Well...long time since last entry and yes once again much has happened. Let me try and sum it all up for you in a couple of paragraphs. The group has been fantastic, unfortunately most of the group were only doing the 2 weeks in Egypt with me so we're down from 20 to just 6 and next week there will only be 3 of us to go through Syria. Um...let me think what I've done the last week and half.
We left Hurghada on Saturday, had a low-key dinner as we were getting up early to head out for some snorkelling or diving in the Red Sea. Left early morning and went out on a lovely boat to a snorkelling spot. Felt really posh as the boat had 2 decks and we got to sit on cushions and sun-bake up top while we drove to the snorkelling spot. I went snorkelling for the first time, not quite sure if I liked it, I kept getting water in my snorkel and choking, but for about ten minutes it was really cool looking down at the coral and fish. Decided I didn't want to go in again at the second spot so just lounged around reading my book. I'm thinking of going snorkelling again here in Dahab because it supposed to be just brilliant, you can snorkel straight off the beach. We were running a bit late headaing back to the shore as we had to catch a police convoy from Hurghada to Luxor at 6pm and Johan (our driver) was starting to panic a little I think. Fortunately we just scraped in, arriving just as they were heading out the gate. Four hour drive back to Luxor, dinner was sandwiches on the truck, and went to bed pretty well straight away.
Got up fairly early the next morning to head to the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Kings. Went into three tombs at each site which was pretty cool. I was hoping to go into King Tutankhamun's tomb but unfortunately they had already reached their quota for the day. Went into the deepest tomb which was very narrow and quite claustrophobic and we were sweating in the bottom chamber so got out of there pretty fast. After looking in the tombs most of the group went on a walk over the Valley of the Kings to Queen Hatshepsut's temple but I wasn't feeling too crash hot so I decided to pass. Instead the reast of us headed into Luxor for lunch and then a bit of shopping. Had a really awesome night, so entertaining...wait till you see the pictures!! Anna had bought this gold and black dress at the markets and she wore it down for drinks and then slowly everyone else started putting some sort of costume on. I had bought a fez so I wore that and most others wore a hat or shirt of some kind but one of the boys, Geoff, borrowed this blue and silver sparkly dress that was left on the truck from an early dressup party...insane! Neil and Yohan had organised some entertainment for us for the evening so after dinner a belly dancer showed up at the campsite so we danced with her for a while (awesome video of Geoff dancing, I'm sure you'll be able to see it on youtube at some point lol), followed by a dervish dancer (spins around and around and around in a circle dancing for like 15 minutes, and incredibly he could still walk in a straight line afterwards) and then a snake charmer. Yes I held not one but TWO cobras!!!! I was so scared but I got a couple of good photos out of it so I guess it was worth it. Then we stayed up drinking before going to bed pretty late.
Got up super early the next morning to catch a 7am train to Aswan. We were at the train station ready to go at 6.30am when we found out the train was running late. So we though okay fine, it's an hour late we'll be off at about 8am. No such luck, we were then told not before 9am. The train finally rocked up at 10.15am so we had been waiting at the station for nearly 4 hours!!! That's Egypt time for you. Jumped on the train for the 4 hour journey and finally arrived in Aswan mid-afternoon. Had a quick stop for lunch and then we went off to see Philae Temple, dedicated to the goddess Isis. The temple was situated in the middle of a lake so we had to catch a boat to go across there...totally unexpected but wonderful. Our guide Farag, a funny little man took us around explaining different parts of the temple to us. Didn't get too long to look around but I think it was enough. Went back to our hotel, Clepatra's after that to shower and get ready for dinner. Ate early at a restaurant floating on the Nile as we were waking up at 3am the following morning to go to Abu Simbel.
Wake up call at 3am, insane!, to join the early convoy to Abu Simbel which was about a 3 hour drive away. Went on a full size coach so we each got 2 seats to try and get some sleep. Couldn't sleep much on the way as it was so hard to get comfortable so I was still exhausted by the time we arrived. Totally worth it though, you round this bend in the mountain and suddenly there it is! The temple for Ramses II itself is amazing, the sheer size of it but what astounds me even more is the fact that less than 50 years ago they moved the temples (both Ramses II and Nefertari's) from another island because it was going to flood and be destroyed. Absolutely incredible, totally worth it! Left in the 9am convoy (still so tired as we had been up for hours already) for the drive back to Aswan. Stopped at the Aswan High Dam on the way back which was pretty cool too. Had the afternoon to relax (bought some falafels and bread for lunch and then relaxed by the pool) before meeting for dinner at 6pm. Went over to Nubia (an island on the Nile inhabited by the Nubians which migrated here from southern Africa) for dinner in our felucca captain's house. Caught a boat across the Nile and then rode in the back f utes to our destination. Lovely meal (lots of rice, vegies and meats as usual) and then headed out to the front yard where we danced and sang with the locals for quite a while, loads of fun. Oh, I also got a henna tattoo on my right hand and arm which was really nice to start with but as it's starting to fade it now looks like I just drew on myself or that I'm really dirty. Caught the utes and boat back to the mainland where we all just pretty well collapsed into bed after such a long day.
Got a sleep in in the morning as we were boarding feluccas for the next two days. Some of us decided to go camel riding in Nubia before boarding the feluccas. We caught a boat back across to the island and met our camels for the morning - mine was Jimmy Ferrari, the fastest camel apparently. We rode around through the desert over Nubia which was loads fo fun, it was actually pretty comfortable. Unfortunately, however, mysaddle cushion slipped a little so my calf was rubbing against the wooden part of the saddle so I had this MASSIVE bruise that is only now just beginning to fade! Loads of fun rising camels though! Arrived at the feluccas at about about 12pm, laded all out stuff on board and just relaxed. We had 2 feluccas between the 20 of us (feluccas are sailboats that are completely open except for a shade over the top and we basically just sit and lie on big mattresses while we sail down the nile). I was on a felucca with Anna, Sam, Geoff, Brian, Simon, Ben, Andrew, Graeme and Neil. We had to preorder beers and stuff before heading off and our felucca was known as the party felucca as we had 80 beers between 9 of us while the other had 30 between 11. I have been drinking so much beer this holiday it's crazy considering I never drink it at home...it must be something about being in a foreign country lol. So for the next couple of days we just sailed along the nile (25km in total) relaxing, reading, eating and sleeping. Had a great night the first night after we had moored and had dinner we went ashore and danced and sang around the campfire again, so much fun, Kumuka kumuka!! (something the felucca captain kept saying, he seemed to love the name our tour company), Another really relaxing day followed by a night of alcohol. I made the fatal mistake of drinking beer followed by vodka so I was sick as a dog the following day. Totally served me right lol. Had to get up pretty early the following day to get off the felucca and visit some temples so naturally I was feeling pretty rotten. We saw Kom Ombo temple and Edfu temple, in between which was a horribly long bumpy drive in a minivan...I did not feel well at all lol!! After viewing the temples we drove back to Luxor so we could shower and dinner etc. at the Rezeiky camp (where we had been staying for all our other visits) before we went off to the train station to catch the overnight train to Cairo which left at 11pm.
Slept pretty well on the train, we went first class so we had nice big wide seats that reclined. Veronica lent me some earplugs and Geoff a face mask so I slept like a log for most of the night. The train was running late again (surprise surprise) so we didn't arrive in Cairo until after 10am when we should have been there two hours earlier. Said goodbye to Andrew and Graeme at the station as they had an early afternoon flight and then quick rush to the hotel for breakfast before going off to the Egyptian museum. So much better to look around a second time now that I had seen all the places where the statues etc. were found. Stayed there for a couple of hours and then back to the hotel. Some people chose to stay at the hotel for the afternoon, others went to the markets, while me and quite a few others went off to find the City of the Dead in Old Cairo. Our driver let us off somewhere and we weren't quite sure if it had been the right place but it was lovely to walk around a part of Cairo that isn't so touristy...we didn't see any other white people besides us. Caught taxis back to the hotel and then showered and changed for dinner. Went out to Deals (a karaoke bar/restaurant) for dinner (the same place we had been our first night) and then sang lots and lots of karaoke. Said our goodbyes to the majority of the group, whcih was sad as I'll miss them all...the truck seems so empty now. Didn't leave until 3am when it was just me, Sarah (my roommate), Andrea, Gill and Brian. Got back to the hotel and then Sarah and I hung around chatting to Brian until 5am (when he had to leave to catch his flight home to Ireland) and we were so exhausted.
Woke up about 9am to have breakfast and pack as wewere heading off on the next portion of the tour. Left at 11am for the 7 hour drive to Mt Sinai. Arrived at about 6.45pm, had dinne, bummed around, and then began the trek up the mountain at about 9.45pm. It was a really hard slog, took us about two and a half hours to make it to the summit, where we dressed in many many layers, set up our beds and camped on the top of the mountain. Our group is the only one that goes up the mountain in the evening and sleeps at the top...most others don't head up until early morning. It was really good as we didn't have to compete with loads of other people on the walk up we could take it nice and easy. Slept for a few hours (freezing cold) and then woke to the sound of many other people up on the summit with us to watch the sunrise. Headed down at about 7am, not quite so difficult but it still took a few hours, had breakfast and then off to Dahab. Relaxing here for a couple of days (fantastic as I'm so exhausted) and we're crossing the border into Jordan on Wednesday...super excited.
Ok, hope the essay hasn't been too boring I'll try and write more frequently but you know how I am lol. Talk soon, miss you all xxx