Luxor & Valley of the Kings
May 31, 2010
So I was woken up at 4.30 am as Tom gets ready to go on his balloon ride which I decided against due to funding. Although it was only 150 LE which is cheap compared to Australia I wasn't dead set on it. When we the rest of us got up at 5.30 and wander up for breakfast we could see them taking off across the Nile, and got a few photos, before heading over to the west bank ourselves to catch our donkies.
Something obviously hadn't entirely agreed with me the night before, as I was getting occasional stomach cramps which I assumed was just wind, but when things coming out were all together more liquid than they should have been it was clear it was more than that. Still I managed to make it though they donkey ride OK. There were about 4 separate groups with us, about 40-50 donkies in one big pack. We were told that 'ha' is supposed to speed them up, and 'hoosh' is supposed to slow them down, but overall they just did what they wanted, occasionally listening to the owners who would yell 'yalla' instead.
Once there it was a short walk in blistering heat up the hill to the tombs themselves. Our guide was not allowed in, and yet again our cameras neither. The first one we entered was Ramses VII, rather short, no more than 20-30 meters into the cliff, it was still quite colourful compared to everything we'd seen so far, no doubt due to it being hidden from direct sunlight. I could write more about this one tomb, but it was completely overshadowed by the other two unfortunately.
Ramses III was next, a good 10 times larger and further into the cliff than VII. It actually encountered another tomb as the digging was in progress and had to angle off to the side to keep going. This tomb is particularly famous for it's 'harp room' - the tomb was discovered before hieroglyphics where deciphered, and this tomb has some great depictions of everyday life in picture form rather than hieroglyphic. One room in particular shows very clearly shows a couple of Egyptian women playing harps, something entirely unique amongst tomb artwork.
Finally and most spectacularly was Ramses I. This tomb was cut almost at 45 degrees downwards into the mountain, a very steep decent down stairs into the burial chamber, overall the tomb was only twice as big as Ramses VII, however the colours where completely unspoiled. I don't think I saw a spot on the walls in the chamber which didn't still have it's colour, still bright and vivid as thousands of years ago. I had wondered before coming here how we know what ancient Egyptian art looks like - sure we had the outlines from the carvings but I was totally surprised to find out that there existed tombs such as this with all their colours intact.
Boiling under the heat we headed back to the river, stopping only briefly to snap a few photos of two massive statues. Under difference circumstances they would have warranted much more than the 5 minutes we gave them.
Back in Luxor we had the afternoon free. We had two rooms in a hotel between all 12 of us, as the Melodie had left, but most of us were instead out in the City. I got my Liverpool top for 40 LE ($10 AU) and it is quite obviously a fake but at least I have one now. Amusing because it even says made in Egypt. Not something I will be able to wear in England though :P
Later in the evening a group of us headed out, got some Ice cream, and had a walk around Luxor temple. Amusingly you can see the majority of it simply by walking along the road outside, saving a good 50 pounds. By night it was quite a sight. Then back to the hotel, to pack our bags and catch the night train back to Cairo.