July 16, 2024

Abu Simbel and still no escaping Aswan

Last night we witnessed two more weddings from our room. It looks like you go to the Isis Hotel and order a ‘standard wedding’, since the crowd and music looked exactly like the two weddings last night. It was different couples on each occasion though:

Troue al weer
The rest of the view from the hotel room is stunning at night and we spend a long while just looking at the traffic rush by:

Since we are still stuck in Aswan waiting for our bikes to arrive from Sudan, we decided to visit the ancient temples of Abu Simbel. Since it is located some 280 km south of Aswan, we had to get up at 3h00 to catch a minibus organised by the hotel to take us there. We first had to assemble at the edge of town with a few other buses to wait for the mandatory police escort. We arrived at Abu Simbel around 7h40. We passed the temples with the ferry on our way to Aswan, but it was already dark and we were having supper at the time.

The two temples, the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Hathor, were carved out of the mountain on the west bank of the Nile between 1 274 and 1 244 BC, but was covered in the shifting desert sand for centuries. It was only discovered in 1813 and by 1817 enough sand was cleared away to enter the temples. What an amazing sight it must have been for Jean-Louis Burckhardt who discovered the site (only one of the large statues’ head was sticking out) by chance.

Great Temple of Ramses II
Then in 1960 the Aswan High Dam was constructed, threatening to drown the temples at Abu Simbel and a series of other Nubian temples in the area. A UNESCO sponsored campaign started dismantling the ancient temples and structures block by block and relocated it to higher grown. Looking at the huge figures, it is almost unimaginable. Since the temples were carved out of the mountain (that’s now under water), they had to construct a ‘new mountain’. To protect the structure a dome was erected over the temples and covered with earth afterwards. It really is something spectacular to behold.

Ons twee by Abu Simbel

Before the temple there are these small statues that has been weathered quite a bit:

Tania buite die tempel
The large figures in front of the entrance is very impressive:

Big face
The female figures were always knee high compared to the male ones (shown below), except the powerful Nefertari.

The insides of the temples are even more impressive in their decorations and it is amazing what they were able to carve out (in perfect proportions) more than 3 000 years ago! Sadly we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside.

Back home we had McDonalds again (oops!) and an afternoon nap. When the Voetspore guys returned from their felucca trip we heard they’ve spoken to Mazar in Wadi Halfa. Apparently our bikes have been loaded and should be here by tomorrow night. Hopefully we’ll be heading out sometime on Tuesday.

Stephan told us of a place where he bought falafels for two Egyptian Pounds each. We’ve been struggling to get cheap food since the Egyptians are out to get suckers like us. We found the shop and asked the price (very important to establish beforehand!). Five pounds each! I said our friend bough one for two pounds, so the price dropped to two pounds each, so we ordered two falafels. Then he made one and cut it in half to give us two. I said we want two whole ones, to which he said eight pounds.

He then asked us to come into the back to see the deep fried potato chips. He asked me where my camera is to take a pic of the process. I said I didn’t have one after which another guy in the shop took out his cell phone and took a pic of him and Tania. She said she wants discount if they take a pic of her, but they actually demanded baksheesh (tip) for the photo they took of her! We laughed and said they must pay her for the photo, but they became pushy and very rude and still demanded a tip for seeing their shop. Then when I finally paid I had to ask for the right amount of change no less than five times, after which I still didn’t get enough. I think we might go for McDonalds for the rest of our stay since it seems like the only place you don’t have to haggle for the price.

6 thoughts on “Abu Simbel and still no escaping Aswan

  1. Ons hou duim vas julle fietse is more daar! Sterkte vir die laaste week wat voorlê en met die klomp Egiptenare.

  2. Daai tempel is regtig indrukwekkend as mens onthou wanneeer hulle dit gemaak het. Ja in lande soos Egipte moet jy “bargainning” vir elke ding wat jy koop – moet nooit die eerste prys aanvaar nie. Loop net weg as hul nie die prys baie wil verlaag nie. Loop maar katvoet vir hulle – hul buit toeriste uit. Was gister Muslem se nuwejaar – vandaar dalk die troues. Wees maar versigtig dis vandag en môre stemdae. Pas jul goed op en T bly maar weg van foto’s met daai mans. Voorspoed!

  3. The age old tradirion of bargaining is lost on us westerners! Don’t try to bargain too much, they will beat you at it every time. They would not still be there if were not excelent at what they do… Bargain for a deal!
    I am glad for the delay, now you have a chance to see something of Egypt and to rest. Enjoy it.

  4. Die bargaining raak blykbaar erger hoe nader jy aan Cairo kom. Hou ook maar jul beursies en paspoorte styf aan jou lyf…Pragtige fotos, baie dankie dat julle so getrou blog. Luv. V1xx

  5. Ha-ha! Lekker gelag vir die halwelafel storie! Probeer soveel moontlik kleingeld kry vandag – julle gaan dit baie nodig he op julle reis noord. Die troues lyk net soos die wat ons in Jordanie gesien (en gehoor) het. Die barge wat so lank vat om julle voertuie af te laai, klink vir my na ‘n komplot, met McDonalds een van die partye wat score op die deal!

  6. Hi
    Julle verstaan seker nie mooi nie. Dis 2 vir die prys van 1.
    What’s the problem.
    Julle raak seker nou kriewelrig om weer te move.
    Dink die hotel gee kick backs vir die boot!!!!!!!!!

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