Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Temple of the Queen of the Nile
This is one of the most spectacular ancient buildings in Egypt. It is the mortuary temple of the female pharoah Hatshepsut. There were only a few female rulers of ancient Egypt. Hatshepsut was the most successful of them and ruled for 22 years. Her army secured Egypt's borders and most of her rein was peaceful and prosperous. She sent trading expeditions all over the known world and the results made Egypt very rich. The sign in the left corner of the big photo says that the dead tree stump near it is from a tree brought back by an expedition to the land of Punt, probably Somalia, Eritrea or Arabia. What the Oldies liked best is that there are some really well-preserved hieroglyphs in parts of the temple. Because they have been under cover for thousands of years, rather than buried in sand (the carvings, not the Oldies), the colours have survived. The wall in the photo is covered with hieroglyphs describing an offering to Anubis, the God of mummification. The temple has survived the centuries very well. Restoration is going on, but compared to other buildings in the area, Deir el Bahri, this one is a masterpiece. Let's hope it survives the present troubles in Egypt.
I hate crabs. The nasty things live in the sea, rock pools and beaches. I love going to the beach and looking at the cute greeblies in the rock pools, so you can see that crabs are a problem for me. I can deal with little ones, provided I have a big stick to belt them with or a pile of rocks to toss at them, but big ones give me the creeps. Well, here's a big one. Fortunately, he is safely behind thick glass at the Merimbula aquarium. I was showing Blu what the enemy looked like when the photo was taken. There are big crabs like this all around the coast of Australia, but mostly in deeper water. Although I would really like to go snorkelling with the Oldies, if I bumped into something like this I would be out of the water quicker than Mum was when she met the sharks at Lord Howe Island (that's another story).
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The Crystal Avenger Rides Again
Is it any wonder that our house is free of rodents, spiders and creepy-crawlies? Any such critter trying to take up residence is met by the protector of the residence, the Crystal Avenger. Armed with the invincible Hammer of Thorbear and protected by the Shield of Captain Ambearica, riding the Skateboard of Justice, the CA is the scourge of household pest. Dad tells me that the first Avengers movie is due out next year. It will star my heroes Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and Hulk. Well, if the producers are looking for extra characters for the next movies in the series, I can suggest one to Mr Lee. Crystal Avenger, the heroic small bear.
Two Ways to See the Nile
There are two main ways to see the temples and towns along the Nile, by boat and by train. Of course you could walk if you wanted to, but it would take a very long time. The Oldies went by boat. There are hundreds of boats, most of them cruising between Luxor and Aswan. Here are a lot of them docked at the cruise wharf at Luxor. The Luxor temple is visible just behind the boats. It is close enough that the Oldies were able to just walk off the boat and into the temple. Notice how the boats are docked three abreast at the wharves. Passengers on the outside boats have to walk across through the lobbies of the inside boats to get to their one. Leaving Luxor is an experience as most of the boats leave at almost the same time and then race upriver to the locks at Edfu; the faster boats get through the locks first. It's fun to see. Boats have the big advantage that they are really comfortable and the food is good. The other way is to go by train between towns. This is faster but nowhere near as comfortable and the food is a bit chancey. This train was on a section of track north of Aswan where the sand dunes were almost on the river bank. One of the big jobs of Egyptian railwaymen is keeping the dunes from covering the tracks. No matter how you travel, the trip along the Nile is fascinating and well worth doing. I wouldn't like to walk it though.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Is This Cheating?
If you didn't know the full story you could be forgiven for thinking that somebody is cheating. I mean, a whale-watching boat aiming straight at a pod of three dolphins, how likely is that? Well, the dolphins aren't real. They are pump-up rubber ones there for kids to play on. The boat is really a whale-watching one though. It is the one that we went out on when we stayed at Nelson Bay. Just shows that you can't assume the photo always tells the story.
Cruising Down the River
Actually, these pictures were taken when the Oldies were cruising UP the river. Not just any old river either, but the longest river in the world, the Nile. It's just four years ago that they were in Egypt, and they never stop talking about it. One of the highlights was three days cruising the river between Luxor and Aswan. It really fascinated them because the Nile is unlike any river they had seen. It runs through the desert and the amount of cultivation, trees and pasture depends only on the depth of the water table. In some places the land on either bank is low and farms stretch for kilometres out to the first hills. In other places the hills are right on the river bank and the desert comes right to the river. There are hundreds of boats using the Nile, from big tourist liners like the one that the Oldies were on, to small sailing boats called feluccas. There is always something to see; people fishing, farmers plowing (using cows as tractors), cattle grazing in swampy patches, and hordes of kids who come down to the banks to wave. A Nile cruise is something that everybody should do and, when things in Egypt settle down, think about a visit. Egypt really is a very special place, one that you will never forget.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
The New Big Dam
Yesterday we went for a trip out to see the work on Canberra's new dam. It is being built on the Cotter river. There is already a dam there, but the new one will be three times as high and hold a huge amount of water. The new one will actually cover the old one when it is finished. There is a great walking trail from the carpark at Cotter picnic ground to a viewing platform where you can see the new dam being built. The trail follows the river most of the way. The water is really clear and you can see fish and tortoises and even platypus if you are there at the right time. I like to sit on the little bridge over the river and count critters in the water. Actually, I would love to go canoeing or rafting down the river, but the Oldies won't let me. When you get to the viewing platform you can see the work going on; huge cranes, cement and rock trucks and men working on the next section of dam wall. You can see the old dam behind the work. Water is flowing over the spillway of the old dam and is piped into the river below the new one. There are a lot of posters at the platform explaining all about the new dam. I will visit the dam every month and keep you posted on progress. There is one thing that you have to watch out for when you do this walk in summer. The path is concrete for a lot of the way and snakes like to lay on it to soak up the warmth. We found a fairly big Copperhead near the path on our way back. He had moved off the track when he heard us coming and was just off the edge waiting to see what we would do. Copperheads are very venomous, so you should treat them with respect. We waited a while and then Dad got the snake to slowly slither away by stamping his foot; snakes feel vibration and Dad sounded like something the snake didn't want to meet. Next time we do this walk I hope to meet some more interesting critters.