Saturday, April 19, 2014

Trip to Egypt (March 2014)

On a camel in front of Step Pyramid
Egypt was a great empire. It also had high engineering skills that no other country could ever imagine. Pyramids and Spinx are only part of these examples.

Kristin and I were on a 10-day group tour organized by Expat Explore, a UK company. This 10-day tour was packed with excitements and amazing sights. I wrote all notes on my Day-Timer, but I left it on an airplane and I have been unable to recover it. So unfortunate. Thus, this posting is purely based on my memory and it looks pretty sketchy. But it is better than nothing.

The Pyramids of Giza - Great Pyramid of Giza is the only remaining one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World, located in Cairo. 146 meter high, 270 meter square. 2-20 ton heavy stone blocks. How did they build it? There are three other smaller ones. We saw the Great Sphinx that appears to be protecting the second largest Pyramid. Also, we saw Step Pyramid in Saqara, which was the first pyramid. After these Pharaohs. their powers appeared to have diminished significantly and fast.

The size of the pyramid can be imagined...

The group with four pyramids in the hazy background


Perfect alignment...

Bus ride for 14 hours over night - this was a killer. No reclining chair. Noise in the back by young people. Frequent stops for toilet time on the natural ground. Male or female did not matter. Cigarette smokes throughout the night. Oh boy.
14 hours on this bus...

Aswan - Dam was built to control the Nile flood and also to increase the power supply.

Abu Simbel Temple - there are two temples: one for Ramsey the Great and the other for his wife. These temples were carved into a rocky mountain. These temples were relocated from a lower place by UNESCO to avoid the rising water due to the Aswan Dan. Ramsey the Great's four phases of life represented four stone statues. A long drive of three hours from 4AM.
Abu Simbel... temple for Ramsey the Great

Key of Life... the Nile shape

Nile cruise - Nile Supreme was almost empty. There were only two other small groups other than our group. Almost exclusive to us. Scenery along the Nile River was pretty boring, but quite a contrast between the areas along the river full of lush green trees and the area beyond the green belt covered by rocks and sands. On the way, we stopped over several places and slept for three nights.
Scenery along Nile River

Lock-up dock
The cruise ship

The felucca...

The captain of the felucca

Felucca ride - this boat powered by the wind looked romantic and adventurous, but not pragmatic. We were happy with one ride.

Temple of Philae - dedicated to the goddess of love, Isis. Amazingly, the whole temple was relocated from a lower place by UNESCO to avoid the water that was rising due to the Aswan Dam.

Kom Ombo Temple - it is the only temple where two gods were worshiped. They are an evil god called Sobek, a crocodile-headed god and a good god called Horus, a falcon-headed god. Somehow there was Crocodile Museum.



Edfu Temple - the best preserved temple because it was located at a high place thus avoiding the Nile flood. It was built 2,000 years ago.

Karnak Temple - The temple for Sun God, ram-headed Amun. Many pharaohs made contribution to this temple. Ramsey the Second or the Great made most significant contribution. This temple has two obelisks.

The Valley of the Kings - 72 tombs have been discovered so far, but only one has been kept intact: Tutankamun, an 18-year old king. The stuff included in this young king's tomb was mind-boggling and I was wondering how much has been stolen from all tombs. All others have been raided and everything has been stolen. No indication of tombs on the ground, yet all have been stolen. Hmmm... Pharaohs Ramsey must have been powerful. No photos were allowed, unfortunately.

Luxor Temple - dedicated to Amun's wife goddess. It has the tallest obelisk. For the wife of the Sun God.

Alexander the Great... it means

The tallest obelisk...

Red Sea - Hurghada is the oldest and best-developed beach town at Red Sea. We took the glass-bottom boat exclusively for us. I tried snorkeling to see the underwater creatures. Probably my last one. Even through the glass-bottom, the underwater world was beautiful.

Bus ride back to Cairo over night, but this one was far better than the earlier one, except the TV kept on throughout the night.

Cario - Egyptian Museum was the highlight. Only partial viewing, but we were able to understand the history and legends being explained thanks to the learning over the tour. We also visited Coptic (Egyptian) Orthodox Church, nicknamed Hanging Church because it was built on top of a Roman watch tower. St. Mark is the first bishop. Joseph and Mary's journey with baby Jesus into Egypt to avoid the King Herod's persecution was on the map.
Tutankamun's golden mask...

The Sun God in trinity...

Egyptian idea of the final judgment...
Egyptian Museum...

The Coptic Orthodox Church
There were other places we visited, such as a papyrus art gallery, fragrant essences shop, lime stone shop, another temple for the first female pharaoh Hatshepsut etc. Here are some photos:
Temple for Hatshepsut

Anubis, the jackal-headed god to mummify pharaohs

Two pharaoh statues with faces severely damaged

Fragrant essenses shop
I had a reunion with one of my college friends in almost 40 years. Sung Chan Lim. A lot of changes, but it was joyous reunion.

I feel bad that I cannot document more in detail, but I hope the photos will illustrate the stories. A wonderful experience that I will treasure for life. - Jeffrey

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