Aswan and Return Up the Nile
Friday, January 4, 2008
The Nile from the hotel terrace.
This morning we got to sleep in until 7:30am. Part of the
group got up at 2:30am to take a 6 hour trip to and from Abu Simbel Temple.
This temple had to be relocated after the Aswan dam was built. Julia had
been there once before and I was not interested in getting up at 2:30 so we
opted out. Instead Julia and I and a few others from our group took a taxi to one of the posh
hotels here in Aswan. We had some more bad coffee but we enjoyed spectacular
views of the Nile from the hotel terrace.
A felucca with water and sand.
After this Julia and I stayed in the hotel lobby to use
their free wireless Internet. As it turned out my bank had shut down my
access to Internet banking, I guess because I was trying to access the
account from an Egyptian Internet address. I used Skype to call them and get
it turned back on. Thank heavens for Skype as I was on the line with the
bank for an hour which would have cost me a fortune if I had made the call
via a regular telephone connection. The lesson here is: when traveling in
eastern countries call your bank before you start your trip.
After this Julia and I walked through Aswan, found an
ATM, a pharmacy, and had lunch. We really are starting to get tired of the
food on our boat so lunch in an unknown Egyptian restaurant seemed worth the
risk; this food was not much better than the ship. After returning to the ship we
joined the group to sail the Nile on a felucca which are the typical sail
boats used on the Nile. It was very pleasant weather and this made our trip
The felucca dropped us off at Kitchener Island which is a
botanical garden and one of the most beautiful spots on the Nile I think. We
walked the park observing birds and taking in the excellent Nile air.
From the island we took the felucca once again to sail
the Nile a bit more until our motor boat pulled a long side and we
transferred to it mid river. The motor boat took us further up stream to a Nubian village where we were
scheduled to join a Nubian family in their home to have tea and dinner with
Me at the Nubian village.
The Nubian village has been the most rewarding experience of the whole trip for me.
The Nubian's live very modestly in a medieval style but
they welcomed us and seemed very happy with their lives. We learnt some
Nubian history in broken English from our Nubian guide. We ate dinner. Some
people had henna tattoos; which they assured us would wear off in several
weeks. And we finally bought some of their crafts and left on our boat to
return to our ship. Wonderful!
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Here we are on our mounts.
We rose at 6:30am this morning to take a short boat ride across the Nile to the
join our camel ride to the Saint Simeon monastery. This is one of the oldest
know Christian monasteries and reflects a time when Christianity was an
influential religion in Egypt. Riding camels is fun except when they go
downhill. Then you have to lean back hard and things can tend to get
squashed if you are not careful.
and the monastery.
From Julia: Camels are smelly, dusty and make the
strangest gurgling sounds from time to time (David says it reminds him of
Star Wars episode 3 Return of the Jedi on the Ice Planet). I was very glad
that the price of the ride included saddle and camel boy. David was a
natural born rider and took off for a run with his. On the other hand, I
paid off my camel boy with a large baksheesh to stay in control of the
The Philae Temple.
We returned to our boat on the Nile via our trusty camels
and headed to Philae Temple on the island of Aglika. The temple had to be
moved from its original island after the building of the Aswan dam, which
was a mammoth task as the temple is enormous.
From Julia: Since being in Aswan we"ve seen so many
varieties of birdlife, we wish we had a bird expert with us to tell us what
they all are. We"ve seen so many herons and egrets that we are almost blasÃ©
about seeing them, and lots of other strange waders and long-legged,
brightly colored things. At Philae Temple we saw a group of several hawks
circle over our heads. We couldn"t identify their type but they were very
beautiful and graceful as they soared around the rocks.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
As my American friends would say "there is no free lunch". Well in some sense
this was true for Julia and me on our return up the Nile from our
magnificent experiences of ancient Egyptian treasures. In this case it was
not lunch but dinner that cost us dearly.
After our dinner on Saturday night, and might I add the
last meal we ever ate on the boat, we both became terribly ill with vomiting
and explosive diarrhea. Before we left England for Egypt my English friends,
that had been to Egypt, all explained to me of the perils of what they
referred to as gypy belly. What a quaint name I thought as I listened
politely to their stories of woe. Well now after 36 hours of hell on earth
their stories no longer seem so quaint. In fact we were both so sick that I
have nothing to report since Saturday evening except for pain and suffering
of which I am sure you do not need mine to add to yours so I will not boar
you with the details. Let me just say if I were to ever return to Egypt I
would bring my own bag full of dehydrated food and not eat any food prepared
for me by an Egyptian.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Praise be to Allah, we were finally well enough, able, and
believe me willing to leave the tour boat behind us. We staggered down the
gangplanks, falling into a cab in Luxor, to collapse at the Luxor airport as
we waited for our flight to Cairo and on to Sharm El Sheikh. Yes we are
still in Egypt but now we are in, as Julia put it, the Vegas part of Egypt
staying in a five star resort for 7 days with nothing but SCUBA diving, sun
baking, and resting before us. The big question is "can we trust the food at
the resort" who knows but I do wonder just how long one could live on cough
From Julia: It feels as though I am in a dream It's so
gorgeous here, especially after our suffering!
Kitchener Island Video
Nubian Village Video
Saint Simeon Video