Sunday, December 16, 2012


I had a bad night.  The food poisoning kicked in and gave me a truly torrid time.

Sleep became a luxury as I found myself crawling back and forth between the bathroom, my stomach being gripped with pain.  I had traveled to some fairly interesting countries over the years and I had never been struck down by any form of stomach illness.  I was strict in my water safety and I had always been lucky to have what I considered to be an "iron gut" when it came to eating street foods.  I found it embarrassing as well as suspicious that it was a cruise ship with supposed high standards (that I had paid a premium to be on) that had laid me so low.

When the sun finally rose, I was already awake.  Or rather, I hadn't slept.  I took some tablets to stop the pain and walked out onto the deck.

The boat had pulled into the next stop, the ruins at Edfu.

I walked across the gang plank and into the sunlight.  I was feeling extremely lightheaded when the swarm of touts descended.  In their usual rude and bustling manner, they shoved and screamed for the attention of the few tourists who were also in the area.  The tourists all jumped onto the horse drawn carriages and headed off towards the temple ruins.

I was in a foul mood and refused all their offers.  I began walking myself, ignoring their pleas.  Eventually, after the price had dropped to about a third of what was originally being offered, I relented and climbed aboard. It was a rickety ride that did my terrible constitution no favours.
It was still early morning, so the town of Edfu was completely empty.  The line of horse carriages moving through the town centre was the only activity and the rhythmic clip of the horses' hooves the only sound.  The strangely hypnotic sound silenced even the other tourists and they all sat in the carriages without speaking.

The procession of carriages eventually made their way through the streets to the ruins at the top of the town.  From this point on, I would have to walk.
The path to the temple seemed to funnel people in from everywhere and as I got closer, the crowds began to gather.  The make up of this crowd confirmed for me that international travel had changed in a major way as well.  The rise of the Chinese tourist was now well and truly under way.  In my years on the road, there has always been a major dearth of Chinese tourists in anything except for the most well organised tours.  This trip had shown me that, while the tours were still a major source of Chinese tourists, there was now a new breed of independent Chinese traveler seeking out the world on their own.  It was only a matter of time before this would happen and it won't be much longer before they reinvigorate many struggling tourist locations.
The temple itself reminded me a little of the temple of Baal in Palmyra.

There was a size and brutality to its walls that felt unforgiving and terrifying.  At times, it almost felt a touch futuristic, like a structure from a sci-fi movie (though to be fair, it is difficult to tell whether that is because of the reach of shows such as Stargate, or if the building actually had that effect by itself).

The hieroglyphs were well preserved and detailed.
As a temple to the falcon god Horus, there were signs everywhere of the birds that had been worshiped.  Even the pigeons had decided that the temple was the perfect place for their kind and had made ample use of the many ledges and holes for their nests.
Standing in the courtyard, I could actually picture this place when it would have been in use.  The architecture was perfect in focusing a person's view on the central areas of worship.  I could almost imagine a solemn procession of priests walking silently through the gates and towards the main chambers.
The Temple of Edfu was impressive in its imposing size, but sadly I could barely gather the strength or care to properly consider it.  I was still weak and in pain.  All I wanted to do as I left the ruins was to get back to the safety and comfort of my bed on the ship.

No comments: