August 15, 2006

A JOURNEY TO EGYPT: Part Seven - Journey's End

After recovering from my trek of Mount Sinai, I felt it was time to leave sleepy Dahab and return to Cairo. I took the 8:30 bus in the morning, spending most of the eight hour journey either dozing off or viewing the desolate desert landscape outside.

When I arrived in Cairo, I immediately settled into the Dahab Hotel, which was recommended to me by my Dutch friends. It is a strange hotel, located at the top of a very high building. The rooms are very basic, but at $4 a night, luxury is not to be expected. The management was extremely helpful and I would certainly stay there again when I return to Egypt in the future.

Being back in Cairo, I could not resist a third visit to the magnificent Egyptian Museum. As luck should have it, on August 6th, a new royal mummies room was opened, displaying such pharaohs as Ramses III and Ramses IV for the very first time. I spent almost an entire day exploring the museum and discovering delights I had missed on my previous visits.

In the evening, I was reunited with my Dutch friends, and we spent time chatting with fellow travellers at the hotel. They were a very interesting group of individuals. One traveller had just spent five weeks in Sudan, while another had just travelled in Afghanistan. Both had interesting adventures to share. A Japanese archaeologist, who specialises in Pre-Dynastic Egyptology, and who happens to live very close to my home in Japan, also joined us.

I had one more day left in Egypt and there was no question that it would be spent revisiting the Pyramids of Giza. Again, when I approached the site, I was absolutely stunned by the beauty and majesty of the place. It is truly like nowhere else on Earth.

I once again entered Khufu's Pyramid and spent time within it, trying to absorb some of the magic that radiates throughout. I also entered Khafra's Pyramid, which was equally impressive. Unlike Khufu's, the visitor is required to descend a long narrow passageway, and then walk through a handsome square tunnel towards the main chamber that houses the sarcophagus. Rather interestingly, the name Giovanni Belzoni is written on the wall. This 19th Century graffiti was the handiwork of the famous Italian adventurer, who discovered the tomb of Seti I among many other finds.

After six hours baking under the hot desert sun, I decided it was time to say a fond farewell to the Sphinx and the Pyramids. I am certain that I will return one day.

My journey to Egypt has been everything I wanted it to be and more. I saw places that had been in my imagination since childhood. I got to experience the tranquil life of the people who live on the Nile. And I climbed Moses' Mountain. I also made new friends, who I will remain in contact with.

Visit SPIRIT for my photography from Egypt.

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