Day 3: Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Hatsheptsut’s Temple, and ancient pottery
I got virtually no sleep last night. After the Museum, we went straight to the sleeping train that was leaving for Luxor. The train ride was… an experience, to say the least. I have never rode on a sleeping train before. They served us dinner (at 9:30 that night) and then we went to bed (well, after Deanna and I watched a movie). The train ride itself was rather eerie. We were riding on one of the world’s oldest railroad lines, only second to one in Europe. At times, the tracks were offset, and we found the entire train leaning to one side. At random intervals, the power would go off and we would ride in darkness. It was legitimately like a horror movie. I made you a sample of what it was like. You should check it out here. (Coming soon)
It wasn’t the scariness that kept me awake, it was the train stopping every fifteen minutes at a station to pick up or drop off people. Every time the train would stop, I would roll to the side and bang my head against the metal wall (I hope I didn’t annoy the ladies next door). Thus, I woke up every fifteen minutes. I barely got any sleep when the busboy came to our door and knocked with breakfast at 5:30 in the morning. *le sigh*
I have to say Luxor is VERY different than Cairo. Cairo is hyper crowded (it is the third most crowed city in the world) with 8,000,000 residents. Luxor is more of an agrarian city with only 500,000 residents. You can already see how the town would be different. People in Luxor are more laid back and relaxed where Cairo is all hustle and bustle, trying to get to the next place and do the next thing. I am actually enjoying Luxor more than I am enjoyed Cairo.
We visited the Valley of the Kings and I have to say, I enjoyed the Valley more than the Pyramids. While the pyramids were great (And I got to ride camels!), I enjoyed the colorful tombs and landscape of the Valley much more. I could not take any pictures (they wouldn’t even let me take my camera off the bus), so I am sorry I have nothing for you. But I did learn a lot! And had fun!
We also went to the Temple of Hatshepsut (Which I could easily write and entire post about just because she has quite a story!). I did get to take pictures there, and it was quite enjoyable. However, we were very tired and hot, having been walking in the hot sun for nearly 6 hours. I made a video here you can watch. (Coming soon)
We also went to a pottery shop, where they made alabaster, basalt, and granite jars and figurines just like they did in Egypt thousands of years ago. These handmade pots and figurines were quite fascinating. I got my second experience at bartering at this place, buying two small figurines and getting two free for $60 (when the original price was about $130). I think I am getting pretty good at bartering…
…Until I got to another outdoor shop where they sell 100% authentic Egyptian cotton. A man roped me in with some broken English, and because of the language barrier and time constraints (the bus was pulling out), I ended up paying $40 for two cotton dress shirts and a turban (when the original price was $100). Sounds like the best deal I got so far, right?
Actually, no. It isn’t because I got a bad deal; I actually got a very good deal. However, I didn’t need to spend any more money. I didn’t need those shirts or really want those shirts, but I was so addicted to bartering (and thought I was so awesome), that I could talk a guy down in a few minutes. While I succeeded, I am now $40 dollars short of where I should be. It hasn’t even been a week here yet and I have already spent so much money! Yes, I planned on spending a lot of money, but because of my reckless spending, I may have to turn town other deals.
For example, today, we had the opportunity to purchase air balloon tickets to watch the sunrise over the mountains in Luxor tomorrow for $20. His normal price was $110, but because the economy is so bad, he needs some business (and once he is up in the air, it’s free advertising). A group of us bought some tickets, but I had to say no.
Later that night, we had the opportunity to go on a sailboat and watch the sunset over the Nile, attend a tour of Luxor in a horse-drawn carriage, and go to a coffee/shisha (hookah) shop all for $15. The original price was $75. I once again had to say no.
While the dress-shirts are nice and everything, I have had to say no already to two things because of my recklessness. I have learned a valuable lesson, though: be wise with your money. Really think about what you need/want before you spend it. Even if it is a REALLY good deal, you don’t need it. Just walk away.
I know me; sometimes I just have to learn the hard way.
Following His Call,