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Safaga & Luxor, Egypt


25th Day


Around 3100 BC, a unified kingdom was founded by King Menes. Since then, Egypt had been ruled by a series of dynasties for about 3000 years until the last ruler Cleopatra VII, who was committed suicide after the defeat in the battle against Rome in 30 BC. Rome took control of Egypt and annexed it. After the Emperor Constantine I transferred its capital to Byzantium (Constantinople) on the Bosphorus, Egypt played an important role to support the Byzantine Empire with its abundant grain production. The Islamic Empire conquered Egypt in 639 AD, and it ruled Egypt until the Ottoman Turks conquered Egypt in 1517. The French invasion of Egypt led by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 and the expulsion of the French by Ottoman in 1801 led Egypt into chaos. In 1805, Muhammad Ali, the commander of Albanian regiment, took the power and established a dynasty to rule Egypt, modernizing its economy and military. But the rapid modernization led to the intervention of European powers and eventually the economic subordination to them. Suez Canal, built in partnership with France, was completed in 1869, but Egypt owed an enormous debt to European banks, which allowed the British and the French to dominate Egyptian government. Crushing the anti-British movement known as Orabi Revolution in 1882, Britain occupied Egypt. Britain placed Egypt under the protectorate in 1914 when Britain fought the war against Ottoman Empire, detaching Egypt from Ottoman Empire. The nationalist movements against Britain and for independence became much fiercer after the war, leading Britain to declare Egypt’s independence in 1923. In 1952, a military coup occurred against the background of the blistering discontent over the Egyptian monarchy seen as corrupted and pro-British, which led to the establishment of Egyptian Republic in 1953. Now, Egypt has one of the most developed and diversified economies in the Middle East, with sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry and service.

After a long sail for about two weeks crossing the Indian Ocean, I landed African continent. On the way to Africa, our ship experienced a terrible incident, a chase by Pirates! But actually I vaguely remembered it, because it happened in the middle of the night, and I was half asleep and half awake. I wonder if I can say “I experienced a chase by pirates”.
My first impression of Egypt was that the air was dry and a bit sandy. (It is quite natural, isn’t it?) There was little greenery and the port facilities were small. Safaga prospers as a port city, but had an atmosphere of country town.
A tour police in a suit with an automatic gun at his waist got on each bus for safety, and the buses started for Luxor in a convoy. Our bus left Safaga soon and got on the expressway. I had thought that almost all the land of Egypt was covered by sand, but all I saw out of the bus window was endless rocky mountains. It took about three and half hours to Luxor.
I felt asleep while seeing the scenery. When I woke up, there were plants and an irrigation channel out of the window. I thought we came close to Luxor. A buffalo and a donkey were working hard helping a farmer in the field. It was a rural landscape, or more like a scene in old days. There was no traffic light, goods and things were carried with donkeys, cars running were all used cars, which made me feel that Egypt was still in the midst of development. Egypt has few natural resources, and I suppose this may be one of the reasons for slow development of Egypt.

*DMC-ZS10/TZ20 records images in max.14-megapixel and DMC-ZS7/TZ10 in max.12-megapixel.

After a long drive, we arrived at Luxor at last! We visited the Temple of Karnak first, the World Heritage existing in the city of Luxor. Enormous brick walls were seen at a distance. I was overwhelmed by the huge size of the Temple as I came close to it. My impression changed from “How enormous!” to “How great!” as I walked into the Temple. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and huge reliefs lined in front of my eyes, which quickly took me into the ancient age. How amazing it is that such great architectures were built thousands of years ago and have preserved until today.

After lunch, I had a Nile River cruise. The Nile River was polluted with wastes. I thought the trash damped in the river would cause an environmental problem in several yeas. It is real waste to pollute the historic Nile River. I visited the Temple of Luxor next. The Temple of Luxor suddenly appeared in the middle of the town. It was small in size compared to the Temple of Karnak. When the Temple was built, the approach continued to Karnak and was about 3km long. During its long history, the Temple of Luxor was once converted to a Christian church. Christian Europeans covered the wall with plaster and created the painting with Christian theme. When I saw the wall, I felt the wall vividly told the flow of long history of Egypt.

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