to be one of our hostel’s workers studying toward his official tour guide license.  He showed s his textbook where he was learning to read hieroglyphs… cool guy.) Prior to departing, our tour guide-in-training took us to a back alley for breakfast.  If I hadn’t been taken there, I seriously would never have eaten there.  It was a table set up in back alley-way teaming with garbage and interesting (not in a good way) smells.  The chef dished out a lentil-based paste which you mixed with cilantro and tomatoes and ate on a pita bread. Apparently this is the standard fare that every Egyptian eats in the morning, and indeed many came by for some grub while we stood there eating.  One of the more interesting meals I’ve ever had.

(more…)


Egypt Day 1: The Sights (and Smells) of Cairo

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Wake the Sun? »

A 14 hour flight + 7 hour time difference and I finally landed in Cairo. We flew in at exactly sunrise, which would have afforded amazing views except that the window was a bit dirty and there was much fog. Our leg to Cairo was also quite empty, as most of the passengers got off at Luxor. Cairo is an interesting city. Taxiing through the city with its crazy traffic jams and yellow smog haze gave off the same feeling as Beijing. However, I realized later it was quite a bit more akin to Vietnam, albeit the hawkers are not nearly as aggressive and there are a fair number of people who just as rather have a chat than sell you something. Plus the roads are full of cars as opposed to motorbikes, not that it stops the cacophony of discordant honking and death defying road crossing (signals? What are those?) The city is also full of faded decor of yesteryear, old European facades that have seen better days but stubbornly hanging on amid the crowds of tourists and modernity. There are also mosques and churches everywhere, often side-by-side with equally imposing minarets and parapets (which can build it taller?) Due to jet-lag we opted to just wander aimlessly around the city (as guidebooks have suggested) and lose ourselves to the sensory overload that is Cairo.

(more…)