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Published: December 28th 2022
Egyptian series: I swam in Aswan
-Piprey on wheels Aswan is a tranquil city
by the Nile, far away from Cairo making it a splendid destination to taste the authentic Egyptian food
and experience Nubian life.
After another excellent Egyptian dinner, I woke up early (truth is that I hardly slept) for the big trip to Abu Simbel
. A boat rowed us to the mainland and then we started off in a 3-hour convoy through a flat, desert road, south of Aswan through the Sahara desert.
At 5 am check point, the police checked our nationalities insisting for some reason on only British and Spanish. The sun winked but we were not to be humored
, trying to catch up on our sleep. We stopped at a shanty but tea for 40LE, forget it. When we reached the temple, we saw the massive artificial Lake Nasser
which held all the waters of the Nile. It was deep blue
like an ocean.
The Abu Simbel complex
would have been completely submerged had it not been cut into blocks and transferred up on the hill at its current location. The larger temple was dedicated to Amun Re.
a smaller temple of Hathor
and Nefertari, the chief consort of Rameses 2
. His family are seen in smaller figures by his feet (not given much importance). The walls depict his victory over Kadesh. This temple was in Nubia
which was famous for gold mines
. They were built around 1264 BC.
Lead by a Polish archaeologist, this relocation of the temples was one of the greatest archaeological challenges in the modern world.
The entrance had 20m (66ft) statues representing Rameses 2. His many victories are engraved on the walls of the temple. In the smaller temple, Nefertari
is depicted as Hathor with ears of the cow.
When we returned, we witnessed the mirages
on the Sahara desert.
One of my co-passengers was constantly asking about how to go to Luxor and see the Edfu temple. I asked her to just take a train and gave her details of the Luxor hostel. I think she was very pleased. Later, she explained that she came to Egypt on a whiff while I explained that I had planned the trip at least 3 months back.
We reached Aswan
. The 20mins ferry cost 250 LE but we were 6 of
us with an English couple living in Dubai. (She said that no one checked her passport because she looked English). Philae temple
was another beautiful, relocated temple on a new island. It was large and picturesque. I got friendly with a couple of young IT final year students who were travelling here from Minya governate. Philae temple was dedicated to goddess Isis
. Lovely temple. Having been converted to a Christian church and now ruins, it was interesting to observe how the Muslims officials were offering their prayers in these premises during the azan.
I ate a lovely late lunch of grilled meat and mint soda as I watched the sunset by the river side. Took the ferry back to Elephantine Island and called it a day.
The next day, I got ready by 8am to visit one of the best museums in the world, Nubian museum
. The first to enter at 9 am.
I was transported through 5000 BC back with rock painting of giraffes, rhinoceros which freely roamed in this area once. The hunting instruments, pottery and jewellery showed the lives of the humans, not much different from today.
In the museum, I was suddenly surrounded by many school children
asking me questions in English- my name, where I was from and how I liked Egypt? I felt like a museum piece and gently answered these eager students 😊
The teachers frowned at me and diverted the children to the original exhibits
There was tight security when I entered the Coptic church around the corner. They asked if I was a muslim and I said not. A friendly young girl took me on and explained the church.
Then she asked me to remove my shoes
and took me inside. Many people were gathered around a tomb and praying. We had to write a wish in a chit of paper and put it in the box.
It was a lovely feeling. I remembered similar prayers in the Egyptian temples, thousands of years ago.
She desired to work in UK and I gave her my email details. I walked up to the ruins of an Isis temple but a guard barked at me, asking for tickets.
I gave it a miss as it was a small one.
I was now over-confident and negotiated an auto rickshaw for half price but he turned out to an honest man and refused to go.
Nevertheless, I called another autorickshaw and agreed on the correct price.
At Abeer restaurant, I relished the best beef koftas in the world with tahini, soup and the other dishes. Feeling full, it was impossible to walk but I did not give up 😊
I walked to the vibrant souk
(on the opposite side of the Nile corniche to avoid the eager guides). Did window shopping
(impossible to buy unless you can negotiate) and applied Henna/Mehendi on one hand
. The yoga suits available in sizes of 2XL for yoga was an indeed an interesting, positive encouragement.
I took a ferry. For the shame of me, got lost even in this little island! I had taken photographs of landmarks and with some help found my way.
An island inhabitant
I found that I was never alone. There were houseflies in the mornings and mosquitoes in the evening.
It has a dome like structure. Heavy security outside.
was telling me that he preferred to marry a western woman because she would do work at home and outside. It seems, the Nubian women did none of it. Good luck!
I swam through 1000s of years by spending a few days in Aswan.
Next day, I had to achieve another formidable task. Take the 5.30am train from Aswan to Luxor and catch the 8.30am bus from Luxor to Hurghada. Did it happen? Let's find out in the next blog.
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