After that, we gathered at reception and departed by coach for the Valley of the Kings. We arrived by 7:00am and stayed for two hours. The weather had been fairly warm when we got there and grew swelteringly hot by the time we left. We saw the tombs of Ramesses III, Seti II, and Ramesses IX, which were rather awe inspiring. The ancient Egyptians obviously took their spiritual beliefs a lot more seriously than we do, preparing these tombs with ornaments & decorations that - for all they knew - wouldn't be seen by anyone. As Sarah pointed out, they were all spells and enchantments to help the deceased Pharaoh on his way to the afterlife.
I also went to Tutankhamun's tomb - it was 100 LE extra, but having come all this way, I wasn't missing out on that! Again, it was rather awe-inspiring, despite being considerably smaller than the other tombs. The mummy itself was there, and looked surprisingly small; also, the stone sarcophagus and the gilded wooden inner sarcophagus were there, and rather wonderful.
Sadly, it wasn't possible to take photographs in the Valley of the Kings, which was a bit disappointing (although I'll hopefully be finding some more official pictures to link to). This was true of a number of places we were to visit in Egypt, but where possible I took photographs of views that I thought were particularly deserving of it.
A regular part of our travels so far has included street merchants selling us things (or at least attempting to do so) quite persistently. It was rather bizarre to hear one of them saying, "lovely jubbly"! ("He doesn't know what it means," insisted our tour guide...)
Our tour guide gave us a lecture about avoiding the street merchants. Nobody is robbed in Egypt, he said. Just cheated. We were then taken to a family-owned shop which specialised in alabaster and basalt jars and statuettes. Some of them were reaaly rather lovely, and I'd've loved to have picked up one of the Tutankhamun funerary masks, but we don't have much money with us. We did, however, get a scarab for Malcolm' birthday present.
After that, we went to the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepshut (I would check the spelling, but I saw several different anglicised versions on various signs). Our tour guide infomed us that it's pronounced "hat cheap suit". Okay. He's quite a character, is our tour guide.
The Temple was rather impressive in its scale, but rather disappointingly all we could really see of it was the grandiose frontage and a courtyard area inside. The inside was roped off, although the doorway was tantalisingly open.
Approaching the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepshut
Sarah and I relaxing outside the Temple.
Two statues outside the Temple entrance
The tantalisingly open doorway to the sanctuary
The view back down the approach road from the Temple.
It didn't help that my right eye was starting to play up. Not sure why - I'm hoping I haven't developed a scratch on it like I did with the other eye last May. I think, though, that it's more likely that it's not quite liking the bright sunlight. Or possibly the sunglasses.
From there, we stopped briefly at the Colossi of Memnon, which were again rather awesome, albeit rather sad and lonely big fellas, out in the middle of nowhere with only each other for company. It's rather staggering to think that all these statues were made out of a single piece of rock, weighing several hundred tons, which had to be dragged a few hundred miles to their eventual destinations. The dedication of the ancient Egyptians to their art (and indeed to their religion) is rather astonishing.
The Colossi of Memnon
A singular Colossus of Memnon
Sarah in front of a Colossus of Memnon
After that brief stopover, it was back to the boat - I gave my eye some rest on the way (I pretty much slept), and shortly after we got back, it set sail for Edfu via the lock at Esna.
Lunch was rendered rather weird by the fact that the boat was in motion - I'm just not used to eating while I can see the scenery moving past! Also, the fact that the restaurant is in the lowest portion of the boat meant that the Nile was washing against the windows, which was kind of freaky. Still, as long as we don't sink...
Apart from lunch, and a group meeting to discuss our itinerary for the week we're going to be on the boat, I spent quite a while after the morning visits sleeping - partly because of lack of sleep earlier, but also to rest my bad eye. I resurfaced around 4:00pm and joined Sarah and some of the others in our party on the deck, where we lounged and watched the scenery go by. As dusk came, we started to pass through the lock (having been queueing for a good couple of hours, during which time salesmen in boats tried to sell us Galabeyas. Which was a seriously surreal experience), and everybody was watching and taking photos. It really was a bizarre yet wonderful experiemce as we entered the lock, watched from the back of the boat as the lock doors closed, and then the boat gradually rose up whilst the one in the neighbouring lock descended.
A boat is sold at by passing Galabeya salesmen.
Oh, and I suppose I should tell the story of how I went back to our room to fetch something, and then on returning was discussing something with Sarah who by this point was in her swimming costume. "Well, I don't have the keys because there are no pockets in this." "Well, you'd better have them." "No, you've just been to the room...". Yes, I'd left my keys in the room, necessitating an embarrassed trip to reception for yours truly.
At 7:15pm there was meant to be a cocktail party in the lounge, but for about fifteen minutes all that happened was that some music played whilst a gentleman with a video camera pranced around recording nothing happening to a big table on which stood a golden statuette of some description. In fairness, there were also some cocktails on the table, but even so it would be a stretch to describe this as a party. After a few minutes the main lights went off and the spotlights started pulsing on and off. As this was in danger of setting off Sarah's migraine, we went to our room, where she had a rest, and two litres of water, before dinner - another cosmopolitan selection from which I was again able to find something to my taste.
And then to bed, where Sarah did some writing and I got a bit of work done on my diary. As of going to sleep, we're still en route to Edfu.