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December 11, 2004

Night Train to Aswan.


The night train was not fun, this is probably as good a time as any to de-glamourise travelling a bit. It's not all beer and hammocks, a lot of our time is spent stuck in the travel grind, crammed like cattle on buses and trains, missing nights of sleep, or waiting at bus/train/plane depots. In 6 months or so we've probably had about 3 weeks of real holiday (i.e lazing about). A true adventure means you take the good (deserted, perfect beaches) with the bad (trying to sleep on the floor of a noisy moving train with one arm around your valuables). The pain and discomfort is transitory (just try to remember it while it's happening) and makes the destination all the more worthwhile (so I'm told). The die-hard traveller wears his (or her) painful train/bus/plane rides like a badge of honour, scoffing at the lesser mortals who haven't spent 12 hours with their knees around their ears busting for a pee.

When we arrived in Aswan we were given the option of a plane ride up to Abu Simbel, an ancient temple hewn out of solid rock by Rames II, but seeing as it left a 4 a.m the next morning and we'd had no sleep the night before, we passed on that one, preferring to catch up up on sleep (it's true, these organised tours are making us soft). We had a quick nap before heading out the same afternoon to see Philae temple located on an island in the swollen Nile (it's on the wrong side of the huge Nassar Dam). Philae like Abu Simbel was rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nassar, carefully relocated stone by stone in an daring UNESCO rescue effort. The relocation was brilliantly executed and if you weren't told you'd probably never know. It looks as if it's been there for thousands of years, even though it's original location is deep underwater. Built in the traditional style on the location of an even older temple, Philae would in any other country be the oldest thing standing. The Ptolomy's (the Greek successors to Alexander the Great) built it around 150 b.c, as part of their effort to win favour with the populace by showing how "old-school" they were (we're Egyptian - honest, look a big shiny temple), but here it's a relative newcomer to the Egyptian scene at only a bit over 2000 years old (pah). This temple (like a lot of other in Egypt) was defaced by the early Coptic Christians attempting to show how powerless the ancient gods were (look I'm wrecking the joint and they're not stopping me), sort of like smashing up a church to show that Jesus doesn't care. They weren't the only ones to have a go at this temple, there is graffiti in many different languages, Roman, Greek and even French, left by Napoleon's troops during his brief stay here. Despite all this, it still manages to retain it's mystique, it would take a bit more than a couple of guys with chisels to stop it from being impressive. We had a quick tour around and were given a whole 20 minutes to look around ourselves, before jumping back on the ferry which took us back across to the mainland. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Aswan, past the numerous boat tour/souvenir/spice/dope pedlars before watching the sunset on a floating restaurant. Tomorrow our Fellucca cruise would begin, tomorrow all that back pain and muscle cramp would pay off.

Posted by Zach & Emily on December 11, 2004 09:56 AM
Category: Egypt


Posted by: Dom on December 12, 2004 08:01 AM


Posted by: Dom on December 12, 2004 08:01 AM
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