Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
Trip End Dec 03, 2007

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Monday, December 17, 2007

   Aswan, lively, noisy, hustle and bustle, those are the first impressions as you open your curtains in the morning.
   Caleche drivers on the Corniche, Felucca and motor boat captains on the quayside, everyone willing and able to do business.
   We went on a trip to one of the numerous Nubian villages in the area. The trip on the river was memorable in respect of when we were traveling in what was once the lower part of the first cataract at Elephantine Island, it is the sheer volume of water, passing between the rocks, it gave one a sense of the power of the river, over the eons it has carved and moulded the rocks into wonderful shapes. A favourite game by the local children is, when they see a boat approaching, they dive into the water like otters, swim up to and grab hold of the boat, not a bad way to hitch a lift, does anyone think that crocodile island in the area is named for some other reason? Wonder how many have close shaves during the tourist season?
   In the village, we got up close and personal with some small crocodiles, Tarja went on a camel trek, as for myself, I think they are anti-social beasts, who seem to take me as a target for their spitting competitions, so I tend to give them a wide berth.
   We visited the Nubian village school, where we gave the children some pens, next time we will give pencils, as they would probably be more useful to the kiddies.
   On the return journey, we went on the other side of Elephantine Island, it's easy to see why it came by its name, plenty of rocks that resemble elephants, although some of the effect is lost when they have build brick walls on top of some of them.
   We chose to do the organized tour of the area, it was to become a very tiring day. we first of all visited the unfinished obelisk, now looking at this, many will say, It's only a chunk of stone, not very impressed at all. I urge you to look a little deeper, see the tool marks that have been left by the ancient workers, as you stand there in the heat of the day, try to imagine what the working conditions were, lying on your side or kneeling down, as you drink from your plastic bottle, did the workers have such amenities? Is the heat very intense right now, was it intense when the workers were in situ? Thats what makes this unimposing piece of stone impressive, not the fact that it could have been standing in Karnak or Luxor.
   Queen Hathepshut, certainly had big ideas when she commissioned this obelisk, I pity the poor messenger that had to take her the news, that it was no use due to a crack, not a good day to be in Dodge City.
   I was fortunate in that I broke away from the main party, a security guard took me up close and personal to see another unfinished, although a lot smaller, obelisk. Again it was brought home to me just how much technology has improved our lives and how much easier we have it these days, that small trip cost me 5 le in baksheesh, a small price to pay for that memory.
   Onwards to the Aswan High Dam, Nassers legacy to Egypt, it is an immense structure, in keeping with the other immense structures which abound in Egypt. One has to think, that the benefits to Egypt far outweigh the losses in historical sites, Egypt seems to have enough and to spare. It doesn't do to dwell on ancient history, when you must think of the needs of the present day inhabitants, ofcourse the Nubian's will disagree, but you cannot please everyone all of the time, if you try to, you end up pleasing no one at all.
   Once again, time to board the bus, this time destination Philae Temple. At this point, we were almost at the overload point of temples, there is only so much you can take in. lets face it, you have to study hieroglyphs for many years to understand what they are really about, we were fortunate, that our Egyptian tour guide, Johanna, was only too willing to give one to one lessons on the different temples, he spoke very good English and being with a Finnish tour group, he didn't have a lot to do, so being me, I utilized him mercilessly. I wont go into too much detail about the various temples, suffice to say, the concept is breathtaking enough. one interesting point when visiting Philae, watch the motor boat captains, it all looks dead serious, you think they are trying to drive each other into the rocks, it is in fact just their way of livening up an otherwise boring trip for them. we didn't bother with doing the sound and light show at Philae, we had to be up VERY early next morning, Abu Simbel was beckoning.

Photos marked ** by Reijo Sirpoma
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