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EgyptThe regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C. and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty following World War II. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to ready the economy for the new millennium through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.

(This information is taken from the CIA The World Factbook)


A long day and night of travel
Submitted by bugsly on Friday, February 24, 2006 - 09:06 Car | Core | Egypt | Fly | Foreign Language and Music Study | Greece | Train | Walk

While in Heliopolis we relaxed and swam all day, eventually stopping for a meal or two. After taking a long nap, we awoke at about 1:00 a.m. and headed out to catch our flight to Athens, Greece. After about a two hour flight we landed safely even though the winds were very strong. Luckily we didn’t miss our flight for if we had we would have been stuck in Egypt for two more days because the winds kept up. After arriving we met our good family friend Kostas who picked us up and took us back to his flat where we all slept until about five or so in the afternoon. Finally after a long day and night of travel we sat around and listened to howling wind that came all the way from the Sahara Desert.

Bugsly


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Karnak Temple, Mummification Museum and the Train Station again...
Submitted by bugsly on Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - 09:06 Boat | Car | Core | Egypt | Foreign Language and Music Study | Physical and Health Education | Train | Walk

This morning after breakfast and a swim, we headed by taxi to visit the Temple at Karnak. The Temple itself is very different than Temple Medinat Habu in that its scale is MASSIVE. It took seven years alone to create and erect one solid granite carved obelisk. We read that 80,000 workers created the Temple. When you walk in to one of the largest courtyard areas, you feel dwarfed among the literal forest of columns.

A few hours later, we visited the small, but very impressive Mummification Museum. At the Museum, the murals guide the viewer through the process of mummification. In glass cases throughout the Museum, there are displays of the tools used in the mummification process. They had the tools used to scramble the brain so that they could scrape the inside of the skull and let the brain run out through the deceased person's nostrils. It was pretty gory.

They also had displays of various mummified animals including a ram, cat, baboon, crocodile, baby crocodile, duck...and more. I saw examples of the materials used like resin, salt and sawdust too. I thought the Mummification Museum was really interesting and impressive.

We then went back to the hotel, got ready to leave and headed to the train station for our sleeping train back to Cairo. The train arrived at 9:30pm and we got on without losing anybody this time.

Bugsly


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Valley of The Queens, Temple of Hatshepsut, and Temple Medinat Habu
Submitted by bugsly on Tuesday, February 21, 2006 - 08:50 Boat | Car | Core | Egypt | Foreign Language and Music Study | Physical and Health Education | Walk

Early this morning Ben, Michael and I all went for a swim after breakfast. We prepared ourselves to go and see the Temple of Hatshepsut. We took a water taxi to the West side of the Nile and then found a taxi to take us there. Arriving at the Temple, we realized just how hot it can get in Southern Egypt. We walked up the road to the Temple of Hatshepsut and were amazed at its massive proportions. The Temple itself is built into the rock of the hillside behind it kind of like Petra, Jordan. The hieroglyphs are pretty intact and the statues are amazing. Eventually though, we got too hot and headed on down to The Valley of The Queens.

In the Valley of The Queens we saw three tombs. The most beautiful one belonged to Amunherkhepshef. We also visited a tomb where there was a mummified unborn 5 month old human fetus. It was found inside the skeleton of the mother.

Then we journeyed on to Temple Medinat Habu built by Ramses III. We were told that it was not a commonly visited site, but it was completely worth it, turning out to be the highlight of the day. Some of the paint still remains and the hieroglyphs are incredible. One of the men that worked there took us around explaining various rooms and chambers of the Temple. He even chanted the ancient prayer for us inside a stone room. The sound of his voice echoing across the walls made you feel like you were actually there. We also saw the room where Ramses III was mummified.

We took a river taxi back to hotel, I even had a chance to drive it, although it is harder than it looks! We went for a swim and had dinner after a very wonderful day.

Bugsly


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Valley of the Kings
Submitted by bugsly on Monday, February 20, 2006 - 05:23 Boat | Car | Core | Egypt | Foreign Language and Music Study | Walk

Today has been loads of “fun in the sun” as they say, only that this was some serious sun! At about 6:00 a.m. we got off the train at Luxor, and met our chaperone who took us straight to the Sheraton, Luxor. Once there, Mom and I crashed, exhausted; while Michael and Dad headed down for breakfast where they met our friends from the train station the night before. Meanwhile Mom and I woke up around 10:00 and took our time getting ready but finished before 11:30 because we had agreed to meet Ed and Benjamin (our friends) to go and see the Valley of the Kings together.

The amount of hassle that the people give you to buy their merchandise is especially intense in Luxor; by the end of your walk through the mini Bazaar that leads to the entrance you have said “le shokran” or “no thank you” one too many times. It does get quite annoying!

After taking a ferry across the Nile, we agreed to have a persistent taxi driver drive us for the day. We rolled down the windows and prepared ourselves for some serious heat, with sun tan lotion, Chap Stick, hats, etc. Upon arriving we jumped out and bought our tickets to see three tombs altogether and drove down to the main parking lot where we would meet our driver, Ali, in about two hours time.

We headed off, already dreaming of an ice cold pool to see the famed tombs of King Tutankhamen, Tuthmosis IV, and Ramses III. They were all amazing with their intact hieroglyphics and awesome pictures of every thing that they may need in the afterlife. Every single one though, is a bunch of steps down into the ground making the coming up very tiring! After a few more touristy photos we were out of there tired and dusty.

We were ushered onto a small river taxi, The Isis, and went a wonderful trip down the Nile to a dock just below the hotel swimming pool which we jumped into as we could!

Bugsly


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The Egyptian Museum, The Citadel, St. George's Church, and the getting lost in the Train Station
Submitted by bugsly on Sunday, February 19, 2006 - 05:27 Car | Core | Egypt | Foreign Language and Music Study | Train | Walk

Today we visited The Egyptian Museum and saw thousands of artifacts from the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms of ancient Egypt. The most interesting exhibit we saw was the jewels of Tutankhamen. It was amazing to see the full gold death mask and nesting doll-like sarcophigi. The sarcophagi fit into a set of enormous nesting doll-like golden chambers protected by four goddesses. We also saw the Canopic Jars that hold his heart, lungs, liver and stomach. It was amazing seeing intact artifacts from this long ago. I thought it was funny to see the preserved remains of the King’s underwear.

We then moved on to The Mummy Room to find people that were about 3000 years old. They still had their hair, eyelashes, teeth and toenails. It’s hard to tell the Kings from the Queens unless you look at the names because they have lost all facial expressions. One mummy even had a snapped off toe!

About two hours later, we met my Dad’s friends, Wael, Rana and their darling daughter. We met them at The Abu El Seed Restaurant in Maadi, a part of Cairo. We sat at big, round table with a lowered center section. Wael ordered a wonderful selection of Egyptian appetizers. It was delicious! We then had the main course and I had a thick chicken and orzo soup that was yummy. The whole center of the table was filled with delicious foods for dinner. After that, Wael ordered yummy desserts which I sampled. It was interesting to learn more about Egyptian culture from Ranna. Since we sat next to each other, I had a good chance to speak with her. It was a great evening!

Next Day –

This morning we met with Hamada and our drivers and headed for The Citadel which is the name of a huge fortress housing palaces, containing a very large and the beautifully ornate Mosque of Mohammad Ali. We removed our shoes before the open outdoor court, and stepped inside onto the shiny tiles of the flooring. We ventured inside the mosque and were stunned by the greatness and simplicity of the beautiful space. We sat on the floor with Hamada and he explained the basics of how a mosque is used by worshippers including how to sit properly, kneel, which direction to face when praying, and how to prepare for prayers. He explained the different parts of the building, the writings on the walls and ceilings. Before we left the Citadel, we got to see the amazing view from the top of the walls. The city of Cairo stretched out all around us as far as you could see.


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There is a difference between a Horse and a Camel
Submitted by bugsly on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 09:51 Bread | Car | Core | Egypt | Foreign Language and Music Study | Walk

Pyramids are to Egypt as the Empire State building is to America. In other words they're huge! This morning after a complementary buffet breakfast, we headed out to see the pyramids in the neighboring city Saqqara. There you can see the Step Pyramid and we learned all about it from our wonderful guide Hamada. It is HUGE compared to the smallness of all of the other buildings. When I looked over the horizon I could see even more gorgeous pyramids in the distance. We spent a long time there taking in the sights. But eventually we moved on to stop at a carpet making school and shop.

At the carpet school we saw richly colored, tall, thin, big, small and fringed carpets made in the school. After a while, we decided on a small traditional brick red detailed carpet. When it came to pay, I learned another lesson about life in Egypt, you have to bargain, even if they say it's the final price. In the end, my Dad bartered down to a price that was satisfactory.

We eventually had lunch and moved on to The Great Pyramid of Giza. Wow, is it HUGE!!! We climbed up part of the north side and saw the vast city of Giza in front of us. I even built my own mini pyramid in the sand next to it though I don't think it will be marked as a monument anytime soon!

We drove down the road a bit and stopped next at The Second Pyramid. At the top of it, you can still see some of the smooth limestone that covered the entire surface at one time. People have chipped away at it for souveniers and to build other buildings. For a small fee, we could all go inside The Second Pyramid. We didn't know what to expect until it was too late! Once you step onto the long, steep downward sloping ramp, you start to feel hot and smell the body odor of tourists that visited moments before you. At the base of the ramp, you have to stoop down and double over and continue walking (crouching) steeply downhill for about 60 feet. Then you reach a flat part where you can stand up again. And in about another 20 feet, you double over again and climb up the same type of steep ramp to a corridor leading to the burial chamber.


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A down day at the Sheraton, Giza
Submitted by bugsly on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 11:20 Core | Egypt | Foreign Language and Music Study | Walk

Today we had a very simple and quit day with Dad and Michael going out, and not much else. We ate lunch and dinner at the hotel restaurant, the service and food are great overall. Hope you don't mind the short entry!

Bugsly


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London by Day, Cairo by Night
Submitted by bugsly on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 06:45 Car | Core | Egypt | Fly | Foreign Language and Music Study | Subway | Train | United Kingdom | Walk

After saying goodbye to Tori and Randy early this morning at about six o’clock, I went back to bed until I was woken up by Auntie Betty and took a shower. After having another very filling breakfast of porridge we (Auntie Betty and I) headed down to the Bromely South Station and a few minutes later met up with Mom, Grandma Rachel, and Michael(Dad was going to meet us later on because he was driving back from the airport).

Later, once we had bought our tickets to London Victoria and had boarded the fast train. As we sat down trying not to step in the cup of spilled coffee from McDonalds, the train lurched to a slow but steady start. Mom and Dad were talking to eachother on the phone about what to do because we had time to kill, and Grandma suggested the Science Museum which we all decided was a good idea.

However, once we were about halfway to London Victoria we were informed over the scratchy loudspeaker that the there was a problem a t the station and that we would be re-directed to London Black friars. There was an almost instantaneous uproar of people re-scheduling their appointments on their cell phones, one lady said: “I’m pretty sure that there is a bus that goes from Blackfriars into central London…” another lady asked “Well what number is it?” and she said “I don’t know.” People were getting off at the closest stop possible calling taxis or phoning friends, meanwhile we were trying to see if there was any other possible route to the Science Museum by phoning Auntie Shelley and asking her to look on the net. After a few minutes she phoned us back with the correct way to go.

So as we boarded our second train and sat down for another twenty minutes we finally arrived at the right place. Only to find that there was a line around three blocks because all the kids are on their half term break. So the Science Museum was a bust, but we’re going back when we get back from our next excursion. Hungry, we headed to a little sandwich café before saying goodbye and hailing a cab. But we didn’t go to the airport first; we instead went to go see the food hall at Harrods. Inside you can see any food you can imagine. It’s expensive, but worth the treat. We bought 10 chocolates from a wide variety of choices and devoured them all on our way to the airport in another taxi.


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There are three types of "Kiwi's" in New Zealand. Kiwi birds, Kiwi fruit and the New Zealanders call themselves "Kiwis"!

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