Sunday, 28 January 2007

Home Sweet Home

Yes, that's right, we are home now. We flew in at 6.30 this morning, after very little sleep on the flight, so we are really wrecked. However, I have just had some excellent news - I had my dates a bit mixed up, so apparently I don't go back to work till Tuesday, not tomorrow! Yayy!!! Mauritius was wonderful, so relaxing. Jason is now a qualified PADI open water diver and I have the closest thing I ever get to a tan :). It was hard to leave, but I am glad to be home. The trip was wonderful, but I think there are only so many new experiences you can process - I am looking forward to editing my photos and reminding myself what the first few weeks were like. I feel very fortunate that we got the chance to have this awesome experience. I could certainly get used to overseas travel to exotic locations.....but I wish you didn't have to do the 24 hr flights to get anywhere from Australia - I hate those long haul flights. OK, I am thinking that some sleep is in order...I'm probably not making a lot of sense - I feel a bit punch drunk. :) Au Revoir

Monday, 22 January 2007


Hi all, We are finally on the last leg of our trip. We have been in Mauritius for 2 days. The resort is beautiful, the weather is hot and humid, and the food is wonderful. A really lovely way to end the trip and to unwind. Jason has just signed up to do a PADI diving course for the rest of the week, so I will have to entertain myself a bit this week. This will be the last post before we get home as Internet here is about 40 dollars an hr - a bit of a shock after 1 dollar an hr in Egypt. So, have to go - take care and we will see you all soon _ we are back on Sunday.
We spent the last few days in Cairo visiting some other Pyramid sites...Dashur and Saquara, and the Khan Al Kalili bazaar in Cairo......

Friday, 19 January 2007

One more day....

Well, it turns out we did that Egyptian guy a disservice - the mosque was just around the next corner. What can you do? We got back from Dahab yesterday. The Sinai is an amazing place. The most desolate desert and mountains, with barely any greenery at all, right next to the beautiful blue waters of the red sea. And you can see Saudi Arabia just across the other side, on a clear day (sometimes its too smoggy over there). We had a great time in Dahab, despite some stresses from the tour organisation. We went snorkeling, quad bike riding and horse riding, and ate wonderful food. It was very relaxing, the first chance we have had to slow down for a few days. I am still, however, looking forward immensely to Mauritius next week and the Beachcomber resort. Egypt is fascinating, and beautiful....but I am looking forward to somewhere clean and quiet, with good plumbing! :) We have had to buy a new bag to use as carry-on luggage - we have shopped a bit too much. It will fit in our big cases, but I hate to think how far over the weight limit we would be, LOL On the way out to Dahab we stopped for the night at St Catherine, and the group climbed Mt Sinai. Jason went - and managed to take 616 photos, yep, 616...every second of the sunrise, so I could see it too. :) I decided not to do the climb. The path is about a metre, metre and a half wide, and you walk it in the dark, while camels walk in both directions. On one side, the cliff wall, on the other - a sheer drop. I did not enjoy walking down the mountain from the valley of the kings, so I though I better give this one a miss, as its lots longer, and can also be icy in winter. Jason had a great time, but I know my limitations, so we are sure I did the right thing. We snorkeled at a site called the Blue Hole - an amazing formation - 120m deep 'hole' in the reef, just a few metres off shore. We snorkeled the drop off around it, but the divers go down inside, and there was also a line for free divers - one girl did 36m while we were there (no tanks etc). Apparently they had a major world competition there in '95, with the world champion there...and then it got postponed, or cancelled, because a pod of dolphins came into shore and all the divers went and swam with them instead. :) I know which I'd choose!!! Ok, I better stop rambling and head back to the hotel before it gets dark. Ciao
Dawn at the peak of Mt Sinai....

Saturday, 13 January 2007

More on Cairo

Hi again. The Egyptian people are extremely friendly, but there are a lot of people out to scam tourists. We have been told all the most well known tricks, but the books also say not to be rude, as many people are genuinely friendly. Its so hard to tell - sometimes you are taken in by the scam artists, and other times you are rude to people just trying to be friendly..... This morning we took a taxi with two other Aussies to Islamic Cairo. We left it till the afternoon, as its Friday and there are extra prayers today. We went into a Mosque and climbed the Minaret. Apart from the terrible smog obscuring the city, it was a great view. A little further on, a personable young man told us the way to the most beautiful mosque - the only one that would be open today due to Friday prayers, and the only one where we could climb the minaret.... Why on earth did alarm bells not sound then? We had just been in another mosque, and climbed the minaret. Well, they did for me I guess, I did tell him we'd be fine with the map, but once we started moving in that direction, we picked him up again... After being lead for a long time through narrower and dirtier back streets, Jason and I decided to head back while we still knew the way ( a common scam is to get tourists lost, then ask for 'baksheesh' to get them out) but our companions chose to continue. I hope they found the mosque, or at worst just got charged a big tip to find the main road again, but you have to be so careful here... I'm sure they will have some sort of story to tell us at dinner. OK, I'm nearly out of time again, so Ill say bye for now.... Yes, the sound and light show at Giza really stooped this low.... see below for a moment during the show (it wasnt all that bad, but it certainly caused much hilarity on the bus home that night) and yes, that is bagpipes you can see in the bottom picture - what other instrament would you expect to open the show?? ROTFLOL

Thursday, 11 January 2007

1/2 Way

Hi all. Today we arrived back in Luxor after 2 days in Aswan and aprox 3 days on a Fellucca cruising the Nile. Aswan was great, with a Nubian Bazaar, Philae temple and we went on a camel ride to a 7th Century Monastery in the desert. From there we also took a 'day trip' to Abu Simbel. I'm not sure if it classifies as a day trip - get up at 4am to join the government convoy to drive at over 120km/hr for the 2-3 hr drive, get there at 7am, have a little over 2 hrs there, then take the same crazy drive back. It was worth it though - Abu Simbel's one of the most impressive monuments we have seen, and even more amazing is how they managed to move it to a new location when they built the high dam at Aswan and it was going to be flooded. The Fellucca trip was full of ups and downs- the sailing was relaxing, with lovely scenery, very peaceful....but no toilets wears pretty thin after 4 days, I can tell you. :) Boy was I glad to see my hotel room this morning!!! It was relaxing, but forced inactivity is not my style for so long, so I am glad to be mobile again. We have spent so much time on the water though, that now this computer and chair feels like it is rocking gently. I was beginning to think the comment function wasn't working, till I heard from Nat today (Hi Nat!). Please feel free to leave comments - its much easier for me to read than plowing through the spam in my email to find the real stuff.... Tonight we take the night train back to Cairo (yuck, very uncomfortable!) at 11pm and tomorrow we have another free day in Cairo, before we head off on the 2nd leg of this trip - the Sinai Peninsula. We are merging with a larger group tomorrow, as our tour director is not continuing. We have been running into them as we go though, so we already know a few of them. OK, only 6 min left online so I had better run....

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Greetings from Luxor

We are in Luxor today. Day 2 here. Yesterday we went to Karnak temple with a local guide. It is very large, and in some areas in good repair. Really interesting to wander through, and we had a very good local guide, Hassan, showing us around and explaining everything. Today we went to the Valley of the Kings -some of them are very well preserved, even with all the original colours. Beautiful to see, and unlike anything I remember seeing in documentaries etc. They do not let us take cameras inside unfortunately - maybe they do now allow TV crews either? We went into 3 tombs (there are 63 all together, including a new one only discovered 5 months ago). Many are not yet open to the public, as they are still active dig sites. Tomorrow we head by convoy to Aswan and then Abu Simbel. After that will be the 4 day Fellucca ride (where I can guarantee I wont be online!:) ). I don't have a lot of time left today online, so this is a short one. Thanks for reading! Love to all

Friday, 5 January 2007

In Egypt!!

We arrived in Cairo at midnight the night before last. We were amazed to see so many cars and people on the streets at that time of night. Cairo is an incredibly busy city - 20 Million people. We spent that first day getting ourselves to the Cairo Museum - we teamed up with a fellow Aussie who is on our tour and walked there. That day was an interesting experience. The roads are crazy busy - the driving is even worse than Italy, except everyone is much calmer - no road rage here. But trying to cross the roads is a baptism by fire, and quite scary to begin with. We made it to the museum, which is an enormous sprawling building, with 4 levels of security before you can get in. Inside, its is very full, lots of people, and very little labelling or organisation. But the contents are amazing and fascinating to look at, especially King Tut's sarcophagi etc. We then used our Lonely Planet guide to find a cafe for lunch, and had some local Egyptian food, which was quite nice. Apparently to Egyptians it's a dish usually eaten at births etc - special occasions. Everywhere we walked people stared at me - especially the women. I felt very self conscious, and by the end of the day it was wearing thin. Everyone assures me it was more the skin and hair colour, but I felt I should have been wearing a long dress and covering my hair. I had culture shock quite badly by the end of the day and just wanted to hide in my hotel room. That night we met our guide, and went out for dinner with him. We went to a bar with western food and music, which helped a bit, although it still took a great tour to Giza today to make me finally relax. Jason coped much better, but its also a bit easier being male here, I think. Today we went to Giza and saw the pyramids and the sphinx. They are amazing! The blocks are so huge - the smallest weighs 2 and a half ton. Just looking at them and imagining how they were made, wow...... We walked inside one of them. You walk doubled over down a steep ramp, and then up again, and come out in the burial chamber. There is not much to see, but it has an atmosphere, and we thought it was well worth going inside. To my horror, Jason had to jump in and lie in the burial area, when I wasn't looking. *shakes head*. What's worse - he got the other guys started, so then they all had to as well...he'll get us thrown out of Egypt at this rate. :) Our guide today was excellent, and he is an archaeologist working on current digs around the Pyramids. He was interesting and very informative, and had footage of a recent find to show us on his phone! A Mummy so well preserved it is still soft to touch. Ick! He also told us how to avoid all the various scams and hustles. Egyptians are a friendly people, and not aggressive at all. But they all seem to be trying to sell us something, even if its just help getting across the street. We learnt the Arabic for 'no thankyou' today - it works like a charm. They assume you have been around for awhile and leave you alone. Thank goodness - that contributed quite a bit to my stress levels dropping. It's like a shield. There are only 5 on our tour, all Aussies. A bit different from the last one, which had 47. We will be meeting up with 2 other small tours later though, and forming a larger group. Tonight we take the night train, heading for Luxor, 900km away. So, I better head off and get organised!!
Can you believe this is how close Cairo has grown to the Giza Plateau? This was taken from inside the Pizza Hut.... The wall in the foreground was only built relatively recently, as the barrier beyond which they are no longer allowed to build.

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Leaving Europe....

Hi all, Today we are leaving London and heading to Cairo. We have had a great time, with the weather only turning nasty once - unfortunately we got stuck out in it waiting for our transport :(. Between us we have seen the British Museum, Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Greenwich, Westminster, Cabinet War rooms, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Tate Modern and Tate Britain, The Wallace Collection, and bus tours around the city and boat trips up the Thames (or down ?). We went to see Avenue Q in the west end and watched the fireworks on the London Eye from our hotel room on New Years Eve (too scary out there in those crowds!!). Jason is now going to start having withdrawal symptoms as there is no prospect of looking at any more armour. He has seen armour in Nurnberg, Vienna, Canterbury, British Museum, Wallace Collection and the Royal Armoury at Leeds (where he got to play with original period weapons and had his own personal guide all day - spoilt!). We are having some issues with luggage weight - we sent back 9kg of books today and that was an adventure in itself - UK post, argh!!!!! We still have 2 hammers floating around in our luggage (No Jason, you cant go and look in that hardware store!) LOL We will have to keep our shopping in those Egyptian bazaars to a minimum. :) I doubt I will get much time to update this blog or email in the next 2 weeks. I know there are lots of internet cafe's around, but I mainly used hotel internet on the European tour, and I doubt that will be available in Egypt. Its hard to find time to get out to the cafes when you are on a strict tour schedule. It has been nice planning our own time this week in London. We went to the British Museum this week, and we find it a bit amusing that we saw the Egyptian display - all the contents of the pyramids and tombs, and now we are going to see where they came from. When you see all the artifacts in various museums here in Europe (and in every public square it seems like) you wonder what is left in Egypt itself. OK, we have to catch our transfer to Heathrow soon, so I will sign off.
Bye for now
Can you believe this? You can buy these bears inside Canterbury Cathedral.