Friday, March 28, 2008

March 28 - Valley of the Kings

The day starts early with a wake-up call at 5AM. We are planning to take a hot-air balloon at sunrise through the Valley of the Kings. This is the valley where many of the Pharoahs had their tombs. As we pulled up to the field upwind of the valley, we saw dozens of ballons ready for take-off. Some are 6 passenger baskets, others are 12 passenger baskets. Luckily, ours is just six. We are amazed as the pilot lifts off and times our travel just right to float right over a major temple. The sky is filled with antiquity and a couple of dozen balloons. Some comment is made about fear of heights and thinking it was a joke I make the statement "nobody with a fear of heights has any business in a balloon". How does that foot taste Ted? The lady in front of me is gripping the edge of the basket with white knuckles because she's afraid of heights! We make a very graceful landing in the desert a couple of miles downwind. Here's the ground crew helping Patrice out of the basket.

Our next stop is King Tut's tomb. Here's the thing, almost all these tombs are completely bare. the sarcaghagous and riches have all been moved to museums. (like the one we saw in Cairo) Still, the design of the tombs and the well preserved paintings and hieroghyphics are worth seeing. Here is our guide Mohammed.

After going most of the way around the world I think I can say that the Egyptians are better than anyone else in the world at parting Westerners from their money. They have really raised it from a technique to an art form. If you go to any of these sites without a guide you are mobbed by people selling their wares. If you DO have a guide, you are spared the constant barrage, but inevitably end up at "a nice clean place to use the bathroom and get a cool drink". It turns out to be a nice store of a friend of the guide. OK, we are not immune to needing the bathroom so guess who's bringing yet another souvenir home. Here is our host and master salesman, Akmed.

Our last stop today is the tomb of Queen Hatchepsut. (pronounced Hat Cheap Suit) She is one of the few female Pharoahs and Patrice is keen to see how she pulled it off. It's a long story, but it has something to do with marrying her half-brother.

Her tomb has been restored and is really interesting to explore.

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