|Another early wake up, and we headed out at 7am to the Valley of the Kings. This is where King Tut’s tomb was discovered, and there are still more tombs being discovered every few years. Several tombs are open for visitors, and we visited 3 – those of Ramses IV, Ramses IX and Merenptah. You can walk down into the tombs and see the inscriptions that were made thousands of years ago. Truly amazing.
We then headed to Hatshpsut Temple, which is built into the side of a mountain. Our tour guide was amazing and really got the kids into recognizing the images that are common to many of the Temples and Tombs.
Rounding out the bus tour, we saw the Valley of the Queens (specifically the tombs of Khaemwaset and Titi) and the Colossi Memnon - a huge amount of history in a very short time. We made one last stop at an Alabaster factory and gift shop, and then back to the boat.
The scenery along the Nile is verdant, and scenic. You can see people tilling by hand and tending to their very orderly crops, and then pull out a cell phone to talk to someone. Just when you start to think that you are travelling through another era, you are reminded that Egypt is in fact, a very modern society – complete with modern perks and problems. There is unfortunately a lot of garbage along the roads and along the shoreline of the Nile. In spite of this, the Nile water is very clear, and we could see fish under the ramp to the boat.
The afternoon was spent under power, with the kids playing up on the sun deck of the boat. They were making lots of friends, with quite a cosmopolitan crowd. Larger families from France, Spain and China kept to themselves. But the extended American family who were living in Rihad, the lesbian American family who were living in Ethiopia, the Japanese couple living in the UK, the two Sri Lankan families one who had lived in Australia one who just bought a condo in Toronto and an Egyptian-British family from London all had kids who started playing together wonderfully. The kids even had dinner all together, giving some of us parents a chance to get to know each other better.
The family from Ethiopia had an interesting observation: while for our kids it was pretty eye opening to see the simple rural lifestyle and sharp contrast to our very cushy Canadian lifestyles, the Egyptian people virtually all have decent shelter, food, shoes, clean clothes, a healthy appearance, and there is little begging or misery to be seen. For them, Egypt was a sharp contrast to the deplorable situation in sub Saharan Africa. Everyone we were meeting gave us warm greetings, and even the poorest peasants along the shores of the Nile were quick to wave back to the boat as we went by.
Along the way, one of the most memorable events happened, which was that as we were going through the locks, men in boats rowed out from shore, with piles of Gallabias to sell. They would throw them up four stories to the top deck of the boat, letting people try them on, and either throw them back down in the plastic bags, or throw down money. There was much negotiation, and it turns out that Phillip has a pretty good throwing arm.