Cruising down the Nile

Trip Start Aug 18, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Saturday, January 6, 2007

From Aswan it was a mere 60km to Kom Ombo, the site of another impressive temple, and the same again from Kom Ombo to Edfu, the site of... you guessed it. Mostly only visited by people on their way past, either by bus between Aswan and Luxor or by cruise ship or felluca on the Nile, neither the sites nor the cities are designed to cater for tourists overnight. It took a lot of effort to drag the confession out of one of the temple stewards that Kom Ombo city did in fact contain hotels, though once 'broken' he did tell me where to look for them, which was what I really needed. I had been warned by my guidebook that hotels in many of the Nile cities had been instructed to have their signs only in arabic, to discourage lingering tourists. (in exchange for not being listed as 'hazardous' on US and UK foreign office websites, the Egyptian government have installed a comprehensive, though often illogical and ineffective, security regime, which basically involves keeping tourists where they can see 'em as much as possible.)

In Kom Ombo I found the 'Cleopatra Hotel' through the expedient of getting to the general area that had been described, collaring a local and asking, loudly and clearly, 'do you know a hotel near here?'.
-what, this one? (points across the street)
-yes. that'll do. shokrun. ('thanks' -my first, and for a long time, only, arabic word.)

Edfu was simpler, since for some reason the police at the checkpoint insisted on escorting me the last 2km into town, so I just asked them. The hotels were dark and bare but the rooms seemed clean and contained a bed, while the bathrooms had hot water, so I handed over the equivalent of two English pounds without qualm.

Kom Ombo is a town for people who live at work or work at home. There is very little to do. I found some street-food, including a sandwich vendor who refused my money saying 'you are a visitor, you are welcome!' which was a new experience in Egypt. In tourist areas (in general, not just in Egypt) you get the same sentence but the price is doubled. In the end I whiled away the afternoon watching old men play dominoes in a shisha cafe, trying first to figure out the rules, and later to figure out the appeal. While there was a little more life on the streets of Edfu, partly because the cafe I found was at the junction of several souqs, the afternoon passed in much the same way. These towns introduced me to the distinctive aroma of Nile conurbations- the smell of molasses shisha mixed with pollution from a sugar refinery.
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