Tuesday, December 01, 2009

[Egypt Day 5] Karnak Temple - Luxor Temple - Papyrus Institute - Savoy Bazaar - Maro Restaurant - Sharm El Sheikh

We checked out from the cruise ship at 8.30am and went off at 10am. First we visited Karnak Temple - the largest temple in Egypt dedicated to God Amon. It's a large complex with a lake situated in the middle, obelisks, and 134 pillars. The sun was glaringly hot but the stones under the shades were really cooling.

Stopped by at a gallery and gift shop before having our lunch at Al-Hussein seafood restaurant.

Then we visited Luxor Temple which was connected to Karnak Temple by Avenue of Sphnix, a pathway guided by small sphinx statues on the sides. This was the last temple we visited in Egypt. At Luxor temple entrance there were 2 giant statues but only 1 obelisk. There used to be a pair of obelisks but one of them was taken to France and now it's placed at Place de la Concorde in Paris. In return, the Egyptians were given a clock, which according to our tour guide, stopped working after only one day.

Next stop was at the papyrus institute where we watched a demonstration of papyrus making. It's quite interesting. Papyrus plant was the symbol of North Egypt, previously regarded as holy plant because the flower looked like sun rays and the stalk was triangle-shaped just like a pyramid. The process went like this - first they cut the stalk according to the desired length of the paper being made, then they cut off the 3 green sides, sliced the meat into thin layers. Then they hammered the slices and squeeze them using rolling pin in order to remove the water and sugar content and to make the result more durable. The layers were then soaked into water, for white result it was done for a week and water had to be changed daily, and for brown paper it was soaked for 2 weeks without changing the water. After soaking, the slices were arranged into vertical and horizontal lines and sandwiched between two linen clothes, and then pressed under hand-pressed machine (ancient people used stones). There you have it, a papyrus.

Went to Savoy Bazaar for some shopping before going for dinner by Nile River at Maro restaurant. Food was not so good here but they provided ice cream.

8pm we went to Luxor Int'l Airport for flight to Sharm El Sheikh at 10.20pm. Luxor Int'l Airport was the only airport we visited in Egypt that provided free hi-fi service. Incredible. We reached Sharm El Sheikh at 11.05pm, 20 Celcius.

It took us 15 minutes by bus to reach Continental Hotel from airport. The hotel's complex was really big, and we got the farthest room - there was no other room farther than ours. It took 10 minutes to walk to our room from reception.

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