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Michael’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 23 Mar 2006

Location: Dahab, Egypt

Map(This is the 2nd update in the last 24 hours, if you missed the first, and want to read it, go to bottom of the page and select the older diary entries... MK)

Still Day 4... But Felluca Sailing

Okay, for those who don't know, a felluca is a simple primitive wooden yacht basically. And I was going to spend 3 night on one of these things sailing the Nile. In order to keep sun from scorching you, there was a thick cotton tarp erected over the deck, which gave you about 4 feet clearance. Not much help for standing up! And the deck was covered in thin matresses for lounging on during the day and sleeping on during the night. Oh yeah, and did I mention no toilet or shower?

Anyway, the adventure started at 2pm, and by 3pm we hadn't gone anywhere. We were busy doing donuts in the middle of the Nile. Apparently the wind was bad for sailing. We pulled over for an hour, and the wind subsided marghinally, and we managed to get in a couple hours sailing before sundown. However, we couls till basically see the hotel from where we camped, prompting people to wonder if we should catch a cab back for the night.

Once pulled over, the cotton tarps went up on the sides, and back of the yacht, basically creating a 3 walled, floor and roofed room. This was basically to minimise the wind blowing thru overnight. Smoked a big of sheesha overnight (tourist stuff again, thank god) and was in bed by 1030pm. Troubled sleeping though, cos the MOON was so bright. Go figure.

Day 5 -
Okay, so here was the dreaded moment. A combination of Nile tummy problems, and being stuck on a boat with no toilet.... Damn, crapped out on that one (literally). Had very little breakfast and didn't eat any lunch.

We pulled in at lunchtime at a sandy back with a huge sand dune, and climbed it to the top. Immediately I felt like vommitting, and headed back to the bottom. Addmittedly, Martin did have a spew at the top, but that was more over exertion of trying to run up the hill rather than being sick.

I spent most of the afternoon doing very little, other than reading a book (Deception Point - Dan Brown). Once we got to our evening location, and feeling the effect of a crook stomach, and diggin for a toilet, I felt the urge to try and 'cleanse' myself. Hence i was the first (non-tour guide) to take a dip in the Nile.

Very little dinner and felt sorry for myself. The Nubians pulled out the bongos, and we had more renditions of "She'll be comin round the mountain" on the sandy beach with the bon fire... trust me, they don't know how to bon fire the way we do at home (haha). Went to sleep pretty early, along with everyone else.

Day 6 -
Woke up feeling marginally better, and actually managed to stomach some breakfast. However, by the end of the day, i was feeling worse again, but nothing like the day before.

By just after lunch we were at Kom Ombo, and maybe it was just my sickness, but I did feel like I was starting to get templitis. A common disease in Egypt, where you don't give a stuff what you do, as long as it doesn't involve looking at temples. That said, it was still pretty amazing again. Especially being able to sail right up to it on the Nile and go inside.

After the temple, we sailed back upstream to a grassy field to park for the night - alonmg with every other felluca by the looks of it, there were four lined up in the one spot. Once out of the boat, we pulled out the soccer ball and kicked it around for a while. As the sun started to fade, and we'd worked up enough of a sweat, the game plan was to jump into the Nile. Besides, had to wash the donky turdss off the bottom of our feet as we were all playing bare footed. As it was Craig and I were the only two to have a dip (5 guys - plus Sam, the guide - did in total during the sailing, none of the girls did), while the local kids stole the ball and started playing soccer themselves.

That night we had a birthday cake for Esther's birthday, and played some poker (Esther had collected rocks for use as chips). Stan, the 71 year old, was the wiley old veteran and you really couldn't get a read on him. He did well to hold on for a win, I was having enough trouble holding my eyes open. The old fella would look at his cards and appear to subconsciously whisper to himslef what he had. He'd turn over, and you'd find that he really had what he whispered... 3 hands later you'd catch him again, and he'd have lied.... tricky old dog.

Day 7 -
The end of the sailing was at about 630am. The Nubian sailers had us on the water by 6am, and most of us were still asleep till after we had set sail. By 630am we were back at Kom Ombo, getting ready to depart the Felluca's for our bus ride up to Luxor, about 180km.

The bus ride in itself was exciting enough, with a 2.5hr journey, travelling many sections at well over 120km/hr, sometimes as fast as 140km/hr - and lots of horn tooting. At one point Stan yelled out to the driver to "slow down, I mighht be old, but I still got alot of living to do". Whilst we may have had similar thoughts during the trip, he probably could have approached the matter a little less 'loudly'.

We lobbed into Luxor and freshened up with a well deserved shower in the hotel. Only problem, my shower had no COLD water.... 75 degrees hot shower, didn't sound like much fun, so I went door knocking on the other rooms till I found a spare shower with cold and hot water.

After we were all feeling 100 times better, we jumped on a horse and carriage ride to Karnak Temple. Here's were I don't know if the temple was really really impressive, or it was just the guide. We had our best guide of the entire trip shouwing us around Karnak temple, and it made the experience so much more than some of the other temples, dispelling any templeitis I was sufferring. Either way, I left Karnak temple thoroughly impressed.

It was at one stage almost entirely covered in sand, and basically forgotton till the mid 1800's. You can see the etchings of peoples names in the temple walls, getting lower and lower over the years as they continued to remove the sand from the temple. It was built from the inside-out, with successive temples being added in an outward pattern over the 1500 years that it was constantly being constructed.

A quiet night in the hotel, with most people deciding to order Pizza Hut delivery to the hotel. We sat up on teh roof, eating pizza, trying to get Craig's sheesha pipe to work (finally did, mmm tourist flavoured apple and mango tobacco) and having a couple drinks. Don't worry, I have no intention of continuing the sheesha, infact I probably wont have one ever again....

Day 8 -
Woke up at 530 am (I thought this was a holiday...) for our donkey ride into The Valley of The Kings. Now, I have no idea how they chose who got what donkey, but I (and my donkey) got shafted. The rumour in group was that my donkey was being punished fopr something it must have done wrong by having to lug my arse around. It was also the only donkey to 'Eeh-aw' during the 7km journey into the Valley of The Kings. Poor donkey. Apparently it's back looked like a folding bed when I sat on it!

Add that to the fact that it was so small that my feet could touch the ground much of the way. That would casue a real problem about halfway along the journey, when the poor thing, obviously suffering the same Nile belly I had, let rip with some major sloppyness. With my legs hanging so low, I wore most of the back splash off the ashphalt onto the back of my legs and shoes.... Nasty.

Once at the Valley of the Kings, where they burried all of the pharoahs, and found the new tomb KV63 in February this year, we headed towards 3 tombs. Each ticket gets you entry to 3 tombs, except Tutunkahmun, which is much extra. A number of the tombs are also closed to public, almost permanently (Ramses II) and the others are shut in rotation for preservation. As such we went into the tombs of Ramses I, IV and IX. All were much bigger than I had imagines, after crawling thru the pyramids, and most had some incredibly beautifully painted walls. Ramses I, who ruled for just 1 year, was rather plain, as once the Pharoah dies, the tomb is stopped, the mouring and enbalming poeriod takes place (70 days), then the next pharoah starts his tomb. On the map of the tombs, it's also apparent to see just how long (and powerful) a reign Ramses II had, with by far the biggest tomb, as well as a tomb for 'The Sons of Ramses II' with room for his 125 sons!

After our 3 tombs, we walked up the hills behind the Valley of The Kings, and over the rock hills to have a magnificent aerial view of Queen Hatshepsut's Temple. It was an amazing walk, and the views from above, certainly added to the value of going inside the temple. As far as temples go, it was pretty neglected, and is still under restoration. But the story behind it is pretty impressive, with the Queen being the only female Pharoah in history, and her nephew destroying all images of her, or her name on just about every temple in Egypt when he got into power some time after the passing of Hatshepsut. Then, my poor donkey had to lug me back another 7km to the Nile, and it seemed like he was expecting me to carry him at some stage... Poor thing...

We had a very quiet afternoon, trying to prepare for a return trip on the overnight train to Cairo. With no-one looking forward to it, everyone was trying their hardest to stay awake in the afternoon to give them maximum sleep chances on the trip back. Add to that some essential oils from the perfume shop that Bec bought that were supposed to help sleep, and I actually managed to get a 'good' six or so hours sleep on the train. And by good, I don't mean good... I just mean I at did better than the sleepless journey south.

Okay, next issue will be the end of the tour in Cairo, and my trip Dahab. Tomorrow I go scuba diving, so wish me luck, can't be any scarier than the bus ride here though... trust me.