Friday, 12 October 2007

Greatest health hazard in Egypt... (Day 5)


...is not eating local food and drinking tap water. It is not falling into the Nile. And not all those big bad terrorists (who are supposedly strolling around) either.
In my opinion the greatest threat to one's health when traveling around Egypt is driving in a protected convoy!


Some of you might think:

What could go wrong? They are protected to be safe, right?

Wrong! These convoys are a laugh by my opinion.
Every driver tries to overtake the one in front of him. And for what? To get to the finish line first? Not really. There's an army truck in front and it is a matter of minutes being the second or eighty-seventh.
Repeatedly overtaking buses in front of ours at full throttle, ignoring traffic in the opposite direction, seemed like the best idea ever. To our driver, that is.


However, if you are a tourist in Egypt you can only travel between cities in convoys. This was the government's answer to some terrorist related incidents some years ago. If anything now they have an easier job then before - more damage can be done with one blow. That's my opinion.
We had to join one of these convoys at two in the morning to get to Abu Simbel. We arrived there just after sunrise.


The most amazing thing about Abu Simbel is the fact they have moved it peace by peace from another place, which is now underwater. The water level rose after the Aswan high dam was built. This created the largest artificial lake in the World - Lake Nasser.


A funny thing is that they made a mistake in the process of moving it.
Originally it was designed in a way that twice a year at sunrise sun has shined on two of the three statues situated in the deepest chamber of the temple. It was supposed to happen on the birthday of Ramses II (February 20th) and also on the day of his coronation (October 20th).
Well since they moved the temple this doesn't happen on the same day anymore. Due to a minor miscalculation it occurs one day later. It is simply unthinkable that around 1200 BC they could calculate something like that, and today we still couldn't do it properly.


After taking a bunch of photos we continued to The high Sad el-Ali-Dam (high Aswan Dam) which was built between 1960 and 1971. Today it provides electricity for the whole country and there is still some left for export to neighboring countries.



Next on our schedule was the island temple at Philae. This one was constructed over a three-century period, by the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty, and completed by the Roman emperors. It was moved many times because of the rising Nile after the eruption of the dams.



Soon it was time for our convoy to head back to Aswan. From there we went across the Nile on one of many felukas (a feluka is an Egyptian wooden boat with a large sail). On the other bank we went off a boat and onto a ship - a desert ship.


For those of you who don't know it yet, desert ship is another name for a camel.


The camel ride took almost a whole hour. Camel guides directed us to a Nubian village, where we had a glass of tea and a snack.


We didn't know it at the time, but that's where the Curse of the Pharaohs fell upon us...

3 comments:

Jose 12 October 2007 at 20:01  

If anything now they have an easier job then before - more damage can be done with one blow. That's my opinion.

No kiddin', I'm with you on that one.

It is simply unthinkable that around 1200 BC they could calculate something like that, and today we still couldn't do it properly.

Do you think that maybe the extra terrestrials don't come around no more, maybe we got too smart for our own good... then again maybe not.

Thanks for taking us on your trip.

Windy 14 October 2007 at 14:13  

Hi Marco - A question for you: I heard people say that Egyptians sometimes think of a way to rip tourists off. E.g. you and the camel owner have agreed on a price to take you to the desert, and half way through of the journey, he asks you to pay more, or else would leave you in the desert! Have you ever encountered this kind of treatment?

Marko 14 October 2007 at 22:54  

@jose:
Thanks. I hope you enjoy the rest of the trip. ;)

@windy:
I have heard those same stories myself, so I guess there must be something about them...

Fortunately I didn't have a first hand experience of that kind. There wasn't a real chance for something like that. We were a group of 10-13 people with a guide and a more or less fixed schedule. Most of the deals with locals were done by our guide, who is a veteran in these things. :)

Egyptians sure try to get money from tourists using many interesting approaches. I think the one you are suggesting is at least possible.

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