When I first arrived in Egypt, I fantasized about exploring cities other than Cairo. I got to visit Sharm el Sheikh with Mark and I looked forward to exploring Luxor and Aswan (Abu Simbel) after I was done with work. However, towards the end of my stay, I found myself drained out, tired from the stress of work and terribly homesick. I had just spent three months in Cairo – the longest time I’ve ever been away from home.
I also felt a sudden fear of travelling solo come over me, even though travelling alone is not new to me. In fact, I am a big advocate of solo travel. My trip to Luxor almost didn’t happen…
I gave myself reasons for why it shouldn’t too. The weather in Cairo was hot and humid, which meant that of Luxor and Aswan would be much worse. Mark wasn’t around to take wonderful pictures of
me the sites.
I was travelling during the Eid celebrations, train berths and cabins were sold out, so were flights. The International SOS alert I was subscribed to sent me frequent warnings to avoid visiting tourist areas especially during public holidays and do places get more ‘touristy’ than Luxor?
Before I had the chance to reschedule my flight and run back home earlier than planned, I was reminded of a quote I had previously written about in this post.
“Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you…
― Timothy Ferriss, The Four Hour Work Week
So I made up my mind to go on the trip whether conditions were perfect or not. To tackle the fear of travelling alone, I opted to go with an organized tour. The result was five days of wonder, craziness and more wonder…
Day One & Two: Cairo to Luxor; Karnak, Luxor Temples
I arrived in Luxor at 9 am on a Saturday morning after a 12-hour train ride from Cairo. The weather was hot and unforgiving. I was visiting the city in August, the warmest month of the year, so this was expected. My guide (Sheema) picked me up from the train station and whisked me straight away to see the Karnak and Luxor Temples. I was happy to go with the flow so that we could end the tour early.
I was impressed by both temples, by the magnificent statues and intricate carvings on the temple walls. As my guide proudly filled me with vivid descriptions and stories, I could almost see them as they were over 2000 years ago. Glorious and truly magnificent.
After our time at the temples was over, Sheema and Kareem (my assigned driver) took me to a local restaurant to get lunch before calling it a day.
Day Two: Luxor: Hatshepsut Temple, Valley of the Kings…
The next day, we set out early in the morning to visit the attractions in the West Bank. On the itinerary was a stop at the Hatshepsut Temple, the Valley of the Kings and the Colossi of Memnon. Again, I was left impressed by the stories and exploits of the Pharoah-Queen Hatshepsut and by the murals that lined the walls of tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
I also had some time to marvel at the Colossi of Memnon – two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. I didn’t have enough time to learn about them though because my guide whisked me off to a… (you guessed right) shop.
The shop owners and sculptors have perfected the art of entertainment. The sculptors sang as they gave us a brief tour of how stones were carved. Even though I didn’t buy anything here, I actually enjoyed the short demonstrations.
In the minutes before the boat returned to dock, I dipped my feet into the river, the coolness was a perfect contrast to the heat we’d been subjected to earlier. I had my third ‘I can’t believe I’m in Egypt’ moment. I was glad I said ‘Yes’ to Luxor…
Next post in series: Aswan & the Abu Simbel Temples