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Old 01-25-2012, 04:56 PM   #1216
Irishrover63
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Originally Posted by GRAVLRIDER View Post
Hey Jay,

I finally read through to the current postsWhat an adventure!!! Glad to see the DR is still a worthy travel companion. I am definitely sold on one and the Safari fuel tank. Glad to see you have a chain oiler now. I read another solo DR rider's RR that rode from Wisconsin to the arctic circle in Alaska and back that used a Scott's oiler and had no chain issues. I think an oiler is definitely the way to go!

Thanks for the journey! I will keep reading if you keep writing.
The Scottoiler is manufactured 5 minutes from my work in Milngavie, Scotland. Great piece of kit.
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Old 01-27-2012, 01:31 PM   #1217
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Egypt, Part 12: Across the Desert into Present-Day Luxor
May 31 - June 4, 2011

After my visit in Kharga, I had one last section of the Oasis Route through the desert to cover before coming back to the Nile in Luxor. The city is famous for its Ancient Egyptian wonders on display, but that's for the next segment. This photostory documents my time spent with Ernesto, my CouchSurfing host in Luxor, who has a colorful look and life. He's got orange hair, is from Uruguay, lives with a local Egyptian family in New Qurna and volunteers at an animal shelter.



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Riding the last section of the Oasis Route across the desert and into Luxor.


By 9 am, the heat was kicking in. A signpost in the desert. 230 kms (143 mi) to Luxor.


Oops, wrong direction. Just like there's a town in Texas called Paris, there's a town called Bagdad in Egypt. I also saw a sign for Paris a few miles back.


The road being cut into the top of this ridge in the desert. Elevation peaked at 530 m (1,740 ft). It wasn't any cooler up here, but I knew I would be gratified the further south I went, as the cool highlands of Ethiopia beckoned.


The desert, slowly reclaiming its land. When the humans aren't looking, the sand grains drift across and only when it becomes impassable does the sand get pushed back.


sanDRina enjoying the desert cruise. The smooth, flat roads gave for a high fuel efficiency. I was getting around 25 km/L (59 mpg).


I took some leftover curry that I made from the night before and was taking a few bites at every break. I lost my nice military surplus cloth hat in Cairo and had to replace it with a tourist sun hat. Battling the sun is serious business here and I was drinking a liter of water an hour.


There was a lot of flat, straight riding, but some sweet curves around hills. That S-shape to a curve allows for that most sought-after feeling to be felt, namely, g-forces. I lean left, hanging a bit off the seat into the corner as the front tire countersteers by pointing away from the corner. Then, I shift my body weight to the other side, leaning right and the front tire does its dance of countersteer by pointing the other way. My DR doesn't produce as much g-forces as I'd like with 33 hp, but g-forces they are.


The road was under construction in places, looking like how it looked only a few years back along its whole length. A tarmac road makes for a relatively easy journey and there's something to be enjoyed about being smooth through the corners. On the other hand, an unpaved road requires finesse over a loose surface; dancing with the tires.


Just past noon, I could start making out a dark smudge on the horizon, growing into a sliver, until at last I could see the trees and greenery fed by the Nile River. That brought an end to desert riding, for now.


Riding a canal on the west side of the Nile, heading into Luxor.


I stayed with Ernesto through CouchSurfing for a few days near Luxor. He's a wonderful character. Firstly, his orange hair stands out. Then his story is really interesting: he's from Uruguay, now living behind the Egyptian family that's taken him in. They are people of Qurna, who lived on top of the tombs of the Valley of the Kings until the government moved them to a new housing project, New Qurna. Ernesto had a contact with them and came back to stay and work. He's a website designer with clients mainly in Spain.


New Qurna, on the northern edge of Luxor. This village was built in the 1950s by renowned Egyptian architect, Hassan Fathy to house the people who were living in the old village of Qurna that was situated on top of tombs from antiquity. The government, namely the Antiquities department, forcibly moved the people from Qurna in the name of protecting Ancient Egyptian artifacts, such as the tombs that were yet to be excavated and the treasures within them. The people of Qurna settled on the tombs in the late 19th century and slowly began to pilfer them and sell antiquities to foreigners in Cairo to make a living. It was a sensitive issue to move them but the claim of protecting cultural heritage seems valid. Their new living area was designed with local and modern features, such as natural cooling with domed ceilings and street lights. Staying here for three days, I heard many stories from Ernesto's local family and friends.


I had come to Luxor to soak in the concentration of Ancient Egypt's wonders. The wonderful thing about CouchSurfing is that Ernesto is an Egyptology student and had tones of information on what to see and what was worth seeing. We crossed over to the east side of the Nile, where the town proper of Luxor is.


Looking back west at the Valley of the Kings just after sunset. In those valleys, now lit up, lie the tombs of many Pharaohs.


The entrance to Luxor Temple, right in the heart of the modern town. It was built around 1,400 BC and various Pharaohs added to the complex. This grand pylon was built by Rameses II and there are supposed to be two, giant, red granite obelisks at the front. The other obelisk happens to be in Paris, at the center of the Place de la Concorde. It was given to France in 1829 by the rulers of Egypt at the time, the Ottomans. These short-term rulers of this long-lasting civilization felt they had the right to disperse its treasures for their favor.


Just behind the grand temple was a busy street with this guy frying up some fresh falafel. Since I would be visiting quite a few tourist sites in the next few days, I went and got an ISIC card (International Student Card) that gave me 50% off from the entrance fees. The LE 105 ($19) price for the card paid for itself before I left Luxor and I knew I would use it again further south.


River boats parked up in Luxor, instead of cruising the Nile to Aswan. The reduction in tourist numbers after the revolution had badly affected many businesses that rely solely on foreigners to sustain their livelihoods. Ernesto invited me to come along and see this animal shelter that he volunteers at. We crossed the Nile using the local ferry, which costs LE 0.25 (5¢) for locals and the usual separate pricing for foreigners of LE 1 (18¢). The monetary difference is not an issue, but the government notice at the ticket office that foreigners pay four times the cost bothers me. But this happens everywhere. In India, I remember seeing a temple entrance notice that locals pay 10 Rupees (20¢), while foreigners pay $10, which is 50 times the difference!


We walked through town and then through the Luxor Railway Station to cross the railroad tracks to get to the other side.


Behind the railway station was a part of the city that's not on the tourist trail of Luxor. A cozy, outdoor cafe under a highway flyover, featuring low ceilings, dim lighting and an excellent vantage point for people-watching.


Open-air butchery, sandwiched by fruit and vegetable stands.


Delicious-looking watermelon, grown on the fertile banks of the Nile.


On the eastern edge of Luxor lies the Animal Care in Egypt center.


A baby, black panther and a domestic house cat at the animal shelter. Ernesto said an expat Brit, living in Luxor, recently died and left a hefty sum for the shelter, which was doing its part in taking in sick and abandoned animals.


A fierce, three-legged dog at the shelter.


But he was putty in Ernesto's hands.


A shelter cat showing off its catch. Its lion cousins would be proud.


Besides unwanted cats and dogs, the shelter was primarily focused on taking in sick and abused donkeys and horses. Donkeys are used extensively in Egypt and other countries in the region for hauling heavy goods. Horses are used for drawing carriages and sadly, their owners don't pay enough attention to the health of their animals and usually over-work them in an abusive manner.


Ernesto's been volunteering at the center since he's been in Egypt and he puts in a few hours every few days. He explained that the center offers free medical care for local donkeys and horses, yet their owners only bring them in when their animal's maladies are quite extreme, leading to longer recovery periods.


A sign outside each stable described the injury or reason for admittance.


This donkey had a wound on its back, probably from repetitive beatings from its master’s whip.


Admitted for being too naughty! If I was a donkey, I'd want this to be my condition. It refers to being disobedient to its master. I think it's quite a smart ploy by this donkey: 'just don't cooperate and they'll admit you to these stables where there's enough food and friends.'


A beautiful horse eating some fresh alfalfa. Their eyes are covered to reduce their stress to these surroundings and strangers.


Ouch, a twisted foot. That's probably the end of its working days.


A baby colt sharing the stable of its mother, suffering from a tumor.


A donkey with dreads recovering from a broken foot. He's sporting some style there.


Before leaving the shelter, Ernesto played with the dogs some more. He was short one leg but not short in his doggy-ness.


Calèches, horse-drawn carriages, waiting for the elusive tourists to spend money on them and their poorly-treated horses. Ernesto explained that after a campaign by local animal rights groups that raised awareness of animal abuses by calèche drivers, their use by tourists dropped. Only a few calèche drivers have drawn the connection between a well-treated horse and increased income.


Waiting for the ferry to cross back to the west bank during that magic hour of sunlight, just before sunset, that painted Luxor Temple and its modern town in shades of gold.


Amenhotep III's colonnade of Luxor Temple, glowing in the fading light. Between the entrance pylon and the colonnade lies the Abu Haggag Mosque that was built on top of the ruins in the 11th century AD. Luxor was ruled by a Coptic Christian Princess at the time and she was tricked by Sheikh Abu Haggag, who came from Bagdad, to hand over the land of Luxor Temple to him. And upon his death, a mosque was built there in his name. The Muslim residents of Luxor have refused to have it removed, even though it's clearly intruding on this much older heritage site.


The peristyle court of Amenhotep III with the setting Sun being blocked by the pillars of the central corridor of Luxor Temple. This easy access to the wonderful monuments of Ancient Egypt have earned Luxor the title of the World's Greatest Open Air Museum.


sanDRina parked under the trees in front of the house of Ernesto's family in New Qurna. I got to know Mohammed and Fatima over the few days I spent there and when I asked them if I could take some photos, they said it was no problem to photograph the children, but please, no photos of the women, in accordance to their Muslim traditions.


They pushed their eldest daughter in front of my camera and this was her official smile...


...now, that's more like it. A natural smile.


She got the hang of the photo shoot and manipulated her younger sister for the camera. Quite the bully...


...but also a protective older sister. Perhaps that's a universal trait of older siblings: they'll fight you at home but protect you from outside forces.


Fly like the wind.


The aged, thirteen year-old sanDRina contrasted with the exuberance of Egyptian youth.


Ernesto had access to the terrace from his portion at the back of Mohammed and Fatima's house and we spent the evenings up here as it was very cool and windy after the Sun went down.


Being an animal-lover, Ernesto took in this abandoned puppy that had free range of the terrace. It was quite difficult to get this bubbly creature to sit still for a moment...


...because most of the time, it was like this. I spent a night sleeping on the terrace and after playing with the puppy and exhausting its energy, it laid down next to me for the night.


Ernesto's crazy thirteen year-old cat, Mimosa, that liked to sleep with its body contorted around the bathroom door.


Mohammed inviting us for lunch one day in his house designed by Hassan Fathy in the 1950s in the village of New Qurna.


Ernesto taught Fatima how to bake pizza, an essential food for Argentines and Uruguayans. This here was an onion pizza.

This stay with my CouchSurfing host, Ernesto in Luxor, showed me facets of the city that I wouldn't have seen had I just stayed in a hotel. An interesting story of the past was possible through his adopted Egyptian family in New Qurna. And a current story of animal abuse and care was possible through his volunteering at Animal Care in Egypt. I'm grateful for these experiences that come with just going with the flow.

The tourist attractions of Luxor coming up next...
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:09 PM   #1218
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Great stuff as always Jay

What front sprocket are you running on those long easy roads?

On my way back after the TAT from Oregon to Florida I went up from 15 to 16 on the front (rear left as stock) and hit 56mpg (US) and was happy with that. 59 is fantastic considering the load. Your really cannot beat the DR for this type of trip.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:14 PM   #1219
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Great update man!!! I think couchsurfing has introduce you to so many things regular turist will never get to experience. Also having no time line I am guessing has helped your travels as well.

Later
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:00 PM   #1220
Jammin OP
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Originally Posted by Irishrover63 View Post
Hi Jay, had a similar experience to that when in Morocco back in the 80's. A bloke approached me whilst I was in the toilet and said his daughter was available for a good price. It put me off the country, but I heard the real Moroccans(Berbers) are in the mountainous area and are more friendly. I have enjoyed the blog from the start, but prefer the South American leg so far. Look forward to more. Good luck.
Yeah, I think some foreigners like to act like king pins in these countries and that sets the reputation for all future visitors. Sad.
Dont worry, the African leg hasn't even started yet (Egypt not counted)
Quote:
Originally Posted by GRAVLRIDER View Post
Hey Jay,
I finally read through to the current postsWhat an adventure!!! Glad to see the DR is still a worthy travel companion. I am definitely sold on one and the Safari fuel tank. Glad to see you have a chain oiler now. I read another solo DR rider's RR that rode from Wisconsin to the arctic circle in Alaska and back that used a Scott's oiler and had no chain issues. I think an oiler is definitely the way to go!
Thanks for the journey! I will keep reading if you keep writing.
I think anyone who reads this monstrous RR from start to current in one sitting needs a reward. Get yourself a beer
Yeah, that was Snowrider. I followed his trip, too, before I ventured up to Alaska.
Sadly, that Loobman chain oiler that I mounted in Cairo rattled itself to pieces and fell off on the Turkana Route. I dont think these things are made for the serious bashing of proper dirt tracks :/ But I still love the idea of a chain-oiler
I will keep posting until this journey ends, you have my word
Quote:
Originally Posted by LXIV-Dragon View Post
Great stuff as always Jay
What front sprocket are you running on those long easy roads?
On my way back after the TAT from Oregon to Florida I went up from 15 to 16 on the front (rear left as stock) and hit 56mpg (US) and was happy with that. 59 is fantastic considering the load. Your really cannot beat the DR for this type of trip.
Thx! I've been on a 14/42 gearing since I left Chicago. I decided not to run the 15 so as to keep engine load to a minimum. I have a 15 with me and now in Nairobi, I've mounted it. I'll go back to a 14 once I get back on the road with the load. For the Turkana Route (TAT-like with lots of rocks and sand) I was running a 14/45!
Love the DR
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Originally Posted by Eagletalon View Post
Great update man!!! I think couchsurfing has introduce you to so many things regular turist will never get to experience. Also having no time line I am guessing has helped your travels as well.
Later
John
Hey John, yup, definitely having a flexible timeline helps to make best use of CouchSurfing. I'm so glad for all the variety of people that I've met through CS. I knew from reading previous RR that the people you meet along the way are the richest experiences you'll have and it is so
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:14 PM   #1221
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Egypt, Part 13: The Magnificent Egyptology of Ancient Luxor
June 2 - 3, 2011

The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt and the grand civilization that they ruled over are famous throughout the world. My tour through Egypt let me see the different sides of this modern country. However, its well-preserved ancient past is what adds magnificence to this land.

In and around the present-day city of Luxor are the numerous architectural remains of the ancient city of Thebes. The city gained prominence for its luxurious lifestyle of its rulers and was also the center of Ancient Egyptian politics, culture and religion at various times during its history.

In the following photostory, I cover the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, the Colossi of Memnon, the Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple. It's a lot of history and it's very complex but I try to put things in context. Enjoy.



______________________



The grand Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, located beneath the cliffs of Deir el Bahari on the West Bank of the Nile. Hatshepsut was a rare female pharaoh and considered to be very successful during her reign, 1503 to 1482 BC. This temple, known as Djeser-Djeseru (Splendor of Splendors) was designed and built by Senemut so that she could be worshiped after her death. The temple is set on a series of terraces and this is at the middle terrace.


The guardian of the upper terrace with Deir el Bahari towering in the back.


The upper terrace is lined with statues of Hatshepsut in the form of Osiris.


From the Upper Court, looking out the gate with the Nile Valley in the distance.


Re-constructured pillars in the Upper Court. Many of these ancient monuments were rebuilt by recent historians and some were done with imprecise information, so maybe it didn't really look like this back then.


A cartouche of Thutmose II, Hatshepsut's husband, on a pillar in the Upper Court. A cartouche is a series of hieroglyphs enclosed by an ellipse, indicating that the contents inside it are a royal name. The scarab, or dung beetle, was a prominent symbol in Ancient Egypt. This beetle is known for rolling a ball of dung along the ground as it moves this food source around. Ancient Egyptians associated this with the sun moving across the sky and thus the scarab is associated with sunrise and creation.


A broken statue of Hatshepsut, missing its body, out on the upper terrace.


An Osiride statue of Hatshepsut, flanking the entrance to the Upper Court. Even though she was a female, she was depicted with a traditional pharaonic beard to cement her position as ruler. Many pharaohs had statues of themselves in the form of the god, Osiris, because he's the god of the afterlife. Osiris can be identified as he holds the symbolic crook and flail, with the crook being a symbol of shepherds and the meaning of the flail is not known.


The Birth Colonnade, to the right of the Middle Terrace. Hieroglyphs in this section depict the story of Hatshepsut's divine origins, where the supreme god Amon-Ra visits Hatshepsut's mother, Queen Ahmose, and impregnates her with his divine breath. Sounds similar to a story that happened around 0 BC...


Well-preserved relief of hieroglyphs.


Past the Birth Colonnade is the Chapel of Anubis, decorated with colorful murals that have stood the test of time. The ceiling was covered in yellow stars, with the walls telling detailed stories of Hatshepsut.


A depiction of Sokaris receiving wine from Thutmose III in the Anubis Chapel. Sokaris is a sun god with a falcon's head and Thutmose III is the son of Hatshepsut, who succeeded her as pharaoh. However, this son suffered from an inferiority complex of his much-lauded mother and proceeded to chisel her name and image from all monuments in the kingdom. Her story, that of the first female pharaoh, was only recently revealed by archaeologists studying hieroglyphs.


Colorful raised hieroglyphs, well-preserved through time.


A depiction of Anubis, the jackal-headed god and I presume his wife, Anput, his female aspect. Anubis is associated with mummification and the afterlife and his head comes from the association of jackals with cemeteries, because they were known to dig up bodies and eat them. These gods are shown holding the Ankh, a symbol of eternal life and the Was scepter, a symbol of power of dominion, carried by lesser gods in mortuary scenes such as this.


sanDRina and the Colossi of Memnon: two giant statues, right by the road and free to visit.


Both the statues depict Pharaoh Amenhotep III and have been here for the past 3,400 years. It's hard to assess scale but they're both 18 m (60 ft) tall.


A close-up of the right colossi with pigeons nesting in his chest. They've been battered by earthquakes and floods from the Nile, but still going strong.


The abandoned village of Qurna, that was built by settlers in the late 19th century near and on top of the tombs at the Valley of the Kings.


The Valley of the Kings on the West Bank of the Nile in Luxor. After the grand pyramid-building of the Old Kingdom of Egypt (2686 BC – 2181 BC), the New Kingdom (1600 BC - 1100 BC) decided to move their tombs underground and this valley, across from the ancient city of Thebes, housed most of its royalty in the afterlife.


Tombs were discovered and pillaged throughout history with archaeologists conducting systematic excavations since the late 18th century onwards. A total of 63 tombs have been revealed with many more yet to be discovered. Due to on-going archaeological work, only a few tombs are open for public visitation. A standard entry ticket allowed me to visit 3 tombs of my choice with an additional fee for special tombs, such as that of Tutankhamun.


The tombs are cut down into the limestone cliffs, descending through a series of steps to the burial chamber. This is the tomb of Pharaoh Siptah (KV47) and it was much cooler here than the baking heat outside.


The grand sarcophagus of Pharaoh Merenptah (KV8), who ruled from 1213 BC to 1203 BC. He was one of thirteen sons of Ramesses II. His burial chamber was the largest of the three that I visited and I wondered how long it took to carve these chambers.


The red granite sarcophagus of Ramesses I. His burial chamber has suffered from water damage and these pillars have been added to bolster the chamber. At the foot of the sarcophagus is the depiction of Osiris (in white) and Khepris, who has a black scarab for a head, representing rebirth.


The tomb of Ramesses I decorated with colorful murals with stories from the Book of Gates, a funerary text that narrates the journey of a newly deceased soul into the afterlife. Here, the dead king is lead by Horus, Atum and Neith to Osiris.


A niche in the burial chamber depicting Ramesses I in his Osiris form with a ram-headed version of Anubis supporting him as he stands on a wavy snake, confronting another snake, Meseret.


On the East Bank of the Nile in Luxor, I followed the line of uncovered sphinxes that starts at Luxor Temple and leads to Karnak Temple. This Sphinx Alley connects the two grand temples and was used by the ancients for a yearly procession depicting the marriage of their prominent gods, Amun and Mut. Egyptologists guess that there were around 1,350 sphinxes lining this road, which is slowly being uncovered, but urban sprawl is in the way.


The Temple of Karnak, the holiest of religious places for Ancient Egypt. Construction began in the Middle Kingdom (2000 BC) and continued till the Ptolemaic period (300 BC). A processional way is lined by sphinxes that lead to the first pylon, resembling the design of Luxor Temple. Again, it looks like an obelisk is missing.


The grandest feature at the Karnak Temple Complex is the Great Hypostyle Hall. It's a 5,000 sq-m (50,000 sq-ft) hall with 134 giant pillars, resembling a papyrus marsh.


The proportions are out of this world and it's mind-boggling to think about how this giant monument was put up, that too in 1290 BC. Pharaoh Seti I commissioned and set about building this 'temple of millions of years.'


A close-up of one of the taller central pillars, resembling an open papyrus flower. The central 12 columns are higher than the rest at 21 m (69 ft) and have a girth of 10 m (33 ft).


Flanking the 12 giant columns are the remaining 122 columns that feature a closed bud of a papyrus flower at their top. These 122 columns are 13 m (43 ft) high and 8.4 m (27.5 ft) around.


This is an artist's rendition of what the Great Hypostyle Hall looked like in its hey-days.


It was so peaceful to be among these giant columns, soaking in the grandeur of Ancient Egypt.


Walking deeper into Karnak Temple and appreciating the scale of things.


From the Central Court looking out to the main temple complex with the prominent Obelisk of Thutmose I.


More giant pillars in the back, making up the Festival Hall of Thutmose III with colored decorations on the roof.


Columns in the shape of bundled papyrus.


A local guide, among the ruins of Karnak Temple.


A cartouche with a scarab and the Obelisk of Thutmose I in the background, carved from a single shaft of red granite from Aswan.


Hieroglyphs on the walls around Karnak Temple, telling stories of conquest and other tall tales that have survived through time.


Cartouches and hieroglyphs decorating the closed-bud papyrus pillars of the Great Hypostyle Hall.


A parting shot of Karnak and Luxor: the processional way, lined with sphinxes.


I was grateful for the chance to see these grand monuments from our past that have survived these thousands of years. It astonishes me how grand the ideas and buildings were that were conjured up by ancient rulers, that too, most of the time for their own vanity or religious purposes.

With that, I was now done with touristy Egypt and the hagglers that go along with every tourist site there. The monuments are fantastic and definitely worth a visit, but now I was looking forward to traveling again, with an upcoming ferry journey...
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:58 PM   #1222
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:26 PM   #1223
Irishrover63
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In the school that I work in we had Egyptian teachers visit us for 3 months at a time, they came from Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria both Muslim and Christian. I enjoyed their stories and they spoke of all the places you have visited. It's so good to see such high quality images that I can relate to from our conversations. I learned a lot from them and vise versa. There was some aspects of our culture that they liked and many they didn't. I do miss them.
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Old 02-04-2012, 12:23 AM   #1224
Jammin OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goran e View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishrover63 View Post
In the school that I work in we had Egyptian teachers visit us for 3 months at a time, they came from Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria both Muslim and Christian. I enjoyed their stories and they spoke of all the places you have visited. It's so good to see such high quality images that I can relate to from our conversations. I learned a lot from them and vise versa. There was some aspects of our culture that they liked and many they didn't. I do miss them.
Thanks for sharing that Now you have images to go with your memories of them

____________________________

An excellent ride from the lower eastern savannahs of Kenya back up to the capital for the weekend. The route from Mombasa is filled with trucks, making for a passing fest. The two- lane road has a wide-enough shoulder that I just cruise up on the left, passing trains of slow-moving trailers and they drive on the left here On Kenyan roads, size matters. If you look like a small motorcycle, oncoming traffic doesn't care and pushes you off. But, I'm prepared, and have my flood lights on, gaining my respect from traffic

Just had my first hot shower in 3 weeks! A weekend of dinner with friends, catching-up, maybe some dancing and then back to the field
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:24 AM   #1225
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Egypt, Part 14: Aswan, End of the Road in Egypt
June 4 - 5, 2011

After a solid month in Egypt, my time here was coming to an end as I journeyed the last leg southwards to Aswan. Filled with Egyptian cultural visits, I was now focused on a tricky bit of traveling, namely the ferry ride from Aswan to Wadi Halfa in Sudan. My time in Aswan was spent on keeping in step with the bureaucratic dance that Egypt dictates you have to follow when you leave the country with your vehicle and also, getting things sorted for the boat journey. I connected with other overland travelers whom I would be sharing this part of the journey with.


______________________



Heading south from Luxor along an irrigation canal. The roads were in good condition, leading to high speed driving by everyone, mini buses to jalops, except of course, the numerous donkey carts.


A lush field of alfalfa, the food for donkeys and horses, thriving with the waters from the Nile, under the hot sun of Egypt.


Riding next to the Nile, on the way to Aswan. I enjoyed the blue-ness of the river here, compared to the more polluted sections downstream after people have dumped on their life source.


What's better than a window seat? Hanging on to the back with fresh wind in your face.


Taking a break under a small spot of shade. The heat was becoming intense the closer I got to Aswan. The temps for riding in most of Egypt (bar the desert) are actually quite comfortable, but I was told by travelers I met going north that the real heat starts from Aswan and south into Sudan. I left Luxor with 14 L (3.7 gal) of water and drank about half that over the 300 kms (186 mi) to Aswan.


A horse and donkey cart, as I neared Aswan. I wonder if there's a power struggle...


Seeing a felucca on the Nile as I got into Aswan. The high-power electricity lines in the background also give away the location, as Aswan is important to Egypt in that the Nile is dammed here and hydroelectricity generated at the Aswan High Dam is highly valuable to the country.


Arriving at a non-descript apartment block that houses the Aswan Traffic Court. To successfully leave Egypt, I have to get a small piece of paper from the traffic court saying that I have no outstanding traffic violations. Then I take this paper to the Traffic Police who give me another piece of paper that I then submit to customs at the port. The traffic court was closing at 2 pm and I arrived at 1:55. A broker (hustler) downstairs said he could help me out if we hurried. We ran up the flight of stairs (in heavy motorcycle gear and boots) with passport, drivers license and photocopies in hand. The official was on his way out, 'Oh, I'm sorry, you're too late, come again on Monday.' But sir, the boat is leaving on Monday. 'Oh, you're from India? Amitabh Bachchan is Great! I'll help you out, one second.' And then after waiting around for 30 minutes, I got my little piece of paper. No cost for the official, but just LE 15 ($3) for the broker.


A view from the west bank of the Nile with the city of Aswan further upstream. I was trying to find a place to camp for the night.


A white mosque surrounded by the greenery of the Nile.


A felucca and a river boat on the Nile.


I knew there would be other overland travelers taking the same boat as me, as it only travels once a week and I found them in the afternoon. This is Benjamin, from Switzerland, and he's traveling with Edward, from The Netherlands, in their green Toyota Hilux camper. Next to him are Guy and Louise, Brits, traveling down in a Land Rover Defender. Guy saw me riding around town in the afternoon and invited me to join them in their desert camping spot. Ben and Guy are quite the cooks and they were preparing an excellent meal of curry and rice and breaded aubergines (brinjal) and zucchini. Ahh, the luxuries of traveling in an automobile.


Getting ready the next morning for the final day in Egypt. Ed found this secluded camping spot, a dead-end up a sandy track with great views of the Nile and the stars at night. After a hearty breakfast, we set off into town, now as an overland convoy.


Ed and Ben were on a 3 month sprint from Cairo to Cape Town and were super jealous of my extended timeline. They could only manage a 3 month leave-of-absence from their management consulting jobs.


Arriving at the Traffic Police building to hand in our temporary Egyptian number plates, get the second piece of paper and pickup the local official who would take us to the port. The gentleman in the middle had traveled up from his home in South Africa with his wife in their red Toyota Hilux in just 12 weeks. They wanted to visit family in Europe, but alas, the ferry to Venice was no longer operational and there was no other safe overland route to Europe from Egypt (Libya and Syria were no-gos), so they turned around and were going to head back to South Africa and see the things they missed on the way north.


Arriving at the Port of Aswan, 20 kms south of the city.


There was lots of standing around in the intense heat and we found respite in the retreating noon shadow at the port entrance. Carnets (customs document) in hand.


What do you mean I'm overloaded? A truck arriving at the Port of Aswan with goods procured in Egypt, where everything is cheaper than Sudan, to be sent on the sole transportation link between these two brothers of the desert. There is a road coming to fruition on the coast, but it’s not open to personal traffic, yet.


We made it inside the port (LE 10 entrance) and then, more waiting around. I enjoyed traveling with Ben, because besides diving into deep philosophical discussions, he always had food at hand. He's cutting up a juicy honeydew melon that was perfect for hydrating in this dry heat. Ed and Ben met while working on a project in South Africa and hatched the plan for their journey there.


All smiles after having bought the passage for our vehicles with a view of the pier and Lake Nasser that we would be sailing on to Sudan. The barge ride for a motorcycle cost LE 250 ($45) and LE 2012 ($366) for automobiles, an advantage of traveling on two wheels. I don't get to carry a full stove and kitchen, but hey, it's cheaper. From there, we walked across to the customs building to have our carnets stamped out of Egypt and have a customary tea with the customs official. The carnet de passage is a customs passport for a vehicle that facilitates temporary importation into most every country in the world (except China and a few others).


We then finally entered the fenced-off pier and had to wait around for the barge to be positioned properly before vehicles could be driven on board. We walked down the huge pier that sloped down to the water level and got our first look at the boat that would take us across Lake Nasser. There are 3 modes of travel on this boat. Most expensive was First Class with private cabins and cold A/C, then came Second Class, which was also A/C, but no privacy and best of all was Third Class, sleeping on the deck of the boat. The word has been passed on by past travelers that Third Class is the way to go, but you have to secure a spot under one of the lifeboats to escape the sun.


We got moving with our vehicles, getting closer to the barge.


Men pulling the barge so that it's ramp would reach the shore. The ferry boat is only for passengers and vehicles travel on a separate barge. All overland travelers experience a sense of separation at this point, because we've bonded with our vehicles by now, getting used to our new mobile homes and now, we have to part with them and hope they will arrive safely at the other end of the long lake in a new country.


Guy and Lu's butch-looking Land Rover. Overland travelers agree that the Defender is the best-looking overlanding vehicle, feeling at home in Africa, but it's also agreed that they require a lot more maintenance than trusty Toyotas, like the Land Cruiser or Ed and Ben's Hilux. Spares for the Toyotas are available almost everywhere on the planet and most-any mechanic knows how to work on them. So, in deciding on an overland vehicle, you can be a romantic and choose the Defender or be the pragmatist and choose the Land Cruiser or Hilux.


Once the barge was in place, the vehicles were driven on and I squeezed sanDRina between the Hilux and the Defender. I had my panniers aligned with their tires, so that if the barge rocked, she would be held in place. There were no tie-downs provided or any places to attach them (I carry a set of tie-downs), but with just the kick-stand down and resting between the tires, I figured sanDRina was in a good place.


With our personal transportation gone, everyone piled into Kamal's taxi for the ride back into Aswan. He drove like a typically mad Egyptian and with all of us being drivers/riders, we make the worst back seat drivers. Seat belts? meh.


Now, with everything set for the ferry journey tomorrow, we could enjoy the city of Aswan. We wandered around its souk (market), looking for a place for lunch.


A colorful array of spices and minerals. The cobalt blue powder is used for washing white clothes.


Lunch of a stuffed pigeon. Tasted like chicken and was stuffed with rice and veggies.


A view of the corniche in Aswan along the River Nile from the rooftop of Hathor Hotel. Not having our mobile homes with us, we had to resort to a hotel.


The rooftop pool at Hathor Hotel with a setting sun behind the wall. The hot day spent outside in the sun made us splurge for this last night in Egypt, all of LE 80 ($15).


The sun tucking away behind the hills, casting its beautiful glow in the sky and on to the waters of the Nile.

I slept peacefully and thought back to all the wonderful experiences I had had in my journey south from Alexandria, thru Cairo, Bahariya, the White Desert, Kharga, Luxor and finally into Aswan. Egypt has a lot to offer for visitors to see and experience, ranging from ancient monuments to mind-blowing wind sculptures in the desert. I'm also happy I got to make some good connections with Egyptians all over the country, ranging from professionals in the city to Bedouins in the desert.

All though I had been on the African continent for a month by now, Egypt felt very much like the Middle-East and I was looking forward to entering Sudan. But first, an epic ferry ride down Lake Nasser...
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Jammin screwed with this post 02-07-2012 at 04:34 AM
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:41 AM   #1226
Eagletalon
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Thanks for contuning to update your RR. I know it takes a lot of time and thought recollection to due what you are doing so thank you very much!!

Later
John
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Old 02-09-2012, 06:59 PM   #1227
samohT
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Wow

It has taken me almost 3 days to catch up on your story, but what a story it is... I would defenitly buy this book...

The crossing from South America to Europe is so far my favourite but I really look forward to this boat trip as well. Keep it safe and enjoy this life journey...
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Old 02-09-2012, 08:51 PM   #1228
far
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Hola Jay

It seems that I knew that this will be the cover of the book that you think to write now

http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...6#post16079906
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Old 02-10-2012, 06:49 AM   #1229
Jammin OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagletalon View Post
Thanks for contuning to update your RR. I know it takes a lot of time and thought recollection to due what you are doing so thank you very much!!
Later
John
Thanks for appreciating it, John Yeah, each update takes about 12 hours or more and I need to build my motivation to sit down and walk back down the memory banks and relive that part of the journey. But, I quite enjoy that as it makes the memory stronger
Quote:
Originally Posted by samohT View Post
It has taken me almost 3 days to catch up on your story, but what a story it is... I would defenitly buy this book...
The crossing from South America to Europe is so far my favourite but I really look forward to this boat trip as well. Keep it safe and enjoy this life journey...
Thanks for the vote of confidence, samoh! Yup, I think the Grimaldi crossing is still one of my favorite parts of this journey, so far. Another boat ride coming up...
Quote:
Originally Posted by far View Post
Hola Jay
It seems that I knew that this will be the cover of the book that you think to write now
http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...6#post16079906
Haha, I remember that. Let's see...
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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos
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Old 02-10-2012, 07:01 AM   #1230
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Ferry Ride on Lake Nasser from Aswan to Wadi Halfa
June 6 - 7, 2011

With a sandy desert all along the border between Egypt and Sudan, it's ironic that the only way to cross between these two countries is a ferry ride on the long Lake Nasser. Heading down the eastern side of Africa, this is the only route-hurdle that overlanders need to plan for, mainly because the ferry only runs once a week and also because there are limited spaces for vehicles, but no problems for motorcycles. The ferry runs from Aswan, the southernmost city in Egypt, along the 550 kms (340 mi) of Lake Nasser to Wadi Halfa, the first town after crossing into Sudan.

The journey was enjoyable, as besides sharing stories with other travelers, I also spent some time with passengers who were traveling for more serious reasons, such as finding work, moving back home after the Libyan war had started or to visit family. The travel was very smooth as the lake was still, which made for some beautiful photographs.



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On the morning of the journey, this is what the security screening was like. It was a horde of passengers, all pushing and shoving to get their luggage and themselves through the x-ray scan. The ferry leaves around 5 in the afternoon, but everyone is there by 9. Besides getting through security, there is passport control and the most important task: claiming a good spot on the deck of the boat.


Our fabulous vessel for crossing Lake Nasser, the Sagalnaam. It probably wouldn't pass a safety inspection in the west, but it's been happily plying these waters for years. The round windows are the second-class floor with the first-class cabins on top of them and third-class on the roof! The cheapest fare cost LE 322 ($59) and first-class went for around LE 520 ($95).


The route of the ferry ride from Aswan to Wadi Halfa. There has been talk of opening a land border crossing between Egypt and Sudan, but it is yet to materialize. There's a highway on the coast but it's only open to commercial traffic, for now. But, it's also a boon that we have to travel by this ferry, as it harks back to the old days when traveling wasn't as independent and easy as it is nowadays.


Inside the Sagalnaam, looking down the stairs from the first-class floor to the second-class floor as passengers started to board.


A first-class cabin with all the amenities of a bed, A/C and privacy. Nothing more.


I was traveling on this ferry with six other overlanders and two of them, Ben and Edward, had booked a first-class cabin. As I was engaged in some deep philosophical and political conversation with Ben, he invited me to just put my sleeping pad down and enjoy the A/C. I spent the heat of the day inside, but enjoyed the evening out on deck.


Communal bathrooms on board, which deteriorated even before we left Aswan. No fair, ladies bathrooms are always fancier than the gents; this one had a water cooler inside.


Out on deck and making sure Guy and Lu claimed a good spot under a lifeboat. The majority of passengers weren't on board, yet.


In the first-class dining room with Lu, Edward and Guy. Being fair-skinned, it was easy for these third-class travelers to walk into the first-class dining room and cool down with the A/C. All other darker-skinned passengers had to show their ticket to enter. And I, being brown, and passing for an Egyptian or a Sudanese, had to make sure I looked like I belonged in first-class; SLR camera slung around my neck did the trick.


Our tickets came with one meal voucher and we all decided to have it for lunch and spend the heat of the day indoors, so that we could enjoy the cool evening out on deck, when we were underway.


Food being stored in fridges with huge ice blocks in the second-class dining room. And that's Takeshi looking on. He's from Japan and is backpacking down to South Africa.


After lunch, I walked around the port and noted the myriad of barges, freighters and cruise ships, all tied up with nowhere to go.


I had a look at sanDRina and the vehicles on the barge, which hadn't left it. The vehicle barge usually arrives a day or two later than the passenger ferry at the other end as it's not sophisticated enough to have radar and thus can't navigate at night.


Besides passengers and their vehicles, this ferry and its barges provide a crucial trade link between Egypt and northern Sudan. Due to strict economic sanctions imposed on Sudan (due to its president's handling of the Darfur situation), most goods are expensive there. But it’s still cheaper to import from Egypt, than buying locally.


Olive oil, by the buckets, being transported from Egypt to Sudan. Food and agricultural products are relatively cheap in Egypt, due to extensive irrigation, brought on by the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser.


Industrial products, such as these augers, waiting to board their ride to Sudan.


This gas cylinder was taken off the ship as it had sprung a leak and was being submerged to contain the gas underwater. Could there be more on board? You can't worry about things like this in Africa. It happens.


The sloping pier, extending far into the waters of Lake Nasser. The reservoir's height changes over the years depending on whether the Nile south of here is in flood or not and thus this kind of pier is always usable.


On deck, as anticipation was building for departure near 5 pm. The engine fired up and all the passengers were on board.


The travelers on third-class had all staked their claim on the deck and there was very little space to walk around now. The ship's mast was flying the flags of Egypt and Sudan.


For those passengers who missed out on the premium spots under the lifeboats, shelters were erected with cardboard and bed sheets.


A cargo barge departing from Aswan.


No guarantee that your cargo will make it to Wadi Halfa. But the lake is super smooth, so no need to secure anything. I was glad our vehicle barge at least had a side wall. Egypt is a lot more industrialized than Sudan, making for cheaper appliances and people were transporting fridges, washing machines, televisions, microwave ovens, food processors, etc.


And we're off! Goodbye, Egypt. It's been great, but time for a new country.


Takeshi, happy to be underway to Sudan.


All smiles under the lifeboat.


A few meters off shore and we had a good view of the Lotus Flower monument on the crest of the Aswan Dam. It signifies Arab-Soviet friendship as the USSR gave Egypt a loan of over a billion dollars in the 1960s in order to construct this massive dam. The rulers of Egypt have always wanted to dam the Nile so that they could control its annual flood and ensure a stable water supply for irrigation. They finally managed that with this obstruction to nature. They also get lots of hydroelectric power, but hydro isn't as green as it’s touted. Dams have a massive ecological footprint that surpasses all the positives that their constructors think will bring their societies. The gathering up of the Nile's rich sediments behind this dam means a lot more chemical fertilizers are used now and those sediments not reaching the Mediterranean are affecting fish stocks there.


Three Sudanese men, happy to head home after a long stint in Libya. I managed to understand that they were casual laborers in the oil industry but it soon became too dangerous to hang around, waiting for peace to come, so a good time to visit the family.


As the Sun started to set on Lake Nasser, we entered that magic hour of light.


Passengers enjoying the ride and welcoming the sight of this huge expanse of water, surrounded by desert.


If the scenery wasn't interesting, card games were going on.


I was hanging out with these boys under the lifeboat, who all thought I was Sudanese, just like them, but maybe with a white mother? They wouldn't believe me when I said, no, I was Indian and yes, both my parents are Indian. Skin color's all relative - next to fair-skinned people, I'm dark and next to dark-skinned people, I'm fair. Browns FTW!


I never get tired of sunsets, especially ones over an expanse of water.


Ra's reign of the sky coming to an end as he touches the land and...


...quickly enters into the underworld.


Goodnight, home star. Hope you look just as spectacular to someone else at this moment as their sunrise.


And now for twilight, my favorite time of day to shoot. The light from the just-set sun highlighting bands of still water compared to those with ripples.


This be our beautiful Planet Earth. Looking west over the smooth-as-glass surface of Lake Nasser as the Sagalnaam disturbs with a harmonious wake.


The beauty of the mathematical precision of nature. Receding ripples catching up with proceeding ones and blending harmoniously on the surface of Lake Nasser.


Guy, Takeshi and other passengers taking in the epic view just after sunset on Lake Nasser.


The moon came out as twilight started to fade to darkness.


A sharp crease as the Sagalnaam cuts through the still waters.


An hour after sunset, the stars were showing up in the west. It was the best I could do with a hand-held, long-exposure shot on a boat.


With nothing else to do and no light on deck, most passengers soon fell asleep, but I stayed awake and chatted with my fellow travelers, cherishing this special journey.


Morning twilight arrived around 5 am, highlighting submerged lands of the Nubian Desert. The smell of a new country was in the air.


The Sun was back with force, quickly heating up into a fireball.


Passengers on deck slowly roused from their slumber as the heat would become unbearable pretty soon.


The peacefulness of the journey aboard the Sagalnaam was coming to an end and would be contrasted with the madness of docking at Wadi Halfa in Sudan.

Crossing Lake Nasser from Aswan in Egypt to Wadi Halfa in Sudan is a wonderful journey, once the boat is underway, that is. I'm grateful that I got the chance to partake in some slow travel. The next time I jump on a plane and transport myself halfway around the world, I'll spare a thought for all those who still travel with limited means.

I hope a land border doesn't open up between Egypt and Sudan, so that future travelers can also experience this ferry ride in the desert. Because once a land border does open, most travelers would choose to avoid the hassles that traveling by this ferry brings, namely the paperwork and costs involved with transporting a vehicle over water, that too, to a new country.

I hope sanDRina had as pleasant a journey as I did...
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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

Jammin screwed with this post 02-10-2012 at 09:44 AM
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