Abu Simbel and the ugliness of international politics

Abu Simbel Travel Blog

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They moved the temple to her and build a artificial mountain. Ramses II is greeting people coming to the temple.

My alarm is going of really early in the morning - actually I am not sure this time can be described as morning - it is 03.15. I am more used to go to bed at this hour than getting up it is unnatural to get up at this hour. But there is no other way - I want to go to Abu Simbel temple and if you want be there early before it gets too hot you need to be ready to join in the convoy of tourist buses leaving at 4.15-4.30 it is in Egypt hence nobody seems to know exactly when the convoy departs.


Then the drive starts - there might have been a beautiful desert sunrise on the route the guide said he would wake us up to see it. But he was sleeping along with the rest of us. Then pretty early at around 7 or so we get to the entrance of the temple it is already nice and warm. We get tickets and go in.


The temple is impressive and I guess it is the best know of all the Egyptians monuments expect of course the pyramids.

A smaller tempel next to the great temple in Abu Simbel
The front of the temple got some huge statues of the ancient gods - and one of a special god Ramses II one of the longest ruling and most powerful faros in old Egypt. He got so powerful he made himself a god of the same significance as the other gods. You can go into the temple the interior is really with some nice carvings and decorations - and big as well.


Next to the main temple is a smaller temple also with statues and some rooms behind it. It is not quite as impressive though. After seeing the temples I get ready to make my way around the mountain where the temple is build. There is something wrong with this mountain there are bricks and it is too regularly shaped. It is not a real mountain. It is an artificial mountain build when they constructed the Aswan Dam and this area was flooded. They moved the temple - they cut it into small pieces by hand because a chainsaw would make to big cuts in the old temple. Then they build a new mountain on a higher island and moved the temple.

Desert view from the back of a camel


It is a massive work they did. But I can't help but feel this is wrong - and I would have loved to go to this place if it had been flooded. I think it could have been one of the most attractive dive sites in the world. That way they could have kept the magic of the old temple alive in a better way in my opinion. Of course non divers and people who come to visit the temple may have other ideas.


I get out of the temple area at around 8.30 and go to sit in the shade while we wait for the 9 convoy going back. I am already starting to sweat at this hour of the day - I understand why they want people to get to the temple early.


After returning to Aswan and having lunch I go down the market area to look at the shops I walk around for a while and then find a place to buy some stuff.

Old town on the camel ride
Then I am ready to hit back to the hotel. On the way people always ask you where you are from - and I am honest and answer Denmark.


When growing up I was always told - yeah Denmark is a nice place we are kind of neutral - almost as neutrals as Switzerland. I mean Denmark is member of NATO but still had good relations with the Soviet Union. We saved the Jews during WW II hence the Israelis liked us - but we still talk with the Palestinians. So everybody liked Denmark and it would be safe to say you were from Denmark. Boy things are changing.


I met a man - he was pretty big - almost as tall as me and he weighed more than me I think.

Me and my camel
He asked me - where are you from. I answered without thinking - Denmark. Then he said "you are from Denmark. Then I got just one question for you". I thought ok he want me to buy some stuff in his shop - whatever. But no. He said "do you know if the man who made the Muhammad cartoons dead".


Ok I stood there and I was shocked at that very moment and did not know what to say.


For those who have not heard about the Muhammad cartoons it is the biggest international  political crisis Denmark has been in since the Germans occupied us during WW II. Basically it is about a Danish newspaper which wanted to make a point about freedom of speech in Denmark and said you can print everything you want including cartoons making fun of the prophet Muhammad. They did print twelve cartoons of him by twelve different artists. This led to riot in several countries about this paper printing blasphemy and the Danish embassies in Syrian, Lebanon and Iran were burned down. If you want to know more details check this page Muhammad cartoons.


I thought ok what do I tell him. Do I lie or just not tell him the truth. I decided on the last part telling him well I have been travelling for a while and haven't really followed the news so I don't know if he is dead. I never really thought about going into details - like well actually there were twelve different artist and so forth.


After telling him that I just wanted to get going as soon as possible - not feeling so safe about saying I am from Denmark anymore.


After getting over my shock I went to the river to sail across the Nile and go for a camel ride in the afternoon. It was supposed to be 2 hours - at least that was what the man selling it told me. It turned out to be 45 minutes. Then back to the hotel and the pool to sit and relax.

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They moved the temple to her and b…
They moved the temple to her and …
A smaller tempel next to the great…
A smaller tempel next to the grea…
Desert view from the back of a cam…
Desert view from the back of a ca…
Old town on the camel ride
Old town on the camel ride
Me and my camel
Me and my camel
Abu Simbel
photo by: ellechic