Day 6

Friday 28th May 2010 – Aswan

Our alarm call was set for 3.00am but I woke up three quarters of an hour earlier. We got up and had a quick wash before off to breakfast. Tina was still suffering with a sore throat but now she also was snotty. She thought she might be getting a cold.
At breakfast Barbara was reminding us of the photo incident with Mohammed last night which she said made her chuckle in bed. Tina made me laugh as she was saying to people that it was not right being awake so early in the morning. She said to one guy when he said ‘good morning’ that it wasn’t at that unsociable time of the day. He said he worked nights so it would have normally been lunchtime for him!
We joined the rest of the guests travelling to Abu Simbel at 3.45am in reception and boarded the coach to meet up with rest of the convoy. For security reasons each coach has a spare driver and an armed escort and they all leave together on the two and a half hour journey. Mohammed was our tour guide for today. We soon left Aswan, still in darkness and drove south into the Nubian Desert, meeting very little traffic from the other direction for the first hour.
It started to get light about 5.45am, with no spectacular sunrise due to the misty conditions similar to yesterday. The landscape was very striking; miles and miles of sand with the occasional radio mast but no civilisation anywhere.

First view of Ramses II statues at Abu Simbel

Suddenly with about 30 miles to go we came across some damaged roads which slowed us down. At the same point there was civilisation with a newly built massive canal which apparently runs from Lake Nasser. According to John from our table it was built by a Saudi Arab who wants to encourage millions of people to live in the desert by making the land fertile. It looked like it needed a bit more work before it was habitable to me though.

Inside the temple

Ramses II Statues at Abu Simbel

We arrived at Abu Simbel at around 7.30am and firstly all visited the toilet, costing us £5EP each. We then walked around the dome structure and the first of the statues of King Ramses II came into view. They were incredible. We were given a talk by Mohammed about the temples externally and internally. Opposite Ramses’ temple is that of Nefatari, smaller but no less impressive. It was an amazing feat of engineering to think that the whole site was moved to accommodate the damming of the Nile at Aswan.
We then had some free time to look inside both temples; the quality of the murals was excellent, with many of the colours still visible.
Time seemed to whiz by and soon it was time to leave. It was a shame we only had a couple of hours at the site as we could have spent another couple of hours there. It was definitely worth the early start (even Tina said so). We left dead on 10am with a different driver and no escort. Work that one out?
Not a lot to see on the way back, still very misty and just lots of desert. The journey back seemed longer, most people on the coach were sleeping but as expected I found it difficult and just dosed. Hopefully we can both have a proper sleep in the afternoon after the felucca sailing.
We arrive back about 1.15pm, going straight to our room to drop our bags off before attending lunch. The ‘towelanimals’ today wasn’t an animal at all but an ankh. Again I took a photo for record.
Lunch today for me was stuffed mushrooms for starter followed by beef and salad. Tina had spaghetti followed by beef in sauce. We skipped desert.
We were called at 2.30pm and told to bring life jackets but unfortunately it was still too windy for felucca sailing so we ended up on a motor boat instead. We had a gentle ride around the island, dropping off those that had paid for the additional excursion to the Botanical Gardens. We then rode back to shore, getting fumed out by the captain who was smoking. Also it got a bit hairy when he decided to top up the fuel tank on the move by siphoning diesel from a plastic container. Love the disregard for H and S for himself and the passengers but he managed to top up ok. We got back on board the Da Vinci and then Tina decided to get a prettier djelliba from the on board shop for the party later. We then had a lie down to catch up on the sleep we missed earlier. The boat is leaving Aswan this evening and will be sailing back to Luxor overnight instead of stopping off at Esna. This is due to the changes that had to be made to the schedule because if the high winds yesterday. A shame in a way, as we won’t be able to see the scenery on our way back down river.

One of many of the 'Towel Animals' left by our cabin cleaner

All dressed up and ready to party...

Got a text from Abby to say my iPad has arrived. Yeah. Woke up at 6.30pm and waited until the alarm went at seven.
We both showered and as we did so felt the boat starting to move.
Dressing up time! After showering it was time to get ready for tonight’s djellabah party. I bought another headscarf and Tina practiced putting on me, hopefully it will stay on but I doubt it.

Looking very Egyptian...

The eight o clock bell rang signalling dinner time, which was an Egyptian buffet; except for me who had beef and chips. Everyone had made an effort for the Egyptian night, with only a few guests not bothering. Tina had a hug with Sabry and said she wants to take him home to make me my dinners in future.
After dinner I returned to the cabin to find another ‘towelanimals’ this time a lion in a life jacket. The cleaner must have a book on creating them as they’re so good.
The party started with some games, with Catherine winning the first and me and Tina getting close in 4th and 2nd place in the water bottle passing game. We all had a dance before Tina and I retired to the sundeck to enjoy the cool night air. Then bed after a very long day which started some 21 hours earlier.

Click here for Day 7