We had a leisurely start to the day and decided to take a felucca ride to Scheyl island. Before setting out, we needed to check out a hotel (for next week). There we met 2 other American tourists. They had been to the airport and there were no flights and no trains and had been told road travel is not advisable. Looks like we are here for a while.
We found that a felucca trip was off the agenda - no wind so we organised a motor boat and set off to the island. Judi was in her element with all the birds on the river. We arrived at the island and picked up a guide who showed us round the island. He was a 65 year old who lived in the Nubian village on the island. He took us round the village, showed us the old Aswan dam, took us round his house and showed us the school. All in all it was very interesting and one of the highlights so far. On the way back, we past a launch with the American tour party - obviously they had been released on licence! More worryingly we had heard there was a demonstration by the railway station and we saw a group of men carrying a tyre lever, a large spanner and tyre jack - clearly looking to look after themselves.
We hopped a taxi to the bus station to get the bus to Abu Simbel to join the planned cruise. We saw the demonstration going on - it seemed peaceful - just a large crowd, placards and speeches. The bus left on time and past the demonstrators OK. The journey was interesting - over the old dam around which there was a large military presence (tanks etc.) - and then on through the desert, It got exciting just before Abu Simbel when we were on a piece of unmade road being repaired - a pickup shot past us throwing up stones,. It broke the windscreen . The driver caught up with the truck at the police checkpoint, leapt out of the bus and berate the truck driver. It was almost comical. Eventually the police got involved and the bus driver calmed down. He left muttering and cursing.
En route, we got texts saying that all UK nationals are advised to leave. Matt had rung the FCO for us and they said if you are in Aswan and are safe and have enough money - then stay there. Seems like good advice to us as that was what we planned to do!
Next day, I woke in relaxed way at about 8:00 in our Nubian style hotel (mud walls but with all mod cons). The others complained they had been woken by the call to prayer at 4:00 am . We had a leisurely breakfast and strolled round Abu Simbel whilst we waited to join the cruise.
A taxi took us to the lake but we could not see a cruise boat. It veered onto the dirt and then pointed down to the cove where there was a battered little boat. We thought this must take us to the big boat but no, we were led down another little path where all of a sudden the Kasr Ibrim came into view. A launch came over to pick us up and we were welcomed on board with cold towels and hibiscus tea. We asked how many other passengers were on the boat - only you was the reply. (the boat has a crew of 80 and takes 130 passengers). All the others had cancelled.
The boat was fabulous - 1930s Art Deco style. We had been upgraded to a suite - complete with Jacuzzi. From our balcony we could even see the temple of Abu Simbel. After a good lunch, we had a stretch out on the sun deck before we set out to tour the temple. The temple was stunning and what made it even better was that we had it totally to ourselves - it is normally heaving with tourists.
The temple had been moved brick by brick 60 metres inland and up when they built the high dam, all of this did not detract from the majesty of the temples. The carvings inside were also amazing. Fran had the quote of the day -
'this is wonderful - I am surprised more people don't come!'
It was then back to the boat and an excellent dinner and a look at the stars.