Adventures in Egypt: Part II

June 5, 2011

We're back from Egypt and we've had a great time. There were so many experiences I made and interesting cultural differences I observed that I decided to write a somewhat in-depth report of our trip. If you have any questions, just drop me an e-mail or comment here and I'll try to answer them 🙂
I was strongly advised not to take my expensive DSLR with me to Egypt so all pictures were taken with a point-and-shoot camera(Canon PowerShot SX200IS). Sorry for the rather plain pictures. 
Our guide
We booked a one-day trip to Luxor at our hotel. Luxor is about 280km away from Hurghada but it was a 4-hour drive (due to the speed limits, as seen below)
Egyptian Speed Limits Mosque. And Camel.  
The drive through the Sahara was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Our guide had warned us that it would be a boring drive and that we should sleep but we're glad we didn't follow his advise. The Egyptian desert is made out of stone. and some sand. But pretty much just ruff rocks and hills. Along the way, we saw many Bedouins. They build their 'houses' (made from wood and palm leaves) close to the highway. I found in interesting that they hall had electricity. In the desert. Not something a European girl would've expected. Our guide told us that in Egypt more or less ALL people have electricity because it's so cheap. Along the highway, there were aerial masts every 5-10km. So there was complete network coverage in the desert(at least along the highway). I guess technology has strongly improved the lives of the people living in the desert.
Houses along the Nile made out of mud
We drove along the Nile the last 60km. All the peasants live along the Nile as that is the only part of the country where one can grow crops. We were told that about 35% of the Egyptians are peasants and that they are the lowest class. Poverty was well visible, as seen in the picture above. They build their houses out of Nile mud. Fortunately, it doesn't rain often over there. Don't think building houses out of mud would be a good idea in rainy Germany…
The farmers live in the same house as their animals. Also, they have no waste management thus they throw all their waste on top of their houses or in front of it. Which does not give a nice picture. In Egypt, people don't pay taxes as long as their house is not completely built. As a consequence of this stupid law, hardly any houses are finished. In Hurghada, about 2/3 of the houses were halfway done. Even some huge hotel complexes are still under construction, although there are guests staying there and the main buildings are probably about 20-30 years old already.
Another interesting fact our guide told us was that all the hotels in Hurghada belong to three rich families. This makes sense as only 2% of the population is rich, 8% belong to the middle class and the other 90% live in poverty. 
amazing colors Symbol of Longevity and Vitality
Our first stop in Luxor was the Karnak Temple, which is probably the most famous Egyptian temple. There, much of the original colors are still visible. It was also impressive how huuuge the temple is. On pictures, it looks rather smallish but once inside, wow. The temple was built over a long period of time as each pharaoh added something.
Restoring the floor
Most archaeological work takes place in the winter but we got to see how Egyptians restore the floor of a small part of the temple. All the tourists were sweating because it was 40°C+ (and there was hardly any shade… so add another 20°C) and they were working there, looking fresh like always.
Lots of statues and my mom :)
There were soo many statues, it was impossible to remember the names of the pharaohs they represented. But they sure were impressive when standing right beneath them.
Probably a Ramses... Obelisk Karnak Temple Pillars
It's not too visibile in these pictures, but the pillars in the temple were gigantic. Unlike Greek pillars, they were rather bulky. It's amazing how the people were able to carve them and transport them to the temples thousands of years ago.
My mom and me in the Karnak Temple
Okay, we should practice taking self-portraits some more. And looking good in 50°C+ is not easy, so excuse our red faces.
Karnak Temple II
Adventures on the Nile
The trip also included a short boat trip on the Nile. The Nile was much bigger than I had expected (I guess just about everything in Egypt was bigger than I had imagined…) but the trip itself was rather boring. Okay, we got to see some banana plantations but no crocodiles (as they only live south of the Aswan Dam).
Next up was the Valley of the Kings. Taking pictures was prohibited buuut it was totally worth seeing. It was so impressive how BIG those graves are. They are all carved deep in the mountains. As there is no light and no rain down there, much of the original colors is preserved. 
Hatshepsut Temple Impressions
The last stop was at the Hatshepsut Temple. We went there in the evening, so there was no light inside the temple but standing in front of it was amazing with the sun behind the mountains 🙂
View from the Hatshepsut Temple II
View from the Hatshepsut Temple I
The view from the temple was really worth climbing all those stairs. One could see the green Nile valley and the mountains of the Sahara behind it. The contrasts in the country are so beautiful. Landscape wise it is one of the most beautiful countries I've ever seen.

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