Wednesday, November 23, 2005

egypt...part two...our travels







hey there all...i am still here in tunisia and getting organized with this blog....finally...i have added some pictures from cambodia and some to the first write-up about egypt...as for the ones above...they include the first shot which is of a felucca...a sail powered boat...this is the same size and style as the one chad and i rode up the nile....the second shot is of the luxor temple at night...you can see the combination of old and new in that there is a modern day mosque in the center of this temple...the third shot is of the ramses the second temple at abu simble on the shores of lake nasser...what a sight...the fourth shot is of me in hurgada with the red sea...such colors...and the last is of me and the statue of nefertiti on the front of the temple dedicated to her located at abu simble along with the temple for ramses the second....it was georgeous day...enough of pictures...onto the writing....

my egyptian trip...part deux....after being in cairo for about five days, chad and i decided to head out and experience the rest of the historical aspects of the country and the beach of course....our trip started with an overnight train trip....it was chad's first time on a sleeper train....and it was okay...one of the problems we experienced was people smoking in the hallways...i guess our air conditioning grabbed its fresh air from there....so we had smoke in our bunks the whole time....bummer...but it was exciting and it was a great way to travel the 14 hour trip to aswan....one interesting thing about egypt is that the north is called lower egypt and the south is called upper egypt...so we were headed south, but to lower egypt....we traveled along the nile the entire way and it is amazing how little space people can use and that is is right on the riverbank...you get about half a mile out in some places and you have reached desert....just insane....awasan is this quaint little town on the nile where most people pick up feluccas to go north or a cruise ship....also known to me as a floating box....there are over 700 cruise ships on the nile and i have to say i am happy we did NOT take one...we opted for the felucca....the day we got to aswan it was the start of eid...and the kids were insane...and there were tons of folks out and about...this is the day after ramadan has finished...so you can imagine how happy people are they can eat and smoke....its pretty crazy....we wandered around the town for a while and worked on trying to find a felucca captain for later in the week....and we set up a trip to abu simbel....

the next morning at 3 AM we set out for abu simbel...this historical site is set on lake nasser...a man-made lake, that was formed from a dam...there are two spectacular temples located at this site...and the only way to get there is by convoy....so every morning at 4 AM mini buses and tour buses start lining up to make the three hour trek south....there were about 200 buses in our convoy...so bizarre....but you rode through the desert and i have to say the sunrise was incredible....even if the mini bus was crowded....the two temples...one to ramses the second (the pharoh who had the most stautes created of himself) and the temple to nefertiti...were actually moved from where they orginally sat...as many temples and numbian cultural aspects were covered by the forming of the lake by the dam...the pictures from this moving are incredible...how does one move a temple and make sure it gets put back together correctly??? i have no idea...but they succeeded...and i have to say that the two temples located at the abu simbel site blew my mind....still very much intact...still had color on them...carvings everywhere...just amazing :) but i didn't like that there were so many tourists there at the same time...we felt a bit like cattle....because after an hour and half everyone climbs back on their bus and convoys back to aswan...its wild....back in aswan we chilled by the pool and hung out with some folks after dinner smoking sheesha....it was quite relaxing....

the next day we worked out a trip on a felucca...which is a small sail driven boat...which can accomodate 6 to 12 people...we only wanted the felucca for 24 hours...so chad and i ended up with our own felucca...can you say we were living the high life....we left on the felucca...with captain washington, captain ahmmed and cook amuri...and us....after two hours and passing by the police, captain washington got off the felucca...we was a good guy and we were sad to see him go...but the other two guys were nice....they even let me be captain and control the boat...very cool....and talk about a peaceful way to travel....a sailboat up the nile...i highly recommend it...it was soo relaxing....we watched the sunset and they made us lunch and dinner...yummy....and at times you just have to stop and look around and realize you are on the nile...you reach out and touch it and the amazing feeling of history floats over you...its hard to explain...but this was one of my favorite things about my trip to egypt...the felucca trip...the guys who were our crew were nubian and after dinner captain ahmmed played drums and we sang a bit and then he gave us mind teasers...needless to say, chad and i did not do so well :) but it was a fantabulous day...possibly one of the best of my trip :)

we arrived in kom ombo the next day...looked at the temple that was there and jumped on a convoy to luxor....a bit about the convoys...the reason they are in place is to "protect" the tourists that come to egypt...there was a mass murder of tourists in the 90's in egypt and that's when security got even tighter....BUT, i have to say that egypt was the most organized country in the way of safety in my opinion...what i mean is that i never felt threatened or that my life was in danger or that i would be mugged....even in cairo...and that was impressive to me...i felt the safest of anywhere i have been on my trip...the convoys are annoying and you really never have contact with the common egyptian, except in the touristy places...but it feels safe....take it or leave it...although seeing men with ak-47s everywhere can be a bit disconcerting....

luxor...we had been told this was the hassle capital of egypt...and after being there chad and i disagree with everyone else...this was one of our favorite places...the flys were a bit annoying when you stopped moving...but the people here were just fine....after getting in and getting a hotel we went to the luxor temple, located in the center of town....this temple is really neat in that many pharohs kept adding to it...and of course ramses the 2nd has a ton of statues of himself there...there is also a road lined by sphinxes...which i thought was really beautiful....also inside this temple there is a modern mosque...so it is a beautiful blending of old and new....we were there as the sun went down and the temple lit up...simply breathtaking....from the luxor temple we went to the karnak temple...one of the largest in all of egypt...for the light and sound show...which was quite cool...a bit overly dramatic...but it was great to walk around the site at night and hear the history of the place being told at the same time....and then we walked next to the nile to get home....the next day we took a half day tour of the valley of the kings, valley of the queens and the one temple built for a woman who was pharoh...that is until her son-in-law over-threw her...such a brat :) her temple was amazingly beautiful and still had much of the original tile...the interesting aspect about the three sites we saw was that they were built into the mountains...the tombs of the kings and queens were built into the rock and were like caves you walked into...this was to protect them from tomb raiders...but for the most part this did not have success...except in the case of king tut...we did not see his tomb as it cost extra money and we had already seen all the riches in cairo at the stunning exhibit of everything that had been found in his tomb....the one thing they left in his tomb was his mummy...but we decided to pass....we did see three king's tombs...one queen's and her sons tombs and the temple....it was a great tour and we felt like we learned a bit and saw some beautiful parts of the valleys...there are so many kings and queens buried here it would take a long time to see them all...so we were glad for the abbreviated version :) then it was back to town for lunch at one of our favorie places of the whole trip....its called the oasis cafe and is run by an american who has lived in egypt for over 15 years...such a nice guy...it was excellent food and a non-smoking place and just an "oasis" for us :)

the next day it was off to hurgada...the beach on the red sea....we traveled by bus and it took all day...of course the bus was not on schedule...it was on "egypt time"....but we got there and saw the red sea and got checked in....we hit a greek restaurant and smoked some sheesha at a sidewalk cafe...most of the tourists there came from russia...so it was interesting as most signs were in arabic and russian....the morning we hit the beach...yahoo....it was stunning...the blues and greens of the water were incredible....you could see to thebottom no matter where you swam...no matter how deep....it was great....lunch was had at this cool cafe called the funky monkey and dinner was the egyptian version of italian....so relaxing...then we went to this cafe that was set up like a bedouin tent...we sat on the ground on pillows and had a few beers and smoked sheesha, listening to great dance music...it was a wonderful way to end a perfect day :)

the next day we headed back to cairo...on a bus that showed egyptian movies WAY TOO LOUD...but at least it was was comfortable ride....although there are so many abandoned resort construction sites all up and own the red sea...its very bizarre...bt tyson was saying that tourists stopped coming to egypt after 9-11 and much of the construction has been at a standstill since then....interesting...chad, tyson and i had a great dinner at a restaurant on the nile and had a choice of about 40 flavors of sheesha to choose from...it was a slice of heaven...chad left the next night and i spent three more days in cairo...i wandered around zamalek, the area of cairo where tyson lives and went to a class of his as well...overall it was mellow and a good way to end my time in egypt...one other strange thing that happened while i was there....i saw one of my past students on TV...it was the fashion tv channel and one of my first students, jack mccullough, in new jersey was featured with his creative partner for their newest line...imagine my shock at seeing the face of an adult who i taught when they were in 8th grade....so cool...and how impressive....if anyone knows jack...please pass along my congrats...such a great accomplishment for that young man...

okay...i think i have babbled quite enough about egypt...overall, i am much better about my part of that trip now that i have had time to decompress in tunisia...and i would recommend people go there...just be warned that you will be hassled wherever you go and whatever you do...but the historical aspects of the country really make it worth your time....also be sure to stop by the national museum in cairo...the king tut exhibit there is simply fantastic and it will take your breath away....be careful when crossing the street though :) any questions??? pass them along...thanks for reading my long-winded writing...hope you all have a great thanksgiving if you are celebrating....have a good one...more about tunisia soon....

4 comments:

joey said...

OMG! this is simply awesome!

Karen said...

Dani - want to trade places?? Glad you are having so much fun - hope to see you when you get home!!!

Shelly said...

Looks like you are having a great time, Dani. I am so happy that you can do this now. Make the trip doubly enjoyable for me.

Hope to see you soon.

Lynnsie said...

Check out the tan on you! And where did the rest of you go?? You aren't eating enough woman! Awesome photos. Amazing places you've gone. I'm so glad for you. Miss you, Lynn
P.S. Tom says he envys you all the travel. Keep on bloggin'...