Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Egypt (4) - Crocodile-DunHaigh!

A 07:00 start this morning - a luxury! For most people it was a free day to explore Aswan - for a few selected elite it was a morning flight to Abu Simbel - the furthest south we would go on the holiday. We buddied up with M&L from Dublin (hi guys!) and headed for the airport. Once there we were asked for our names and the guide came back with our boarding passes. None of the names matched. I was travelling under the name of Relard and K as Khristing/Mr! Still, no one seemed to mind and our guide kept everyone amused/annoyed with this bizarre bird sound he kept doing - it was impressive...the first time!

Abu Simbel is shocking. The scale of it. The fact it was all moved 63m up the hill. We mossied around inside in awe and managed to take a few candid photos (no cameras allowed - god knows how they let my huge SLR in!). Not only was this cut from solid rock but on two days of the year the rising sun illuminates 3 of the 4 statues in the inner sanctum - astonishing!

We returned to Aswan under more made-up names and headed back to the boat. A group of us had organised a Nubian village trip which we duly departed for. The 'Bird-Man of Aswan' and also village cheif was our guide as we sailed slowly southwards on the Nile, he pointing out every make and model of bird en-route. We stopped on a nearby island where fresh mangoes were purchased from a local. Eventually we arrived the the village shores to be greeted with MANY Spanish on camels. We skirted by them and headed to this chap's house. Here the greatest moments of the holiday happened - I was handed a real, live, sharp-teethed Nile crocodile to hold!!!! For about 3 minutes it lay in my hands motionless, eyes gleaming. Then it squirmed so hard I nearly dropped it. FANTASTIC! We sat for some mint tea and M managed to order a shisha whilst L went for a henna tattoo. We sailed back slowly enjoying the setting sun over the hills. At one point nearly having to rescue a stranded felucca. This was the most relaxing and special part of the trip so far - an excellent afternoon out. Once back in the boat I had the chef clean my fruit and then ate fresh mangoes which tasted utterly fantastic.

That evening, over dinner, we found that the entire Spanish party were disembarking the following morning leaving JUST us on board. Nearly 5 to 1 in guest to staff ratio and an entire boat to ourselves! This really was turning out to be 5 star!

After dinner a few of us boarded a small boat for Philae temple to watch the evening sound and light show. This lasted an hour or so and was so-so. The best bit was when they turned all the lights off - wall to wall stars and the silhouette of the temple - breathtaking.

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