...and then there were three
Dandarah Travel Blog› entry 9 of 23 › view all entries
So Pavel left us but he'd given us plenty of tips for our journey North to Cairo. Ed & Mariel had been there earlier so they knew a bit about the city and Ed was pretty excited about getting back there as he had been cast in a movie that was being shot.
Apart from the three days of pay he'd received I think he'd quite enjoyed the idea of being an Egyptian filmstar. Apparently the Egyptian movie industry is big. They love Europeans, especially for their TV ads, so if you pick the right hotel in Cairo you may end up with your big white grin as evidence of the cleaning power of the Egypt's favourite tooth paste.
Anyway, we had a couple of days of travel between Luxor and Cairo so first up we had to find ourselves a Service Taxi for the hour long trip to Dendara.
We were dropped just outside the village and then had to find a carriage to take us up to the Temple of Hathor.
We had been staying at the Sherif Hotel in Luxor and our host had written a short note of introduction for his cousin who drove one of the carriages. When we arrived at the parking area we were swarmed by the drivers until I produced my note. There was some excited discussion between the drivers and finally our man was located. It was very nice to not have to haggle for the ride and a good price. Obviously these two men had an arrangement whereby one would recommend the other's services and each would confirm a price the other would be satisfied with -too easy!
Anyway, the Temple of Hathor was probably 2nd only to the magnificent Temple at Edfu.
We saw the colours of the interior reliefs. There were still several of these works chipped out of the walls by following kings but much of the hieroglyphics were still intact and in their original colours.
We also climbed stairs to the top of the walls where we were able to survey the surrounds. I found it very strange to find visitors had carved their own names and initials into the stone. These days we'd call that "tagging" but the name and dates was carved so perfectly that it looked like it was professionally put there.
I must say it was quite odd seeing this sort of damage with a date more than 100 years past. I hadn't really imagined there would be such disrespectful folk visiting places like this so long ago.
After we'd explored the temple as much as we wished we started off back towards the village where we would catch a bus through to Qena. Rather than walk we grabbed a passing donkey cart. Chalk up another odd means of transport for me. Certainly not compfortable but a worthy experience just for the tale to be told.
When travelling North of Qena Tourists are required to meet with Police due to the dangers they face from the radical extremists. The country heavily relies on tourist dollars so they care very much that your stay is as safe as can be. When we found our bus that was to take us down to Qena Police there had to be told we were travelling on to Assyut and there they would meet us.
We seemed to sit for ever on the side of the road opposite the Assyut station. It was easy for me as I chatted to the Police Captain who was responsible for us. I found out all about Policing here in Egypt and told him a bit about how we work at home. My two Dutch friends and I weren't really sure what exactly was holding us up but we put up with the delay because we had no choice.
We had to tell the captain our plans for the next couple of days; where we intended to stay, what we were hoping to visit etc. It didn't matter at all to him how far afield we wished to go, as long as we were in his area he was going to make sure we got out the other side with our lives.
I thought the whole business was a little over the top but finally towards the end of the day a truck full of soldiers arrived and we were helped up into the rear of it and taken to the site we wished to visit before we were put back on a train and made our way to Minya where we would be met again.
Upon arriving at Minya we were dropped by Police at the hotel we had elected to stay at. They had telephoned and confirmed we were able to spend the night there. Upon our arrival the motelier gave us a room price well above anything we had paid in the rest of the country. Ed & Mariel were a little freaked out and refused to pay the fee. There was some very serious "discussion" in both Dutch and Egyptian that I didn't recognise too much of, but in the end we decided we would try another hotel.
The Police had dropped us off and asked what time we were intending to get up and go for breakfast. After deciding on a plan they had left us in the hands of the motelier and his chums. When we decided he was not very hospitable we set out with a couple of those chums as guides, to look for another place around town.
We tried many other hotels but none of them would even come down and answer the door to us. They instead opened an upper window and spoke to our "guides" basically telling them they didn't want to know. Finally it was late and dark. It had been a long night and we decided we would have to return to the original place. We thought they had all turned us away because of our unhappiness with the cost of a room but we found out the next day that it was because they feared their hotels would be attacked by the extremists because we were inside.
In the end I paid for the room that Ed, Mariel and I shared so they would not have their budget blown out for their journey ahead.
Next morning we found a police car waiting outside to take us to breakfast. We still didn't have a real appreciation of the dangers we were supposedly facing. The detectives sat at a table near us and we enjoyed a terrific breakfast. This helped Mariel get over the difficulties of the accommodation and they were even happy to pay for my breakfast as reparation for my springing for the room.