Luxor, Egypt: Down South Up River

Ruins at Luxor, Egypt

Ruins at Luxor, Egypt

Cairo has largely missed the boat to modernity that its sister oil-rich states are riding into the sunset… faded glory, historical standard bearer for Arab and Muslim worlds… glorious past, but future very sketchy… so I kill time peacefully until time to board train, disgustingly filthy and hardly worth the cost… but I persevere, next stop Luxor.

…hustle hassle starts before the train even gets into the station… nice Australian lady touting for her hotel on the train, claiming discrimination on the home front, (not Australia), claims locals diss her as a whore… she’s dissing them, of course… when train gets in, touts right at the door, following hot on my heels… hard to be polite in situations like these.

View from the roof: Luxor, Egypt

View from the roof: Luxor, Egypt

Luxor is a Turkey in the making, breakfast on the roof and the whole nine yards… Egypt’s groove scene down south upriver, banana pancakes and tea at three…  see what’s for breakfast tomorrow… balloon rides, too… put the fun back in fundamentalism… Turkey is cleaner, but they have more water; Egypt one dirty dusty mother, mother to us all… apparently bathes only when the river floods.

…town itself is another story… I was maybe hasty in declaring Egypt’s honesty scrupulous… rip you off blind here… charge you five EGP for something that normally costs one.

On the other hand: greater-than-usual number of services specifically geared to foreigners… menus and prices in English, so win/lose situation, twice removed from normal Egypt.  What’s a traveler to do?  Learn Arabic, of course…

Carriage ride in Luxor, Egypt

Carriage ride in Luxor, Egypt

…not the constant blaring and honking of Cairo (heights of squalor, yet…dignity through it all… more important than politeness, I guess)… hotels claim, “Come as a guest, leave as a friend”… matter of opinion… Egyptians too sensitive to perceived slights; or is that just a marketing technique to curry favor?  I prefer curried fish…

Today is the Friday Sabbath… more tranquil than usual… crowd at train ticket window not much mellower… queuing up peacefully not one of their strong points… like to know whether Big Three religions could agree to share the Trinity and give us three days off a week.

…Luxor temple and Karnak not up to Giza standards… no Inca-like razor-cut foundations, though ubiquitous Sphinx figures… more interesting are the (innumerable) totally undeveloped Sphinx figures lying in rows leading up to the complexes… boggles the imagination…

Asleep on noon  watch: Luxor, Egypt

Asleep on noon watch: Luxor, Egypt

…and massive columns, hardly pyramidal in form or function.  Were the great structures of Greece and Rome mere copies of this?  …well-known to them, if not me… so massive that it’s overkill architecturally.  The Greeks fixed that.

I have other concerns… twelve hours overland from Cairo and no form of transportation will book in advance… flight to catch in a few days… line at ticket window in train station never goes away, so… walk down the street to the bus ticket office… buy a ticket for the next evening and stay another day…

…tour the west bank in Luxor on my last day there… nothing like the crowds at Giza… bozo Americans try to be cute (but) just obnoxious, trying to bargain prices at the on-site tourist café…. Asians at the sites all wearing face masks, “just in case” I guess.  I wonder if the men are wearing condoms “just in case?”  …back to Cairo tonight and on to Yemen in a couple days….