Saturday, 17 March 2012

Visiting the Land of Cleopatra

When hubby chose Egypt as our holiday destination in December 2010, I was less than enthusiastic. Although the promise of iconic pyramids and imposing tombs of pharaohs would delight the history buff in me, Egypt had never been in my list of must-visit destinations. But I am truly glad that we went ahead with the trip for we returned with fond memories of an exciting experience.

Which tour to Egypt would be complete without marvelling at the many pyramids around? Our tour included a stop at the Pyramid of Djoser, believed to be the first pyramid to be built in Egypt. Some argue that it is not a true pyramid for its sides are stepped and its top is truncated with a flat surface. Nevertheless, it did take our breaths away, as did the magnificent Pyramids of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one remaining largely intact. Standing before the enormous Pyramids of Giza, one cannot help but marvel at the ingenious architecture used by the Egyptians in those days.

What else comes to mind when Egypt is mentioned? Surely visions of the sandy desert and its ultimate desert transport would surface in one's mind. Gritting my teeth to endure the scorching hot weather and dusty sand conditions, I joined my tour members in riding a safari jeep across vast desert plains, up and down sand dunes to arrive at a Bedouin settlement. The highlight of that excursion was a thrilling camel ride. Praying hard that this invaluable animal of the desert would not take a dislike to me and decide to fling me off its sturdy humps, I braved myself to go on a ride. For a moment, I felt transported back in time and fantasized being Lawrence of Arabia!

Who can dispute the significance of the Nile River to ancient Egyptians? They prospered because of it and modern Egypt is still dependent upon it. The Nile River also plays an important role in the Bible, being where baby Moses was placed in a waterproof basket and having its waters turned to blood during the Exodus. Therefore, when I knew a cruise along the longest river in the world was included in the itinerary, I could not contain my excitement.

Why is a cruise along the Nile an excellent opportunity to immerse oneself in Ancient Egyptian civilization? It is because the cruise is tailored to stop at a large number of monuments and temples, many of which are superbly preserved and maintained. One such
monument is the majestic and massive Great Temple of Abu Simbel, built as a lasting memorial to Pharaoh Ramesses II. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even one who scorns the belief and worship of ancient Egyptian Gods cannot help but be awed by the Temple of Kom Ombo, an unusual double temple dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus. Many of 

these temple ruins still house intricate wall carvings, as can be seen here at the Temple of Horus, Edfu. I was indeed impressed as I wound my way around the temple to admire the pictures and hieroglyphics left by the ancient Egyptians.

Where can one go for a hot air balloon ride? One answer lies in Egypt, over the Valley of the Kings. Our hot air balloon ride coincided with the morning of Christmas and it was a remarkable way to spend Christmas with a loved one. Compared to the view over Cappadocia, Turkey, the view of the Valley of the Kings, Egypt, is nothing to shout about. Nevertheless, it was a great feeling to be floating over the hundreds of tombs of past pharaohs. Give a holler and Tutankhamun just might hear you from down below!
What other memorable moments did we experience during our Egypt tour? One such unforgettable moment was, without a doubt, belly dancing with the busty lady during our cruise. Hubby definitely had the matching belly, albeit not the boobs. Another unique experience was our semi submarine ride on the Red Sea. Yet another much-cherished moment would be savouring the sunset in the arms of your loved one on the upper deck of the cruise ship.

These and many other things seen and done in Egypt are why our holiday there will always hold a special spot in my heart. Thank you, darling, for suggesting Egypt  :)

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