Tuesday, January 6, 2009

An Egyptian Holiday - Day 6

Day 6 - Temples, Esna lock n the belly dancer

Christmas day and we had to start early in order to go to Edfu temple. So we were out by 7AM and it was damn chilly. The wind just didnt help us either. We had to take a horse carriage ride to the temple. We were in Edfu city and it was a 15 minute journey to the temple. Each carriage accomodated 3 persons, however we had to sit as a group of 4 so as to fit into the available no of carriages. It was a good ride although there was nothing of interest to see on the way. Edfu temple was like the other temples, huge with lot of inscriptions and paintings. There was a picture of a goddess inside on the ceiling in a semi-circular fashion. She was the goddess who ate the sun during the night and released it again in the morning. I seriously do not remember her name. However from this room you could see an adjoining small building with a window which is supposed to be the heaven. There were two routes to the heaven. One a long winding route which went around before reaching it and the other was a short one diagonally coming down. This signifies that going to heaven was tough, however falling from it was easy. The other interesting thing that i noticed is a dog in the premises. You may think that it is queer, however the fact is that there are no stray dogs in any place that i went to. But instead there were cats everywhere. The Egyptians had their share of stray cats. That is why finding a dog there became a note worthy point. Ahem.. Now you understand.

Once back in the cruise we had the entire morning and afternoon to ourselves until we reached Luxor. We whiled away our time over games on the sun deck and others lay on the mattresses near the pool. But noone ventured into the pool cause the water was ice cold. We then retired to a game of bridge and then came back onto the sun deck when we reached the Esna lock. Now this lock acts very similarly to the suez canal passes where your ship goes into one pass and water is drained from that pass so that your ship comes in level with the water in the second pass. Unfortunately we missed the entire episode of it over lunch. We just entered a vast area which we presumed as the lock and the transition wasnt at all interesting. But when we went down to have our lunch, the actual lock worked. Our cruise just kept on going down as water was drained from it. Once it reached a level which was 3 metres below our earlier level the second gate opened and we went out into the river as usual. By the time we went upstairs, the cruise had moved away from the lock. So this is still pending in my list and i would tick it off when i go to see the suez canal later this year.

Afterwards we had a nap and woke up when it was dark and when we had reached the Luxor temple. The Luxor temple looked magnificient under lights. We were ushered to take a group snap in front of the temple. The photos each cost 25 egyptian pounds for people who were interested to buy them. The front of the temple had a huge statue of the head of king Ramses. Also beside it was one of the obelisks of Queen Hatshepsut. Remember the name, Good. Actually there were three obelisks of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt out which two were supposed to be here. But we could find only one cause the other one was exchanged with the King Philip for the clock at the Alabaster mosque (trying to remember). The third one is in the Karnak temple. At the foot of the obelisk were four baboons which danced and greeted the sun every morning. There were lots of statues of Ramses on the inside which were damaged. It is said that it was purportedly done by the muslim rulers. However the pillars inside were very huge in diameter and height. Also there was a row of sphinxes for a 3 KM stretch from this temple to Karnak temple. We had our free time to take the snaps inside and then had to rush to catch the bus so as not to miss the belly dance show.

This show was part of our cruise and as a part of christmas celebrations. We rushed and were on time for the show. The music was loud and peppy as though inviting you into a dance but a littler harsh. Then came the belly dancer and then started the much awaited belly dance. I would prefer to call it the flab dance, since she was trying hard to shake all her extra muscles in her body. She went around and called a random male or female to dance with her. Thank god, she missed my seat and i was happy to be in the audience. I was expecting something even more enchanting that this show just put me off and hence i am not giving any more descriptions of her. But next came the swirling dancer. From the moment he came in, he was swirling in his place as if in a trance for almost 20 minutes. All the while he kept his hands busy taking his drums and showing it one by one. Then he used his head dress to turn into a cradle holding a baby, all this while still swirling. Compared to the earlier perfomance, this one was awesome. Everyone enjoyed it a lot. The program ended after 10 minutes and we proceeded to our special christmas dinner to the restaurant.

The dinner was hyped to be very promising with a 17 course menu. However it all turned out to be a damp squib, atleast to us. The food served was typical egyptian style, i guess, cause it was not at all palatable. Then from the fifth course onwards something looked eatable atleast to the non-vegetarians. For the vegetarians it was much worse i guess, cause they couldnt stifle a smile. The dessert was really extravagant and good. So much for the earlier courses. We had dessert for our main course and were full. The dinner was followed by the opening of the dance floor and we guys were forced to shake a leg by a couple of girls and we had to since we had promised them. So after all the fun and our funny dance performances we finally called it a day and retired to a corner in the bar to chat. Finally around 11:30PM we retired to our rooms eagerly awaiting the next day's hot air balloon ride.

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