Luxor signalled the end of our river cruise and thus we farewelled ‘Melodie.’ Our first port of call was Karnack Temple, which we made our way to via horse and cart. There are dozens of men offering horse and cart rides all over Egypt, I was always reluctant because the horses were so thin and made to work in such horrendous heat…however this ride was part of our tour so I was forced to put my animal rights activism aside.
Karnak temple was again a very impressive temple. The temple was dedicated to a very cheeky looking goat god. The goat statues have a mischievous smile…like its just nibbled the pants of a small child. The temple is a huge as over time each Pharaoh developed and made additions to the temple. It is also home to the few still standing obelisks from ancient times, still to this day they cannot perfect the ancient method of erecting these granite beasts. Again we saw the tourism police in full corruptive throttle and a trip to an Egyptian temple is never complete without the addition of stray dogs begging for food.
Luxor was the cleanest city we visited on our journey
through Egypt and is riddled with historical ruins. The town hall and the police station had to be demolished due to more discoveries of ruins beneath their foundations. Luxor temple is also an impressive sight especially at night.
Although it is here that we had our unfortunate post office experience. After realising I had purchased a little too much in the markets I decided to post a small souvenir home to a friend in New Zealand. We found the post office, amicably named ‘Tourism Post.’ I walked in and told the man I wished to post a parcel to New Zealand. Then all chaos broke loose, phone calls were made, people were rushing about and we were ushered into the manager’s office where the air conditioning was put on and drinks were offered. All this to post a parcel just seemed odd and we decided to make tracks…only to be told to sit back down and that it wouldn’t be long. I asked an approximation of the price and was told 250 Egyptian Pound (NZD $65), which was just astronomical. The kafuffle continued for another 20min, with my gift being passed from teller to teller, but by this stage
Me and Diarrhoea Donkey
It was a uncomfortable relationship from the beginning. I think the feeling was mutual.
we had had enough and decided promptly to leave. I took the gift from an interested looking teller and we proceeded out of the building…with tellers and managers hot on our tails yelling decreasing prices as we walked (it got as low as 70 Egyptian pounds). We later spoke to a gentleman on our tour that had lived in Africa previously; he termed this behaviour as the classic ‘shake down.’ Their intentions were to charge me as much as possible and take the goods for themselves; by making me feel important they were trying to lure me into a false sense of security in order to expend the money.
We also visited the Valley of the Kings, which is located across the river from Luxor. Our mode of transport to the Valley of the Kings was via donkey. There is nothing like riding a flea infested donkey with chronic diarrhoea into the desert to complete your travel adventures…except when your flea infested donkey with chronic diarrhoea insists on sticking its nose up the butt of another donkey with chronic diarrhoea. Its slick determination and delicate aim earned me a leg covered in “splash-back.”
After an hour on the
damned donkey we arrived at the Valley of the Kings. The Valley of the Kings is extraordinarily hot so any traveller must take plenty of fluid…there is water available there but again at exorbitant prices. The site is massive with more tombs still being discovered. We ventured inside 3 tombs, one of which extended almost 200m under the ground. It was here that we also saw the best-preserved hieroglyphs that still had their original paintwork. Some of the tombs also had remnants of old booby traps! In fact some of the Pharaohs and high Priests that were buried here were so paranoid (and rightly so) of tomb raiders that the locations of specific tombs were built in secret and sometimes all the workers were killed after the tomb was completed. Unfortunately no photos were allowed at the site.
Luxor signalled the end of our formal tour with just the sleeper train back to Cairo ahead of us. My thoughts ultimately on Egypt were that whilst I was really happy I came to Egypt for both the historical perspective and the cultural experience, I would not be making a repeat visit. After being ripped off at every turn and being
constantly surrounded in dirt and poverty I was happy to leave Egypt for my next big adventure in Turkey.
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