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Valley of the Kings, Luxor

Today is an early start at 6am. Once again I have had little sleep because of the cold room and getting to bed after midnight. I walk to the Luxor Temple to meet my guide. We go across the Nile and I meet my donkey and new guide who will take me over the mountain and into the Valley of the Kings. I immediately feel upset about riding this poor donkey.

We start our journey along the bitumen road towards the mountain pass. Tour buses fly past us full of egar faces peering out the windows. I continue trotting along whilst taking in the scenery around me.

The land is lush from the waters of The Nile that support the agriculture industry that supplies sustinance to the locals and to the hordes of tourists. I feel a bit like Mary with my Joseph being an Egyptian in traditional robes and headress. I say a joke to myself that I left Jesus amongst the reeds of the Nile. Stupid but it makes me laugh.

I ask the guide not to hit the donkeys with the whip, and when he continues I abuse him and think how he would like it. We reach the base of the mountain we are to ascend and I instantly feel remorseful about hiring the donkey. We start to climb, but I stop and continue to walk by foot. I just can't bare to put the poor donkey under my weight and to climb up the hill. So instead it takes my bag and I carry my cameras taking pictures.

The view is amazing but the haze and smoke quickly ruins the views. It is incredible to see such a thick layer of pollution in the desert. It reminds me of Milan.

I get some amazing pictures of the mountains and from above the Hatshepsut's Temple. It is incredible. The tourists are just swarming all over the temple site and I can't wait to see it. We continue up and over the mountain and as we round the corner we come into the Valley of the Kings. It is quite different to what I thought.

It is a very long but narrow valley with tombs dotted along it. Seeing it from above you can see the tour groups snaking their way from one tomb to the next. Just like sheep. After bidding my donkey and companion goodbye I walk to the valley floor. I meet up with my guide and we sit down for a chat about the history of the Valley of the Kings, and the reasons behind the whole thing.

I have to admit now that the most influential and most trusted person to be in history is not the king or queen of whatever but it seems to be the head priest or advisor to the king or queen. It is amazing the influence and respect these guys have had in shaping the history and future of the world.

Our first stop is the tomb of Ramsis I. It is a simple tomb with the shortest entrance corridor of all the royal resting places in the valley leading to a simple single almost square burial chamber contianing the pharaoh's open pink granite sarcophagus. This king only rules for one year.

After this tomb I go to Ramsis III. This was a pretty impressive tomb 125m long. The walls are colourfully decorated with the traditional ritual texts and Ramsis before the god but also quite uniquely a collection of secular scenes of foreign tribute. I really like this tomb and decide to try and translate some of the hieroglyphics.

I reach into my bag to get the Lonely Planet out and stand back up to start reading. As I use the railing for support it gives way (it turns out to be a gate) and I fall back into the tomb. Everyone is staring at me from the walkway wondering what is this chick doing in the tomb. Is she going to rob something or trying to get that illegal photo opportunity. I see the guard coming towards me and scramble back up to the landing. I try to lock the gate but it doesn't secure. The guard is looking angry but I demonstrate what happened and he seems ok. I say to myself aloud that I nearly got buried with the Pharoah which brings a few smiles to the english speaking people.

I then move to the back of the landing against a wall to see how well I can understand all the writing and pictures. After a half hour I leave the tomb and my guide looks pleased to see me. He asks why I was so long and I tell him that I was interested in translating some things by myself. He seems surprised. We then go to look at Tuts Tomb and also another one that I have forgotten. I finish them and feel thoroughly tombed out, and we decide to leave.

We then make our way to the compulsary visit to the Alabaster shop where I have a drink with the owner and my guide. They then explain the process of working with the alabaster and how things are hand made or machine made. I get ripped off majorly by buying three pyramids representing the ones at Giza as paper weights. I am then presented with a alabaster copy of the Egyptian symbol for good luck. This was for free but I know in the end I paid for it. I paid 30 EP for the pyramids but could have paid 10 EP in the market. Oh well it has made me more conscious of these unscrupulous dealers.

We then move to Medinat Habu. This turns out to be a wonderful temple and I spend a couple of hours looking around. We then make our way back to the boat where I go back across to the East Bank.

I spend the afternoon walking around Luxor and find the markets. I go for a long walk along the Nile towards the Karnak Temple. It is a great walk with a beautiful sunset and amazing views over to the West Bank. I come back and meet up with my guide who gives me some jewelry that I have ordered and takes me out for dinner.

We have a great feed, and we part ways when I get to my hotel. He has given me an insight into the Egyptian way of life and also about his own trials and tribulations with married life. I have heard that this can be the typical sob story from Egyptian men who are trying to lure women into feeling sorry for them. I take everything he says with a very large pinch of salt.

After dinner, I do some illegal black market money trading with some locals. I am taken to a scarf shop and sit down whilst someone is asked to run and fetch me some tea. One person stands guard at the entrance of the shop looking for police or other law enforcement people. I tell them I will exchange 300 euro and the offer me a rate of 8 EP to 1 euro. I am happy with this becaus it is between 7.3 to 7.5 normally. The problem now begins because they need to find 2400 EP.

One guy stays with me and my guide whilst three others go searching for the cash. After coming back and forth and much exchanging of hand gestures and Arabic conversations they finally get the cash. After three of us count the cash we shake hands and the deal is completed. A very interesting experience.

I have a warm shower (inside my room) and jump into bed to fall asleep to the sounds of beeping horns, horse drawn carriages, sirens and people yelling to each other. I am rudely waken at 5am by the sounds of the koran being blasted into my room from the mosque opposite.


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