Monday, August 10, 2015

EGYPT: A CARRIAGE RIDE AND EDFU TEMPLE

After a long day that began with a bus ride to Philae Temple, then continued with a cruise down the Nile and a visit to the Kom Ombo Temple and the Crocodile Museum, we still had one more temple to visit. We spent a few more hours cruising down the Nile, and when we docked at Edfu . . . 
. . . we were hustled off the boat to a line of waiting horse-drawn carriages

Michael Wilcox feeding one of the very skinny horses an apple.
Our driver took this picture for us:
Chris and Stan look excited, but I inside I think they were wondering if their driver was up to navigating a horse and cart through the heavy automobile traffic. (Okay, maybe that's what I was thinking):
After all, we were in this together:
 Bob's driving in Los Angeles makes me nervous. I'm not sure about how he would do in Egypt.

Whew. Glad the real driver came forward and took over the reins, leaving Bob to focus on photography:

Off we went, trotting along at a pretty good clip for an emaciated horse:
Our driver was an adult man of perhaps thirty-five or forty, but many other drivers were quite young. The driver of this carriage couldn't have been much older than twelve:
We saw plenty of empty carriages and were reminded again of the economic consequences of the tourism crash caused by recent unrest:
We soon joined the regular city traffic at what appeared to be rush hour. I tried to take some pictures as we zipped down the road surrounded by motorized vehicles, but the quality of my photos reflects the bumpiness of the ride:

 Yes, our horses and buggies were competing for space in the middle of this very congested traffic:
 After about twenty minutes, we approached our destination:
 Of course, our drivers let us off in front of the shopping area:
Note the ever-present videographer on the right
It took about seven seconds for an aggressive shopkeeper to pull Bob into his store and get him all dressed up. I wish we had bought some of this clothing during one of our gazillion shopping opportunities. It would have made a good Halloween costume. But honestly, if we showed even the slightest interest, the stock of the entire store was soon on the counter and the pressure increased ten-fold. I'm surprised we were able to get out of this store without buying anything as it was.
The Edfu Temple is supposed to be one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt, but we couldn't see that for ourselves because by the time we got there, the sun was down and the moon had yet to rise. One of the reasons this temple is so well-preserved is because for centuries it was buried beneath up to thirty-nine feet of sand. Only the tops of the main entry pylons were visible when excavation began in 1860 under a French Egyptologist.

Built between 237 and 57 BC (Ptolemy III to Ptolemy XII), the Temple of Edfu is dedicated to the falcon god Horus. Among other things, the engravings on the walls describe the drama between Horus and Set, who battled for the throne made vacant by the death of Osiris, a fight eventually won by Horus.

One bit of trivia about this site is that the entrance fee for Egyptians is 2LE (about twenty-six cents) and for foreigners it is 40LE (about five dollars). Given the economy, I would have been happy to see it free for Egyptians and cost three times as much for foreigners.

Our evening visit to the temple was dominated by a highly over-dramatized light and sound show full of eerie music, echoing voices that were hard to understand, dramatic colored light changes, and weird projected images. Honestly, most of the time we couldn't figure out what was going on, but I did get some pretty pictures as we moved, as directed, through the temple.

Parts of it looked like a movie set, a bit fake because of the lights and wiring:
Other sections were just plain spooky with a dash of corniness thrown in, like something out of one of the old Nightmare TV show episodes:


A giant statue of Horus as a falcon stands at one end of the large, colonnaded courtyard. The human figure between his legs is about life-sized:
In other places at Edfu, Horus was depicted with a falcon head but a dog (or cat?) body, kind of like the hawk version of a centaur.
The hieroglyphics at Edfu functioned as a kind of Rosetta Stone in the archaeological world, providing information about the construction of this and other temples and historical/mythical details that aren't found anywhere else. I sure wish we could have seen them in daylight:

On the other hand, this high-contrast black-and-white version was pretty spectacular:
We had seen almost identical huge double-pylon entrances earlier in the day in Phylae and Kom Ombo.

 We were also very familiar with the lotus-topped columns:


 The ensuing light show was a little too much like Disneyland or Las Vegas:






 And then there were some bizarre projections:
They reminded me of the scene in which Princess Leia appears as a hologram to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars:




Throw in some melodramatic narration and music and, well, see for yourself:
Well, it was (thankfully) time for this very long day to come to an end. I felt like I'd been pinching myself all day long ("Am I really here?") and was ready for some cruise ship sleep.

I'll end with two shots from the horse carriage ride back to our ship. First, check out this convenience store topped by a giant KitKat bar, which has to be Nestle's biggest selling international product:
And then this gem, a Kentucky Fried Chicken knock-off, complete with an Egyptian Colonel:
On the list of things to do when we return to Egypt someday, eating here is not particularly high on my list.

3 comments:

  1. We missed Bob's dress-up experience. I am totally, completely impressed you got out of there with your wallet and without the cute outfit. I still am mystified that whoever put this incredible tour together thought Edfu at Night was a good idea.

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  2. I would love to have seen Edfu during the day. I guess you can pack more in by a night-time visit. Even watching your clip makes me want it to be over.

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  3. I didn't get to comment on the last post (tablet malfunction) but that and this together would make for a long day. The superflous light show reminds me of when you guys had the maiden at the top of the fjord, dancing about: trying to recreate ancient history is best left to the imagination. Still, pretty cool to see all this!

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