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Maurice’s Travel Diary

Monday, 25 Aug 2008

Location: Luxor, Egypt

MapEgypt. Installment II
Hi
I left Cairo on the overnight sleeper train to Aswan. The travel agent
had booked me a private cabin complete with bed, dinner and breakfast.
I arrived in Aswan at 8 pm the next morning and then on to my hotel
The first trip was to the Aswan dams. Lower (older) and the newer and
more grand upper dam. I would have liked to have got a photo of the
full sweep of the dam, but that was not possible. It was however
impressive in its magnitude.
Back at the hotel in the afternoon I decided on a swim and foolishly
went down to the pool in bare feet. Big mistake as the temperature was
in the mid forties and when I decided I had had enough (the pool was
great) I found the stone area around the pool too hot for my tootsies.
It got worse when I took a short cut over the glazed tiles. Geez it
was as if someone had stuck hundreds of needles in my foot. Luckily I
had a towel and had to inch my way to the doorway with the towel on
the ground and me standing on it. Talk about frying eggs on the
footpath, you really could have here.

The next morning I had to be ready by 6am so that meant a 5 am call
and breakfast in a box. We flew out to Abu Simbell at 7.30 am and
arrived at Abu Simbel nice and early 8 am. I reckoned we would be the
only people there at this time i the morning. WRONG! there were at
least twenty buses in the car park when we arrived and more were
following us. Nevertheless it was a remarkable achievement. When they
built the high dam, this Egyptian temple was in danger of being
inundated as they filled the dam, so they cut it -by hand - into
blocks and transported it 200 mtrs up the slope. They reassembled it
exactly as it had been, but even more they built an artificial
mountain around it. Quite remarkable.
Back to Aswan and onto the boat for the nile cruise. There are some
280 of the huge boats, each having between 75 and a hundred cabins
that cruise between Aswan and Luxor. We had only done 20ks and I had
counted 40 boats passing us in the oppostie direction.
They are quite luxurious and the meals as good as the ones on board
the Pacific cruise Jan and I took a few years back.
The most gripping moment was the second bridge. On the upper deck is a
set of sunshades about 3 mtrs square that stand on hinged poles about
8 feet high. To prepare for this bridge, these shades had been laid
flat and as we went under the bridge, all the maintenance men on the
top deck crouched down - as did anyone else standing - as the boat
crept under the bridge with very little to spare. If I had been
standing I would have been decapitated. Don't know what they do when
the river is in flood!!
We also went through flood gates. This boat is around 100 mtrs long
and 30 mtrs wide and the gate we went through would be 31 mtrs wide.
The captain steered through very carefully and didn't touch either
side.
We stopped at Kom Obom -golden hills temple - and then on to Efu for
more temples eventually arriving at Luxor at 8 pm. Very warm still and
beautifully clear skies.
This morning visited The Valley of The Kings where there are 62 tombs
again it was an early morning start and by now I have given up trying
to beat the crowds. When we got there at least 20 coaches and as many
mini-buses were there. I went into 3 of the tombs full of
heirogliphics except for Tutankhammen's. The reason being that though
he is probably the most famous of the kings, he only reigned for 7 or
8 years and as they commenced building the tomb for the king as soon
as he was appointed, they didn't have time to finish his. Some took 25
years to complete.
His was famous because it was the only one found that was intact
complete with the treasure. That was in 1922 and up till then had been
covered by the debris from the other tomsabove that had been
systematically robbed. ( I reckon it was the butler!)
We have a couple more temples to see tomorrow and I have managed to
get some good photos, but I am afraid I can't put them on the web page
until I get back to Farnks in Guisely. This place costs a fortune and
he doesn't charge so much. He'll probably have raised his prices due
to the war in Georgia!
I leave the boat tomorrow for one night in a hotel and then back on
the sleeper train to Cairo and eventuall arrive in Manchester on the
26th.
Not sure whether you will get any more from Egypt.
Cheers
Maurice