An Egyptian Tale: Part Four

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Munchkin and Toccata sail down the Nile, keeping an eye out for any Belgian detectives.

Another early rise - 5.30, but by now we were getting used to them - and off to Esna temple. This temple, in the middle of the town of Esna, is in a large hole in the ground. This is due to the annual floods over two thousand years laying down enough silt to almost cover the entire temple. Sadly little is left of this temple, though, and temple fatigue was setting in badly, so back to the boat to wait for Esna lock and for little boys to throw camera film at me as I write. Esna lock, which drops the boat almost its entire four floors of height, is another modern, impressive sight. However it was most memorable for the young lads rowing up to the boat as it queued to get through. They were trying to sell rugs, tea towels, camera film and anything else we might want. They were quite happy to throw their wares on board for us to look at, although I once again got annoyed at my fellow passengers as they goaded these boys to throw more and harder, even though they had no intention to buy. They were hoping to see the boys fail and drop their wares in the river or into the boats pool, and I felt ashamed to be there when I realised.

The sahara is ever present

Getting past the lock we reached Luxor by lunchtime and decided to take an afternoon stroll around town. Things went well if hot until, in the middle of the real souq (rather than the tourist tat souq), we were accosted by this lad and his sheet of Arabic. He kept forcing a sheet of paper at me, which he had just picked up off the street, and asking me to write on it for his school. I explained that I had no pen (which I think was what he really wanted) but he would not stop. He kept on and on until Toccata got flustered and loudly shouted at him to go away. At this point the stallholders around us leapt out and chased the boy away and even found a Tourist Policeman for us if we wished to complain. This just proved that, other than a few exceptions, if you can get away from the tourist in-your-face areas, Egypt and the Egyptians can be very nice, friendly and helpful. Probably more so to a couple of flustered tourists than your average Brit.

To cool ourselves down we headed for tea at the Winter Palace Hotel (popular with the twenties socialites) where the receptionist told us we were mad to be outside and then a taxi back.

That evening we attended the Sound and Light show at Karnak. It was lovely to see the temple again and its size continued to beggar belief but I think I would have preferred to see it in the light instead. All the lights and portentous sounding voices booming out of speakers was interesting, but I felt we were shuttled around and didn't really learn much.

Luxor at dusk

Day 8

Finally we could have a late rise (Hurrah) as our flight was not till the evening. So back into town for one last look around, this time by a Celine Dion-powered taxi ride (the driver wanted to play us some 'English' music) to the Luxor museum. This is a little museum with some of the random stuff found at Karnak, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, Queens, etc nicely displayed in a darkened hall. There were some nice statues, a scary one of Sobek, the crocodile headed god, a few pieces from Tutankhamun's temple including his bed and a separate room for the cachet. This was a haul of statues buried in Karnak to make room for others. I can just see them, three thousand years ago, surveying Karnak and thinking; 'Well, I've no idea who this is a statue of, must be at least a thousand years old, lets turf it and bung up Grandad.' There was also quite a bit on Akenaton, the heretic Pharaoh, which is not seen elsewhere due to those who came after and restored the old religions practising a bit of revisionist history.

Back to the boat to pack before a final lunch, a wee laze in the pool, a wash and then off to the airport.

A number of odd things at the airport included the fact that you have to pass your bags through an X-ray machine simply to get into the terminal. This allowed an enterprising chap to grab your bag from the other end and then keep it out of your reach while loudly asking which flight you are going for. You eventually relent after realising that you will never get anywhere near your bag and he whisks it the ten yards to the check in desk directly in front of you. Then demands baksheesh for a service you repeatedly said you didn't want.

You then fill out a form which allows you to leave the country (presumably they want proof in case you have decided to stay and make a living from carrying peoples luggage at the airport) and proceed through another X-ray machine to the world's best staffed barn which is rather ambitiously called a departure lounge. A quick look at duty free - a bottle of standard malt a snip at forty dollars - followed by an evening of refusing coffee every five minutes.

The journey back was as you would expect, Air Traffic Control problems, half hour extra flying time, 54 lost meals, lost the taxi driver, home for two am, and so best glossed over.

Egypt is a beautiful country, the ancient sites are amazing, the people are friendly and sitting on the deck watching the country slip by is very relaxing. It is just a bit too hot for me, but I feel I will return, if only to see Abu Simbel again.

An Egyptian Tale: Part One
An Egyptian Tale: Part Two
An Egyptian Tale: Part Three

Munchkin and Toccata

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