Day 5

Thursday 27th May 2010 – Aswan

Another early start, I was woken by the muezzin at 4.30am. The telephone rang at 5.30am, our alarm call so we both got up, Tina having a shower and I had a shave and wash then off to breakfast. Today I avoided the cereals and stuck with a cheese omelette followed by some fruit and more cheese. Back to the cabin to get easy for today’s excursions, this morning being the Philae Temple of Goddess Isis.

One of the boats taking visitors to Philae Temple

The journey to the temple was quick and we were one of the first coaches to arrive. The temple was on an island so we needed to board a small boat. Unfortunately these are diesel and give off loads of smoke but more of that later. Also in the boat were traders (boat traders as opposed to street traders I assume) who tried to sell us necklaces and other trinkets. We ignored them. We disembarked and walked up to the temple, again very much the same layout of the ones we’d previously seen.

Philae Temple

Then were experienced the first technical hitch of the day when the lights failed in the temple. When the lights failed it went extremely dark inside the temple which made you appreciate how good the artistry was when they wouldn’t have the luxury of electric lighting. Luckily we had seen much of inside. We then wandered around outside with Salwa explaining how the temple was moved from a lower location to the current island. Salwa also said she worked on the project for 10 years. It was an impressive task which meant the temple could be seen by visitors again. Once again many of the murals had been mutilated by the Romans who didn’t like to see the Egyptian gods.
We boarded the return boat at 8.30am, where we were immediately smoked out by diesel fumes again, this time even worse.
On the boat more wares were offered to the captive audience before we arrived back at the dock. We managed to get through the traders easier this time; I have learnt to completely ignore them and they leave you alone.
We then visited the Aswan High Dam, not before crossing the old dam which is now not in use and is only used as a road bridge. The new dam was a very impressive piece of engineering but there wasn’t a lot to see. Apparently it was built by the Soviet Union in the 1970’s in order to create electricity and provided an additional 30% more agricultural land along the Nile. Then we experienced our second technical hitch of the day when our coach broke down. Confusion reigned for a while as there was only one bus to get us all back, the third of the group not arriving till later. Eventually the group split and we boarded the third bus and left.

Aswan Hign Dam looking towards Lake Nasser

Our next stop was a bit of a sales pitch as we were taken to a perfume shop. We all sat down and were given a list of essential and aromatherapy oils and blends that are used by the famous perfume houses. I think although the famous brand names were thrown in I don’t think the actual brands use Egyptian perfumes do they? They also sold very decorative bottles that were handmade on the premises. These were very ornate but none of the items took our fancy so we left the shop and boarded our now mended coach.
On arriving back at the boat we were greeted in our room by a monkey made out of towels hanging from the ceiling. This was now becoming a common occurrence with previous ‘towelanimals’ including two swans and a crocodile. A nice touch from the cleaner. We went up on the sundeck for a cooling drink and chatted to Margaret and Stuart before lunch was served at 12.30pm. Lunch was beef, vegetables and salad.

Straight after lunch was supposed to be riding on a felucca, a traditional sailing boat, but due to the high winds the tourism authority cancelled all activities today. Was this our third piece of bad luck today? At the impromptu meeting Mustafa said the felucca trip will be moved to tomorrow afternoon instead, once everyone had got back from Abu Simbel. Mustafa also mentioned the start times for the morning excursion reiterating the 3am wake up call.
As we now we had a free afternoon Tina and I went for a walk but the weather was extremely humid, making exploring very uncomfortable so we turned around and went back to our cabin for a lie down.
After a couple of hours sleep I left Tina resting (she’d woken up with a sore throat this morning) and went up on the sundeck for a drink. Tea was served at 5pm as usual and I got chatting to an old couple who were very posh. Got talking about Coeliac disease, travelling, the sites we’d visited and the food, which she said she thought was poor. The old boy started to tell me about trips they’d been on with Paige and Moy. Can’t say I could really comment as not really for my age group!
Back down to the cabin to find Tina awake and seeming a bit brighter although still suffering with her throat. Two ibuprofen hopefully will sort that out.

Barbara & Tina enjoying themselves...

We showered and readied ourselves for the Nubian dance evening.The music started and someone from the audience was ‘encouraged’ to get up and dance with them. More dancing then a pantomime cow came on and started kissing the audience. This was followed by dancing troupe and a whirling dervish, who entertained us all with his spinning act.

A whirling dervish

Mohammed the photographer...not!

Then a Nubian man came on and got a few of the crowd onto the stage to dance and make noises. Finally more dancing followed by them getting most of the audience up, including all of the ladies from our dining table. A good show. Dinner was then ready so we made our way into the hall for tonights meal. Unfortunately it looks like I was forgotten tonight and was served soup with pasta in. Luckily Tina spotted it and I spat out the mouthful I’d eaten. The main course was ok as I was given plain chicken and chips, whilst the others had battered chicken. Dessert was fruit.
As we were all getting along so well I said I wanted to takes group photo so Catherine suggested getting a waiter to take the pictures? Unfortunately only Mohammed was available and so we knew we were in for fun. He managed OK with my camera but when he took a photo with Karen’s he held it the wrong way around and took a photo of himself. It was hilarious and had us all in stitches. He took more photos of us with the other cameras before we all took a photo of him. I think he really did know what he was doing but it was extremely funny.
As we were due for an early start in the morning we had a quick sit in the cooler air upstairs before going to bed.

Click here for Day 6