March 11, 2009

Egypt, the Land of Ancient Wonders

Camel and horse riding, smoking sheesha (hubble-bubble) and cigarettes, pubbing and discothequing, shopping and sunbathing is what most tourists do in Egypt. I did not engage in any of those activities, yet I had a marvellous time.

What did I do? Oh, Egypt has lots to offer and the mystery of the land kept me busy and fascinated. To name a few: its ancient history, gods and religion, churches and mosques, palaces and museums, kings and queens, cults and tombs, the hieroglyphs adorning the monuments, music and sports, art and architecture etc.

Making two trips to explore one of the ancient seven wonders of the world, the Pyramids of Giza, and an early morning ride on a hot-air balloon in Luxor for aerial viewing of the populated River Nile delta plains as well as the arid deserts and mountains were interesting highlights of the trip.

Other memorable highlights of my trip:
  • Cruising on the Nile River in Cairo, and then exploring the Sphinx, and other pyramids of the Giza necropolis;
  • Visiting the other pyramids of Dashour and Saqqara and to the ancient city of Memphis near Cairo;
  • Sauntering along the beaches of Alexandria and Lighthouse near the Montaza Palace;
  • Walking along the Nile and at the High Dam in Aswan, and learning about Nubian culture and mingling with the locals;
  • Boating to the Nile River island of Agilika to explore the ancient temple complex of Philae;
  • Journeying prior to dawn through previously arranged police-escorted convoy to the twin temples of Abu Simbel at the borders with the Sudan;
  • Visiting the Karnak Temple, the Colossi of Memnon, the Luxor Temple of the ancient city of Thebes, the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, and also the Valleys of Kings and Queens to have a closer look at some of the many tombs of Luxor;
  • Relaxing in the touristy Naama Bay of the city of Sharm-El-Sheikh on the coastal tip of the Red Sea and Mount Sinai; and
  • Travelling through the Sinai peninsula towards the city to seek the Mount Sinai and the St. Catherine Monastery.
Mostly up and about for almost 16 hours a day, those times have sometimes been pretty hectic with much to cover in the little time I had apportioned and it was finally in a Red Sea resort at Namaa Bay that I eventually slackened my pace. With a few hours of sleep each night, and enjoying good health throughout in spite of cold winds and temperature dipping as low as 4 deg C along the Sinai mountains, I managed to reach all those places and had a better experience than anticipated. That felt really good.

Here’s a glimpse of Egypt through my eyes:

A flowering tree on a street, Cairo

The Great Pyramid of Khufu, Giza Necropolis

River Nile Sunset, Aswan

A part of the Luxor Temple, Luxor

At a Red Sea Resort, Sharm-El-Sheikh

Montaza Palace, Alexandria

St. Catherine Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai

Nefertari's Temple carved out of the mountainside, Abu Simbel


It feels good to be back in the blogworld. I wish my friends and readers a very Happy Holi. Enjoy the festival of colours and the freshness of the spring season.