Me again! This time from the hotel in Luxor.
I can't remember where I finished my last blog entry, but I think it would have been around the time the train arrived in Aswan. So we'll start from there!
Aswan is beautiful. With the Nile passing through it, and the friendly people, it makes for a big difference to Cairo! The first night there we went to the Nubian village for dinner. How did we get to the village? Car? Boat? No!!! How boring! We took camels. Mine was Mona Lisa (but I think there were about 3 Mona Lisa's)- one of the tallest, but pretty relaxed. We 'trotted' a bit in the soft sand (10 points to the first person who can find out the real word for trotting on a camel) and after photos and much spitting (from the camels. mostly) we arrived. The feeling and atmosphere of the village were fantastic- turquoise doors on yellow homes, narrow alleys and the smell of dinner cooking. We had chicken and rice for dinner, with an assortment of side dishes. Chicken and rice seem to be big staples here. Lots of chicken. Chicken. Everywhere. Urgh. But, having said that
(well, having written that) the dinner was pretty delicious. One of the Nubian men came and talked to us about the traditions, and a lady from the house decorated my hand with henna (which may or may not have imprinted itself on the hotel pillow case).
The next morning there was an option to go to Abu Simbel, but 0315h in the morning, and many $'s later I decided a sleep in was the better option! So Mo (my room mate) and I headed to the traditional hotel breakfast (bean stew, bread, lentil soup). We headed to the local markets while we were waiting for everyone to get back, and met some pretty colourful people! (Some- pretty and colourful). The first stall we went to was a spice stall. The man in charge had a great time telling us about all the different kinds of viagra he could sell us. He also taught us about all of the different spices in Egypt, how to use them and what they were for. On a side note, they have some pretty interesting ways to get you into their shops! This is one of the main tactics used by Attar (spice salesmen).
Smiling, because I was finally off her back!
They say you don't need to buy anything- that they just want to teach you about the spices. When you walk past other shops, some of the key marketing phrases we have heard include:
"I don't know what you want, but I have it!"
"You are beautiful, I am single. Yes?"
"Everything in my shop is free! Closing down sale!" (pfft, yeah right!)
"Tonight only, everything is free for blondes" (apparently I'm blonde.)
After walking through the rest of the market, and turning around because we were being followed by some not-so-nice-looking characters, we went back to the same shop and Mo bought a couple of different teas (did I mention I bought a christmas decoration for our international corner at home?). The man gave me free tea, and wanted to do some charcoal eyeliner for me for free (apparently to make my eyes look more like Cleopatra's. They like blue eyes here- hazaa!). He also went and bought me a fanta hehe and I didn't pay $1!! win!
Ok, fast forward and we are now going out for dinner at a different market. We heard the same cat calls and catch phrases, with a few interesting ones
Nubian village scarves
Trying to get the hang of making a scarf
thrown in too ("You buy this for your boyfriend, he will go like german machine!"), but found a shisha place to eat. We had company from some feral stray cats. I was kicking them away from the table, but they kept coming back to me. NOT cool! After dinner we headed back to the hotel and played a few card games until bedtime.
We spent the next day on a felucca sailing down the nile- my favourite day so far! Lying on a floating mattress, beer in my belly, sunscreen on (as rangas should)= not a bad way to spend 7 hours! We stopped at a little jetty for dinner on the 'mother boat'- chicken and rice...
Not much happened yesterday- Karnak temple and Luxor temple. The temples are amazing and massive, and the hieroglyphics look like they were written yesterday (not 3000 years ago), but I think we've all well and truly satisfied any temple craving that we had.
This morning was the best morning- donkey ride across the west bank to the Valley of the Kings. I think I was the most experienced rider (just because of horse riding) so I was keen to get
on and get going (fast). But, of course, I got the slow stubbourn donkey. I think I bruised his ribs from kicking to hard to get him going!!! I asked one of the donkey guys to help get mine going, but it was too hard. So, the main donkey man got off his personal donkey and let me ride him. The strongest, fastest, most powerful donkey there- it didn't take me too long to canter to the front of the pack! It was so fun!! We didn't have any stirrups, and there was no 'saddle' to hold onto, so there were a few times when I felt I would fall off- it was sooo fun!! I asked the man to take my bag though- I didn't mind if I fell off, but my brand new SLR camera was not going down with me! (Did I mention we had no helmets? just quietly hehe). So unfortunately I have no photos of me riding the donkey. Anyhow, I was speaking with Waleed at lunchtime and he said the man had been worried about letting me ride his donkey, but he was actually impressed by my technique! So they had let me lead
the group all the way to the Valley of the Kings. I think my donkey also was quite young, and still needed quite a bit of training- but by the end of 1 hour I had him slowing when I turned, and all round a little more disciplined!!! (It's easy to be confident when the animal you're riding is so close to the ground anyway!).
The Valley of the Kings was great- as with the temples we had seen, the tombs looked so new! Not as though they were 3000 years old. But it was 38 degrees today, and standing in the sand and sun was a bit uncomfortable.
Anyway, now I'm here in the hotel room- we are on a sleeper train tonight (fingers crossed the engine doesn't die again!) and will be back in Cairo tomorrow.
I've finally been able to upload some photos, which is pretty damn exciting!!! So, until my next blog when I have internet again/ something exciting to tell you...
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