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Why visit Egypt?

Luxor

The mysterious middle east

When traveling in Egypt whatever you do, do not take the train. There is a regular service that runs from Cairo to Luxor, but conditions onboard are primitive at best. Without going into too much detail, in fear of frightening the children, the restrooms onboard can become disgusting and unusable about halfway through the trip. If you are headed for Luxor then either fly there or sail; skip the train.

The ancient and mysterious Nile River is the life giving artery of Egypt. Its serpentine flow has kept the country alive for time in memorial. And yet even the mighty Nile has fallen victim to increased population and the Egyptian knack for making mess. Parts of the river are used as trash dumps. It is so sad to see wonderful birds and animals struggle with the rubbish floating in the once pristine river.

Balloon flight in the desert

In Luxor the Luxor Temple is a must see. It is just a short walk from the river. However, the thing to do while there is to take a sunrise balloon flight in the desert. What a thing it is to hover over Luxor, the Nile River, and sandy Sahara Desert in the cold morning air. Watching the golden sun peek up from the distant horizon in this place is a worthy life experience. The flight will take you over Queen Hatshepsut's Temple. It will effortlessly sail you over Egyptian ruins, local villages, and meander over the Valley of the Kings. Balloons are less like flying and more like floating. The main issues are with liftoff and landing. A big crew of people is required to get the balloon into the air. And balloons do land where they want to. As long as an army of handlers are close by all is safe. See a video of a balloon flight over the desert.

Queen Hatshepsut's Temple

Just a little out of Luxor is the Karnak Temple. It is a huge site built by various Pharaohs over more than a 1,000 year period. It was then buried in sand for another 1,000 years until the 19th century when it was rediscovered. There is so much to see including strange marks on the rocks where Roman soldiers sharpened their swords, and early Christian paintings of Mary and Jesus are carved on the ancient pillars like graffiti. There is much evidence of early politics too. Romans used to cut off the noses from many of the statues and hieroglyphics. This was to destroy the Pharaohs rebirth system, because Egyptians then believed that the soul needed to re-enter the body via the nose. I guess that is as likely a body orifice as any.

Ancient color hieroglyph

See a video of a donkey ride in the desert.

During New Year's Day things are supposed to be extra lucky at Karnak. There is a giant scarab beetle statue that is a symbol of good luck. The recommended ceremony is to walk around it three times making a wish. Because of the history there it is hard not to think about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. One answer to this eternally perplexing question is: 42.

In my next article we will continue our trek down the Nile River and experience more Egyptian wonders.


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