Saturday, June 29, 2013

What I did on my holidays (By QM Twoflower) #6

The following day after an early night we got up at silly o' clock for one of the highlights of our cruise. At 4am we joined a convoy of coaches for a trip a cross the desert to visit Abu Simbel and the twin temples there. We could have gone by plane as some of our group did mocking us in fun for getting up so early, but we felt it wasn't worth the cost also you spent less time there.

Mamba (miles and miles of bugger all) Desert
One of the reasons for setting off so early is that only madmen go out in the mid day sun that far south, the song 'Mad dogs and Englishmen' is pretty much based on a truism. The reason we were in a convoy is that the Egyptians don't like to lose anyone and if a coach breaks down there are people to help. The other reason is that the southern desert of Nubia is an armed military camp in places and they don't care for spies or tourists acting like spies.
Still at 7am we arrived in Abu Simbel walked around what looked like a hill and came face to face...

Ye gods...
When most Egyptologists talk about Rameses, they are generally talking about Rameses II of the 13th century BC or The Great as he's colloquially known. All other Rameses tend to have their number tagged on the end, there's only one 'Rameses' as such.
Seems when the guy was out visiting the neighbours to check up on their gold and jewel production he halted by two small hills in the middle of the desert and decided that ooh, this looks like a nice place for a couple of temples, one for me and one for the Mrs.
It really is in the middle of nowhere, but that's never stopped Rameses...

36m tall statues Temple for Rameses, yes that's his Mrs at his foot.
So off they went and built them...

Temple of Nefertari

Other than being spectacular outside, they were also decorated inside with Rameses history and spiritual history of Rameses and Nefertari's links to the gods of Egypt too including his greates 'victory' at the battle of Kadesh against the Hittites.

The Hypostyle hall inside with the statues of Osiris.
Rameses killing his enemies
Kadesh itself despite Rameses claims was actually a draw and he was forced to negotiate a ceasefire a year later, but that naturally isn't mentioned.

Lord and Lady QM
The history of the temples doesn't end there though, when the Egyptians started building the second Aswan Dam and creating Lake Nasser they realised they had a bit of a problem on their hands in the way of 36 known temples about to go underwater. An international appeal was made and all the temples including Abu Simbel were moves above the waterline.

The original location of the temple about 63 metres out over the water
So in the case of Abu Simbel they created a concrete dome and built the entire couple of mountain tops including the temples over the top of them about 60 metres higher.



Then and now.
We left at 10 am as the temperature had now reached an impressive 40 degrees in the shade and set off back over the desert viewing a number of mirages en-route.

Yes, that's a mirage honest... there are no hills in the background
When we got back we discovered that the group who were to fly had, had their flight cancelled, apparently it was the first day of the trail of Hosni Mubarrak the ex president and islamists had made a nuisance of themselves.
They were gutted and with good reason, it was the absolute highlight of our trip to Egypt.
We drowned their sorrows in gin and beer, it seemed the least we could do...

3 annotations:

tris said...

Fabulous pics.... Am I jealous, or am I jealous?

Dioclese said...

Worth the trek wasn't it?

We did it by air. I remember going into the toilet at Aswan airport to be confronted by an Arab in a track suit playing with himself. "For US$ 100 we fuck, yes?" he asked. "Show me your money first" I replied and walked out leaving him stood there with dropped jaw.

Meanwhile, in the ladies, his wife had removed all the toilet paper and was selling it back a sheet at a time under the door. Thankfully, Mrs D is a seasoned traveller and alway carries a box of tissues in her handbag.

From what I heard of the others who went by road, it wasn't as arduous as they expected, so you most likely made the best choice.

Anonymous said...

Very enjoyable, interesting and fascinating. Jealous much! Thanks for sharing.