Off to Aswan to see the much talked about - High Dam
My train to the southern city of Aswan
at around 10 in the
night. A 10 hour train ride seemed quite a short trip to me, being used
to the trains and distances in India. But this trip would take me right
up to close to the border of Egypt and Sudan. And then I would cruise
up (down, actually! Its very confusing.. I’ll explain!).. Anyway, so I
was to be on a cruise from Aswan to Luxor over a period of 3 days. And
then catch a train back to Cairo from Luxor.
So, all set with my bags and tickets, I bid adieu to my friends in Cairo and headed towards Aswan.
slight digression to explain the whole upstream-downstream funda.
The pride and joy of Egypt! (One of them, anyway!)
see, when people say, I’m heading “up”, one kinda imagines that they
are heading north. Coz, you know, that’s how the maps are drawn. North
is up and South in down. But here in Egypt, the river Nile decides
almost everything! And so, upstream is what is called Upper Egypt and
downstream is what is called Lower Egypt. As it happens, the river
flows from south to north (as per the map!).. And so, the southern part
of Egypt is known as “Upper Egypt” and the northern part is knows as
“Lower Egypt”!.. Took me quite a while to get accustomed to that!
Anyways, so, I set off on my train journey – quite a comfortable one at that! Me, being used to Indian trains and all!!
had a cabin all to myself.. A nice cozy bed.. a wash basin.. couple of
hangers and a open cabinet to hang my stuff.
And of course, Lake Nasser
. night lights.. soft
music.. and pillows!!! AND……….lovely lovely food! The only let down was
that the awesome food was free, but you had to pay for anything you
wanted to drink. Including water! And, of course, far from a reasonable
price! Ah well, it wasn’t so bad actually. The food kinda made up for
any flaw! So, for the first time on a train, I slept like a baby! Slept
better than I sometimes sleep on the bed in my house, actually!
next morning, (after a delicious breakfast!), we arrived at Aswan. I
was escorted to the ship I was to be on for the next three days.. and
after a quick freshening up session, we set off to visit the Aswan high
dam and the temple of Philae
The story goes that every year the
river Nile would flood and all of Egypt would be covered in water.
Its creation caused the relocation of several ancient monuments and temples
this made the soil fertile and suitable for cultivation. But in recent
times, the flooding was damaging infrastructure, temples, and
dwellings.. and so, something had to be done! And that’s when the high
dam was build over the Nile at the city of Aswan. The pride of the
nation! People just cant seem to stop talking about it in admiring
Next stop, the temple of Philae. A short boat ride on
the Nile takes us to one of the rock islands that houses the temple.
Known as a sacred site for the ancient Egyptians as well as the
Nubians, this was my first exposure to the temples of Egypt.
without a guide, these temples are just a bunch of pretty buildings..
The real beauty of it unfolds as the guide takes you through the
journey of the construction, the details of the architecture, and of
course, the stories carved out on the walls of the temples.
Off on a boat to an island on the Nile
this was where I was first introduced to Osiris and Isis… the super
gods of ancient Egypt! And Hathor, who I have decided is the coolest
Goddess of them all – the goddess of music, fun and frolic!! :D
stories revolving around these characters reminds one of the stories
from Hindu mythology.. I think there is a great deal of similarity
between the two.. The concept of many gods.. of sacrifice to please the
gods.. of afterlife..
Philae was also being submerged by the
construction of the high dam of Aswan and needed to be relocated to
another island. It is now a UNESCO world heritage sight..
an hour or so of admiring the carvings and the architecture of the
temple, I am taken back to the ship for my lunch and to settle in. The
food, as usual, turns out to be one of the best features of the deal!
Crisp clear waters of the Nile
. After a sumptuous meal and swag of the ahwa (Turkish Coffee) that
I have grown addicted to, I set out to explore the area around the
place where the ship was docked. Also, I desperately needed some
moisturizing cream. I just don’t seem to grasp the concept of
moisturizing, having never done it for 25 years of my life. Once again,
(the first time was when I went to the US), I underestimated the affect
the weather could have on my skin. And though I am not girly and
conscious of my complexion, the look of dry scaly skin is revolting
even to me. So I set out, in the search of some moisturizer. Walked
around for a bit.. lazed in a garden.. drank another ahwa and got asked
by the manager if I would return there after midnight ;) … (the number
and the ways I have got propositioned in this country will make for a
separate section altogether!!) .. And then I found a pharmacy and
picked up a much needed lotion as well.
All that done, I decided
to head back to the boat and call it a day (after dinner, of course!).
I was supposed to wake up at 2 the next day to go see the temple at Abu
So I needed all the sleep that I could gather!