Hannah and Je together

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Eighth Day – Luxor

I began my day getting up at 2:30.  It was my first time flying Egypt Air.

Egypt Air Boarding by Ladder

Egypt Air Boarding by Ladder

In the Cairo International Airport, there is no sky passage to the plane which is very common in most Airports.

Muslim Prayer in the plane

Muslim Prayer in the plane

Before the take-off while the engine was running hard, suddenly they pulled down the TV with the mosque image and played the Islam prayer.  I don’t know they do this always before flight or it is because of the regular prayer time.

Sunrise in the Airplane

Sunrise in the Airplane

I saw the sunrise in the plane to Luxor.  Luxor was great.

Sitting Pharaoh is overwhelming

Sitting Pharaoh is overwhelming

This huge sitting statue of a Pharaoh thrilled me.  When the ancient people saw this statue, I am pretty sure that they were all overwhelmed and felt like the Pharaoh is God and looking down.

German Excavation

German Excavation

The two pharaoh sitting statues were side by side, and a little back, there was another smaller statue.  And I was told that the Germans digging now.

Colour is still alive

Colour is still alive

I went to the temple of Hatshpsute temple or Al-Deir Al-Bahari temple.  Queen Hatshpsute is the only female ruler in ancient Egypt.  She is the daughter of a Pharaoh, brother and wife of a Pharaoh, and step-mother of a Pharaoh.  The temple was huge and with lots of inscriptions.  And many of them have colour.  The colour is still so much alive, and I would even believe if someone tells me they painted it last year.

In the tourism site, there are always local people selling stuff.  A guy tried to sell some photos to me which I did not buy.  Initially he called 20 L.E.  Guess how much the price went down.  It got down to 1 L.E.  Wow.

Stone Work Factory

Stone Work Factory

Then I went to stone work factory, near the Queen’s temple.  It was interesting how they make and work the stone in the traditional way with traditional tools.  They showed and compared the differences between hand-made and machine-made.

The Nile

The Nile

This is the famous Nile river in Luxor.  The mother of the ancient civilisation, still Nile is feeding Egyptians.  Most people in Luxor work in tourism trade, and other small amount of people works at agriculture.

Cow Transportation

Cow Transportation

In Luxor, the animal is still very important.  So many donkeys are used as main mean of transportation, and lots of sheep and goats are on the road too.

Downtown Luxor

Downtown Luxor

This is downtown Luxor, and I bought a Arabic language music CD for my friend in Korea.

Egyptian Music

Egyptian Music

I bought the traditional Mix.  I paid 30 L.E.  They called way higher price, but I dealt with the guy several times and it came down to 30 L.E.

Burnt CD, not original

Burnt CD, not original

When I opened the CD case, what the…  Well…  But I checked that it is real music CD in a language which I do not understand.

Sugar Cane Juice

Sugar Cane Juice

I stopped at a juice store.  I was told that the sugarcane is the most important agriculture in Luxor.  The sugarcane is piled in the left, and the guy squeezed a few sticks and put some ice.  It was very good, sweet of course.  I think this is the real life Candy Crush. 🙂

Then I went to Kings Valley, but I do not have any photos because it was prohibited.  All the caves are amazing with beautiful carving and inscriptions.  It is truly amazing that those carvings and colours survived many thousand years.  Funny thing is that the most famous Pharaoh, the Tutankhamun has the smallest tomb.  His name has three parts: Tut – Ankh – Amun and means “Long Live Amun.”

Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple

My next destination was Karnak temple, dedicated to the god of Amun, and his wife, and his son.  It is very huge temple, and I was told that the Pharaohs ruled here.

Thutmoses III

Thutmoses III

This Pharaoh, the step son of the famous queen conquered many cities.

Conquered Cities

Conquered Cities

And he left all the names of the cities he conquered.  The ancient Egyptian writing represents meaning, but when it is circled, they represent sound.  All the people have tie on their arm which means that they were captured and bound.

Nile View

Nile View

This is the Nile view of the hotel where I had lunch.

Bus Business Class is better than the airplane Business Class

Bus Business Class is better than the airplane Business Class

Then I flew back to Cairo by Egypt Air.  The funny thing is that they distinguish the Business Class (total 8 seats) just by curtain.  They just have a foot more room and still pays almost three times of economic seat.

Most Asians know that Japanese are mostly quiet, and polite, while Chinese are usually loud.  But Japanese can go crazy too in some situation.  That is when they are not with other Japanese or their neighbours.  Two Japanese girls were sitting behind me.  They were so loud talking and laughing, even singing as if they are drunk.  I could not endure any more, so I greeted them in Japanese.  Then they became cute and quiet Japanese girls.

Sunset in the Airplane

Sunset in the Airplane

I saw the sunrise in the plane, and I also saw the sunset in the plane again in the same day.  Egypt Air is part of Star Alliance which means I can collect the mileage.

Moon from the Airplane

Moon from the Airplane

Right after the sunset, I pictured this moon.

I had diarrhoea this morning first time in this trip.  Maybe the food and water in Egypt do not cooperate with my body.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Seventh Day – Bus to Cairo

Today was very long day, spent most time in Buses.  I got up at five and checked out the Hostel in Eilat.  They packed me breakfast, which I ate for breakfast and also for lunch due to the huge amount of food.

Taba Egyptian Border

Taba Egyptian Border

Because the bus to the border runs from 8am, I had to get a cab.  Israeli exit border was OK, and everybody was in line, everything was in order.  I just paid big money for border passenger fee.  But as soon as I crossed over to the Egyptian border, it was total chaos.  There was no line at all, people were yelling and screaming.  Even the officers yelling at the people.  Sometimes people argued with loud yelling voice with the officers.  There was no line at all.  I have no other words but ‘total chaos.’  I spent about fifteen minutes at Israeli side, but I spent more than two hours in Egyptian side.  But I finally got the Sinai permit, with which I can stay only in Sinai peninsula.

Sherut to Sharm

Sherut to Sharm

Because I need to get the Egyptian Visa, I had to go to Sharm International Airport.  But anyway there was no direct bus to Cairo even though I had the visa.  The Egyptian Consulate General in Eilat opens at 9:30am, then I waste a day.  But if I get the visa at Sharm International Airport, I just waste couple of hours.  Thanks to the chaos in Egyptian border, I spent more than two hours and the bus to Sharm already gone.  The next bus is at 11am.  And I got a Sherut to Sharm, which turned out to be better eventually.

Mountain Area on the way to Sharm near Red Sea

Mountain Area on the way to Sharm near Red Sea

The sherut driver drove as if there is no centre line.  I did not see the Mount Sinai but passed around that.  When I saw the mighty mountains, I thought it is not strange even if a guy tells me that God came upon any of those mountains.

Sharm International Airport

Sharm International Airport

I went to the Sharm International Airport, but the immigration officer refused to give me the visa, but said that I have to apply through any Egyptian Travel agency.  The Sherut driver helped me to get the visa by introducing me a travel agent.  And he waited for me and gave me ride to the bus station for $10.  The other taxi drivers called $25.  While we were waiting for the agent, he said that Jewish Torah and Christian Bible were hand written, but Coran literally fell from the heaven.  And he said “Fucking Hamas,” which is the expression that I heard the most from the Egyptians today.

One thing I notice is that Russian sign everywhere.  And the Sherut driver confirmed me that Russians are the most tourists in Egypt.

Business Class Bus to Cairo

Business Class Bus to Cairo

I rode the Go Bus to Cairo.  When I bought the ticket at the booth, the guy asked me if I want Business class or economic class.  The price was almost double, but I was curious about the business class of the bus, so I paid 160 Egyptian Pound (L.E).  Well, the bus has its own flight attendant, I would say the crew.  And it has large legroom, and it also provides meal, not to mention bottomless coffee or tea.

Egyptian Checkpoint

Egyptian Checkpoint

McCormick Group experienced the Israeli Checkpoints and we complained a lot.  I have to say, that was nothing.  Actually, there was no checkpoint inside Israeli territory or West Bank.  The checkpoints are on the border of them.  We experienced the checkpoint when we went into West Bank and came back to Israel.  But in Egypt, there were dozens of checkpoints, probably every twenty minutes.  It was the same from Taba to Sharm, and from Sharm to Cairo.  And even the Egyptians have tanks and armoured military vehicles at the checkpoints.  Some places, they placed machine guns on top of the hills.

Nothing to See on the way to Cairo

Nothing to See on the way to Cairo

The scene on the way to Cairo was mostly boring.  That was just nothing but dry sands.  This experience is good for just once.

The bus finally arrived at Cairo.  And a taxi driver approached me, so I asked how much it would be to Le Meridien Hotel in Giza Pyramids Cairo.  He said 100 L.E, so I got on.  Then I found that it is not a taxi.  The car does not have windshield wipers, engine was knocking.  He turned the music as loud as it hurts my ears.  And all the cars in Cairo ignore the lanes, and drive crazy dizzy.  Right after he began to drive, he said I have to pay 150 L.E – 100 for going and 50 for him to come back to the bus station.  A month ago, I would pay just saying, “Oh really?”  But now, I am trained by the Palestinians:

Je: No, you said 100.
He: OK, then 125.
Je: No, you didn’t say anything about that. You said 100. Don’t LIE.
He: OK, 100.

And when we arrived at the hotel, he said I must tip him 50 because 100 is for the car, and 50 is for him.  And I repeated the above conversation.

Le Meridien Hotel, Giza Pyramids Cairo

Le Meridien Hotel, Giza Pyramids Cairo

Le Meridien Hotel is nice hotel, but I am not happy with it for couple of reasons.  First, they advertise Free Wi-Fi, but I have to pay for the Wi-Fi if I want to use in the room.  It is only free at the lobby.  Second, Hotels in Israel, the online price includes everything, but this hotel includes nothing.  For example, Gloria Hotel says $110.  Then I pay $110.  Eilat Hostel says $30.  Then I actually pay $30.  But here, they say online $78.60 but when I pay, they charge me $99.  Third, it is too far from downtown Cairo.  I didn’t know it is this far.

Well, today, I trod the African soil for the first time.

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