We rise up at 2:15 am (yes, that’s not a typo) to travel three hours to Abu Simbel, an optional tour which costs me a petty USD140. It’s amazing how tours are cheaper and they just add on the costs via many of these optional tours.
Anyway, despite the grogginess, I welcome the early rise. “More to do!” I think in excitement. Though my cough does nothing to improve my mood. I’ve been coughing incessantly all throughout the night and I prayed hard for a reprive.
Abu Simbel is a must-see in Egypt.
It is currently in a higher location than before as its original location was flooded over after the President Nassar built a dam to prevent the River Nile from flooding as regularly as it did, and killing many citizens.
Unfortunately, because of this dam they built, much of the area where the temples were built were flooded over, and Abu Simbel actually spent four years in the water before they were rescued and relocated by UNESCO in the 1960s. Here was their before photo before they were moved to the upper grounds:
How UNESCO did it is amazing by itself.
They carefully sawed into numbered stone cubes the two temples and moved them uphill, reassembling them before the water rose.
Looks like lego, doesn’t it?
They still face the Nile in the same relative positions, but the mountain where they are built in is actually fake, built like a domed basketball court but from the outside, looked like solid rock.
Archeologists conclude that the immense sizes of the statues in the Great Temple were intended to scare potential enemies as they approach Egypt’s southern region as they traveled down the Nile from out of Africa.
The two temples dedicated to the Pharaoh Ramses II and his favorite queen out of his 37 wives, Queen Nefertari are my favorites as yet.
The Great Temple of Rameses II is also dedicated to the gods Ra, Amun and Ptah. Featuring 420 metered statues of Ramses, the axis was positioned by the ancient Egyptian architects so that twice a year on February and on October, the rays of the sun would penetrate the sanctuary and illuminate the sculptures on the back wall.
Inside, no photos are allowed though the columns inscripted with hieroglyphics and feats of King Ramses II as he defeats his many enemies are quite impressive. I find the Temple of Queen Neferteri more feminine and most of the statues inside show off her slender body and nice butt. I wondered what was it about this Queen that made the Pharaoh love her the most, and can most women really attain such love?
Three hours back brings us to the High Dam of Aswan and the Unfinished Obelisk before heading back to the boat for a bit of rest and lunch.
The High Dam of Aswan was made when the old dam wasn’t enough to stop the Nile river from flooding. This was the culprit on why so many temples were submerged in water, and it was said that crocodiles lived in these waters.
The Unfinished Obelisk lay in a mere graphite quarry.
It was said that all graphite obelisks and sculptures were built in this same quarry, and the unfinished obelisk showed modern archeologists just how obelisks were built — Egyptians would choose a solid piece of graphite and fashion the obelisk out from. They would then add wood, which they’ll flood with water, leaving it to expand so that it would rise the sculpture away from the zone. Then, they’d clean the structure up and make the outsides smooth.
By the way, the food in Egypt is starting to be a bit tiring for me.
Compared to Turkey which had rows and rows of food, Egyptian food seems simpler and bland. For example, they will definitely feature a meager salad bar with simple slices of vegetables, a type of cheese and eggplants. The entrees themselves consists of a selection of bread that never really changes and are not heated, rice, tomato pasta, grilled veggies (x2), meat, fish and a larger selection of dessert.
Enough to sustain the hungry, but the consistency of the limited selections make you wonder if there’s anything else they can feed you?
Later after some rest, we moved on to the Temple of Kon Ombo, which is unusual for its duality.
There are two temples that look alike in this structure, each worshiping a different set of gods/animals: the southern half of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and one of the creators of the world, while the northern part was dedicated to the falcon god Horus.
Everything is perfectly symmetrical along the main axis.
There was a party at the boat at 9:30 pm but I rested early due to a pounding headache. The cough is still there and gets worse when I go to bed, and I pity my roommate who had to suffer through my incessant coughing in the evening.
To be continued…