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Awesome Abu Simbel

Today was a very early start to catch the 4am bus to Abu Simbel. I had managed to find a tour for 50 EP for the long trip including Philae and Abu Simbel. This was from the quoted 55 EP for the short tour that my hotel was charging me. It pays to always check with the tourist office who in Aswan seems pretty reliable and honest.

The drive down provided an amazing sunrise over the desert. Absolutely spectacular but alas I was too tired to stay awake, so I crashed along with the other 14 people they crammed into the minivan. The drive was nearly three hrs due to the drivers prowess of over taking at 120km an hour and of course the obligatory Egyptian way of driving without headlights. I have no idea why they do this? Do they think it saves petrol?? I think more than anything for me its safer and it saves lives. We actually managed to be one of the first minivans that arrived from the second convoy at Abu Simbel. The first left Cairo at 3.30am. This turned out to be great because there was no line for tickets.

I proceded to walk around the man-made mountain they built to house the transferred temples. The temples were moved in the 60s when the Egyptian government was building the High Dam to stop the flooding of the Nile and to help with channelling water for irrigation. Unfortunately this meant that Nasser Lake's waters would engulf major monuments spelling an end to thousands of years of history. UNESCO stepped in along with the help of numerous countries and their expertise to move various monuments to safety. Two of these were at Abu Simbel and the other I would visit later was the Temple of Philae.

I couldn't believe how cold it was. The wind off Nasser Lake was bitter and the thousands of tourists were ill prepared for the frigid winds.

The statues carved into the rocks were fantastic. Probably the best preserved I have seen so far in regards to statues. After 90 minutes looking around, I assembled with all the other people for the drive home. I managed to nod off during the trip back and was in no mood to see more temples when I had to get out and change cars because I still had more things to see.

My first stop was the High Dam but I stayed in the car. God when you have seen one dam you have seen them all. Especially if it was Hoover Dam outside of Las Vegas in Nevada, USA. My only shock about the High Dam was the fact that it actually has been maintained and not broken in half like many other things here. We then made a group decision to bypass the unfinished Oblisk because we had all seen plenty of them around Egypt let alone around the world (Rome and Paris).

Last stop was at the Temple of Philae which is situated on an island called Agika. The pleasant little boat ride out to the temple and back is a haggle and a half with the boat men. The sign states that if there are over eight people then each person pays 2.50 EP, return. If under eight people, then you pay 20 EP for whoever is in the group, return. The captains first tried to charge our group 35 EP for the six of us. I was pretty peeved off. Then we managed to find more people to join our group so in the end we had 12.

They then wanted us to pay 3.50EP each instead of the 2.50 EP. I went banannas and told them to take the 35 EP for the 12 of us or to go and shove it. He said that he would wait only 30 minutes. I turned around and said you will wait the 30 minutes starting from when we dock at the entrance and if you leave I will call the tourist police. I was really wearing thin with all this haggling crap and being ripped off.

In the afternoon, I decided to have a drink at one of the river restaurants. I ate a pizza which was ok and some lemonade. It was nice sitting in the sun and reading my book whilst I watched the sunset. I walked around for a while afterwards and found an internet cafe. After posting some reports I walked the streets again.

I came across some Egyptian men who offered me some tea outside their shops. The men happened to own a couple of hotels as well. One could speak English very well and explained that he enjoys sitting outside on the market street watching the world go by. I graciously accept his tea but do not accept his offer to go to some fancy hotel to drop off some things and have a drink. I am not that stupid.

He asks where I am staying, but I decline to answer the question. He seems a bit miffed that I will not answer the question but I tell him that I never divulge that kind of information to anyone, just as a matter of security. I finish my tea and thank him and his friends for their company and head home to my crappy hotel. I wake up at midnight with massive stomach cramping and rush to the toilet. My first lot of the Pharoah's Curse has arrived and I spend the night on the toilet. What a way to spend the night.


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