Trip Start Jul 30, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Thursday, November 9, 2006

We left our hotel around 9:30pm for the train station. Weaving through the typical crazy traffic we passed a demonstration which was surrounded by a hundred our so riot police. Our driver said it was something to do with the Sudam Hussein verdict. -Not sure if it was good or bad. I assume bad. We arrived at the train station and there were security and guns everywhere. Not just handguns in the holster like the cops back home, but automatic machine guns. As the train before ours pulled out we tried to peer into the windows to see what we could expect, but when the last car went by... we were met by an open window. All we saw was the top of a helmet and two eyes along with a machine gun pointing right at us. My heart sunk abit and at this point I was seriously second guessing Egypt as the exotic mysterious destination that we had anticipated.
Our trian arrived and our giude tooks us to our seats. We tried to get comfortable and our giude waved to us from outside the window. As we gor rolling a bunch of officers came into our car and there was some sort of comotion behind us as they made there way to the next car. Behind them came a man in trousers and a sweater. He tried to get around them, I thought he was just finding his seat. Then I noticed the machine gun he was holding behind his back. I guess it is a good thing to have such tight security and plain clothes police. But as thew same time, it is a constant reminder that something just might happen. We tried to catch a few Z's and arrived in Aswan around 12pm the next day. Met at the station by Mohammed who explained our itinerary and took us to the Mohmnon Hotel. It was a bit dingy and I seriously wonder how they received a three star rating, but it did have an exeptional view of the Nile with its many Falluca sail boats and large cruise ships. From our window we could see the 'Old Cataract Hotel' to our left towards the dams, Elaphantine Island w/the Nubian village right in front of us, the lush greenery along the Nile with mountains of sand behind. These were less like dunes and more like mountains. Topped with a few old monuments and tombs. We could also follow the main street along the Nile to the right. Until the river bends a few kilometers away.
We started with a quick walk around the hotel. Shopkeepers come out into the street and try to get you into their store. We had a nice walk along the Nile where the locals were too friendly in offering help in finding a falluca sail boat or Egyptian Ferarri (horse and carriage). Back at the hotel we joined another couple for a tour. We drove south past the Old Cataract Hotel and eventually over the low dam. This was built by the British in 1902. Crossing this and circling up the west bank of the Nile we bought tickets for the High Dam. We crossed, stopping in the middle for a few minutes, but there was little to see. Some fishing boats off in the distance on Lake Nasser (the largest man made lake in the world). I did not find out until later that crocodiles are only in Lake Nasser ands south into the Sudan. I wish I knew then, I would have been on the lookout. Anyway, we circled back down and back across the low dam. At the other side we got out of the van and jumped onto a motor boat. Took us to Philae Temple which wasnow on an island between the two dams. It made for soe good pics and a chance to get close to all the hieroglyphics. We struck up a conversation with a couple on their honrymoon from Kuala Lampur. They asked about the market or Souk. We were dropped off near the hotel at the entrance to the souk. This is the home of high pressure sales, egyptian style. Tey had everything touristy you could imagine. Our new friend complained about the haggling, but I think part of him seemed to enjoy it. We walked a few kilometers with them before we parted. Lyn and I back towards the hotel while they jumped onto thier cruise ship. Lyn and I stopped off for a sort of Egyptian souvlaki for a mere 3 LE and headed home for the evening.
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