So little sleep, so many wonders
Luxor Travel Blog› entry 6 of 13 › view all entries
I am now in beautiful Luxor after a couple fo whirl wind days in Aswan. We took the night train from Cairo, which was not nearly as exciting as the process of getting tickets. We ran into a couple of solo travelers from the states who were on the train directly behind us. It is interesting, but while there are simlly a ton of folks traveling through Egypt, it does not seem like there are many solo folks from the states, mostly people in tour groups. Since we had pre-booked our hostle and our trip to Abu Simbel, we were picked up at the train station and taken to our hotel without having the deal with the chaos. We were lucky to have both a bathroom adn airconditioning, and letme just metion that the high temperatures around Aswan were reaching the 100 mark. We wandered around fairly aimlessly for a bit along with Bob from the train and then took the shuttle boat our to Elephantine Island, where we saw some quite impressive garbage piles and goat gonads, but not much else of note. Still, when in Aswan... We also got followed arround the Island by some children who wanted money and pens (there is something up with pens here). One of the grown up folks ultimately scared them off.
The next day we took a shuttle bus out to Abu Simbel. The trip os about 3 hours each way and all of the vehicles travel via security caravan. This seems rather dumb because if you want to create a target it seems like there is no better way than lumping all of the tourists together, and they have not had any incidents in years. It was a rather goofy process, trundeling along in our little bus with all of the busses big and little. The caravan left at 4 a.m. which is really not my time of day. After another breakfast of lots and lots of bread (which is, by the way the same breakfast that we had in Cairo and I expect will be similar to what we have here in Luxor) we headed off. I was desperatly hoping to get some sleep in the van, but no such luck as it was profoundly uncomfortable.
The two temples at Abu Simbel were relocated to keep them from the rising of lake nassar when the new Aswan dam was erected in the nile. The temples, built by Ramses the second for himself and his wife Nereftitti, are spectacular and definately worth the trip, but the way that the caravan system works guarantees that there will be massive crowds. And there were massive crowds. You tend to have to perfect a certain shuffle step to move through the tight spaces between the people. So, while ti was lovely, it was also frustrating.
When we got back to Aswan, we met up with the two folks that we met on the train and another fellow who is studying at AUC to go out to Phille. The temples at Phille are on an island and, although there is a set price the chances that you actually end up paying that price are practically nil and since the boats are the only way to get out there you are pretty much stuck. That said. Elliot (the AUC student) negotiated a decent enough price and everything here is pretty inexcpensive once it is changes into dollars. Something can be 10 pounds and you think "I would never pay that much" and then suddenly remember that it is less than 2 dollars. The temples on Phille were for me the most wonderful thing that we have seen on the trip so far. Some of it was the temples themselves, some was being on an island, and much was due to the lack of crowds and, relatively speaking a lack of requests of baksheesh. We could just sit by the temple of Isis and be at peace for a while.
After we got back to Aswan we decided to grab a drink. Ramadan had just ended that day, so suddenly there was quite a good deal of merrimennt. We ended up at a place along the nile up on the upper deck. We were there for hours, drinking beer and smoking Shisha, which made my head spin a bit, but is one of those things that you are supposed to try while in egypt. The place was mostly filled with locals being happy about the end of Ramadan. We had origionally gone there to try to decide whether to take a train to Luxor that night or the next morning. The next morning won and so we stayed there for the next 6 hours. Got back to the hotel very late and had to wake up for the morning train that we hoped would have seats available. Which meant that once again, we had to wake up early.
The train station was the kind of chaos that I have learned to expect. I watched the bags while Chris and Bob stodd in different lines. Through the pushing and shoving and getting into the wrong line and what have you we managed to all hop aboard the train. I slept like a rock. Elliot got off the train in Edfu, which is supposed to haev some fantastic temples, but with the huge bags that Chris and I have was just not an option. I have a very space shuttle look with my bag on. Chris has an even bigger bag since her trip is 12 times as long as mine, but she has recently been inspired to try to down size her packing load after Kilimanjaro.
I may have mentioned the touts and the beggers in Aswan, but that was nothing compared to what we have seen so far in Luxor. As soon as we got off the train there were masses of folks trying to get out attention and of course our money. Chris and I had booked a place in advance (equivelant price of around $2 a day) and we saw soemone holding a sign with the hotel name so we managed to avoid much of the chaos. The hotel is kind of nice and kind of hillarious. It has a very intense Bob Marley theme to the decor. Everywhere there are pictures of Bob, posters, album covers...all things Marley. It is clean and the folks who run it are nice and not pushy with the tours and what not so I am very happy with our choice so far. After reaching the hotel after several nights of practically no sleep, and frankly no real sleep to speak of since leaving home, Chris and I both crashed for several hours, thank goodness.
Since waking up we wandered about looking for food and we saw the Luxor Temple. The food was an adventure becuase the place we were looking for was both difficult to locate and closed. We ended up at a balcony restraunt by the temple where we could watch a facinating street scene. People hopping on and off the local shuttle busses, horse carts running by, adn all the while the tourists being chased by kids asking for money or pens. Then we went down into the throng again and made our way into the temple. It was all lit up for the evening and quite beautiful, though I am sad to say my pictures did not turn out very well becuase of the lighting. People kept trying to accosting us trying to take pictures of us so that we would give them money. I really do not quite understand how that is supposed to work. It is interesting the number of languages that people will try. For some reason I almost always get Spanish first while everyone thinks that Chris is Australian.
Tomorow we plan to go to the Valley of Kings. The next day Karnak and then a 15 hour pvernight bus ride to Dahab. Maybe I will get to sleep in Dahab. Probably not.