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[Entry 8] I'M ON A BOAT.

08 December 201012:01PMepic-triptravel

That's right motherflippers. I'm on a motherflippin' ruddy boat:

Before that, I was on a horse carriage:

And a sleeper train:

I felt a bit sick on the train (I blame the pizza we ate beforehand. Hotel food is always sus in comparison to what the locals eat, which is usually any two of piping hot, deep fried and spicy, none of which are amenable to germs). I continued to feel sick during the trip to Karnak temple, about which I am mightily pissed off. The temple is fascinating, because it's not quite finished. For example, inside the walls there are these massive mud brick constructions. These, our guide reckoned (he always emphasised how much of his tour, and how much of Egyptology in general, was based on opinion and interpretation rather than fact) were used for constructing the something- metre-high walls, as ramps. Interestingly, there was no mortar used to build them- it's entirely based on the structural integrity of really big bits of rock being lined up really well. He drew similar conclusions from the columns, some of which are likewise unfinished- from this he surmised that they cut them upriver but carved them on-site, which he backed up by referencing a papyrus found in the tomb of an architect which said 'if the stone is heavy, cut it then take it down river to save the extra weight, but if the stone is light, take it down river then cut it to stop it from being damaged'. It was about that point that I felt really crap and bugged out of the tour and went to sleep on the couch in the restaurant. Like I said, _seeeeeeriously _pissed off about that.

I got a photo anyway.

I went on to fall asleep in the cabin on our boat while everyone else went out to poke around the Souk, (a sort of network of alleyways which forms a bazaar), where apparently our tour leader got into a very loud argument with a man in a shop. Meanwhile, I woke up in the middle of the night and my neck hurt like hell (I'm making this trip sound like an endless stream of ailments, but really it's not) because the pillows are like sacks of concrete.

What a souk.

That was all yesterday. (Now you see why I put 'entry' at the top instead of 'day'- I'm not going to get one entry per day always, and keeping track of days might get difficult if I haven't posted for a few. Clever, non?)

This morning we got a wake up call at 5 to visit the valley of the kings. The Valley of the kings is the most awesome thing I've seen so far. They're the complete opposite to the Pyramids, they almost don't belong in the same culture (actually they don't - pyramids are an old kingdom thing, the Valley is from the new kingdom). Where the pyramids are big and cramped and plain, the tombs in the valley are discrete but cavernous and amazingly decorated. As you walk in to a tomb, the walls are covered in hieroglyphs. The paint is initially faded and often graffitied (but how often do you see graffiti in ancient Greek or Latin?), but still more colourful than anything else in Egypt. As you go down the corridor, you see these enormous elaborate scenes from the Book of the dead. The condition improves; still with bits missing and still a little faded, but by this point you're almost slack-jawed, because this is just something else. Then you hit the burial chamber. The burial chamber is the most colourful thing I've ever seen. The paints they used are amazingly rich - deep blues and ochre yellows and that rusty red they used for all their skin tones- and that's after three and a half thousand years. The tomb itself is like something out of Indiana Jones, though perhaps less so than the interior of some of the pyramids- all long corridors with a big (huge enormous gigantic) granite coffin at the end.

Again, no toursits. Go us!

The temple of Hatshepsut is interesting as well, but for different reasons. It was entirely reconstructed from what was essentially rubble into a pretty imposing-looking structure. I'm still not decided about the ethics of this kind of 'restoration', but the results are impressive. In its day it would have looked even more so, as there were supposedly enormous gardens surrounding it in the middle of the desert against this massive backdrop of cliffs. It was the product of one of Egypt's female pharaohs- as distinct from a queen (queens never ruled, they were just wives), Hatshepsut wore a false beard and had her statues carved with either a a man's body or on a sphinx, and had massive temples like this built to honour her. It was later defaced (literally, her statues had their faces chiselled off) by her step-son, the next in line to the throne, who hated her. It's a site with lots of interesting stories behind it like that, and I expect there's an encyclopedia which could be written about the archaeology that went into its reconstruction alone.

After all that the Collosi at Memnon were a bit of a let down. Sure, 60 foot high statues, but did they know they've got Pyramids lying around up there? Still, their name is interesting at least; they were named after Memnon, the Greek mythical figure, who used to sing to his mother, the sun, every morning. This is because the statues used to 'sing', probably due to the damage it sustained in an earthquake. When it was repaired, it stopped singing, and I once again question the legitimacy of such 'repairs' - the name is as significant as the site itself, and yet the reason for that name was destroyed by 'restoring' the site. I don't know.

But I never pass up a good photo op.

Cruising, by the way, is really boring. What did we do in the afternoon? Precisely nothing. Zero. Zilch. The boat is full of old people, and they seem to love it, lying around by the 'pool' (which is more like a paddle pond) and waiting for their next pile of western food at the buffet (someone on our tour keeps hoping for some local food on the boat- I haven't got the heart to tell her it will never happen in a million years). If it was just a place to sleep, with stops all the time, I'd get it... but this is really just an abysmal way to travel. Of everywhere we've been so far, Luxor is the place I most want to come back to. It's cleaner than Cairo, and less crowded, and even in our dinky little guidebook there are are a half a dozen other amazing historical places to visit (plus, I missed Karnak). And I never did get the hot air balloon ride I wanted (the operators aren't insured, apparently, so the tour company can't do business with them). So if anyone is planning to come to Egypt, spend more than two days in Luxor, and then take me with you! :)

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