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Egypt Part One

22nd March 2014 Adam Home is the home, a large compound, of two Nubian brothers who first of all gave us a “welcoming” mint tea and contacted Mohamed, their cousin, who can arrange anything. There is a shortage of diesel here no problem. Mohamed made a phone call and came with me to the petrol station as we were waved past the twenty or so trucks waiting in a queue.

Mohamed wrote DIESEL in Arabic

Mohamed wrote DIESEL in Arabic

I filled both tanks and two jerry cans @ 30 cents/litre. Meanwhile the truckies were crowding around having a good old laugh, joking around not minding me pushing in. Apparently in Egypt this is acceptable as earlier on in the day I was moved, by a soldier, to the front of an ATM queue. The only people who have preferential treatment to a tourist are women, who can go to the front of the queue in front of the tourist. Judy does the banking now.

When we returned to Adam Home, Mohamed took us on a tour of his Nubian village taking us to visit his sister, a charming woman, to take the best lemon drink. It is made with a little milk added and shaken to the Billyo, tastes like a lemon spider (soda). His sister was happy to show us through her large house with lots of rooms, again within a large walled compound with flat screen TV’s and air con etc. Not your average Nubian family home methinks. The hubby is an accountant at an oil field on the Red sea. Mohamed had also procured a bulk amount of lollies, which he distributed throughout the village, to any kid in sight, as we drove around, a little like the pied piper.

Mohamed is such an enthusiastic fellow and will take us on his felucca (boat) on a Nile cruise soon.

24th March 2014 Lost a day somewhere. Visited the Philae Temple (Temple of Isis), which is one of the structures sawn up and moved to higher ground when the Aswan dam was built prior to flooding the valley. Magnificent, everything you would expect from Egyptian antiquity even with some Napoleonic army graffiti from when they were here in the nineteenth century.

Hot dry days and cool nights.

We just went for a walk along the banks of the Nile over which Adam Home looks. It is oasis like with palm trees and lush farmland. I was surprised to find a sandy beach at the riverside until I realised that the Nile flows through the Sahara desert = sand.

25th March 2014 Went on Mohamed’s felucca for a day of Nile River cruising. The felucca is a wide beamed sailing boat about 30 feet long. The deck is one big bed with an annex over the top, so we cruised, lounging around and sleeping occasionally, being interrupted by sweet Hibiscus tea and food cooked on the boat by a crew member, whom we named Captain Cook. The feluccas are very agile and fast even under half sail and we passed several icons such as the Temple of Isis or the Botanical Gardens but were too lazy to get off the boat.

The Nile is surprisingly cold and apparently 50 metres deep in places.

26th March 2014 The Abu Simbel excursion did not come off so we did nothing until the evening when the German overlanders, with some fairly serious trucks, decided to have a cook up of Thai beef Green curry and beautiful salads for all, including various Nubians, Swiss, Aussies, a Serbian girl, a Brazilian girl and an Australian sheepdog al a “Babe”.

A fire was required, Bosnian firewood supplied, and so another gig, singing “Bosnian Wood “ to the melody of “Norwegian Wood” with a finale “fire dance” whilst singing Elvis.

In true German style various pilsners were tested and vast amounts of Egyptian wine were quaffed by the female contingent.

Do you get the Vibe?

All in all our stay at Adam Home was really nice with Mohamed, Sammi (dead ringer for Eddy Murphy) and Sabbi, the perfect hosts.

The locals would honk and wave as they drove past the campsite.

28TH March 2014 Antiquity overload.

am Temple of Karnak

mid day Museum of Luxor

pm Temple of Luxor

Temple of Luxor

Temple of Luxor

Tomorrow Valley of the Kings, Tuts Tomb and other assorted unbelieveables.

We have had a huge amount of pestering here and all sorts of tricks, the best one being this:

As we passed a souvenir shop the trader asked if I could read a message that he had received, in English, on his phone. The message was truly sad, about a friend who had had a stroke. He asked me to come into his shop to formulate an answer, which I did. Meanwhile Judy had looked at the phone and found that it was a truly old message, surprise ten. He was very subtle about trying to sell his papyrus paintings.

Full points for this one.

The carriage drivers will do anything to get a fare, one even gave us the wrong directions, unasked, hoping to get our fare when we got sick of walking. They follow you along the road until you crack. Pay 1/3 of the asking fee.

We are almost the only tourists in town. There are huge river cruise boats tied up at their moorings by the hundred and hotel car parks empty, which means that we have no queues and can really negotiate a price, though maybe some tourist atmosphere is lacking.

There are police on every corner with an occasional Army post complete with sand bags, machine guns and the odd tank.

29th March 2014 No photography allowed. The Valley of the Kings contains the tombs of many Pharaohs and the entrance fee of 100 pounds (AUD$16.00) allows you to see three tombs of your own choosing. We saw the tombs of Ramses 3rd, Ramses 4th, Ramses 7th and Merenptah (yes I know it is four but they forgot to hole punch our ticket at one of the tombs). Tutankhamun’s tomb is an extra 100 pounds and contains his mummified remains and a gold sarcophagus (coffin). Did you know that Tutankhamun’s body spontaneously combusted in the sarcophagus after a botched embalming job? Me neither.

All the tombs contain painted hieroglyphics that could have been painted yesterday.

Unfortunately you are constantly badgered not only by the traders outside but the employees within the tomb complex. Their trick is to show you some detail and then ask for money. This goes on all the time and you find yourself not enjoying the experience and yes, Judy lost it. Scary!

We also saw the temple of Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon.

We have been staying at the Rezeiky Camp Hotel and they have been killing us with kindness. It is a hotel of fifty or so suites, in central Luxor, with a huge forecourt, which is perfect for overlanders with trucks of any size, and we are the only guests. They have plied us with delicious food, arranged our tour taxi and helped with procuring diesel, which is scarce here. In fact the petrol station is just at the top of the entrance lane to the hotel so they just told me when the diesel had been delivered. Full tanks ready for the White desert tomorrow.

They even asked if we could stay another day to join them in an engagement party for the manager’s daughter tomorrow night, however we are running out of time with our visa and shipping arrangements so we have to go.

30th March 2012 Leaving Luxor we have taken a minor road as a short cut to the western desert. I thought it may be dirt but it is good tar all the way, saved 300k’s. We have passed through many check points with no hassle but it does show how tense this place is. Heard on Aussie radio that 500 Brotherhood of Muslim followers have been condemned to death for killing a policeman. Is this real? Starting to get a little tense myself.

Motored to the Kharga oasis and stumbled across the Hibis Temple, much more enjoyable with a guide who doesn’t ask for money all the time and a little further on the Bagawat Necropolis. This is a 1400-year-old cemetery with 250 odd tombs and churches all made of mud. With the extremes of temperature and wind but probably not rain, I wonder how they have survived.

We are now bush camped at the foot of a large dune and go in search of diesel tomorrow.

Actually two local Arab men have just come over for a chat. They speak no English and we speak no Arabic but they are determined to have a good old chinwag, I think they are lonely, There are some interesting periods of silence punctuated by a rush of words when a new possibility for communication comes to mind. In the end we kind of, sort of, understand one or two things, maybe. This was to be repeated in the morning.

31st March 2014 Found diesel and had felafels and chips for breakfast, not the healthiest of diets. They were meant to be for lunch but had been just made and smelt so good we couldn’t resist.

Only travelled about 150k’s before stopping at Beir El-Gabal Tourist camp that had been recommended and indeed it was positioned in front of some spectacular desert mountains, 41c in the shade. After dinner we bathed in the hot mineral springs, of 38c and although the evening was still well into the thirties’ we came out refreshed and cool. This thermal pool has an iron oxide base and in the morning we found that our sheets had rusted (in colour). We also met a German lady Friedel who has built a meditation centre next door and a beautiful building and accompanying garden it is. Friedel suggested that we go for an early morning walk around the locale, which we did, and it did not disappoint, improbable hues and textures of dune, rocky outcrop and mountain.

 

1st April 2014 Happy New Year!

Headed toward the White desert but on the way inspected the 1000 year old Muslim village just seven k’s north of Beir El-Gabal made of mud. Some buildings are three storey’s high with one minaret some thirty metres high and the subterranean streets and lanes take you through lots of nooks and cranny’s with workplaces such as mills and blacksmith’s. Although it is a very hot day the original air vents/shafts provide natural aircon.

 

Toward the end of the day we approached the White Desert with magnificent meringue and Pavlova like formations. Camping here is allowed and we found ourselves a nice, secluded spot nestled in next to a giant snowy mushroom.

As I topped up the fuel from our jerry cans we happened to notice eight four wheel drives, full of people, pull up next to us, a school group from Alexandria. Oh no! However, after talking to them they said we could accompany them in going deeper into the desert to where the most impressive formations were, so we followed.

 

Here we are now, having lost them, sitting in the middle of the desert, all alone. But not lost as there is a well-marked path back to the main road.

We go to the Black desert tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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