Thebes, Day two

Took a bike (and the ‘people’ ferry) today, avoiding the 7km detour the minibus takes. The ‘people’ ferry being so called to distuinguish it from the the tourist ferries, clearly tourists aren’t people. And, to be fair, based on walking around the Royal Mile in August, I’d tend to agree.

First stop was Ramesses II’s mighty temple to the greater glory of … himself. As monumental egos go, his does seem to be up there with the all time-greats like Mao and L. Ron Hubbard. I was surprised how quiet the temple was, but even at 9 am the heat was pretty intense. Then on to the Valley of the Kings again, with a brief stop to look at Howard Carter’s rather nice (but derelict, for now) house. The climb up to the valley is quite a lot more noticeable by bike (as compared to air-conditioned minibus), a better machine would have helped a lot (especially in the saddle area). The bike, to (mis-)quote Jeremy Clarkson ‘felt like it’d been in a crash’, notably the headset / wheel alignment was off. I guess I should start travelling with WD40, gaffer and my Leatherman, but two of those are hold-luggage only, and in Egypt every tourist site has a metal-detector on the gate. At least the tourist police have a sense of humour, unlike BAA staff: ‘No bomb today, sir? No bazooka?’ is the usual enquiry.

Visited KV34, which is comparatively remote (at the end of the valley), and very deep. This was generally good (fewer people) but the atmosphere was hot and humid, which is probably destroying the decoration at a frightening rate. Then on to KV15 which I had entirely to myself (well, and the guard). Tombs are infinitely more interesting places when you can stand in silence and appreciate the original art, or contemplate the centuries rolling by above dark, sealed vaults. Trying to do either while the annoying kind of Americans make inane remarks is tricky, it makes me want to seal them in a dark vault for a year or two.

Finally, KV43, which again was almost deserted and is ‘quite’ big (sadly KV17 and KV20, the hugely deep ones, are both closed at the moment). The guard earned his baksheesh here – providing a torch to illuminate some inaccessible side chambers off the burial chamber which contain skeletal remains of cows. This is assuming they weren’t placed there last week from a Luxor abattoir’s, clearly I couldn’t tell three-thousand-year-old mummified dead cow from three-month-old dead cow. (Mmmmm, steak). (Checked – The TMP page says the remains are real, and they have degrees in this stuff)

After lunch, tackled Medinet Habu, Ramesses III’s mighty temple to the greater glory of … go, on, guess. Pretty good, and in a much better state of repair than the Ramesseum, but was getting a bit temple-d out at this point, and the heat was intense. The first pylon includes awesome frescoes of defeated enemies being tallied – in the form of scribes counting a pile of severed hands, and another pile of severed genitalia. So if you ever think your lot in life is bad, remember you aren’t being paid (or worse, indentured) to count cock. Hopefully.

Posted Saturday, April 12th, 2008 under history.

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