like to think of myself as a "writer". But when
I try to put the feelings of my trip into words, the words
won't fit. Egypt was everything I ever thought it could
be. Everything I ever dreamed it could be. And a whole lot
of things I never thought it was.
been looking forward to this trip all my life. I was deathly
afraid that it would fall way short. That the fantasy I had
built up in my mind over two decades wouldn't match up at
all to the realities of trudging through the desert and looking
at stone walls and sand dunes.
flew into Cairo at night. Cairo is one of the most densely
populated cities in the world and the city lights I saw as
the plane flew over... well, I'll never forget the sight,
I'd never seen anything so amazing. I'd read a handful of
guide books but I wasn't prepared for the barrage of persistent
Egyptians peddling tours, taxis, or hotels. I spent almost
a week in Cairo. There are so many monuments in and around
Cairo that you could spend a month in only that reigon.
took a few days to go around and see what the main city of
Cairo had to offer, like mosques, markets, city-scapes, and
museums. It was crazy. I'd never seen so many people confined
to so small a space. Even in Japan it wasn't as bad. The markets
are so cool!! Dirty, crowded, and dodgy, I got ripped off
and got some deals. The best museum, of course, is the Museum
of Antiquities. It has the most complete collection of Egyptian
relics in the world. And it is a disgraceful mess. Statues,
art objects, or paintings are hung or placed whever there
was room with little or no explanation of its significance
or where it was found.
pyramids were amazing. Larger and more massive than I'd imagined,
I got to climb in an down three of them, two enormous, one
small. Inside the pyramids, the shafts are small, claustrophobic,
and very, very hot. But also worth every minute I spent down
inside there. A once-in-a-lifetime climb.
are a few cemeteries that are really good. Saqqara is amazing.
The complex only recently discovered when some hapless native's
mule fell into a shaft, it has given us so much information
about ancient Egyptian life.
temples can steal your imagination.. and the Nile will steal
your heart. I had a terrific cruise along the Nile exploring
temlpes along the way during the day and a beautiful Singaporean
girl keeping me company on the moonlit nights. Thousands of
stars, a brilliantly full moon, handsome cab rides... dazzling
sunsets, intoxicating, sugar-cane scented breezes.. a trip
along the Nile is something you can never forget. It's truly
spellbinding. All of the cliches are true.
went on a couple tours (which I usually don't) because it
was cheaper and easier getting to certain places on a tour
than it was by myself. I was really surprised at how little
the tour guides new and how much they tried to just pass over
the heads of gullible tourists. I really couldn't help myself.
A handful of times I found myself correcting our guides about
the history of a certain monument or about the reading of
a line of hieroglyphs. The guides hated me. At one point,
I went off on my own and a handful of tourists followed me.
I showed them around the temple, explaining things as I went!
I had never been there, but I had studied the history and
architecture of the monuments at length and was able to answer
all of their questions. It was great.
final leg of my trip included the Valley of Kings and
the Valley of Queens. I was just about "tombed-out".
The tombs in the Valley of Kings were spectacular.
There isn't much left in the Valley of Queens. The
famous tomb of Nefertiti cost big bucks to get in and you
have to wake up pretty early in the morning to get a ticket
to see it. I bought a souvenir book of the tomb, but I would
really like to see it next time I go.
was hard. I had studied a lot of history, language and architecture
before I went, and looking back, I wish I had studied more,
but I can't imagine going there without the things I already
did know. To trace hieroglyphs in the stone and know what
they meant, to know what rituals were performed in certain
chambers, to let the sand of the western desert run through
my fingers and know that the oldest, most sophisticated civilization
in the world was built on this same sand... It was an incredible
sensation. Egypt was an incredible experience that I will