Arthur’s trip to Egypt for National Geographic Kids
There’s boiling. Then there’s very boiling. Then there’s Egypt. Go for Egypt if you like the “ face slowly turning into heated porridge” feeling. From the plane window we saw Egypt as an aerial map – the Nile looking like an ink blotch on papyrus with green on either side and desert surrounding it.
We arrived in Luxor airport and from there headed for Jolie Ville Island Resort. When we got there my mum had to undergo a tedious booking process while I played with water bubbles. Then we went to our bungalow ( We didn’t have a whole bungalow,just a room in one.) I went to one of the swimming pools for a midnight swim and met my friend Hugh. We spent five days in Luxor and every day we went to a different temple or tomb and then came back and swam and ate and slept in Jolie Ville. Jolie Ville had three swimming pools and a different buffet every night. There were lots of sparrows that stole your breakfast and an egret that just stood next to the table staring at my food.
The first night we went to see the Light and Sound Show at Karnak Temple. Karnak Temple is nearly 4000 years old and one of the biggest religious places in the world. The light and sound show was very intimidating with loud voices and lots of mysterious lights, but was slightly ruined by a dog that kept barking whenever the voices spoke and poohed when there was music. The show was about all the different pharoahs that had been in Karnak Temple.
The next day we went to the Valley of the Kings in a taxi that went very fast. If you looked out of the window you saw people in long robes and lots of dogs and noise. There were donkey carts and when we crossed the Nile, you could see lots of feluccas and big cruise boats. The Valley of the Kings – a must see – I had to drink masses of water, it was really hot. When we got out of the taxi we got ambushed by people selling us wooden camels and Anubis heads and they chased us all the way up to the tombs, until mum got cross. There were lots of policemen at the tombs and m ost of the police had sub machine guns. Nuff said. I recommend Rameses III, IV and Merenptah. The pharoah’s tombs were buried in the desert, hidden away from grave robbers who might destroy their mummys. They tried to trick grave robbers by putting all the treasure and the fancy stuff in one tomb and then hiding their mummys in other tombs or in dark holes or behind secret doors etc (but this didn’t always work – insert evil laugh)
Most of the tombs were robbed by the time people nowdays found them – except for Tutankhamun. When we went to see the Tomb of Ay we had an armed escort in the taxi of 3 policemen who sat next to me and had guns on their laps. It was so hot when we went to Hetshepsut that I had to hide under an umbrella like Mary Poppins and we were the only ones there.
The most exciting day we had was when we went to the Temple of the Nobles where all the lords and ladies were burried. The tombs were all covered in magic Hieroglyphs which would protect them on their journey through the Underworld, so that they would go through the right doors and not be eaten by monsters. There were also pictures of all the food and animals that they wanted to take with them to the next world. There was nobody else in the tombs except for an Egyptian guard who asked us if we wanted to go to see the burial place and when we said yes, he opened a gate and we went down a really dark and scary tunnel and it got difficult to breathe.
We only had a tiny torch, so you couldn’t really see anything. At the bottom were some very small, dark rooms and I found a black skull in one which used to belong to a mummy. It was very scary like a Scooby Doo movie and we all left quickly. The guard told us we weren’t to tell anybody that we had been down there and mum gave him some money – baksheesh.
Next we went on a boat ride. It was a dahabiyya, like a huge sailing boat. We were on it for five days, so we slept on it. My friend Hugh came for the first night. It was wonderful – we saw lots of temples like Edfu, Esna and Konombo as we sailed down the river.
I liked Edfu best because it was cooler (temperature) and interesting. In Edfu they treated a statue like a god. They dressed him, sunbathed him and put him to bed.
In Kon Ombo they had croc mummies and mummy eggs. The croc god was called Sobek and they believed that his essence was captured in the croc mummys and statues. We saw a lot of carvings of him on the walls. He was the god of crocodiles and water – he looks a bit like a hybrid of a crocodile and a cow – a crocow! His head was an animal like nearly all other Egyptian god, so his head was a croc, but he had horns on the top of his head like a cow. People who lived near the Nile worshipped Sobek because crocodiles eat people and so if you didn’t worship him, the crocodiles might eat you!
We stopped off on the bank most nights and went for lots of walks and numerous donkeys. We swam in the Nile, but at first it was freezing and after we had finished they threw buckets of water over our feet to stop sand going on to the boat. We were scared that there were crocodiles and hippos in the Nile – they are supposed to have been stopped from coming into the river by the Aswan dam, but as lots of people in Aswan have baby crocodiles in their houses and might release them into the Nile where they’ll grow up, then I was a bit scared…. There are also lots of parasites in the river that cause diseases.
There was a felucca that they let us sail, which is a mini boat. I got stuck in the enormous lifejacket, but it was fun. We saw a lot of kingfishers and sparrows and a vulture and kites and egrets and ibis and a pelican, but mainly sparrows. We were woken up one morning by a kingfisher banging its head on the glass because it was trying to fight its reflection that he thought was a rival kingfisher.
We went to an ancient quarry (The Egyptians invented explosives – they filled a wax container with seeds which exploded when they got hot and then they put a little string into the container which they set fire to and all the pods exploded together). They cracked the stones for the temples by cutting them and then putting wood into the holes and then pouring water over them so that the wood expanded and cracked the stones.
The Christians hid in the tombs in the quarry and broke all the faces of the Ancient Egyptian statues because they weren’t Christian and then they got killed by the Romans who were chasing them. There was lots of Christian graffiti saying things like ‘Help the Romans are killing us’ there was lots of other graffiti on the wall from Victorian tourists, saying things like ‘Grand Duke Boris Borisvitch 1886, scratched with a knife across the old hieroglyphics.
When we got to Aswan we said goodbye to the boat and all the very friendly sailors that had let me steer and played chess with me. We moved to Philae Hotel, which was very nice too. The Romans and the Ancient Egyptians used to trade ivory and gold and slaves in Aswan with Africans who came up the Nile and across the desert from Africa. Sometimes they brought real elephants to fight against Indian elephants in wars.
In Aswan we went to a Crocodile café – I got to hold a live crocodile about half a metre long – they had to keep wetting the crocodile so it wouldn’t dry out – they used a hair band around its jaws to keep them shut so it wouldn’t bite me. We also went to Anaimalia, which was very cool and all about Nubia – I liked the way Nubians used date palms to make their houses an for everything. There was a tortoise that kept coming in to the room when the man was speaking and tried to chew my sandals.
We went to Abu Simbel, Kitcheners Island and Tomb of the Worker and we got there late, so they let us in a side door. When we went to Abu Simbel I had to get up at 3 in the morning and I found out that the whole temple had to be moved because the High Dam over the Nile would have flooded it. The statues were really big and it was really amazing that they could move them. There were lots of people there and we all had to go together with the army in a convoy because tourists arent allowed there on their own in case terrorists attack them.
We took a taxi back to Luxor and stayed in a guest house right by one of the temples so that in the morning you could see the mountains and the temples and a crow tried to eat my breakfast.
I loved going to Egypt – go now if you like heat and sand and magic temples and the longest river in the world.