Cairo Diaries - 3

OK.. I have been going GaGa over the last couple of days, over the trip that I had undertaken with the team, across Egypt. Here is my experience !!!!

On Day 0 it Took a lot of patience and co-operation from everybody to get things on track. To leave office by 5 and to get back to office by 7:45 in the evening, so that we can catch the train to Aswan, from Cairo Railway Station.

Cairo Railway Station is totally a mess. To be frank, and not to be too accusing, It is worse than any Indian Railway station. Took me quite some time to actually come to my senses, only to find a twin-shock awaiting me. The seats were seater class. Meant we had to sit for the next 12 hours. And the train's condition was absolutely pathetic.

Since it was sleeper class, it was really very difficult to actually sleep. We had the last seat, before the exit. All night, somebody or the other was entering and exiting. Very irritating actually. So you can see a visibly tired me here. In the midst of all of this, at about 5 AM in the morning, the assistant aboard the Train, woke up each one of us, and gave us 'breakfast'. It consisted of two slices of long bread, with cheese in each slice, one croissant, and one juice. Everybody was grumbling that the assistant woke them up unnecessarily.

Once we reached Aswan, it was actually time to relax. We reached a hotel called Paradise Hotel. Checked in. Had Koshary. Then we decided to go to Philae Temple. Very interesting stories our guide told us. Wish I could tell all of it here !!! Will definitely tell the stories in my later posts. :) :D

The below pic was taken, when I was in a slightly relaxed mood, on the way to Philae Temple.

After Philae Temple, we decided to go to the Aswan High Dam. The Aswan High Dam is 3,830 metres long, 980 metres wide at the base, 40 metres wide at the crest and 111 metres tall. It contains 43 million cubic metres of material. At maximum, 11,000 cubic metres of water can pass through the dam every second. The reservoir, named Lake Nasser, is 550 km long and 35 km at its widest with a surface area of 5,250 square kilometres. It holds 111 cubic kilometres of water.

Rumored to be the single largest artificial water reservoir, I am attaching here the Panoramic view of the Aswan Dam. The one in WikiPedia page, is the view, that is exactly the other 180 degrees !! :) :D

After the Aswan Dam, it was time for another temple, but unfortunately that temple was closed. So we decided to simply go around in the boat, across the Nile and come back. It was a very short trip, lasted only for about 20 minutes, but seriously mindblowing moments. So many comical moments in those 20 minutes. :) :D

Then a small walk along the Corniche and then back to the Hotel. This was shot just opposite the Corniche.

We then decided to have some Sugarcane juice. Seriously too good. :). A glass' cost is approximately 1 Pound, and the expression on our parched faces was truly priceless !!!

We had ordered for some salad, lentil soup, vegetable curry and Khaboos. Frankly, we didn't expect it to be so good. It tasted heavenly, especially after the fact that, we had not had anything proper for almost 6 hours. Now comes the highlight part. I had mentioned very clearly that since we are going till Aswan, we must visit Abou Simbel. But the folks who organised the trip, clearly told me, that it would not be possible to put that on the itenerary, and I left it at that, though secretly I was wishing that they would change their heart !!!

After we finished visiting the Philae Temple, the guide was asking us, if we were visiting the Abou Simbel. When we replied in the negative, he showed shock on his face. His expression simply shouted to us, ' You've come this far, to Aswan, and you are not seeing Abou Simbel ?? Are you Nuts ?? ' So finally a haphazard plan to Abou Simbel was planned.

We had to leave at 3:30 AM the next morning, and accompany a convoy. It was a three hour trip to Abou Simbel and almost all of us, fell asleep in the journey. Finally I saw, what I had wanted to see for almost a lifetime. The temples of Abou Simbel !!!!
An Atheist comes face to face with God !!!

After Abou-Simbel, we had to go to Luxor. All of us had Koshary together as lunch, and then quickly, we sneaked out to have sugarcane juice. Our guide kept complaining that we were getting late. On the way to Luxor, we were to see two temples. First one that we saw was the Komombo Temple.

After this, there was another detour to the Edfu Temple. It looked more like the Nachiarpuram Temple near Kumbakonam. I don't why I am relating this to that, but I felt like it.

After this, we reached Luxor. At Luxor, we found that all financial agencies were locked out. So nobody actually had any Pounds. All that we had were dollars and Travellers's cheques waiting to be exchanged. Then, a couple of tonga wallahs got us into their fold and mentioned that they will take us to the Luxor Market, which turned out to a total dud. The best part was, on the way, we could see the Luxor temple in all its glory.

Next Day, we had a female guide for us, Maru. She was actually very very patient with the whole lot of us, who were passing comments and having as much fun as possible. We started and proceeded towards, Valley of Kings and Valley of Queens. No camera allowed there. So totally pic-less here. :(

Then we paid a visit to the Hatshepsut Temple. Mindblowing. Seriously. Total Grandeur. If only it was not ruined, and totally re-structured, it would give the Taj-Mahals and colosseums a run for their money.

After the Hatshepsut temple, We decided to grab a photo at the Remains of the Statues of Memnon. The story our guide was actually quite interesting !!!

After this, we decided to visit a small alabaster factory, which was nothing but a cottage-industry-encouragement-initiative. I seriously liked the idea a lot. What a way to actually increase employment. The guys at the cottage, spoke better English than most tour guides !!!

After this, there were only two more landmarks. Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple.

Karnak Temple is the largest temple in Egypt and perhaps the largest in the world. Simply mindblowing. Each king added quite a significant portion of the temple and has helped it survive. And our guide was seriously mindblowing by throwing out bits and pieces of interesting information here and there, increasing the curiosity. The below pic was taken at the great Hypostyle wall. The biggest in the world !!!!

The last point on the tour was the Luxor temple. To be frank, it contained more surprises than I had imagined !! Our guide was again, at her best here. She gave us a truly true account of the place and their importance.

After this, our trip was literally over. We caught the train to Cairo and reached on Monday Early morning, and bunked office :) :D.

P.S:- There is a lot more that I want to tell and show. One step at a time.

P.P.S:- We had covered close to 2000 miles in this three day trip.

P.P.S:- Semma Semma Semma !!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 by Hari
Categories: , , | 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. Wow Hari, good account!! makes me envy you now :)

  2. I had some how expected this comment from you .. !!! :) :D

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