Man the heat is really starting to pick up. No matter how much we drink it never seems to be enough – we’re ALWAYS thirsty!
After our unsuccessful attempt at a Fellucca ride in Luxor, Mike and I hopped on a train farther down the Nile to Aswan. It left the requisite 45 mins late, but the entertainment onboard more than made up for it – after pulling out my laptop to watch a quick episode of Globe Trekker I got to witness nearly everyone in sight slowly readjust themselves to see the screen, cramming around for a glimpse of my magic little entertainment box 🙂
Once the train arrived, we decided to get a room with the first hustler who grabbed us at the train station. The effort of lugging our packs across Luxor under the blazing desert sun did not seem like something we wanted to repeat.
We ended up with our own private triple room for 40 pounds – about $3.70USD. And it was located right in the middle of a bustling street market.
We both had an immediately better feeling of Aswan than Luxor.
Somehow it just felt more laid back, perhaps because it’s a bit farther off the main tourist track. Shopkeepers here shouted the same lines trying to coax us into their stores (“Special price just for you, my friend!”), but they were MUCH less persistent, and much more polite. For the first time in a few days, I really felt like I could just sit back and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of an Egyptian night market.
I love it.
For dinner we had an interesting dish that looked something like a metal dogbowl filled with mixed-up beans, rice, pasta, veggies, meat, and various other items. It sort of reminded me of Korean bibinbap, and even came with some REALLY tasty tomato soup – for a total cost of about 40 cents. It was the first entirely local place we’d eaten at this trip – the menu was all Arabic, and none of the staff understood a word of English. It really made me realize that for as cheap as this country has been, we were still probably spending hundreds of times more than we really had to. And that’s a pretty scary thought.
The next morning we went downstairs for our hotel’s breakfast. The guy at the desk told us to have a seat while he prepared it; he then ran out the door, returning 5 minutes later with a grocery bag of bread, jam, and two slices of cheese.
In an attempt to rectify our failed attempt at a Fellucca ride in Luxor, we went down to the docks with the intention of being accosted by the various captains in the area.
That was easy.
We found one and negotiated him down from 250 to 60 pounds for 2 hours. As the wind seemed dead we were hesitant at first, but he assured us “Dont worry my friend, I’ve been doing this for many years, you can trust me – this wind is more than enough!”
Of course it wasn’t enough, and we got stuck having to row.
I cant believe we fell for this twice.
Partway through we asked to let be off on a nearby island, saying and we’d rather just take a ferry back to Aswan. The felluca was barely moving at all, and at that pace, getting back would take hours.
The island turned out to be really interesting – it housed a small Nubian village where we even ran into the village chief!
Finally giving up on our dream of sailing a felucca up the Nile River, we picked up our bags that night and rushed to another 7 hour bus to Hurghada where we’d catch a jetboat across the Red Sea to Sharm El’ Sheikh, the only city in all of Egypt that’s actually known for its nightlife.
Not only did we want to be there in time for the weekend, but by total coincidence Mahmoud and his friend were also driving down from Cairo.
My last weekend in the Middle East…we had to make it count 🙂
A little side-note: pretty much every trip I’ve ever been on, actual prices have been higher than those listed in Lonely Planet. Israel and Jordan were no exceptions. But shockingly, admission costs to many Egyptian tourist attractions were actually LESS than listed in the book. I don’t know if this is because of reduced tourism as a result of political instabilities in the area, but whatever the cause, it’s always nice to show up and discover a bit of reverse-inflation…quite a rare thing in today’s world.
(Note: This entry was originally posted on Aug 2; I later changed the date to fit the chronology of events.)