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Luxor Egypt

Sightseeing

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year everyone! Julia and I went to bed early last night skipping the New Years celebrations as we had a 5:00am trip this morning.

Balloons over the desert.

All we did this year was sleep on a ship moored at Luxor on the Nile across from the Luxor Temple. We saw the sun rise from a balloon this morning that hovered over the desert. What a site it was to see the sun rise over Luxor, the Nile River, and the Valley of the Kings. The whole process of ballooning was interesting and highly labor intensive which is easily accommodated here in Egypt.

Queen Hatshepsut's Temple.

We took off from an unnamed set of Egyptian ruins, sailed effortlessly over local villagers and their homes, then meandered over the Valley of the Kings and Queen Hatshepsut's Temple.

Balloons are less like flying and more like floating. The main issues are with liftoff and landing. We had a perfect morning so we had no problems with either but balloons do land where they want to so we did end up landing in a new home construction area; closely followed by our army of handlers.

Here is a photo of another balloon making its landing.

After landing we were taken to a hotel on the west bank of the Nile. The west bank was considered by the ancient Egyptians as the land of the dead as this is the side the sun sets on. We ate our meager breakfast with a spectacular view of Luxor on the Nile. Then we headed back to the east side of the Nile, you guessed it the land of the living, to have a rest, lunch, and prepare for our visit to Karnak Temple that afternoon. The Nile is sure a beautiful place even though it seems the favorite pastime of the Egyptians is to through rubbish in it.

We spent the afternoon at Karnak Temple, which is a huge site built by various Pharaohs over more than a 1000 year period.

The Nile.

It was then buried in sand for another 1000 years until the 19th centenary when it was discovered. 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's lots of evidence of ancient politics too. Romans used to cut off the noses from many of the statues and hieroglyphics. This was to destroy the Pharaohs system to get an afterlife, because Egyptians then believed that the soul needed to re-enter the body via the nose. I guess as likely a body orifice as any!

Karnak Temple.

There is a giant scarab beetle statue which is a symbol of good luck. As it was New Years Day our guide told us that today things were extra lucky. So we did the recommended ceremony which was to walk around three times making your wish. Being there made us think about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything; oh yes that was 42.

Julia and I went for a walk in the local bazaar this evening. The men manning the stalls are really hard sell and will not let you walk past without trying to get you to buy something. This got very tiresome after awhile so we left to go to bed early again as we have another early start tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Valley of the Kings.

The showers in Egypt, that we have encountered so far, all have a common theme; they all leak water all over the bathroom floor. This is what we encountered in the hovel back in Cairo and it is the same with the shower in our cabin on the ship; which we now refer to it as the floating-hovel.

Once again we rose early to be transported over the Nile to the land of the dead. This time once we were there we were acquainted with some donkeys; which were to be our transportation to the Valley of the Kings. They gave us all a short instruction course on how to show the donkeys that we were their masters; we were placed on their backs, and immediately gave up control to the donkey, which in my mind is where it rightfully belongs. An hour and a half later, after much stretching of our groin muscles, we arrived at our destination.

Here is a photo of Julia standing in front of the Valley of the Kings. Notice the natural pyramid mountain behind here which is why they chose this site to be the kings" burial grounds.

The Valley of the Kings was constructed by the Pharaohs that came after the kings that built the Pyramids at Giza. The reason they stopped building pyramids and started digging holes was because of the looting which always took place after a king was buried in a pyramid. Let's face it you can see the Pyramids at Giza from a long way away. So the Valley of the Kings has 63 currently located tombs and they are actively looking for more.

We then headed to Queen Hatshepsut's Temple which we had seen from the balloon yesterday, via taxis this time as the donkeys were not fast enough to meet our schedule. Queen Hatshepsut was the only known female Pharaoh. Once she was dead her nephew took over and was so upset that she had usurped the throne from the next rightful male Pharaoh that he had all of her images, well almost all, chiseled out of all her monuments. We headed back to our ship and the land of the living and set sail for Aswan.

Balloon Video
Mohammed Video
Donkey Video
Nile Video

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