:: m a y h e m b y m i s s m ::

do you have any idea how hard it is some mornings to make a glass of water without vomiting?!?

Friday, November 30, 2007

day 6 in the land that uses flimsy toilet paper

freshmeat: don't be french.

ahhhh...this was a day i had been looking forward to. the day we visit the valley of the kings, queens, and the temple of hatshepsut.

unfortunately this was also one of the hottest days we had experienced. at one point the guide stops us to give us a history lesson right as the sun is beating down on us...when 10 feet away there was shade.

so our first stop is the valley of the kings...located on the west bank of luxor (remember the ancient egyptians buried their dead in the west and lived in the east [sun rises in the east and sets in the west]). your ticket in allows you to visit three tombs. my guide book recommended the top 3 to visit. i didn't see any of them. the guide showed us to three others.


on a side note, our guide's finance is also a tour guide and we ran into him at the valley of the kings.

to visit the tomb of tutankhamon was an additional 100E£...and all the good pieces were at the Cairo Museum so we decided to skip it.

the tombs were so humid. everyone was dripping with sweat by the time we reemerged into the sunlight. the first tomb we went to some woman was having a spiritual "moment." she had collapsed to the ground sobbing at the spot where the mummy would have been. others were around her chanting and whatnot.

the group decided to skip the valley of queens as they are not that impressive...so we pressed on to the hatshepsut's temple (see the photo above). she was egypt's first female ruler. and she's also the only woman to have a burial complex in both the valley of the kings and queens.

and then off to see the Colossi of Memnon.

and that was it. we were free for the rest of the day until they picked us up to take us to the train station for our overnight train back to Cairo.

so we passed the time with going to the post office (where you are expected to shove in front of others to get served), shopping, being called Spice Girls by the men of Luxor, drinking tea for hours at the market, then getting wasted at a place that overlooks the luxor temple.

once we were settled on the train we began a drunken game of battleships with the british couple we were traveling with, got scared by the train toilet, put on every piece of clothing i had to stay warm, and got yelled out for being too noisy.

i learned that train traveling in egypt is always best when you've had 4 or 5 beers in you.


Monday, November 26, 2007

day 5 in the land where my breasts swelled to an unnatural size*

freshmeat: i'm ignoring it. it's the american way.

the night before we disembarked from the cruise, the british couple took us to a "cocktail" bar that was just a few ships down (where we docked there wasn't enough room so we had to walk through 3 other boats before we came to the actual dock. remember this for later). not only was the beer 10 E£ (roughly $1.80), but the restroom was clean. awesome.

so as we are sitting there getting more and more drunk, i remember that i had to go back to the ship to purchase something (as did freshmeat, but i riffled through her wallet so she didn't have to leave). so the husband of the couple offered to walk back with me. we step through all three boats only to realize that our boat is no longer docked there. we were staring at the black nile. luckily one of the crew told us that the boat had moved, but didn't tell us how far down (turned out it was just the next boat over). but nothing will ever be like the drunken panic i felt when i realized the boat was no longer where it was supposed to be.

anyways, fast forward to the next morning, where all four of us can barely stand the thought of having to see yet another temple.

we were seeing two that day.

the first was one i had REALLY been looking forward to seeing: Karnak. it's massive! sadly our guide only took us through HALF of it. pissed didn't even begin to describe how i felt. but regardless, the half i did see was so impressive. there is still paint on the bits of ceiling that is still left! how crazy is that?

after that we were taken to the Luxor temple. the site even has a mosque from the 12th century (under restoration). are starving and tired. so perhaps we didn't give the site the attention we should. of course our guide took us all the way to the back to show us a drawing of a pharaoh with a VERY extended hum-a-hum (yeah, i totally took a picture of it...i'm just that klassy).

once we were back i went out to purchase some water from a shop that advertise it cheap. what a mistake. what should have taken me about 5 minutes was more like 10. the guy tried to sell me everything from "gin, whisky, beer" to an earring. luckily i didn't need to go back. ever.

that evening freshmeat and i ventured out to find this koshari place that was supposed to be awesome. what ended up happening was us in the dodgy part of town, no english signs, no westerns...just us and the locals. we never found the shop, but we did find another take away restaurant (i won't even explain the horrors of trying to uncap the soda bottle at the hotel without something to pop it). on our way back we found this spice shop, where i bought some mixture of spices (still not sure...black pepper with chili powder and cinnamon?).

i ended the night with logging onto the internet to check e-mail.

it was like manna to my soul.

*seriously. when i saw the photos of myself, all i could do was stare at my chest and wonder what happened.


Friday, November 23, 2007

day 4 in the land where honking the car horn can mean several things

freshmeat: gross. he was just standing there molesting his man boobs. AND there was hair coming right out of his nipple like an octopussior! bah!

ahhh...overnight on the boat. the germans were whooping it up at the "after dinner party." we decided to skip it after briefly checking in on it.

that morning we set off to the Temple of Horus at Edfu (one of the best preserved temples in egypt). we had a slight hiccup with being told one thing (by the Aswan rep) and another thing happening (with the Edfu tour guide). anyways, we have another amazing race moment as we are taken to the site via horse-drawn carriage...as is EVERYONE else on EVERY ship that is docked there.

eventually we make it there.

i will say that it is awesome. but it's also 7 am and i'm getting a little tired of all this rushing around to see yet another temple. but regardless it was awesome to see in person. rather beautiful in the morning light.

and we are back to the ship by 8:30 am (they really do rush you through some of these sites)...and sailing down the nile by 9.

we were supposed to have made a stop in Kom Ombo but the ship's captain was concerned that they wouldn't make it to the Esna lock in time. so our thought was "shouldn't the tour company put us on a different boat??" as you can see we were getting more and more frustrated with the tour company. but we decided to make the best of it and drink all our beer.

freshmeat had attracted the attention of a certain moroccan man our first night on the boat. we were sitting outside watching the world float by, when we comes up to us and starts speaking in french. i haltingly tell him (in french) that we don't understand french. he proceeds to continue talking to us in french. eventually he sees that we really don't understand and switches to english. he tells us that he thought we (really he was just talking to freshmeat by this point) were moroccan as "some moroccan women have blonde hair and are pale." hmmm...

eventually we get away from him (but not after watching him molest his man boobs (he was shirtless). later on, freshmeat looks over and then quickly looks back at me and informs me that he was filming her. he then comes over and tells her that he was filming her.

we quickly fled back to our cabin to hide until dinner.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

day 3 in the land of no trash cans

me: shit. i forgot to pay my rent.

this day we had to be up packed, checked out, and ready for a 3 hour bus ride to Abu Simbel (pictured above)...by 3:30 am.

we were not happy campers.

on the plus side, we did get to see the sunrise over the desert...which was freakin' amazing (to say the least). nothing like being surrounded by nothing to really enjoy a sun rise.

to get to Abu Simbel, one has to travel in a security convoy with a lot of other buses filled with tourists from the hotels. the convoy usually sets off each day at about 4:30 am (i was told 4 am). we get to the site, and all the drivers are outside smoking, waiting for the signal to start. so everyone inside our minibus offloads to have a smoke break. suddenly, without any warning, all the drivers are racing back to their vehicles yelling at everyone to get in. it's like the Amazing Race. Everyone is driving at reckless speeds, passing everyone they possibly can. our driver seem to take personal offense when anyone passed him.

and yes, there were roadblocks.

eventually, we make to Abu Simbel...one of the first 10 buses to make it there.

we are told we have 2 hours at the site and then we have to leave.

and that's it.
no direction on which way is the entrance or anything.

freshmeat and i trudged along hoping that a large group would know where they are going. eventually we just guessed and off we went.

luckily we choose correctly.

freshmeat had us race to the site. i'm glad she did. there was basically no one there. one of the few times on this trip we actually got a photo of something without 10 million tourists in it.

this site was something i had really been looking forward to...and it did not disappoint. it was just amazing. truly and utterly amazing. i really recommend anyone who goes to egypt to put in the extra time to come see it (there's an airport there if you don't want to take the bus).

the only problem is, we didn't have a guide...so we were basically done in about 30 minutes. and now we had to kill another 90 minutes before the bus would leave.

yeah...not pretty.

another 3 hour drive back...and we were immediately picked up by the tour company and transferred to the our "5-star" cruise ship. this is where we learned that all the drinks were not included in our meals and they were ridiculously overpriced.

luckily the british couple we were traveling with had just bought take-away beers from a local restaurant. so we set off there to buy beer and water (we had our priorities).

the boat set sailed that afternoon...and i was officially sailing down the nile.


Monday, November 19, 2007

day 2 in the land of no shower curtains

freshmeat: look. i think those flies are having sex on our table.
me: good for them.

ahhh...a lovely 14-hour overnight train ride (slower than amtrack)...arriving in Aswan.

we were picked up at the station and transferred to our hotel. after an hour of getting ready, we were whisked off to the glory that is the Unfinished Obelisk. here we learned how obelisks were carved from the living rock and eventually shipped down the river to various temples.

next we were taken over to see the marvel that is the Aswan Dam.

then a quick boat trip to one of the islands to see Philae Temple (pictured above). this was one of the sites that was moved stone by stone as it was mostly underwater.

and then back to the hotel, where we are informed that we would have to be packed up, checked out, and ready to leave the next morning at 3:30 to catch the security convoy that goes to Abu Simbel.

we had dinner at a nice riverside restaurant where i tried kofta. mmmm....who doesn't love minced meat?!

tomorrow: the amazing race!


Friday, November 16, 2007

day 1 in the land where orange fanta is king!

freashmeat: you're riding a camel tomorrow. get your head in the game.

after traveling for what felt like days, freshmeat and i arrived at the cairo airport (our first order of business was to find a restroom. unfortunately we didn't see one until after we went through passport control). our tour rep was there and waiting for us as we got off the plane. he quickly put one of us in line for passport control and the other one went to buy visas. he then left us saying he would meet us at baggage claim.

after passport control, freshmeat and i spotted a restroom and dashed over to it. this old woman gets up and toddles in ahead of us. both of us thought it was a single stall kind of thing and hesitated. she looked back and motioned us in. freshmeat and i about lost it. the first stall was nothing but a hole in the ground.

next the old woman whips out a roll of toilet paper and hands me a mound that was as large as my head.

luckily the other two stalls had actual toilets. i then proceed to spend a solid 5 minutes fumbling around trying to flush the damn thing. i got mine to work first. freshmeat was thinking "fuck, if vixen figured it out, then surely i should!" she turns a knob and is suddenly his with a spray of water. there's a shower in there as well.

eventually we get to our hotel and check in. we are told we need to be up and checked out of the hotel by 7 am to start the tour.

the next day we get to see the wonder of Sakkara (or Saqqara), the beauty of Giza, and the amazement of Memphis (i'm having issues with blogger and posting more than one photo...the one above is from my camel trek in the "desert.").

i even got to practice my arabic when i ordered two falafels for lunch (the woman smiled at me and said something to effect of "awww...how cute.").

after all this we come back to the hotel for a run down of our whole tour with the rep, a bit of late lunch/early dinner, and then we hang around waiting to be picked up to be taken to the train station. we were booked on an overnight train to Aswan.

what was supposed to be a 12-hour train ride, turned into a 14-hour one.

and i don't want to think about why our seats were stained red.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

stop over in london

on our way over to egypt, freshmeat and i had a 10-hour layover in london.

we used our time wisely....went to weatherspoon for breakfast (joined by others for their morning pint), hit up harrod's for some ornaments, and then over to the tate modern to take a look at the crack.

very impressive.

i especially liked the fact that there were no signs warning you...no velvet ropes to prevent the stupid from falling into it.
we need more of that over here.

and yes, i do have a photo of me pretending to fall into it.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

i'm back from the land of public nose picking

it's still amazing that just yesterday i was in egypt. i desperately need some caffeine...

cairo made me sad.
aswan made me angry.
luxor made me dirty.
alexandria made me lazy.

it's awesome to be back!