Friday, July 29, 2011

Luxor, Egypt: Part 3: How to live like a pharaoh

Luxor houses several important valleys of the VIPs before and during the antiquities.  It's less than an hour flight or several hours via train from Cairo.  This is a must visit in Egypt and recommended if you're inclined to know about pharaonic history.

The Avenue of the Sphinxes which connects Karnak and Luxor Temple.  They're trying to recover this whole stretch but only the side near the Luxor Temple has been recovered...for now.

first stop: Luxor Temple - it's worth visiting this place around 5 pm and stay until the sun goes down.  You can see the transformation of the place under the sun and under the dark sky.  There are no extra fee coming here at night.  And besides, Luxor weather is like hell between 12 pm - 3pm for the month of July.  You would feel how a chicken gets barbecued.

The colonnades in Luxor Temple.  See what i mean?

It's better to do one temple a day as it might be overwhelming and you might not be able to appreciate the succeeding sites.

We stayed in Nefertiti Hotel, a budget place situated in the Al Sahaby Lane.  No frills - clean bed, they changed sheets and towels everyday, very small tv, the shower is not luxurious but hot water worked pretty well and the air conditioning was superb, which had been our best friend during mid-day.  (we got the room for less than 20 euro a day)

the staff was also creative in making the bed.  Be surprised when suddenly there's a scarecrow on your bed wearing your shirt and eyeglasses.

The hotel also offers affordable tour around Luxor.  HT couple did their homework so we again said...La Shukran.

Another factor that convinced us to take this hotel, aside from the location and value (5 mins walk to Luxor Temple), is the overlooking view of Luxor Temple and Valley of the Kings (at the west bank).  Most hotels, including the one we stayed in, are at the east bank.
Valley of the Kings from the rooftop

Luxor Temple taken from the top

The following day, we decided to hit the west bank.  We were at the Valley of the Kings before 8 in the morning.  We don't have any photos of the place as cameras are not allowed.  Once you're inside the building, there is a wooden panel where there is a list of the tombs that are open.  The normal ticket allows you to go to 3 tombs.  So i suggest to plan ahead which of these tombs appeal to you.  There's also a computer available to look online about the details of the opened tombs (during our time, there were 10).  Oh, there's somebody hanging around in the building and was gladly to help you browse the computerWe grumped at him that we know how to use a computer.  Sorry, but after more than week, we tend to be suspicious and just ignore as much as possible.

King Tutankhamun's tomb is the most famous in pharaonic history.  He was not famous during his time but after discovering his tomb which was intact and full of wealth, it made history.  His tomb is not included in the regular ticket and you have to pay extra to see it (more expensive than the normal ticket of 3 tombs).  Most of the wealth is now in Egyptian Museum in Cairo.  We didn't go in as we followed Lonely Planet's advice that it's not as impressive as its famosity.

Each tombs has its own guard.  But don't look for a security guard uniform.  Be careful as well as these guards, started pointing to you stuffs in the tomb (pretending to be tour guides), gives you a fan or a flashlight...all these are not free.  Kindly say no several times, and they'll leave you to enjoy appreciating the tombs freely.

Also at the west bank, is the Valley of the Queens.  Do take short breaks under the waiting shed for a gulp of water or reading your lonely planet or rough guides before entering the tombs.

The famous Temple of Hatshepsut is a must see.  This is one of the hottest spots in Egypt so be here as early as you can.  There's not much shade as well so you can really have a good tan here.

Hatshepsut is one of the famous female pharaohs.  She built several landmarks including this huge complex. 

Hathor, the goddess of love can be portrayed as a cow or a female.  The head horns is the distinctive symbol.

Am i good enough to be a female pharaoh with my hat?

We also visited the Temple of the Nobles.  This is what you can see in the valley of the kings and queens except this is smaller and the colors were kept intact.  Those carvings and paintings on the wall depicted offering to gods or their celebrated festivals.

the only remains of Colossi of Memnon. (stop by and take a few pics - no entrance fee)

not only tourists stop by to check this out, the birds love to stay at its head.

It also pays to visit Karnak Temple (east bank) as early as 6 am.  It's like having a private tour.  You would spend about 2-3 hours as the place is really huge!

Just on the side, I decided to be in my Indiana Jones outfit in touring the temples.  :)

It's not necessary to be serious all the time when appreciating history.

goofed around to lighten up the mood.  I'm surrounded by 138 humongous colonnades.

this is how HT hubbie wanted his statues to be

love this papyrus colonnade peaking in one of the rooms of the temple.

you should really looked into every details on the wall

and posed like a model in the ancient ruins

Look above you when you're standing under the colonnades.  Look how the colors were maintained after thousands of years ago.  That symbol in the middle is an ankh which symbolizes eternal life.  During the ancient Egypt, the VIPs spent their lives in building tombs, temples for their after life which they believed is much important than their temporary current lives.  There were few cases wherein their tombs were not completely done yet but they have already passed away.

scarab beetle is a protector symbol during the ancient times.

Check out the cartouche, hieroglyphs enclosed by an oval shape.  We don't know how to read hieroglyphs but we know that cartouches are very important to pharaohs to protect them before and after their lives.  Some have the names of the pharaohs (which i can't find) which helped the archaeologists to determine who built this temple or which pharaohs the tomb belonged to.  We made up stories and thought like pharaohs while looking at the cartouches.  HT couple's hieroglyphic way of reading involves donald duck and other cartoon figures. :D

This ends HT couple's adventure in Egypt.  High five for the DIY trip and for surviving Egypt!  (check out the guy with a kid on the left, he approached us as he wanted his kid to have a picture with HT hubbie.  It was deja vu as it happened as well in Jogjakarta.  HT hubbie almost asked baksheesh for that! :D)


  1. I was looking at the photos u took at Egypt (including those in the previous posts) and it really looked like u and ur hubby had alot of fun! The camping part was really cool! It must have been a really memorable experience! :D

  2. Thanks for the write-up! I've never been to egypt before, the closest I got was some exhibition about mummies and tombs last year in the Singapore art museum :P

  3. No doubt another insightful write-up on Egypt...

    Thank you for sharing and each part was such a delight to read...

  4. @Charlene - it was a great getaway! Now, back to work..sniff
    @Oysterdiaries - Did you like the mummies exhibition? I enjoyed looking at those mummies in the museum! You've been travelling around, is Egypt gonna be part of your to go list? :)
    @Fen - thanks! Hope to see you soon! Keep on eating yummy sweets :)