Little fellucas

Trip Start Aug 18, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Arriving in Aswan in the morning, tired and worn-out, I knew I didn't have the energy for sight-seeing. I also knew I couldn't go to bed at 9am without becoming unwillingly nocturnal. So I spent the morning extending my visa- just the kind of time consuming, brainless activity that makes people look as if they've been up for two days and cycled 100km. The afternoon I passed on a riverside terrace, smoking shisha, drinking tea and watching the white fellucas swanning back and forth, before finally settling at the riverbanks to roost as the sun set.
I had arranged to take a bus tour to see the temple of Rameses 2 at Abu Simbol, about 20km north of Sudan, the following morning. This involved getting up at 3am, so it was as well that I was fast asleep by 8pm.

I'm not going to give you the in depth history of every Pharonic monument on the Nile. It would just be transcribing from the guidebook anyway. Ramesis 2's temple is one of the most famous, however, partly because of the 4 huge statues of the man himself, 3 of which have remained impressively unscathed by the ravages of time, and partly because the whole job lot was cut in pieces and rebuilt on higher ground when the Aswan damn was built. The job was well done, and the temple has largely retained it's integrity, but it's lost it's mystique. It's sense of permanence.

The tour also took in the high dam (a dam) the obelisk (an obelisk) and the temple on the isand of Philae. (actually on the island of Agilkai- another rescuee from the rising tide of progress). It was while wandering around this last that I met Agnes and Liz, a pair of American student who invited me to join them for some more sight-seeing the following day.

We met in their hotel lobby the next morning, ready to board 'Captain Bob's'  felluca. These little boats with quill-shaped sails can be found the length of the Nile, but are most popular in Aswan, as there is less motor traffic so a ride is a genuinely relaxing experience. We were dropped on the west bank, from where we 'trekked' (30mins) to the monastery of St. Simeon, an impressive, fortress-like ruin in the desert. Aparrantly this St. Simeon occasionally hung himself by his beard as penance for his sins. Maybe there's something in the name... From the monastery we hiked another half hour to the 'tombs of the nobles'. More interested in the walk than the tombs, at the last minute I realised I didn't actually want to go and tour them (sometimes, you're just not in the mood) and went for food instead. 
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