Home -> Africa -> Egypt -> Travelogue Egypt -> 19 January 2004
Monday 19 January, Aswan, souk, sound & light show Philae temple
Like the weather forecasters have said it is warmer than yesterday. We don't have many plans for today, so we start with a long coffee break on our favourite morning spot, in the sun on the terrace of the Old Cataract.Teije wants to arrange quickly a taxi to get back to Luxor for the day after tomorrow but that doesn't turn out as easy as it sounds. We talk to all kinds of travel agencies on the phone but their prices are ridiculously high. Eventually we find an agency that tries to find something for us below 300 pounds. But when we walk out of the hotel we have a talk with a cabdriver who says he will bring us there for only 200 pounds (€ 25). We even don't haggle and just accept his price. This is even cheaper than we could have arranged it from Luxor to Aswan. Of course we could even travel cheaper by train but we are not such train-lovers.
We walk over the boulevard to the north like we did most of the past days and then enter the souk to walk southwards again. We have to be careful with making pictures here because a lot of people, like most veiled women, don't like to be photographed and shopowners want bakshiesh when we turn our camera to their shop.We stop at the office of the travel agency that would try to arrange a taxi for us to cancel it and we are very friendly welcomed. We have to stay for a cup of tea and conversations with everybody. This is a big travelorganisation in Egypt (Travco) but the office is quite small and on the third floor of a very poor-looking and neglected apartment building. After that we quickly enter the souk again.
Purposefully, we walk into the souvenirshop of Khaled. We have seen it a few times before and there is a big signboard saying 'No hassle, you can quietly look around' and we want to try that out. Khaled is very helpful when we ask him something but doesn't impose himself. When he wants to take something we want to have a closer look at, a glass plate comes down dragging along more plates and lots of souvenirs; on the left side of the picture you can see part of the damage.We are very glad he did it himself! Quite some souvenirs have come down and most of the stony ones are broken. They may be all very cheap for him to buy again but since there are so many it will be a considerable loss for him. Therefore we don't try to get the price down too much when we pay the souvenirs for our daughters. His prices are very reasonable, anyway.
Walking through the souk is always a special experience, with all the colours in the shops, the livestock that is sold for meat, the scent of spices and garbage and the indigenous people. On the way we also meet Ismael who wants us to go with him to his home but we turn his offer down, friendly but very resolutely. We are glad we have seen his house from the inside but it was cold in there (very comfortable in the summer, no doubt), so no we want to stay in the sun. We walk a few more hours before we return to the hotel where a friendly waiter wants to take a picture of us after we are willing to change some eurocoins for pounds. Lots of people get euro's as a tip, but they can't change them in the bank so they ask other tourists to change them back into Egyptian money.
Since we try to use as many Arabic words as possible the people love to talk back to us and we are treated as kings. Just by speaking a few words in their own language, just a small gesture. I have some problems with the strange sounds I have to make with my throat but Teije is often told he has a very nice, southern pronunciation. Well, he has had years of practise, of course.
From our balcony we see the last sunbeams gliding away over the Nile and the large sails. Photographs of this are nice, but even better is it to sit here and watch it happen. We think this is a very healthy place, better than the hasty life we live in Europe. But we are here now as tourists with all luxury around us while the hard working and often poor Egyptian will probably think of our country as some sort of paradise.
After a short friction about the price of the boat (Philae stands on an island and the boat trip is not included in the admission fee) we sail to the island where we get a guided tour through the temple while the tale of Isis is told, through huge loudspeakers.
The show lasts one hour, the first half walking through the temple, the last half sitting on benches. Except the story of Isis and her son Horus, also the history of this island and the temples on it is narrated, as well as the vandalism by the Christians and the rescue of the temples by moving them to another island. It is a fantastic spectacle and we enjoy this much more than the short visit to this temple, yesterday.When we return from Philae the motor of the boat collapses and we are drifting 200 meters from the quay. It happens to us again: taxi's that we take break dwon, the elevator gest stuck (a few hours later it was even totally turned off), in a souvenirshop racks fall down and now this. Five minutes, the captain says, but we don't have to much confidence; most 'five Egyptian minutes' take at least half an hour. But this time we are wrong: within 10 minutes we can go on. Everybody else has gone already so our cabdriver is curious what kept us. We give him a few pounds extra for having to wiat for us.
It has been another wonderful day and we have seen a lot although we also had a quiet day. And not much trouble with pushy Egyptians. It is indeed more relaxed here than in Luxor, even though not as quiet as 15 years ago.