Tag Archives: Felucca

Shukran (Thanks)

18 Dec

I met a lot of great Egyptians living in Cairo on my trip – and I will never forget the hospitality that I received from them.
When my backpack was temporarily ‘lost’ (but found a day later) and I had no extra clothes to wear, Shahira and Maged came through for me with a bag of clothes and shoes.

Oh yeah, did I mention that I only met Shahira once in Toronto before I went to Cairo? And that I had never met Maged at all before Egypt? I was introduced to them by some friends here in Toronto.
Both of them and their friends took me out for some fantastic late nights in Cairo.

Horseback riding by the pyramids at night was exhilarating – and a little scary because you didn’t really control your horse’s speed…that was the guide’s job and the horses only listen to him!

Felucca’ing on the Nile was relaxing, while the party boat with neon lights and music was a fun and very entertaining experience. The only awkward moment was when they made me get up and attempt bellydancing (I did a really poor job, and a little girl on the same boat put us all to shame!).

What would an Egyptian experience be without coffee and shisha? Well I had a lot of that…I’m pretty sure shisha goes with everything though. i.e. Sushi + Shisha: my most memorable meal was sitting by the Nile at Sequoia and eating some really great sushi (along with some shisha). The sushi there was better than the all-you-can-eat ones here, that’s for sure!

I didn’t get too many days/nights in Cairo, but the ones I did have were definitely not wasted. I don’t think I got much sleep while in Cairo, but it was well worth it!

Thank you: Maged, Shahira, Tony, Andrew, Asem, & friends for showing me around Cairo, entertaining me, feeding me, and driving me around. You are awesome and I will never forget my trip to Egypt – and yes, you can go ahead and take credit for that! :)

And let’s not forget my tour-mates and tour guide, Shady: you guys also made my trip super fun and unforgettable – I will have entertaining stories to tell for a long time. Special thanks to Matilda! For putting up with late room-arrivals or non-arrivals at times, and for checkin’ on me when I was sick.

My trip in one word: Incredible

Kom Ombo to Cairo

30 Oct

We temporarily got off the felucca at Kom Ombo to visit a temple known as a “mirror” temple for its symmetrical architecture: one side of the building perfectly reflects the other. Facing the temple (1st pic below), you will notice that the left side looks similar to the right – it’s the same on the inside.

This temple is dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile-headed god, and to Horus as well. There used to be crocodiles in these parts so Ancient Egyptians prayed to Sobek to protect them from these predators. Kom Ombo was also a place of healing where everyone went to receive treatment from the priests & priestesses – it served as a hospital.
There are engraved images of what is thought to be the first representation of medical instruments for performing surgery including scalpels, forceps, scissors and medicine bottles.

After our Temple of Kom Ombo visit, we had our last nite on the felucca. In the morning we were driven to Luxor where we boarded an overnight train to Cairo.
Note: if you ever plan to take an overnight train in Egypt, bring a sleeping bag. It gets frigid!

Once back in Cairo, two girls and I decided to fill our day with a visit to the Egyptian Museum and a trip to the Khan el-Khalili market.

Egyptian Museum highlights included King Tutankhamun’s very large and magnificent jewelry collection and the other artifacts that were buried with him in his tomb. We also had the chance to see some real mummies – kind of creepy, but fascinating. On some of them, you could clearly see facial features. I’ll have to admit that the Egyptian museum lacked in the labeling department, so I had no idea what I was looking at some of the time. Hopefully the new Egyptian Museum (being built to house the artifacts that didn’t all fit in the 1st museum) will have everything labelled.

Khan el-Khalili is a major souk/market in the Islamic district of Cairo. The bazaar district is one of Cairo’s main attractions for tourists. Expect to see the typical souvenir stores, food stands, and coffee shops when you go.

My Khan el-Khalili adventure was interesting because we got lost and ended up on the side where local Egyptians shopped.
The side we were aiming to explore has your typical tourist souvenirs (papyrus, toy camels, scarves), more-expensive-than-usual prices at restaurants, and touts who never leave you alone. Where we were, there were undergarments, rugs, and things that you wouldn’t normally buy as a tourist.
After wandering through maze-like alleyways, a really nice mosque tour guide pointed us in the right direction and we, so to say, got “un-lost”. Without his help, I’d still probably be in that maze.

That night, some people from our tour group were leaving so we had a goodbye dinner on a Nile cruise boat where there was bellydancing entertainment and a whirling dervish.

What’s a whirling dervish, you ask?

This isn’t my video, but I figured it would do the job in showing you what a whirling dervish does….spin, spin, and spin…with objects too! I have no idea how they can spin for so long and how they keep their balance, so I’m going to have to attribute it to talent.

Along the Nile

12 Oct

Location:

The Nile (starting from Aswan and heading north)

After our Abu Simbel visit in the morning, we had some time to shower (our last one for 2.5 days) and pack our stuff for our Felucca adventure up the Nile. For those unfamiliar with feluccas, they are traditional wooden sail boats of Egypt’s Nile.

Felucca - photo by Andrew RushworthOurs (pictured) was manned by 3 Nubians who not only sailed the boat, but also cooked for us. There were 16 in our group (including myself) plus 3 crew members on this felucca. Imagine 19 people cramped together on a boat with very limited space.

How you established your personal space: you boarded, then you picked a spot to lie down. Et voilĂ ! That space your body just occupied? That was your personal space for the next 3 days and nights. 8 people on one side of the boat, and 8 on the other (the crew had their own separate space).

This is where/how we spent the next couple of days. As you can imagine, there isn’t all that much to do when you’re stuck on a small sail boat. So we read, listened to music, played cards, and generally tried to kill time. We ate all our meals on the boat and slept in sardine formation.

As for washrooms…well, the rule was to pick an unoccupied bush or tree once we docked. And you had to mind the donkeys, cows, and water buffalo because it’s kind of hard to see them in the fields when you’re trying to go at night. Yep, that’s right – you had to “share” the washrooms with the animals. Sharing is caring, right?

So we sailed from Aswan northwards. We sailed slowly….very slowly. You go at whatever pace the wind decides to take you at (“Insha’Allah” as they say).
The experience was really peaceful – which is such a change from the hecticness of the cities (especially Cairo). Along the way, we saw a lot of animals and village kids swimming in the Nile.

Boys in the Nile - photo by Andrew RushworthNile Sunrise

We also had the chance to swim in the Nile when our felucca was docked. The temperature of the Nile is cool, so swimming was very refreshing – and also much needed because of the intense heat during the day.
I guess taking a dip was the equivalent of showering during this part of our tour. Not that it was cleansing or anything – we were not only sharing our washrooms with the animals, but also the Nile.

Jess, Me, Matilda, & a Water Buffalo - Photo by Andrew Rushworth

All in all, the felucca journey was pretty calm. Well, except on our last night. A hilarious and loud game of drunken Charades was played and one person went overboard (as a result of the alcohol, I believe)!
The story is that a Brit woke up a Canadian – who promptly threw him into the water. It was a shock for everyone, especially the people on other feluccas around us – I think we woke them up! We were docked, and the victim could swim, so it was all good. That incident definitely made up for the rest of the slow, lazy, and uneventful days.

Most of my time on the felucca was spent catching up on sleep and reading – two things I never feel I have enough time for; so getting the chance to do that was great. I guess it was more like being pushed into it due to the lack of activities on the boat…but it was still great! Felucca’ing was definitely the most relaxing part of my trip.

For 2 days, we sailed onwards to our destination: Kom Ombo