Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign (3)

The Step Pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt is dated even older than pyramids at Giza and Dashur. It was here that the genius architect Imhotep built the first monuments in stones in 27th century BC. While there, we were keenly aware that we were on foreign soil and we were also back in time. . . . .  . . . . .  . . . . . .. .  . . . . . . . . . . . .  .. .

Egypt – Photographs and Memories

Never had the time to work on old photos and negatives until now. The photos taken in my trip to Egypt are faded. The images from scanning the negatives are not much better; the colors are basically gone and require some touching up.

Nevertheless, the faded photos bring back a lot of memories of my trip to Egypt in January 2000. . . . . an unforgettable journey to see the Seven Wonders of the World.

While flying to Egypt, I was sitting next to an Egyptian. We started chatting. Before unboarding, he left me with contact details just in case I needed them on the trip. He was  a nice man, in fact, he was the only nice Egyptian I came across  in the trip.

On the first day wandering around in the streets of Cairo, I was approached by a seemingly friendly young man who was eager to show me where I could get some Tourist Information. Then, he asked whether I wanted changing my money into local currency, when I politely declined. . . . . . he suddenly changed into another man, scolding me out loud on the street. . . . and in foul language.

We first travelled to Saqqara, 30 km south of Cairo. At Saqqara, the oldest complete stone building complex known in history was built: Djoser’s step pyramid, built during the Third Dynasty. Some people said the step pyramid was a trial construction before the Egyptians  built the more robust pyramids at Giza.

Hiring a taxi was not always the best way to travel. . . .  the driver stopped his car in the middle of nowhere and refused to take us to our destination if we do not pay him  extra money. The same thing happened to riding  camels at Giza, they refused to let you down from the camel back if you do not pay them further money . In any case, it was awesome to see the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza. In fact, when first built, the pyramids had a special stone cladding all over the surface. Now, you can only see some remnants near to the apex.

The pleasures of travelling were marred by such incidents. Travelling to Luxor by car was also quite an experience too. We travelled in a convoy with armed soldiers guarding in front and behind a line of cars.

I can’t help being amazed at the many ruins, statues without heads, columns, ancient construction at Luxor . The photo I like best is this one with the head of the statue on the ground.

Visiting The Valley of the Kings had always been on my mind. It is an ancient place of burials for the kings. While there, I was keenly aware that only 3 years ago, 57 tourists were killed in a massacre raged by anti-government bodies.

Nile has always been a life-giver to Egypt. Unlike today when much of the land is barren, in olden days, the banks of the Nile were green and lush. When we reached Aswan, we were eager to sail on a Felucca. Sailing under deep blue skies past villages frozen in time, and visiting the magnificent temples of ancient Egypt and the Boubian Village were just some of the experiences that make sailing down the Nile a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

The Philae Temple was almost lost to the water when the Aswan Dam was built in 1960. The temple, which is now relocated to the Agikia Island,  was dedicated to the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. It took us by awe when we realized that the temple was built in BC 380-362.

Abu Simbel is the most spectacular ancient Egyptian monument that I’ve visited so far.  Flying 174 mile south from Aswan, just before landing, the plane flew close to the artificial mountain and the colossal statues. The view was astounding – as almost everything  in Egypt seems to be. Again, to save the gigantic statues from the rising water in Lake Nasser, the statues and the temple which were cut into manageable pieces, were transported and painstakingly reassembled on higher ground.

Daily contacts with the Egyptian people in my trip did not suggest that they were a happy people. There must be reasons behind it. Hope that the recent uprising in Egypt is the beginning of a happier Egypt!