Day trip to Luxor

Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Luxor International Airport

[More pics, including a fair few more from Karnak, in my Egypt Flickr set]

Really early start (5am pickup) for the Luxor trip. We booked this before we left via a company called Sharm Club and I’d be happy to recommend them based on the day we had. Their prices were very competitive also, and definitely cheaper than booking with pretty much anyone once on-resort.

The hotel provided us with a breakfast bag each with some water and what seemed to be bread from last night’s dinner. We ate what we could on the bus and in the airport while we waited for our delayed flight. The plane was a 48-seat charter from Memphis Air with two nice propellors. The man in front of us on the shuttle bus crossed himself when he saw it. Wuss. It was much bigger than the 18-seat Buddha Air flight I’d taken in Nepal.

Our guide, Ahmed, met us at Luxor Airport – a lovely building which looks like it’s been carved out of a single block of polished granite. He introduced us to our driver, Ahmed. It seems Ahmed is a very common name out this way. Ahmed, as it happens, turned out to be one of the best guides I’ve ever had on a day trip. My parent said the same and they’ve done more of these type of trips than I have. A great sense of humour, excellent English and an incredibly thorough knowledge of the sites we visited. This was to be expected given his university qualifications in Egyptian History.

Without going through the whole historical detail, the sites we got to visit were the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Hatshepsut and the temple complex of Karnak. We also swung by an alabaster “factory”, had lunch in a nice restaurant and stopped by the Nile for a quick photo session.

Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Temple of Hatshepsut

At the Valley of the Kings, we got a 3-tomb-ticket. Using this, you can visit any of the tombs currently open to the public with the exception of Tutenkahmun’s which requires a separate ticket due to obvious demand. Each tour guide will have their personal recommendation of which three tombs to visit which, helpfully, spreads the tourists across those which are available. We were pointed towards KV8, KV6 and KV7 (Merenptah, Ramesses IX and Ramesses II) which provided a good bit of variety as they were different sizes and designs.

Points to watch when here – the sales people are pushy, and just like India (in particular) won’t take “no” for an answer. Nor will they take being ignored. They’re all over you. Thankfully, it wasn’t too busy and I don’t think many of them were up for it. After my dad had our group sat together and shouting “NO!” at someone after a count of three, Little Mister took to doing it himself. The look of shock on some hawker’s face when he was pwned by a three year old was priceless.

Even inside the tombs there are people who will offer to guide you round and show you things. It’s possible to go within the guard rails and see things by torchlight under their supervision, but they will expect a tip. However, even spare coins are accepted happily and the first men we met – in KV8 – were brilliant with Little Mister, happily letting him swing a torch around by himself inside the sarcophagus.

Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Karnak Temple Complex

A point to note: As of a year or so ago, you can no longer take photographs anywhere within the Valley of the Kings. I don’t know the official reasoning (means more postcard sales, damage to paintings by flash, whatever) but you must leave cameras on your tour bus. End of. The fine if you’re caught isn’t worth it.

It was hot, though. Little Miss sat out the temple of Hatshepsut along with my mum and by the time we got to Karnak, my dad was chilling out in the visitor centre with them. The only other people on our tour, a couple from Bishop Auckland, made it right through with myself, Gillian and – amazingly – Little Mister, who despite the heat enjoyed a very fast-paced game of chase amongst the 134 pillars at Karnak.

Everywhere was fantastic, and not too busy as we’d come during the hot season. Despite this, both our guide and the chap from Bish told us that it was uncommonly quiet, probably due to the unrest earlier in the year. Please believe me when I say that, certainly where we went, Egypt is as safe as it ever was before stuff kicked off.

After a short stop to see the Colossi of Memnon, we drove over to the east bank. Late lunch in the restaurant was more than passable. Gillian and I tried the Egyptian meal which was essentially a vegetable/lamb stew with a little bit of spice. Everyone else opted for chicken which was, by all accounts, very well done and rather tasty.

Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Karnak Temple Complex

We had a couple of hours at the aforementioned Karnak temple complex before being driven to the airport. We were lucky and got squeezed onto the earlier flight back to Sharm as some people hadn’t checked in early enough. Unfortunately, there were some people on our flight for whom “manners” were things other people were cursed with. It was free seating on the plane, and one “gentleman” in particular decided he wanted to get onto the plane first, despite being halfway along the bus. This involved shoving rudely past two pensioners (my parents) and almost knocking one three year old (Little Mister) spinning.

I saw red.

Much to my mother’s suprise, as well as Gillian’s, I just ran after him. By the time I reached him, he’d elbowed his way (literally – jabbed his elbows into people) past a few other passengers. Then it got ugly. I had a go at him for pushing past a three year old and he blamed other people. Not “Sorry, but I was being pushed” but “F*ck off – there was a mad crush”. Which was a lie. Not happy with shoving old people and children out of his way, he wasn’t even prepared to admit what he’d done or apologise. Then he started trying to push me about.

That was the stage when one or two people grabbed me and quite a few (including his wife) grabbed him. Now, I don’t know what kind of knuckle-draggers we’re still breeding back home (he was English), but I won’t have any of them pushing a small child around, especially if he’s one in my charge. I am not a fighter. I never have been. But when I started going out with Gillian I promised that I would do anything to protect her and the children. I really thought I meant it at the time. I felt like I did.

Well, now I know.

I didn’t think. I acted. I’d do it again. I’d likely end up with my face punched to a pulp, but I’d do it again. At the end of the day, there were 48 people on that flight, plus crew and staff. All of them (except his wife, it seems) watched him shove my parents, two children and several other people out of the way and then me accost him. He would have thrown the first punch. I would have taken him to court for damages and won.

Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Luxor International Airport

Hell, even if we didn’t get that far someone has to show apemen like that up in public for the filth they are or they’ll just keep on doing it to other people. The next little child they push may well fall down the steps of the bus they’re on. I only hope the next time he does it, their dad is a Hell’s Angel and tears his face off. I’m not the type of person to do that.

Sorry. This is a travel blog. That was a rant. Here’s a travel hint: wherever you are – be polite, don’t be a dick. People will appreciate that.

Other than that, the trip back was fine. Hot and sweaty (the aircon in the plane seemed to be knackered), pins and needly (Little Mister fell asleep on my arm) and bumpy (turbulence as we came in to land) but uneventful. After a very brief dinner, we crashed out at barely 8:30pm.

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