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Michael’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 15 Mar 2006

Location: Aswan, Egypt

MapOkay, so the tour is moving along well...

It is safe top say that the monuments in Egypt are there for a reason. Man these guys could do some incredible stuff considering some of the pyramids, temples and other gear is up to 5000 years old.

The first port of call for the first 'real day' of the tour was the pyramids in Giza. Now, as long as I can remember I have wanted to see the pyramids, and finally I had done it. You cannot begin to describe the sheer size of these things. And pictures do not do it justice - but I took my fair share anyway!

We went into the 2nd pyramid, as it was one fifth the price of the great pyramid, and from all reports, had exactly the same nothing inside it! The great pyramid, the tallest of the three (main) pyramids in the Giza plateau was constructed for Cheops, the next one was for his son, and the one after that for his grandson. Each one got smaller, not wanting to outshine their father.

The inside of the pyramid was small and craped, and very dark at one stage as the light had gone out. There is only one passage, and people are moving in both directions, up and down a 45 degree slope, just 4 foot high. Needless to say it wasn't comfortable, and some of the oldies had a hard time. It was humid as buggery and quite warm inside. Everything had been pilfered from the pyramid, either by robbers, or ending up in the Egyptian Museum. The walls were bare, as the pyramids were created in the 3rd dynasty, and it wasn't until the 5th dynasty that the egyptians started painting the walls of temples and tombs.

Despite the bland, boring description of it all, yopu can just imagine what is would have been like to see when all three pyramids were coveerd in white limestone and smooth, rather than the jagged, leggo block like construction they are now. It is safe to say that I had the theme song to Indiana Jones going off in my head, and basically have had for three days now!

We jumped in the bus and moved to a new position behind the pyramids to get a closer look at the 3rd one, and get a nice photo opportunity with all three in the one photo. On the way past, we drove past the new creation of an open air theatre, within 200m of the great pyramid, that will one day house the opera Aida. What a great back drop - if it ever gets done. The thing has been getting built longer than the eastern freeway extension, and is still further from completion. Quite amazing given the accomplishments that people on the same land made 5000 years ago, they can't get a theatre built in under a decade now????

Then the sphinx. This place just makes you want to jump in a time machine and go back to see what it looked like when it was completed. The sphinx has definitely seen better days, but that is to be expected. The biggest tradgedy of the whole thing is that there is caffolding up infront of the sphinx faces to allow for restoration. However, the scaffolding is VERY small, and wouldn't pass worksafe laws in Australia, and still allows a pretty good view of the sphinx. The other shame being that the sphinx was originally carved out of the one block of stone, and now appears to the created by lumps of stones due to the restoration process.

Then, after the pyramids and sphinx, we went to the papyrus factory, and got shown how to make papyrus paper. Some people then went and bought stuff, but I held off, not wanting to have to carry things with me for the next 12 months. Having said that, some of the bigger paintings on the papyrus paper were gorgeous, and could have easily been framed and hung up at home... maybe next time!

That pretty much concluded the day, and the night saw us pack our bags for the 13 hour overnight train ride from Cairo to Aswan. Let me saw that I was glad when that was over. The train was hard enough to sleep on, but when you consider that by half way through the journey, the toilets had flooded, it was a nasty experience from satrt to finish. The one highlight, is that I met a couple girls from Perdue, on spring break doing a different tour in Egypt, and one of them was from Flossmore, Illinois, and she assures me it is just round the corner from Crete (where my dad grew up).... small world. That was honestly the most exciting thing about the whole train journey, besides finally getting to Aswan.

Anyway, next time I'll be in Luxor, and tell you about Aswan. It will be in a few days cos I'm on a sail boat (felluca) for the next three nights. Till then, feel safe in the knowledge that I wont be on any busses for a while!