Days 32-34: Felucca Cruise, Egypt

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Africa » Egypt
October 22nd 2008
Published: November 13th 2008
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Day 32 - Ships ahoy. We board at Aswan.

I was going to be spending the next three days of my life aboard an Egyptian Felucca surrounded by 12 of my fellow tour group members with no hope of escape, solitude or immediate access to my backpack (more on that later).

How hard can that possibly be….?

A felucca is one of those traditional wooden sailing boats that are now mainly used by the tourist market to sail along the Nile between Aswan & Luxor. The one we were on did not have an engine (most of them rarely do) and relied solely on the breeze that built up during the day to get it moving. That being said - we spent a considerable amount of time either in the middle of the Nile going nowhere when there was no breeze or weaving our way between the left to the right bank to make the most of what little breeze we did have available to us (mainly because it was going in the opposite direction to where we wanted it to go).

After stowing our backpacks below deck, we hastily got on board with our daypacks, sleeping bags & snacks to tide us through the journey, found a spot on the cushions that lined the deck of the felucca, sat down and stared out into the distance. That was it! That was all we were going to be doing for the next two days and I didn’t know how to enjoy it. Here I was in the middle of nowhere - no electricity, no sound (except for the rowdy lot aboard my boat) and no distraction and instead of relaxing, I spent most of my time twiddling my fingers waiting for the ‘next’ thing that needed to be done, waiting to get access to the internet so I could write in my blog about how peaceful it was to sit on a felucca doing nothing all day long; waiting to get off so I could go exploring at the next stop. I did all of this except stop to enjoy the sheer peacefulness of actually doing nothing.

It should come as no surprise that this little adventure would once again involve no facilities of any kind. However unlike our time in the desert there was very little privacy and no access to our backpacks for a quick change of clothes or in my case access to my stash of baby wipes…Oh no!!! I guess this was going to be the real definition of roughing it that our itinerary originally suggested.

At some point throughout the day, we thought that the best way to pass the rest of it would be to play a game of cards - A game of cards that involved alcohol of course! The rules were long & complicated and all designed to ensure that copious amounts were consumed in the least amount of time possible. Needless to say - the game ended messily and after a hastily eaten meal prepared by our felucca driver and served in the middle of the cushioned deck of our boat I hastily retreated to the confines of my sleeping bag in a passed out stupor.

Day 33 - The Temple of Kom Ombo

I woke up at dawn whilst everyone else was asleep and this time - I sat and absorbed the silence around me and for the first time did nothing.

Eventually everyone slowly started to wake up shattering my morning solitude. There was a mad scramble to the shore to find the ‘perfect’ spot and to stretch our legs before once again heading out into the middle of the Nile to try and make the most of the wind that was available.

We did the same thing again today that we did the day before. Only this time I soaked it all in and did nothing. I didn’t worry about what to do, I didn’t think about my computer. I didn’t think about the internet. I didn’t do anything. Instead - I spent the day dodging the sun by squishing myself in between piles of daypacks and scattered bodies snoozing, eating & chatting. If I wasn’t doing that I spent the rest of my time trying to get my feet wet as I sat dangling them over the edge of the boat.

Later that afternoon we had our first outing off the boat. A visit to the Temple of Kom Ombo. Given all the Temples we had seen to date - This particular temple is now starting to blur with all images of all the others. What makes this visit more memorable is the journey to get there…

Our little felucca was certainly no match for the far more impressive cruise liners that docked along the banks of the Temple entrance. Instead we were forced to dock a fair distance from the main entrance further along the river bank. We all made a mad scramble up the dusty river bank (Yes! very dusty red sand that coated my already dirty feet…yuck!) through a field of sugar cane and over a little bridge that was used as the local dumping ground for rubbish and then finally up the stairs to the main entrance where all the shops & cafes were situated.

At this point my interest was more in the search of a proper Western toilet (ie not a tree, clump of grass or patch of covered sand….). The temple visit was a secondary endeavor as far as I was concerned.

The necessities completed I was then able to turn my attention to the Temple complex itself. The temple is in fact two separate temples consisting of a Temple to Sobek (The crocodile god) and the Temple of Haroeris (The falcon-headed sky god). We didn’t have a guide so we were pretty much left to our own devices to wander around the grounds. This suited me perfectly as I wasn’t really in the mood to listen to anyone other than myself at that particular moment.

Day 34 - Edfu Temple

I woke up and found myself in the middle of the Nile!!! Not in it but on it, of course….

The previous night we had moored ourselves on the river bank across from the Temple to settle in for the evening and as it turned out, in the morning we had set out at dawn to make our way back across to the Temple of Kom Ombo, where we would be docking and making our way back to Luxor to catch our overnight train to Cairo.

After two days of being on a boat, being unable to change and being in such close confines to my fellow passengers - I wanted off! I crawled under the deck (yes crawled…it was a very, very small space where all of our things were stacked) to go in search of my backpack. Thankfully I was one of the last people on board to begin with so my backpack was one of the last ones stowed and therefore one of the easiest to access (being late does have its advantages!!). I grabbed a change of clothing and scrambled off the boat as quickly as I could to get to the toilet complex before it got busy.

The felucca ride was certainly an experience I will always remember. Fondly? Parts of it certainly! But as I walked past the cruise liners towards the toilets - there was a very large part of me that would have appreciated a little more comfort along the way….sigh!!

Our last stop before driving to Luxor was a visit to Edfu Temple (Not another bloody temple I hear some of you screaming!!). I was certainly ‘Templed’ out by this stage and was day dreaming of a warm shower, fluffy towels, a king size bed and (oops wake up!!!!) - but alas that was not going to come my way for at least another night - so with that in mind, it was off to Edfu Temple for all of us, the last temple we would visit on our Middle East tour and the last night we would have on tour (except the train ride of course).

What can I say about Edfu Temple? To start,
Reliefs on the ceilingReliefs on the ceilingReliefs on the ceiling

Temple of Kom Ombo
we had a terrible guide, totally devoid of humour and spoke in such an irritating manner that I tuned out for most of his story (It certainly couldn’t have been because I was irritable myself?? Never - it had to be the guide).

Anyway - Edfu Temple…

This Temple is the second largest temple in Egypt after Karnak and is one of the best preserved, with most of it still intact. It was dedicated to the falcon god Horus and built during the Ptolomy period (237 & 57 BC). The temple itself was buried in the sand to over 12 meters until 1860 aiding in its preservation, but still faced the same vandalism that most temples faced during the early Christian period under Roman rule. Most of the reliefs of the gods have been carved out by followers of the Christian Faith and the ceiling of the Hypostyle Hall was burnt down & blackened to destroy the pagan imagery.

It certainly was a beautifully preserved temple and a fantastic way to mark the end of our journey along the Nile.

…..our final day in Luxor

Finally a chance for a shower!!…...

We got to Luxor later that morning and were going to be based at the campsite we had been at during our earlier stay in Luxor. We had the rest of the afternoon free to wander around Luxor itself which gave me the opportunity to do a last minute visit of the Luxor Museum. A very worthwhile museum that holds some of the relics found in Tutankhamen’s tomb and a wonderful series of granite status of various New Kingdom pharaohs in perfect preservation found near the Temples of Karnak & Luxor.

Later that evening, after a dinner of spit roast pork we set off for the train station to board our overnight train to Cairo. Yes! You have read this correctly - We did have a spit roast pig for dinner, prepared for us at the campsite. It had to be noted here in this blog because I myself didn’t think that this was possible in this country - but as it turned out, it was a wonderful feast and a very interesting memory of my last night in Luxor.

By the way…..The train was only two hours late this time. A marginal improvement from our earlier three hour delay.
Hypostyle hallHypostyle hallHypostyle hall

Edfu Temple.

Additional photos below
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Man carrying sugar caneMan carrying sugar cane
Man carrying sugar cane

He wanted to charge me for this photo..... On the way back to the boat from the Temple of Kom Ombo

10th January 2009

Keep it up
your photos rock mate

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