Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nubian nadir

Dave W was tired, unenthused and not too well. He's going to be a barrel of laughs today!

Another Egyptian city, another day trip setting off unhealthily early to pack in the famous local sights. And ones 300km away down the lawless desert road, without a protective convoy in sight, because a bus driver didn't pay the baksheesh. Join me on the high-stakes tourism trail!

Abu Simbel

The Great Temple and Temple of Hathor and Nefertari

Like the Acropolis in Athens, I feel a bit ungrateful for not getting more out of this technically spectacular temple complex than I did, but compared to Giza, Luxor and the West Bank it didn't do a lot for me. Maybe I'm just Egypted-out after spending a month in this country, though it's probably also because I got myself geared up to confront some unrealistically colossal statues here.

That's not to say these statues aren't big. They're 20 metres tall, that's massive. But after reading how the spoilt megalomaniacal god-king Ramesses II (yeah, him again) had the four (now three and a half) vain statues of himself constructed to scare away Nubian invaders from his temple, I was expecting something really shit-your-pants scary, like Castle Grayskull or something.

But these are just smiling men, sitting politely with hands on their knees. Those Nubians were pussies! No wonder they were conquered. I passed right by the statues, and I hardly let any poo out at all!

Dave W's-eye-view of a realistically big statue

The fact that this whole complex was relocated piece by fragile piece to save it from the flooding Lake Nasser is remarkable, but knowing it was reconstructed around an artificial mountain unfortunately just enhanced the feeling that this was the closest things get to an Ancient Egyptian Disneyland (which is more than can be said for the country's harrowing attempts at Disneyland - maybe I'll visit Fantazyland when I'm in Alexandria?)

So what am I saying? That I'd rather these magnificent temples were left submerged forever - because if we can't see the real thing, why settle for second best? Will I feel the same way when I inevitably end up on the operating table in dire need of a replacement liver? I think I was just very tired after the 3am departure, but hey, things soon brightened up...

To be continued!

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