Â Egypt has one of the strongest cultures we have experienced but that has not always been a good experience. There are tourist areas and huge nile cruise ships with westerners in bikinis right next to the towns where you can see no inch of female skin. It is very difficult to combine the two and we get a lot of comments from local men - so far Stu has not sold Mel for 1000 camels as offered! Unless we are in the very touristy areas all the restuarants are filled with men only and so it is difficult for us both to eat out. Also despite Mel covering up we are still pointed at all the time and even have people taking photos of mel on their mobiles. I understand exactly how Jordan feels now (helped by the fact that i have just read her autobiography!)
After a rather luxurious first class train to aswan we visited the high dam and then philae temple - which is very beautiful and amazing. Its original position is now underwater (because of the dam) so they have moved it stone by stone to another island.
The next morning we were to get a police escort to abu simbel. Police escorts out here, in mel's opinion are pointless, as they mean that all the tourists are in one place waiting for the terrorists while 3 underage "policemen" lead a speedy dash across the desert - they also for some stupid reason leave at ridiculous times. So we were woken at 245am for our trip to Abu simbel. 3 hours across the sahara and we arrive there. Ramses tomb and his wifes (a 50% smaller tomb) are impressive - again have been moved so are now in an artificial hill rather than the original valley. Only 3 of the 4 figures are still upright. mel thought is was rather small until she saw the ear of the head that had fallen and it was about 30cm tall! two days of the year the sun rises and lights up all 48m of the tomb tunnel. For two hours at the temple we had 6 hours in a van with no a/c!
Rather than get a posh nile cruise we went for the felucca. So we sailed/drifted down the nile for three days. We were lucky enough to have some lovely irish people with us and canadian chris so we were kept occupied learning poker and irish card games (which was just uno!). Dave promised if he lost the game he would jmp in the nile - he lost twiced but still stayed dry! His girlfriend kept scaring us with parasite stories! So the felucca was a huge mattress on which we spent the day and night and ate. I think we had some nile water in our food and stu rather dramtically did some projectile vomiting in the middle of the night - the good thing about a boat is he didnt even need to move and could reach the side!
On arrival in Luxor we visited luxor and karnak temples. We had an excellent guide who taught us how to read hyrogliphs (sorry!). We then rode in a horse and cart back to our hotel.
We visited the valley of the kings and valley of the queens - Stu was excited about the valley. The tombs were not so interesting although we got to see a mummified foetus. we saw a temple built by a woman who pretended to be a man and then sat by the pool until our overnight bus.
Now just diving left! We are heading to two areas by the sinai desert to dive in the red sea and hopefully dive the thistelgorm wreck. We are then going to try and get up north because it is now possible to dive the ruins of the great alexandria lighthouse - so we hear!
Love from the place where the egyptian cadillac (donkey) has shorter legs than its riders,
Mel and stu x