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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Luxor: A Step Back in Time - Page 3

Written by Lydia Horrex
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When I found out I was going to be working for a British tour company, I anticipated traveling to a typical European holiday resort. Images of basic hotels and groups of out-of-control youngsters filled my mind. Let’s face it, this was my first assignment, my plane ticket wasn’t going to say, “Destination: Barbados”. When the job description arrived in the post, I knew my fate for the next six months was sealed. As I nervously opened the letter and read my appointed location, I was unable to be instantly delighted or disappointed; I’d never even heard of the place.

If I didn’t already feel like I was a thousand miles away from home, the sights of Luxor’s roads were a sure reminder. I can only describe them as a chaotic network of intertwining tourist coaches, push bikes, run-down taxis, motor bikes, and caliche drivers. I certainly found some novel ways to get from place to place. The quickest and easiest way to get to any destination was Luxor’s signature blue and white Peugeot taxi. I could get anywhere, any speed, at any time. There seemed to be more taxis in Luxor than there were Egyptians, but at least they got me to work on time.

LuxorIt was the day I had been waiting for. The time was 4.45 am and a long day lay ahead. I was wide awake and ready to go. I left my hotel at this ungodly hour and headed for the Cornishe. I was catching a fulucca boat and would be having my first taste of life on the West Bank. The fulucca man helped me on to his small boat and made sure I was comfortable. It was still dark and the tired faces of the group confirmed this was not a normal waking hour. LuxorThe fulucca man offered us either an awakening coffee or a refreshing karkadeh. I thankfully drank the karkadeh, a combination of dried hibiscus flower and sweet sugar.

The fulucca ride only took 15 minutes. From the Nile bank we were transported to an open field were I would be taking-off on my first hot air balloon ride. As I was lifted up into the basket I felt the intense heat from the flame which roared above me; I was about to see Luxor from a birds-eye view. LuxorIt didn’t surprise me that this novel way of seeing Luxor was popular among tourists. As dawn approached, I could clearly see where the lush green vegetated farmland met the dry arid dessert. We floated over Queen Hatsheput’s temple and headed towards a residential area. Clusters of two-storey mud-huts lay side by side between crop fields and famous temples. As we flew over the houses I could see astonished looks from my fellow passengers. As I looked down I saw locals waving to us from the comfort of their beds. No one had mentioned the locals slept on their roofs!




After an exciting start to the day I was off to explore the rest of the West Bank by foot. I had been told that visiting the tombs of the Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs without a guide was like watching TV with the sound turned off. I didn’t want to miss anything so I booked with an organized group tour, costing in the region of $60. The morning was spent visiting the final resting place of the Ancient Egyptian royalty; The Valley of the Kings. My pass allowed me into 6 of the 62 tombs. Our guide Ali informed us of the different tombs and where they were located, which were the most adventurous, and most importantly, which still displayed the most vibrant colours. Ali then explained how the treasures found at the Valley of the Kings had given invaluable evidence to the life of the Ancient Egyptians. He showed us pictures from excavations in the area and told us the story of Howard Carter’s amazing discovery. Lastly, he pointed us in the direction of Luxor’s best love site, the tomb of the boy king, Tutankhamun.

LuxorA short drive from The Valley of the Kings stood Queen Hatshepsut’s modern looking temple. The afternoon heat was piercing down and we stayed cool in the air-conditioned coach whilst our guide told us about Queen Hatsheput’s dramatic life. I found the temple quite different to those which I had previously seen. Set within the mountains the temple had been constructed with great pylons, statues, and wide open-spaced terraces. As I stood at the top of the terrace I took a moment to enjoy the superb views which headed back over the East Bank.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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