The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Friday, July 1, 2011

1 Temple, 2 Temples, 3 Temples, 4.

The following takes place on Day 191, June 6, 2011

Considering the temperature didn’t go much lower than 28 degrees that night on the felucca, I slept surprisingly well. Even the fact that we pushed off from the rivers edge and the sun had risen didn’t completely stir me awake for a good hour. I don’t even recall if I stirred an inch the entire evening, the sleep was that restful. When I did wake, and I wasn’t the last one awake mind you, we still had another half hour or so of sailing before we got to the meet up point with the van that would take us the rest of the way to Luxor.

Little did I know how long of a day it was going to be.

IMG_7693Once we were successfully docked on land once again and had had a wonderful breakfast of fried eggs and bread, we were back in a van headed north. The driver informed us that we would be able to stop at a few temples on the way to Luxor as we still had plenty of time before we had to be in the city. We chose on two: The temple of Sobec, the crocodile headed god of the Nile, and The Temple of Horus.

The first temple, the Temple of Sobec, was completely empty of tourists as it was still quiteIMG_7694 early in the day. It made the place all the more special because of that. It wasn’t anything spectacular like the Philae Temple in Aswan, but it was still fascinating to wander around the complex. Ying brought out her printed off papers that rattled off many random facts about all the places we would visit. She became our own personal guide. Mind you, who knows how accurate the information was when, later that day, it would contradict what our official guide would say.

IMG_7702Anyways, I’m off track. According to Ying, and her guidebook, the Temple of Sobec is special for the fact that it is also a temple for another god at the same time, something that is extremely rare in Egypt. Don’t ask me who the other god is though as I forgot. Sobec is still prominently displayed throughout - and the fact that you can still see the place where the pool was where live crocodiles were kept - probably helps lean the worship in this place in a particular direction.

IMG_7746The Temple of Horus, the second temple we visited, was enormous. And popular. There were literally hordes of tourists arriving in big, fancy tour buses. I felt a little miffed at our driver for dropping us off in a place where the only way to get to the entrance was through a block of shop merchants. Way too early to be “friendly but firm.” Ying got lucky and wasn’t bothered(It helped that she just smiled and spoke Chinese to them). Arnold too managed to get by a few by speaking Hungarian.

We wandered the Temple as a group,. having Ying lead us and explain some of the places we were seeing. At one point, we found a room completely empty with a strong sunbeam shining through a hole in the ceiling. By chance, Vitaly walked into it and it looked like his head was glowing so we took turns doing angelic poses.


When we left the Temple of Horus, we were all ready to be out of the sun for a bit so we politely let our driver know that we would just like to go to the hotel. He drove us there without a word. When we were dropped off, we met the man who would be taking care of us for the next couple days. He gave us our rooms and we split up after deciding to go check out both the Karnac and the Luxor Temple later that day when the sun has set a little bit more in the sky.

Not that that helped much. It was still bloody hot out when we went to the temples. The two temples are linked both through history and through ceremony. They were both built at roughly the same time and for the same family of gods, namely Amun-Ra and his wife Mut.

IMG_7761Karnac Temple was the first one we went to and was by far the largest we’ve visited yet on this trip. In one section of the temple, over 100 stone columns had been erected to create something like a stone forest. Once again, our old friend Ramses II was seen everywhere, as well as his wife and his father. The temple got so big as each subsequent pharaoh built onto it.

The temple housed a couple interesting items. One was a number of obelisks dedicated to IMG_7773various kings. One, the one for Hatshepsut, was destroyed and left in pieces by her step-son who developed a bit of a hatred towards his step-mom. More on that in the next post. There was also a short stone tower with a large scarab on top, representing Amun-Ra. It is said that if you walk around the scarab, your wishes will come true based on how many times you walk around. If you want kids, walk around eight times. Wealth? Five times.

The most interesting aspect though was how it was connected to the Luxor temple a mile or so away. Every year, a major ceremony would take place where the statue representing the god Amun-Ra would be taken, by boat, down the Nile to the Luxor Temple where the statue of his wife Mut was held. Basically, Amun-Ra got a one day a year cordial visit with his wife. A huge celebration would ensue among the people and at the end of the festival, the statue would be carried back to Karnac temple down the so-called Avenue of Sphinx’s.

IMG_7792In it’s own right, Luxor Temple is amazing. It houses some great statues and even more amazing colours of the sunset. Probably what fascinated me the most was the Mosque that was built on top of the monument. At the time, the entire temple was buried under sand and was hidden. When it was found, they dug it up and, subsequently, had to build a new entrance to the Mosque as the original was now over 13 feet in the air.

Interestingly enough, when the Romans invaded, they turned one of the main temple sanctuaries into a Christian church, covering the walls with frescos of the Last Supper and other scenes of Christian theology. Most of these are gone now though.

By the end of the day we were all pretty much exhausted. While we still had the strength to head out for supper at a restaurant not-so-nearby, it was a pretty chillaxed evening. I think we were all starting to feel a bit Templed-out.

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