In the Valley of the Kings: Travel Thoughts 9

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Roger and I woke at a reasonable hour the day we visited the Valley of the Kings. Those on the tour that had decided to forgo the pleasure of the balloon ride which took in all the sights of Luxor and surrounds as well as a glorious sunrise had been woken at 3am to head off on their adventure.

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Only four of us had declined the balloon trip and we had an adventure of our own that I valued possibly higher than being cramped in a balloon, fearful and desirous of jumping out.

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We went with our guide to a small village in the valley of the Kings area where we were going to collect the balloon riders. Our guide loved his water pipe so he settled us in a local cafe ordering coffee for us and a hookah for himself. Across the road was Spongebob – a baby clothes and adult fashion store. Was it called Spongebob because of the square pants or the sponge to mop up baby accidents.

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Once smoking our guide was happy.

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and we watched the woman (one of the few women we had seen working in Egypt) prepare our coffee.

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There was a constant parade of traffic past Spongebobs in both directions.

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Before our coffee was made the call came that the balloon had landed. We needed to be off. Our coffee was given to us in the bus in crockery cups that our guide promised to return later in the day. Over the rough roads we bumped at speed and we wore most of our boiling hot coffee.

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The trip along the way was fascinating with barren hills showing the evidence of recent digs for graves and I wondered if some were ancient houses dug into the hillside.

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As we got closer to where we were to pick up the ballooners we saw others coming in to land.

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and the furling of the balloon of those that had just landed. It looked like a mammoth task but there seemed to be plenty of hands helping.

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The Valley of the Kings is the burial ground of the kings, queens, high priests and nobles from 1539 – 1075 BC. The bodies were mummified to ensure that it could reanimate in the afterlife. Great treasures, as well as mundane household items and food were buried inside the tombs with the deceased for their life in the afterworld. We were driven by auto train into the depths of the valley and the feeling was surreal – and a little eerie.

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The cliffs towered up above us. It was in the Valley of the Kings I made my only mistake. I did not buy permission to take my camera as I considered the couple of hundred Australian dollars not to be worth it and our guide had promised someone who sold photos would meet us at the bus on our return thus being able to purchase some for a small amount.  I left my camera on the bus as it would have been confiscated but phones were permitted. They weren’t for cameras after all.

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We entered our first tomb. The man in gray at the door with the white turban  was a temple guard. They were stationed all through the tombs.

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On entering I knew I had made a big mistake. I have never seen such beauty and if I thought that the pyramids were going to be the most jaw dropping place we visited – I was wrong. I got out my phone and surrepticiously took some photos.

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If only I could read what these heiroglyphs said.

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I saw a temple guard arguing with a woman over the use of her mobile phone without camera permit. Money changed hands. I became a bit wary and when I saw a man pursued by a guard when he wouldn’t hand his phone over. He was caught at the entrance and his phone confiscated.

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My photography became blurred as I worried about the guards.

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There were no perfect shots to be had in this state of mind but I did see the guard coming towards me and I quickly turned my phone off. He came up and accused me of taking pictures. I lied – well kind of lied – I said show me the pictures I’m supposed to have taken. He grabbed the phone off me and of course it was turned off. He couldn’t get anything to come up. I said “See. I was just holding it.” I grabbed it back off him and said ” I’ll keep it in my bag so there is no question about what I am doing” and walked off, feeling guilty I had done the wrong thing but incredibly relieved that I had my phone back in one piece..

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The tombs became progressively more and more colourful. Inwardly I cried but who could be upset when being faced with the most beautiful sight I think I had ever seen painted on the walls of these underground burial chambers.

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Of course you had to pay extra to go into Tutankhamun’s tomb and again our guide had persuaded us that it wasn’t worth the visit. According to him the paintings weren’t that well preserved. That Tutankhamun was a minor king and not worthy of mention. The only reason he is known is because when Howard Carter discovered his tomb in 1922 it was the only intact tomb to have been discovered, most having been plundered years or centuries earlier. Naturally everything that was there has now been removed and the new museum in Cairo has replicated the tomb on site and all the treasures will be displayed.

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Until 2005 62 tombs had been discovered in the Valley of the Kings. There is evidence of digging everywhere in the area and 63 was finally discovered. It is believed that there are probably more to come.

If you are ever in Egypt make the Valley of the Kings a must visit. Buy a camera permit. The photos were a waste of time – not what I wanted to have in my photographic memory banks but the images inside those tombs will live with me forever.

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Bell Tents in the desert:Wordless Wednesday

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Takeaway Chinese: Delicious: Lens-Artists Challenge 41

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On a recent trip to China we found the food to be a little disappointing. I am quite convinced that there was wonderful food to be had but it was a cheap trip, assumed we wanted food like Starbucks, Macdonalds and Kentucky fried and the Chinese equivalents were located near these outlets. Not those that had the wonderful food. We did however go to a market where the food was delicious although it was all of a takeaway, snack variety. The sticks of potato scallopy things were wonderful. You’d never want to eat another bag of crisps after having these.

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Even the chicken feet looked inviting.

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Fruit on a stick – a healthy alternative.

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I’m not sure if these were olives or cherries or something altogether different.

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Octopus Balls – if you like dumplings you’d love these.

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Sweet potato – yum but not sure what the black and white is.

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Squid – I didn’t try it.

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Although we didn’t find much food that really made us drool the fruit was superb. Everywhere.

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And it was as cheap as chips – actually much cheaper than the chips in the first photograph. DE-licious.

Thanks to Patti for hosting this weeks Lens-Artists Challenge.

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Mirages: Something Different: Lens-Artists Challenge number 40

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Sunrise in the Sahara was a different experience and one that I don’t expect to have again

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It was freezing cold but worth the shivers to see the sun rise over the horizon letting us see what a bleak landscape we were travelling through.

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Not a tree in sight (in the first photograph that is me if you thought it was a tree.)

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Predominantly flat it is broken with mesa, large rocks and sand dunes.

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And there is sand everywhere. The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert although at dawn it didn’t feel that hot.

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Huge projects are underway diverting water from the dams along the Nile into canals in the effort to eventually green the banks of these in a similar way to the fertile strip along the side of the Nile.

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We saw one green area that was nowhere near a canal and I can only assume that in there somewhere was an oasis.

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We saw people building fences in the middle of the dessert. Why? I have no idea. It looked as forbidding on either side of the fence and I can’t imagine what they were trying to keep out.

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On the way back to Aswan we stopped at a road house.

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Besides a stop for the toilet it was so we could experience a Sahara mirage. I was told it wouldn’t come out on photograph so I was thrilled when it did. Can you see it?

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And here…

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Inside the roadhouse.

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There is a definite Nubian flavour

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Our last look at the mirage. It disappeared as we drove toward it. They are an optical phenomenon where light rays bend , producing  a displaced image of distant objects or the sky. For me this was something totally different.

Thank you to Tina for hosting this weeks challenge.

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A visitor to the dog park: Silent Sunday

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Words from Egypt: Pick a Word April Yr 4: Thursdays Special

Each month Paula from Lost in Translation gives us five words to demonstrate visually. You can pick five pictures or one word or show all five in one image. The choice is yours. This month the words are: resplendent, alluring, plagued, copycat, timeworn.

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The whirling dervish was resplendent in his attire but when he added the effect of lights to the skirt he satisfied even the original meaning of resplendent “shining out.”

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The spices markets were alluring – enticing us to enter inside even though we knew it would be hard to escape without making a  purchase one we were in. I came home with some incredible saffron.

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The number of tourists we encountered made us think of a plague of locusts. Everywhere you went you were plagued by vast numbers. I could only wonder at how I would have found the numbers of people had tourism not dropped in 2010 from 14.7 million tourists to 5.4 million in 2016 and we were there in the low season. A plague indeed.

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I don’t know that this is a genuine copycat but it does look as though the first four imagaes are copies of each other.

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When you consider that these monuments date back to as many years before Christ as we have had after Christ then it is only to be expected that they would be a little time worn.

 

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Camel and Balloon options – To do or not to do: Travel Thoughts 8

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This has to be a decision based entirely on yourself but I’ll tell you our experience. I don’t have a good head for heights combined with movement. Roger doesn’t have a good head for heights. We had decided that we were not going to take the optional camel tour.

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We had been warned not to ride a camel at the pyramid itself. It was proposed that these beasts were not quite as humanely treated as that would be available to us after we left the pyramid but that didn’t worry us as we had both been on a camel in the past, not enjoyed the experience and were determined it need not be repeated. We had not bargained on the persuasiveness of our guide. “You may have been on a camel before but you have never ridden one in the Sahara desert, you have never seen the six pyramids lined up in front of you for the perfect photo.” That was it for me. Always in search for the perfect photo and the thought of being in the Sahara desert we suddenly changed our minds  and were soon traipsing to the  camel camp. My camel was out front. I couldn’t see Roger. I placed my foot in the stirrup and slung my leg over as though I’d done it all my life. My weight caused the saddle to tip to the left (the side where I had my foot in the stirrup). I thought I could correct this by pressing down on the stirrup on the right side only to find this did not exist. Feeling as though I was in a precarious position the camel was then instructed to stand throwing me forward then backward then forward again. At this point I started screaming “Get me down off here” but my cries were ignored. They most likely thought they wouldn’t be paid if I got off. My screaming became louder, hysterical and I started to hyperventilate. I was in the middle of an anxiety attack which was accelerating at a rapid rate. Luckily a tourist, an Egyptian, realised my plight and went and fought with the camel handlers. “Get her off” is what I presumed he said in arabic. Eventually the camel was told to drop and the kind stranger caught me as I dismounted non to elegantly. I walked back  passing Roger on the way.

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As I passed him he started yelling for them to get him off too – which they did a little quicker than they had me. What I didn’t know at the time was that with his hip (that needs totally to be replaced) he couldn’t swing over the camels back and when he finally got up there his saddle was even more skew whiff than mine and he actually fell off when the camel started to move. They had insisted he get back up but when he saw me get off there was no way he was going to remain upon his beast. He was convinced that he would be off again before the camel had got too far. As it was our group was a little disappointed by the ride. We were of course already in the Sahara and the distance they went was negligible. All said if they were doing it again they would opt for the longer trip rather than the shorter one that we had been advised to take. Our guide told us sadly that he would have to revise his story as the shortest ride to that day had been three minutes – now it was mere seconds.

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When it came time to do the balloon ride over Luxor we had again decided that we would not do it. This time our guide used no persuasive techniques to get us to change our mind. I would have loved to have floated over the Valley of the Kings and seen the temples from above but it just wasn’t worth the risk. This time it would be a long way to fall and it was not unheard of for this to happen.

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I contented myself taking photos from below.

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And we had an experience the others didn’t. Coffee in a small town street.

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Our guide hooked up.

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and we watched the local life as it past by.

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So when it comes to things like camel and balloon rides – listen to your gut. I have found it usually knows best, particularly if you are getting older.

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