I thought they’d be bigger….

Alright, now that I have some form of reliable internet access where I can upload photo’s, I figured I would give the details on the last week or so. I already talked about the taxi and all that from the airport, but what I forgot to mention is that when I got to the hotel, I immediately took off to walk around Luxor. Pretty much everyone in Egypt says “hello” as you pass, especially if you look like a foreigner (i.e. have money) and this will inevitably be followed by “where you from?” From there you can expect their sales pitch. I think everyone here hustles, even the non-locals. Heaven forbid you actually look in their direction, because you are in for a ten minute sales pitch you really can’t get out of without being rude. I found the best way was to put my earphones on and pretend that I didn’t hear them as I walked by. Anyway, I talked to my hotel owner about what there was to do in Luxor, and was immediately barraged by a huge sales pitch where he proceeded to lay out my days from about 5 in the morning until 8 or so at night. I had to scale him back considerably, but I ended up signing up for a 5:00am hot air balloon ride over Luxor. I was hoping the wind was going to take me over the temple area, but alas we ended up sailing in the opposite direction over the Nile and Luxor city. It was still an amazing trip, and cost me about $30 for an hour ride in the balloon. We sailed over the farming regions of Luxor (I put a bunch of photos of this on ofoto), and ended up landing in a farmers sugar cane field. Luckily the sugar cane had already been harvested, but the farmer was a bit irritated to have huge balloon plop down in his field and then the handlers stomping all over the place to get it loaded back in the truck. Which, by the way, managed to get stuck coming to pick up the basket and balloon. When we left, they were still arguing about what to do. I felt like I was back in Jamaica watching the bus driver trying to change a flat, but he was turning the lug nuts in the wrong direction. So, I came back from that, and then took off for a 4 hour camel ride around Luxor and a visit to a couple temples along the way, including Habu temple. I got a bit scammed on this one though. I signed up for it, and was supposed to have unlimited time at the temples. They kept telling me “no problem. However long you want….” Well, it turned out that the camel was rented from a stable that needed it back for a 65 tourist camel jockey around the village in 3 hours. My guide started getting a lot of calls around the 3 hour mark, and I ended up having to pay a bit more for the “extra hour.” Really I didn’t feel like arguing the point, and ended up paying the $5 extra dollars, but no tip for the “tour manager” and didn’t use him anymore. I kinda think that is the way you have to go here. Either way, Habu temple was amazing. Unfortunately you all are not going to get a chance to see any of it until I get back, since I only took my film camera with me on the camel ride. However, I think that it will be worth the wait. The next day, I did an actual “guided tour” which went to the Valley of the Kings, Hot Chicken Soup, The Valley of the Queen, and a couple other places. The stink of it is, anywhere that is a major tourist sight in Egypt you are not allowed to take pictures. In side the pyramids, inside any tombs, the Egyptian Museum, etc… It is kind of annoying. However, we climbed the mountain in the Valley of the King to get some great views, and I took a couple panoramics that I need to stitch together that I think are going to be amazing. The tombs were a bit of a let down to be honest. Really, the Valley of the Kings is visited by way too many people so it feels a bit like Disney Worlds 20,000 leagues under the sea where you way cheek and jowell next to other people along the way, so a bit of the mystery is lost. Also, nothing is really left in the tombs, except the mummy of King Tut, so the only thing to see are the hieroglyphics and such. Again, you see 50, you pretty much have seen them all. So-and-so Pharaoh, son of the god Amun-Ra/Horace/yada-yada, is loved by all, and has defeated many enemies…. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Regardless, the tour was fun if for nothing else than the tour guide who I had a lot of fun running around. I think she liked me, but then, we all know the ladies are pretty much helpless against me….. STOP LAUGHING! Where was I? Oh, so from there a falluca ride on the Nile for a sunset cruise and a stop by “Banana Island” for some free bananas and not so free cokes. Actually a pretty refreshing time as it was just me, the falluca captain, and a deck hand along the way for about 3 hours. And that day was spent. The last day in Luxor I headed over to Karnak temple which is the largest temple in the world. It covers almost 60 acres, so huge! I walked all over there until they kicked us out at around 6:00 and the last portion of the Luxor pictures are from there. Also very crowded though.

That night, I caught the night train to Cairo and arrived there at about 6:30 in the morning. I hightailed it to my hotel hoping that I could get an early check in and a nap before I headed out, but no such luck. Actually, they didn’t even have my reservation in the system, so I was thinking I might be SOL. They told be to leave my luggage and check back in a couple hours. I figures what the heck, and huffed it down to the Pyramids of Giza. Looooonnnnnggg walk…. there and back… For some reason taxi drivers are the only people I don’t like being generous with. Can’t stand them. I guess because they honk at you every time they pass, so they pretty much got on my bad side right away. Picture the Mexican taxi drivers on crack trying to take you somewhere, and you may get an idea of what I mean. Anyway, the Pyramids. The crazy thing is you think they are in the middle of the desert right? Nope. More like the edge of town. It’s like heading out 192 and on the other side of I-95…. pyramids. Kinda strange actually, and I really thought they would be bigger….



So, I fended of the multitude of Tourist Police looking for a handout, and camel jockeys (already been there, done that, and it hurts the rump), and spent the next 6 hours exploring the pyramids. They are re-facing the Spinx which I am not really happy with as it is starting to look like something you would find in Las Vegas, and the mystery and age is being covered up I think. But not my show. After a while though, that got old so I headed back to the hotel, finally got a room, and sacked out for the night. The next day was the Egyptian museum (again, no pictures allowed) and a tour of Cairo. I saw King Tut’s treasure including the burial mask: solid gold as well as his coffin. Do they have that option at Brownlie-Maxwell? Really cool to see the mummies and such, but the place could use a good dusting, and a few more explanations. It felt like a lot of stuff was just thrown in there with no idea what it was. Some pretty cool stuff though. A lot of Greek and Roman stuff too, which was a little surprising to me, despite two seasons of Rome on HBO. Honestly, I am sure there was a lot more that I could have done in Cairo: The Old City, the Islamic tour, Alexandria, etc… but I really did not enjoy the town. It was loud, obnoxious, annoying, and extremely dirty, so I was pretty much ready to leave after seeing the Pyramids, and was a little disappointed they actually found my reservation. I was thinking I could take off early to Dahab to do some more diving. Either way I am here now. Hopefully I will have some good stuff to relate from here too.

Photos of the Pyramids
Photos of Luxor

-JC

11 Responses to “I thought they’d be bigger….”

  1. Wells says:

    Collins,

    I’m waiting to hear back from my cousin to give you a list of sites to see in Isreal. She’s been over there more then 5 times and her husband Gary been over there a ton, since he does docs for Nova, History Channel and the Discover Channel. Once I get the info, Ill repost. Looks like your having a blast. My trip to Europe is a go, however, it’s going to happen during August though.

    Keep Posting,

    Wells

  2. Katie says:

    Josh I looooooooove your photos!! I haven’t even looked at the ofoto ones but I think the ones you posted of the pyramids here are SO CUTE!!! This is such an amazing trip for you!!!

    I’m so jealous of the camel ride!! I WANT TO RIDE A CAMEL IN THE DESERT!!!

    Is it super hot over there? what season is it? I notice you’re in pants and long sleeves – not sure if that’s sun protection or if its sunny but chilly out?

    what’s your take on women travelling over there? I know its obviously not safe to travel alone, but one of my teachers told me she went there when she was younger with her parents and the guys in egypt kept trying to buy her since she was young and blond and they wanted to take her as a wife or mistress or whatever. I also hear its offensive for women to wear anything other than long sleeves and long pants – is this true?

    aaaaaah i’m so jealous of this trip. I’m determined to do one before I’m like 30 or something. i’m gonna save up and just take 6 months off and go crazy!!! and i can get pointers from you!!! I LOVE YOU!

  3. Mike says:

    Josh,
    Good report, I enjoyed it. Glad you are having fun. Pics were good too.
    Yea we have a solid gold sarcofigus but for some reason nobody wants it. Go figure. Maybe you just have to be in Egypt before you can find sombody that wants one. Melbourne marketing is just diferent than Luxor.

    Tell Katie about the camel’s bad breath and it might disuade her from wanting a ride.

    Finaly found the girls tho’ I see.

    Be well.

    Uncle Mike

  4. Katie says:

    CALL ME! I just saw your missed call…i am by my phone at wokr….call me now!!!!

  5. sametpsa@aol.com says:

    Josh..I am just blown away with the pictures and your descriptions os the experiences you’re going through.. You are the perfect age to do this trip.. old enough to appreciate it, and young enough to have the stamina

    Oh I ‘ve been to Luxor..it’s in Las Vegas right? I loved your description of the pyramids.. right out 192 to I-95..It has to be a surreal feeling when you are standing there looking at the Spinx, and the pyramids, and what do you mean the only thing in there was the mummy of King Tut..you have become a bit jaded…and what do you mean you thought they would be bigger?? I guess I did too.. you can’t tell by the pics.. OK.. so the hotel I figured out was $3.60.
    must have been a dump.. Are there any Luxury hotels that Katie and could stay at? Hotel Intercontinental.. we would have to cut our hair and pretend we were men.. a woman traveling alone there would be too crazy..The camel ride and trip down the Nile sounded incredible.. You have done so much more than I thought you would have time for.. I am interested in how you arranged plane trips..if you are out of the Navy now.. I will debrief you when you get home.. I have so many questions..
    A Hooka? sounds like a pipe.. the border inspectors may go through your stuff if they see that..

    Girls?? DO NOT GET INVOLVED!! (just my opinion) too many diseases..

    I am gonna Google Habu temple and Petra when I get off of here.. I don’t think I learned about that in Catholic School..OK>> Josh..
    I am really excited about Israel.. I have always wanted to go there, so I want to know what you think.. I heard they have a boat that the disciples used 2000 years ago.. is that possible, or just a tourist trap? I want to hear EVERYTHING!!!

    Be NICE to the cab drivers.. they could kidnap you..

  6. sametpsa@aol.com says:

    OK .. I looked up Petra and Habu temple..hope you can take pictures there

    I also looked up that boat.. wish I was with you..

    A few miles north of Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee is the “Jesus Boat, ” a recently-discovered fishing boat dating to the 1st century AD

  7. Wells says:

    Collins,

    Alright, just got an email back from my cousin Joanie (Acting Director, Women’s Studies in Religion Program; Visiting Ass Prof of Early Christianity and Judaism- Havard Divinity School and Vice President and Chair of Fellowships- W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jersualem) and she likes your site and she thinks you might have a future in photo if the law thing doesn’t work out for, nothing like being a starving artist. Just kidding. So, she wrote the following for sites to see in Jerusalem: Temple Mount, Wester Wall, Holy Sepulchre (are in the old city and she says to stay in the Christian and Armenian Sections). For Photo’s go to Mount of Olives and you can get some spectacular views of Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock. For fun, in the new city, Ben Yehuda Street is fun to walk with it’s outside cafe life and then if you have an afternoon off and want some elegance, tea served in the lobby of the Kind David Hotel is pretty remarkable, “a throw back to the British mandat and an exquisite architectural space”. Have fun.

    Wells

  8. Katie says:

    Josh

    Just wanted to make you jealous and let you know that I will be in the grand metropolis of Starke, FL this weekend.

    Kindof puts Egypt and Israel to shame, doesn’t it?!

    BE JEALOUS!

    hahahah wanna trade places?

  9. Taylor says:

    Hot air balloon rides?

    Sunset riverboat crusies down the nile with a stop at “Bananna Island”?!?

    Camel rides to pyramids?

    WHO ARE YOU!?

    Good post bud…keep up with the details…I like the description about the pyramids being on 192 on the other side of 95 too…I got a great mental pic from that.

    By the way you got some work cut out for you when you get back. You’re gonna have to organize all your pics and build albums. That’s going take you forever! …hope you scheduled that into your little trip itenerary buddy…

    I don’t blame you for eating McDonalds in Egypt…although they got some good schwarma! …which is probably camel meat…

    Look forward to more!

    Have fun!

    Taylor

  10. Katie says:

    Me and Pat think you need to post something ASAP because we are worried you might be dead. Post post post!

  11. sametpsa@aol.com says:

    Josh..Alex is doing a report on Egypt and she went to your website and showed her teacher your pictures..so.. hopefully you helped her get a good grade.. also, I am reading this book called “LONE SURVIVOR” I think you would like …it is about a Navy Seal .. a true story…about his mission in Afgansitan..they are making a movie about it..yes,, we went up to Peggy’s for mothers day , and she said I should worry about you being in those crazy countries.. let us know you are still alive.. love you

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