Friday, April 16, 2004

A Miss and A Meet

On the way back from Temples of Karnak, we saw the Luxor Temple were beautifully lighten up. We decided to come back to snap some photo after some rest. It was the tired day after all. However, when we backed again, the light had been off. What a disappointment.

However when we walked around Luxor street, a girl called us. She was the Korean girl Lee Sang Hee that we met in Aswan Marwa Hotel. What a coincident. Through her we also met with her very interesting boyfriend the next day, and Mando, an Egyptian who cooked Malaysia food.

Finally a BIG meal

Finally had a big delicious dinner at a Luxor restaurant after came back from Karnak Temple Complex and returned the bicycles. There were a whole chicken and a pizza for EGP 20. This was so far the better meal that I ate in Egypt.

Fruit Juice Drinking Stall

Enjoyed orange juice for just EGP 1.5. There are a lot of fruit juice selling stall in Egypt. Not so hygienic, but it's cheap, and never makes my stomach aches.

Karnak Temple at Night

Alighted from ferry we cycled to Karnak Temple to catch Sound and Light Show. Along the way, we asked around for direction, attracted lots of kids asking for tips. When we ignored them, they even asked for the pen we used. Really wondering what happen to the great Egyptian civilization and their pride. On the other hand, we met a very good English speaking police officer at Karnak Temple while waiting for Sound and Light Show. I guess he must be one of the few rich in Egypt. Anyway the Sound and Light Show costs EGP 50.

Karnak Temple is a spectacular complex of sanctuaries, kiosks, pylons and obelisks, all dedicated to the Theban gods and to the greater glory of Egypt's pharaohs. At Avenue of Ram-Headed Sphinxes with First Pylon in the background while waiting for Sound and Light Shoiw.

Temples of Karnak at Avenue of Ram-Headed Sphinxes and First Pylon at night.

Light up at Karnak Temple wall decorations.

Statues of Middle Kingdom pharaohs in front of 7th pylon lighted up at night.

Ferry at Nile

Nile at Luxor viewed from West Bank. Anchored in the river side was public baladi ferry that we took to cross the Nile. On our return ferry, there was even a bakery on ferry selling some cookies for EGP 1 each.

Medinat Habu

Passed thru Medinat Habu, second in size only to Karnak Temple. We decided to give it a miss, as it was too late and we were too tired.

Valley of the Queens

Valley of the Queens from the entrance. Admission costs EGP 12 (EGP 6 for student). Not quite really interesting in my opinion.

The most famous and most pretty tomb - Tomb of Nefertari, wife of Ramses II, not to be confused with Nefertiti, wife of Akhenaten. It's still closed for restoration and preservation.

Inside Tomb of Amen_Khopshef (Amunherkhepshef), son of Ramses III.

Brighly coloured reliefs inside Tomb of Prince Kha_Em Wast (Khaemwaset), son of Ramses III.

Lone Bicycle

By the evening, with the intense heat, Luxor West Bank was almost deserted.

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings as viewing from hill, located behind Deir al-Bahri, or Temple of Hatshepsut.

It's a hard 'walk' after all. The minor problem was we would not be able to get into the tombs without admission ticket, and the path the brought us to Valley of the Kings landed us deep inside the valley. So we had to walked all the way to the entrance. Midway we hopped into a tram. A guy came to check our ticket,but we didn't have it, and we couldn't explain anything as he didn't understand English. He shouted as if wanted the guide to come to chase us away, but luckily nobody paid attention to him.

The tombs in Valley of the Kings are labeled with lots of details. The admission ticket which costs EGP 30 (EGP 15 for ISIC) allows entrance into 3 tombs, excluding Tomb of Tutankhamun (EGP 40, EGP 20 for student). We entered into 4 with the ticket, due to a kind guide that didn't tear our tickets.

Staircase leading to entrance of Tomb of Ramses I. Yes, it's steep.

Decoration and wall painting inside Tomb of Ramses I was of superb quality.

Inside Tombs of Tausert (Tawasret) and Setnakht (Sethnakht, Setnakhte) has astronomical ceiling decoration. When we wanted to enter into this tomb, the guide didn't tear our tickets, and even allowed us to take photograph. Out of goodwill, we wanted to pay him EGP 1 as baksheesh, or tips. But he didn't want, said it's 'small money' and demanded EGP 10. We just took back the money and walked away. They must had been pampered too much.

The route to back to Deir al-Bahri, meaned Monastery of the North, so called because early Christian used to use it as monastery, or more commonly known as Temple of Hatshepsut, from Valley of the Kings.

Hike to Valley of the Kings

Everybody was advised us not to cycle to Valley of the Kings, as it's long hard ride. So we decided to 'walk' (hike should be more appropriate) over the hill behind Temple of Hatshepsut to Valley of the Kings instead. The path starts at beside the canteen or rest area at a corner in front of the Temple of Hatshepsut. We asked few people before got to the correct path. It was noon, and it's intensely heat and hot! Just imagine when I saw a cave and entered it, just like I immediately stepped into an air-conditioning room from hot oven. To make matter worse, I got very weak, may be due to not ate enough food for the past few days.

If you choose to walk to Valley of the Kings, you will be rewarded with great view of Temple of Hatshepsut in amphitheatre setting.

Temple of Hatshepsut when viewed from higher level of the hill.

Hiked up the steep hill. There were police checkpoint up at the hill, and some donkeys that hired by tourists passed through us. The walk to Valley of the Kings was comparatively easy, just took us less than an hour. However, when came back to Deir al-Bahri (our bicycle was there), we lost our way. At the top of the hill, the path and surface looked all the same. Finally we found our way and returned in 90 minutes. So make sure you remembered some landmark if you want to hike this hill.

Temple of Hatshepsut (Deir al-Bahri)

Temple of Hatshepsut is a partly rock-cut, partly freestanding structure at sheer limestone cliffs of the eastern face of the Theban mountain. Hatshepsut ruled as Pharaoh for 20 years with support of Amun priesthood, while Tuthmosis III, supposed to be successor, was then too young.

Restored statues of Hatshepsut, wearing a false beard, on the uppermost floor of Hatshepsut Temple. She is wearing the twin crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Inside The Temple of Hatshepsut Hathor Chapel, columns with the head of Hathor.

Wall painting showing god Anubis and gifts.

Tram at Monuments

At some of the monuments in Luxor West Bank, there are trams that act as trolley system to bring tourists closer to the monuments from the parking area that is located quite a distance away, due to heavy traffic. This tram brought us to Deir al-Bahri for EGP 1 each. They collected the money together with admission ticket of Deir al-Bahri with costs EGP 6 (EGP 12 for adult), so initially we still thought the tram was free of charge.

Shortcut to Hatshepsut

Dirt track that leading to Deir al-Bahri (Temple of Hatshepsut). While we cycled to Deir al-Bahri, we saw this road that can go straight to Hatshepsut, instead of cycling a big round by following the tarred road. Actually the saved distance was not that much, but we can saved some energy by following this shortcut.

Some sites saw along the shortcut to Hatshepsut, which I believe is Assasif Tombs. On the day, only a tourist couple visited them guided by a local guide.

Tombs of Nobles

Tombs of Nobles is nestled in the foothills and among the houses of the old village of Gurna (Sheikh Abd al-Gurna). There are more than 400 tombs there! We gave them a miss, as we were running out of time due to slow cycling.

Admission Ticket for Luxor West Bank

At the time of our visit, admission tickets to monuments no longer need to be bought centrally at Antiquities Inspectorate ticket office at Gurna, except for Tombs of Nobles and Medinat Habu. Besides, as with other monuments across Egypt, there is also no longer photography costs.

Colossi of Memnon

Colossi of Memnon was remains of what was once the largest complex on the West Bank, which was built by Amenhotep III as his funerary temple. Colossi of Memnon is just beside to main road to other attractions of West Bank, and no admission ticket needed.

Bicycle Renting Scam

We rented 2 bicycles for EGP 5 each. It was very cheap, and without hesitation we decided to rent it. We paid him EGP 50, but to our surprise, we just gave back the change of EGP 35. Guess what? The EGP 5 was for the bicycles' locks! After haggled with him, he decided to gave back additional EGP 2.

Lesson learnt was always paid exact amount to him, and asked clearly about other charges. Besides, checked the bicycle properly as we later found out that one of our bicycle was not so smooth in cycling. Anyway, the shop was the only one opened in the early morning on our way to the jetty, and the shop owner was quite friendly too. You can find more shops on the West Bank.

Bicycle on the Luxor West Bank

We went out in the early morning, and went straight to the West Bank. I was a little bit felt sorry to the Oasis Hotel owner as had to lie to him. We decided to rent bicycles to travel around West Bank.

Baladi ferry is the fastest way to cross the Nile to the West Bank. Bicycle can be brought with no extra charge. It was a bit hard to bring the bicycles to the ferry, as there were quite a lot of staircases. Anyway, there was always people offering to help, but most likely they will ask for tips after helping. We paid EGP 2 each for the return trip. We should have paid only one-way, and pay again when back. Luckily the guy wrote us a paper that we didn't understand what it's, as it's in Arabic. But the paper note usable, and we're not been charged again when wanted to back to East Bank. So make sure you get one if you're been ordered to pay for return trip.