June 14, 2010

Egypt

Early that evening we crossed the border into Egypt. We also crossed the Tropic of Cancer which is my third and last :-( big milestone for this trip. We were fortunate enough to witness a great sunset on the ferry, with the sun going down over the lake and the desert in the background. Beautiful!

Later that evening the ferry floated past the Great Temple of Abu Simbel, which was cut from the hillside to honour the gods Ra, Amun, Ptah and the defied Pharaoh Ramses II. The temple is beautifully lit at night, so it was easily visible from the ferry. The four colossal statues of Ramses II sit majestically facing east. Each statue is over 20m tall and is flanked by smaller statues of the Pharaoh’s mother and his beloved wife, Nefertari. In the 1960’s, Abu Simbel was winched to higher ground to avoid the rising waters of Lake Nasser in an ingenious feat of engineering.

We then settled down for another beautiful night under the stars, sleeping on the deck of the ferry.

We arrived at the ferry port of Aswan at about 11am the next morning to start the infamous Egyptian immigration / customs procedures. The Egyptian customs officials boarded the ferry and set about processing each of the passengers. Instead of letting the people disembark once their papers had been approved, they forced all three hundred passengers to stay onboard until all of the people had been approved ?!? This took a further three hours. They then opened one of the doors for all three hundred people to disembark. People here do not seem to understand the concept of queuing or just waiting your turn – all three hundred passengers pushed their way towards the door causing absolute chaos. It didn’t stop there! From there all three hundred people had to go through a single security machine and put their luggage through a single baggage security conveyor. Again, no queues were formed or enforced by the officials – instead there was just pushing, shoving, shouting and fighting to try and get through the security. The quiet, subdued people that had been praying so peacefully the evening before had turned into chaotic barbarians. Many sense-of-humour failures were witnessed – including mine on quite a few occasions! Absolute chaos! You would think that a country which has a ‘civilized’ history dating back to 4000BC would have invented a better, more organized system by now!! Ridiculous! Eventually, at about 3pm we managed to get through.

After a goodbye to young Andraes, who was heading up to Suez with his family, on a train, we then headed into Aswan to find a hotel. As the barge would only be arriving on Saturday, we had a day in Aswan to kill before we could get our vehicles. We managed to find a fairly cheap hotel, with a great roof-top view, on the corniche - which is the road along the Nile River.

First things first – find a MacDonalds! I am not a big MacDonalds fan but after a few months of eating dodgy food (mainly) there is nothing better than eating a Big Mac!!! Egypt is the first country, since South Africa, which has MacDonalds.

I was pleasantly surprised by Aswan. Aswan is Egypt’s southernmost city and sits on the banks of a particularly beautiful stretch of the Nile, decorated with palm-fringed islands and white-sailed feluccas. The corniche is lined with many first world hotels and facilities – a huge difference to Sudan. In ancient times, Aswan was a garrison town for military campaigns against Nubia, its quarries provided the granite used in so many Egyptians sculptures and obelisks, and it was a prosperous marketplace at the crossroads of the ancient caravan routes.

Aswan is one of Egypt’s great travel destinations and as such has many tourists all year round. This unfortunately means that streets are filled with overenthusiastic (and often bogus) guides that have had centuries of experience in ripping off unsuspecting tourists for trips that are seldom well planned or executed. A further annoyance is the constant aggressive badgering to buy souvenirs. A walk along the corniche will often result in hundreds of approaches for felucca rides, ancient site tours, restaurant visits, hotels stays, taxi rides, carriage rides, horse rides, camel rides or just constant badgering to buy souvenirs. Very annoying! I have become a professional at just ignoring them. I find that ignoring them seems to work the best because it makes them more annoyed than they are making me … a bit of payback ha ha. Sometimes I make as if I don’t understand them ha ha – they usually try a string of different international languages before just giving up – for some reason they think I am Spanish? (probably my dark skin tan from the desert riding and my beard ha ha).

The following day Alf, Anders and I decided to visit some of the sites that Aswan has to offer. First stop was the ‘unfinished obelisk’. The unfinished obelisk lies in the granite quarries that supplied the stone for many of the pyramids and temples in Egypt. Three sides of the obelisk shaft, which is nearly 42m long, were completed except for inscriptions. The obelisk would have been the single biggest piece of stone that the early Egyptians ever fashioned. However, a flaw appeared in the rock at a late stage in the process. So it still lies where the disappointed cutters, sculptors and carvers left it.

We then visited the Nubia Museum, which was well worth the visit. The museum is a reminder of the Nubian culture and history, much of which was lost when Lake Nasser flooded their land. Exhibits are displayed with clearly written explanations that take you from 4500BC to present day. The museum starts with prehistoric artifacts and exhibits from the Kingdom of Kush and Meroe. There are also displays of Coptic and Islamic art from the region. I was fascinated by the photos and descriptions of the massive UNESCO projects to move Nubia’s most important historical monuments away from the rising waters of Lake Nasser. The moving of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel was one of these many projects.

The following day our vehicles arrived and we set about trying to get them released from customs. We met up with Kamall who had been recommended to us by our Sudanese fixer. Kamall would help us through the endless system of paperwork and bureaucracy. What a day! Egyptians seem to battle to understand the concept behind the Carnet de Passage – they insist that all motor vehicles that temporarily enter Egypt have to be fully licensed as an Egyptian vehicle with the associated Egyptian number plates, roadworthiness tests etc .etc. etc. All of this obviously comes at a tremendous cost that is probably shared between the corrupt officials who refuse to assist unless they receive large amounts of baksheesh (under handed payments).

First we had to go to the traffic office in Aswan and pay various amounts of money to various different officials, just so that they could get the ball rolling. This amounted in total to about £E 50.00. Every one of these officials wanted their share of the corruption. In return we received various informal signatures and stamps to get the process started at the port customs office. We then headed to the port customs office and completed more paperwork and (of course) had to pay a further £E 500.00 ($US 100.00). The customs manager found a ‘problem’ with Alf and Anders Norwegian carnet papers. He refused to accept their carnet as the words ‘Norwegian Automobile Association’ had not been typed on each of the carnet papers – only on the main front cover which also had the official Norwegian Automobile Association stamp. I suggested that they just write it in, but for some reason typed words are official in Egypt – written words are not?!? Ridiculous. All pages on their document had the official carnet number which relates it to the IAA, an internationally recognized body that documents each vehicles existence and movements through the various local Automobile Associations. So the customs manager was just being difficult!! All he had to do was phone the Egyptian Automobile Association and confirm that the carnet was legal. Twatis Maximus sp. (We found out later that he was being difficult because he had a serious dislike for our fixer Kamall! As it turned out, the next day Alf and Anders had to catch a train to Cairo – a 12 hour trip – to get the Egyptian Automobile Association to stamp the carnet on behalf of the Norwegian Automobile Association. They would then have to return to Aswan (another 12 hours). Basically, three days wasted and at a tremendous cost - all because the customs manager did not like our fixer!?!)

I (luckily) managed to get my carnet accepted and then headed off to the Traffic Roadworthy Department. I might mention here that I was not allowed to take my motorbike with me to the roadworthy department because it was not yet allowed out of the port – but with a bit of ‘baksheesh’ that was not a problem and my bike received its full roadworthy certification without it even being there. Once this had been done we had to go and fetch a traffic policeman, pay him some money, and get him to return with us to the motorbike (still at the port) to verify the chassis and engine numbers by stenciling the numbers onto an ‘official’ Lexmark A4 piece of paper?!? We then had to return to the traffic office, drop off the policeman (after paying him baksheesh) and head into the Licensing Centre which was back in Aswan town some 20km away. At the Licensing Centre I had to pay a further £E 126.00 for insurance for the motorcycle (They would not accept the Comesa Insurance that I paid $US 100.00 for and which covers all African countries, including Egypt) I also had to pay for the temporary motorbike license and number plates. Only then could I return to the port customs facility to fetch my motorbike. I then paid the customs officials and Kamall, a further £E 250.00 baksheesh for their help. It had taken me one whole day and cost me about $US 250 to get my motorbike released from customs! This process took me longer and cost me more money than all of the other African countries put together. I have never seen such a corrupt and inefficient system. I wonder how people like these manage to sleep with themselves at night! What annoys me is the arrogance with which these officials conduct themselves, whilst giving a brilliant display of absolute incompetence and corruption.

I was relieved to find that Big Ken had not been damaged during transit. :-)

The next day I left for Luxor. On the way I stopped at the town of Edfu and visited the Temple of Horas, which is Egypt’s best preserved temple. The Temple of Horus was constructed by Ptolemy III (246 - 221BC). Although this temple is much newer than the temples at Luxor, its excellent state of preservation helps to fill many historical gaps. The massive 36m-high gateway is guarded by two huge statues of the falcon faced god Horus. The walls of the temple are covered in large carvings and pictures of Ptolemy and Horus. Behind the temple walls are the court of offerings as well as the hypostyle halls, which are decorated by various scenes of battles between the gods. Very interesting and because it has been so well preserved, it is well worth the visit.

That afternoon I continued up the Nile to Luxor. Luxor is another great city with a fascinating history. Situated along the Nile it was first inhabited around 3000BC. It was originally known as Thebes and was the capital of the New Kingdom. The setting is absolutely beautiful, the Nile flowing between the modern town and the West Bank necropolis, backed by a stunning desert escarpment. Modern day Luxor can be considered nothing less than an open air museum. Scattered across the landscape is a multitude of ancient historic sites, from the temples of Karnak and Luxor on its East bank to the Collosi of Menmon and the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens on the West Bank.



The sun played an important role in ancient Egypt. The rising of the sun in the east not only marked the beginning of day, but also represented new life. As such the majority of settlements in ancient Egypt were on the East Bank of the Nile, where the people would live out their lives, before being buried on the western side of the Nile (sunset or death). In addition to this, the temples that were built to honour the gods (i.e. the temples for praying and worshipping the gods) were all on the East Bank. The temples on the West Bank, however, were built to honour the dead pharaoh's who often achieved a god-like status. The West Bank of Luxor is often described as the “deathbed of the world” as this is where the tombs of the ancient Kings and their families are found..

On my first day in Luxor (7/6), I organized a tour to the West Bank. The West bank of Luxor was the necropolis of ancient Thebes, a vast city of the dead where magnificent temples were raised to honour the cults of pharaohs entombed in the nearby cliffs, and where queens, nobles, priests and artisans built tombs with spectacular d├ęcor.

The first monuments you see are the Colossi of Memnon which are the largest monolithic statues ever carved. They are huge and standing at 18m high they are all that is left of the largest temple ever built in Egypt (built by Amenhotep III). The statues were attributed to Memnon, the African king who was believed to have been slain by Achilles. An earthquake formed a small crack in the one statue which causes a whistling sound when the wind blows – early inhabitants believed this to be the cry of Memnon greeting his mother Eos, the goddess of dawn. She in turn would weep tears of dew for his untimely death.

Next we visited Deir al-Bahri. One of the features that stands out on the West Bank are the rugged limestone cliffs that rise about 300m above the desert plains. These have been carved by the Nile as it makes it way through the desert towards the Mediterranean. A strikingly beautiful natural monument. At the foot of all this beauty lies the man-made monument of Deir al-Bahri which is even more extraordinary. The almost modern looking temple blends in beautifully with the cliffs, from which it is partly cut. It is one of Egypt’s finest monuments and I can only imagine how stunning it must have looked in centuries gone by, when it was approached by a great sphinx lined path and when it was surrounded by gardens of exotic plants. The ancient Egyptians often refer to this temple as the “Most holy of holies”. The temple is decorated with some amazingly beautiful Egyptian paintings depicting various scenes of wars, expeditions and meetings with the gods. Set in this surrounding, this is one of the most beautiful temples that I have seen. It is also very well preserved and makes for an amazing visit.



From here we went on to the Valley of the Kings. The Valley of the Kings consists of 63 magnificent royal tombs from the New Kingdom period (1500 – 1000BC). The tombs basically consist of long tunnels angled into the cliffs with a burial chamber (sometimes still with sarcophagus) at the end. The tunnels are lined with various scenes of the afterlife that the pharaoh would be expected to go through before his rebirth. From the first day of a new pharaoh’s coronation the tomb building would start and they would continue to dig down and decorate until the death of the pharaoh. For this reason the lengths of the tunnels differ considerably between the different tombs. The tombs have suffered great damage from treasure hunters, floods and in recent years, mass tourism, but are still a spectacular visit. Scenes depicted on the tomb walls are interesting and give a great insight into the culture and beliefs of the ancient Egyptian.

Next stop was Valley of the Queens. There are 75 tombs in the Valley of the Queens and this was where the queens and other members of the royal family were buried. As these have been less visited, they contain better preserved wall paintings. The most fascinating tomb was that of Ramses II’s favourite wife Queen Neferteri. The tomb is a shrine to her beauty and without doubt an exquisite labour of love. Also fascinating was the tomb of Amunherkhepshef who was the son of Ramses III and who died in his early teens. On the walls of the tomb are magnificent paintings of Ramses holding his sons hand and introducing him to the gods that will help him on his journey to the afterlife. The tomb also contains the skeleton of a mummified 5-month old foetus that it is thought was aborted by Amunherkhepshef’s mother on hearing of her son’s death.

Unfortunately no photography was allowed at the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens :-(

The next day I spent visiting the East Bank sites. First stop was the Karnak Temple. Here for more than 1500 years the pharaohs competed for the gods attention by outdoing each other’s architectural feats. Karnak is now and extraordinary complex of buildings, kiosks, pylons and obelisks dedicated to the gods. Everything is on a gigantic scale, while its main feature, the Temple of Amun is the largest religious building ever built. It was believed that this was where the god Amun lived when on earth surrounded by the two gigantic temples which housed his wife Mut and their son Khonsu. Built, added to, dismantled, restored, enlarged and decorated, Karnak is believed to have been the most sacred temple in the New Kingdom.

There is a 3km long paved avenue which was once lined with 730 human-headed, lion-bodied sphinxes that once joined the Temple of Karnak to the Temple of Luxor. 58 of these sphinx statues still remain. The avenue must have been a spectacular sight in its time!

The Luxor Temple is a strikingly beautiful monument in the heart of the modern day Luxor. It was primarily built by Amenhotep III (1380 – 1352 BC) and Ramses II (1279 – 1213 BC), but has been added to over the centuries by Tutankhamun, Ramses III, Alexander the Great and various Romans. In the 14th Century a mosque dedicated to a local sheik was built in one of the inner courts. Both temples in Luxor are spectacular visits.



The following day (9/6) I decided to continue my journey up the Nile for my final destination Cairo. I think that the Egyptians think that they are in the brink of a war, as there are literally hundreds of police check points along the way. It got so bad that I could seldom get my motorbike into 5th gear before I would have to slow down for another check point. At the majority of the check points the police just wave you on, but I was stopped a number of times because they could see that I was a foreigner. Towards Debri, they insisted that they escort me through the smaller towns. They seemed to play tag team, contacting the police ahead to escort me through the towns along the way. I am not sure whether they were trying to protect me or trying to make sure I didn’t do anything. Eventually it got annoying as the police trucks seldom travel faster than 60km/h - even on the open road sections. The one police truck that I had to follow even stopped so that the policemen could steal some mango's off a farmers tree. They were also intent on putting their sirens on in town which was rather embarrassing! 6 policemen escorting one peaceful Jesus-looking bloke on a bike? I felt like a celebrity as everyone just stopped and stared to see who was being escorted.

This section of the Nile is great. The area is very lush and cultivated with a huge variety of different crops. There are hundreds of small towns to go through. Eventually the Cairo highway starts and the roads start getting ridiculously busy with traffic making its way to and from Cairo.

I got to Cairo in the early evening and managed to catch a glimpse of the pyramids, through the thick smog, off in the distance. The pyramids are an awesome sight and majestically tower high above Giza. They offer a mystical ora to the overcrowded and congested city! But more on the pyramids later ...

In many ways, Cairo is Egypt, an overcrowded city that dominates the country almost as much as it dominates the Arab culture. As with many other major African cities that I have visited, Cairo attracts many people from subsistence livelihoods (along the Nile) towards the often false promises of a better life. As with much of Egypt, visitors tend to enjoy Cairo in proportion to their tolerance levels. Surrounded by horn-blowing cars all squeezing to get into any available gap, buried under a cloud of noxious exhaust fumes, elbowed into a crowd or tricked into being “guided” to a place you don’t want to go, it takes a special patience to enjoy this city. Unfortunately I have none.

Cairo is packed with millions of buildings that seem to be thrown up and are in various states of being unfinished – no windows and no interior work. They’re also built with unfinished roof levels so that upper levels can be added on in the future, if needed. When a person buys a unit in one of the thousands of these buildings located throughout Cairo they have to add their own windows and doors and complete their own interior work (plastering and painting the walls, putting in floors, etc.). You have to see this housing to believe it – it is everywhere, and it is stark and eerie in its half-built, half-empty state. Quick, cheap housing is mainly what Cairo consists of.

I managed to hook up with my good mate, Sean Reynolds, that I played hockey with in my younger years. Sean has been living in Cairo for the past four years and has been working for the Intercontinental Hotel group. Great bloke and a good friend!! Sean offered me to stay with him in his 5-star apartment within the City Star InterContinental Hotel in Cairo! What a stroke of luck and what a great way to end the trip. The first few evenings were spent catching up over far too many beers whilst I tried to sort out motorcycle shipping back to Perth.

I got in contact with Waguih Guindy who owns a transport company (Escale Travel) and who had been recommended to me for shipping my motorcycle back to Perth. The monthly ship to Australia was to leave on 18/6, so I did not have much time to organize the crating. I took the motorcycle to his offices and started dismantling it for crating. It was rather upsetting parting with Big Ken. He has been a great companion during the trip and has not let me down once. As things were rather rushed, it was also disappointing not being able to take some photos of the motorbike at the pyramids – the traditional trans-africa shot.

The traffic in Cairo is ridiculous to say the least. Drivers are extremely impatient and travel at ridiculous speeds. Although the roads are often well demarcated with lanes, it seldom happens that drivers will stick to the lanes. Any gap that appears will very quickly be taken by a vehicle intent on getting there first. Drivers drive with their hands almost constantly on the hooter and are quite happy to cut other drivers off that are trying to squeeze their way past. On a motorbike this can be extremely dangerous. Whilst travelling down the ‘ring-road’ at ridiculous speeds (to keep up with the other traffic), cars would often try and squeeze past with only millimeters of clearance from the motorbike. Very nerve-racking and very dangerous! As with the rest of Africa, no motorcyclists wear helmets here. I have never seen such bad and impatient driving before!

I also had to organize a schengen visa for my trip to Europe to catch up with my good mate Olly Rhode. This turned out to be another nightmare. The German Embassy in Cairo only issues schengen visa’s to Egyptian citizens. They said that I need to apply for the visa in Pretoria. However, the German Embassy in Pretoria requires you to appear in person at the visa application which I obviously could not do. I was stuck. After much pleading I managed to get an appointment at the German Embassy in Cairo to plead my case. As it turned out the person who issues the schengen visa in Cairo was also an avid adventure biker and armed with my charity letter from ‘Riders for Health’ he issued me with a full one year multiple entrance visa into Europe!

On the 16/6 Mel arrived in Cairo to complete her Cape-to-Cairo trip which she had done on public transport. It was great catching up with her again and hearing her stories. Although we had traveled a similar route through Africa, her experiences on the trip were often very different to mine and it was interesting to hear her different point of view.

We decided to take a few days off from the hussle and bussle of Cairo and head to the diving resort town of Dahab on the Sinai side of the Red Sea. In order to spend more time in Dahab, we decided to fly to Sharm el-Sheik and then catch a bus to Dahab. At Sharm el-Sheik we ended up arguing a taxi driver down from L.E. 200 to L.E 20 to get us to the bus station. As with most of Egypt which is frequented by foreign tourists it becomes somewhat annoying and irritating having to argue with locals to be given a fair price. They are intent on ripping off all the foreigners which is not only frustrating, but has left me with a bad taste for the Egyptian locals. In Egypt it is very seldom that prices are openly displayed – instead the shop-owners / taxi drivers / hoteliers / restaurateurs will just quote a ridiculous price and you will then be left having to negotiate your way down to a more realistic and fair compromise.
Arguably the world’s most famous stretch of coastline, it is at the Red Sea that Moses allegedly parted the sea and set free the Hebrew slaves. Famed for its brilliant turquoise waters and coloured reefs, the Red Sea coastline attracts thousands of tourists annually. The diving here is truly first class.

Dahab is a tranquil seaside refuge from the unrelenting desert heat. It has a long history of luring backpackers – trapping them for days or weeks on end – with its fairly cheap backpackers lodges, golden beaches and a rugged desert backdrop. A short swim off the beach will find you in one of the world’s most pristine coral reefs – ideal for diving and snorkeling.

Although Dahab is one of the most relaxed destinations in Egypt, it has also been the target for a number of recent terrorist attacks. It was here that in April 2006 suicide bombers killed 23 people and injured dozens more. The government has tried to crack down on the seeds of Islamic fundamentalism by introducing dozens of road blocks and police checkpoints. It remains to be seen whether or not their approach is effective as the Sinai region is a melting point between different cultures and continents.

The first afternoon was obviously spent relaxing on the beach whilst sipping on cocktails and fighting off the local souvenir salesmen. The next day we organized a dive to ‘the Lighthouse’ which was a great reef about 100m off the beach. I was absolutely amazed with the sea-life and coral that can be found just off the beach. The underwater colours that the coral displays are dazzling and quite breathtaking.

That evening we decided to climb Mount Sinai. As the temperature in the Sinai Desert gets ridiculous in the day, Mount Sinai is best climbed at night in order to be at the summit to watch the morning sunrise over the desert, and to get down the mountain before the sun starts to heat things up.

Mount Sinai is revered by Christians, Muslems and Jews, all of which believe that this was where God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses at its summit. It was also here that God spoke to Moses through the burning bush and it is also the mountain on which it is believed that Elijah heard the voice of God. For centuries Mount Sinai has been a place of religious pilgrimage. Unfortunately this means that the mountain is infected with souvenir salesmen and herdsmen offering camel rides up the mountain. There seems to be no control of these people and we were pestered along almost the entire trip up the mountain by these rude and persistent sales people.

In addition, the Egyptian authorities insist that all tourists are accompanied up the mountain by a Bedouin guide. I am not sure what the reason for this is, since the centuries of pilgrims have created a bloody great highway up the mountain and it is almost impossible for anyone to get lost. In addition, the “guides” are not trained in any way and cannot speak English so very few of them can offer any religious insight into the mountain. Another Egyptian money making / rip-off scheme.

We reached the top of Mount Sinai at about 04h30 and it was freezing cold at the top. We spent an hour or so catching up with some sleep in the large Bedouin tents that have been set up on the mountain, before heading to the church at the summit of the mountain to watch the sunrise. The church has been placed on the spot where it was believed that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The sunrise over Sinai was amazing and it was truly a breathtaking and spiritual experience.

On the way down the mountain we stopped at the St. Katherine’s monastery. The monastery has been placed at the spot that it is believed that God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. Here it is possible to see what is thought to be a descendant of the burning bush in the monastery compound. I might say that the bush has recovered well from the fire that nearly ended its life thousands of years ago. According to the monks this bush was transplanted here many centuries ago and continues to thrive to this day. Near the burning bush is also the Well of Moses, where it is thought that Moses drank from the spring – it is believed that anyone who drinks from the spring will have lifelong marital happiness.

Later that day we headed back to Dahab and spent the remaining few days lazing on the beach and diving some of the other dive sites. I managed to dive at “the Canyon” as well as the Blue Hole which has been rated as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. I cannot get over the underwater beauty that this area offers. The coral and fish life displays some spectacular colour and I spent hours trying to find Nemo.

I may say here that the reefs are not policed at all and I fear that they will not last for much longer. The small town of Dahab has over 60 dive centres that cater for thousands of divers every year. These dive centres compete for customers and often have 5 – 6 groups going out per day. Even whilst snorkeling, we could see evidence of damaged reefs and even scolded a local Arab for kicking a section of the reef that he was trying to break off as a souvenir!! If the authorities do not step in, I fear this pristine reef will end up being ruined - like that of Hurghada further down the coastline which was one of the most beautiful dive sites in the 1970’s but now has almost no coral left due to over-diving.

On 22/6 we headed back to Cairo to visit the remainder of the Egyptian sites.

The following day we went to see the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Built on a desert plateau and encroached upon by the modern Cairo city, the pyramids here are the last remaining wonder of the ancient world and a great place to end my trans-africa trip! They are built as the monuments to the pharaohs to help with their journey through the afterworld and into re-incarnation. Representing more a celebration of life, and a desire for life to continue, they were believed to have been constructed by thousands of artisans (not slaves) who were mindful of their part in creating something extraordinary.

Completed around 2600BC, the Great Pyramid of Kufu is the oldest pyramid at Giza and the largest at 146.5m high. The neighboring Pyramid of Khafre was built by Khufu’s son and the third (and smallest) pyramid was built by Menakaure who was Khafre’s son.

The pyramids of Giza are so iconic as to defy description. They have been puzzled over and plundered, visited and studied for 4000+ years. Their attraction continues unabated. The theories about why and wherefore and the speculations of divine intervention ensure that the pyramids will continue to keep alive the names of a father, son and grandson forever. Isn’t that what they were intended to do?

Guarding the Pyramid of Khafre is the Sphinx, which has the face of Khafre and the body of a lion. It was buried by sand several times now since its construction in 2500BC and was carved by a single piece of limestone. The sphinx is missing its nose which was shot off by Napoleons army in the 19th Century. It remains one of the most evocative monuments of the ancient world!

That afternoon we visited Egyptian Museum which houses a bewildering amount of Egyptian artifacts. This museum is one of the world’s most important museums of ancient history. Here the treasures of Tutankhamen lay alongside buried artifacts, mummies, jewellery, pottery and toys of ancient Egyptians whose names have been lost in history.

The number of exhibits long outgrew the available building space and the museum is literally bursting at the seams. Items are arranged chronologically throughout the building and show Egypts fascinating history. To walk through the museum is like embarking on an adventure through ancient time. Truly fascinating.

The following day we left for Germany.

Jaag maar aan.

5 comments:

Victorian inn bed and breakfast said...

Egypt is one of the most prominent countries in the Middle East. It is a very nice and historical place specially its Pyramids. There are lots of places for holidays like Pyramids of Giza, Sphinx, Abu Simbel, Cairo and Temple of Karnak.

Anonymous said...

You describe events, people and places remarkably well to the extent that we almost feel as if we are on this journey with you. When I passed through Egypt in the early 60's, the authorities were exactly the same - useless, so inefficient, lazy and arrogant - nothing was organized! Goodness knows how they built those pyramids? We look forward to your next episode but dread to think what you now have to do to get your bike out of the country?

John & Teens

Anonymous said...

So Cool Bok!!! It has been an awesome journey...i have loved every tale of it!! Much Love
Tam

Dubai holiday packages said...

Your blog is very interesting after read your post I though that you really enjoyed in Egypt. I also visited there couple of times and that was awesome tour as well.

ste tomkinson said...

I have just been looking at property in sharm el shake, This was helpful thank you

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