Stop trying to take my money!!
May 22, 2009 – Day 148 – Abu Simbel, Egypt
There is nothing quite like leaving on a 3AM military convoy to the Egyptian border with Sudan. We were heading to Abu Simbel, the temple complex honoring Ramses II. Abu Simbel was intended to show the Sudanese coming into Egypt that Ramses II was a not merely a fierce, strong king but a god and they in turn were mere mortals. Overall it’s an interesting sight but the view of Lake Nassr is quite stunning as well. The temple complex was moved block by block in the 1960’s to save it from the rising waters of Lake Nassr and is now housed in a giant constructed mountain.
We got to the complex expecting an easy few hours of strolling through the complex but as with all things in Egypt it can never be that easy. When we went to the ticket counter they stated that our student cards were not good enough and we would have to “pay full price or go away”. This didn’t sit well with the group of students behind us either and a lot of yelling started with Saben upfront. Very typical in Egypt though. Twice we have had to have a supervisor or tourist police officer tell a ticket counter that we do have the right cards. But this guy wasn’t listening and two big tour groups were stacking in behind us. We reluctantly handed the guy the full price, another tourist came around the corner and said that the ticket officer around the corner was going to take his card. We told the guy we wanted our money back and he handed us half of it, saying we only paid him for one ticket! Saben got really angry and gave the guy the look of death and with out saying another word he gave Saben the rest of the money. We went around the corner and asked the other guy about tickets. And who comes around but the other ticket guy! He whispers something in the guy’s ear and all the sudden they don’t take those cards anymore… So we ended up having to pay the full price, which is double the student rate! We were a little pissed but decided to try to shrug it off.
The complex is stunning! Massive statues of Ramses spread across the two temple sights. Unfortunately, many of the statues are covered in graffiti, carved into the feet and chest of Ramses. Some of it dating back over a hundred years.
The Temple complex is highly guarded by baksheesh begging tourist police. We were also unhappy to find out that (like most sights in Egypt) photography is not allowed inside the complex. although we were able to sneek a few for your viewing pleasure.
The convoys only run twice a day so we had some time to wait after we finished before the next convoy out. So we wandered over to the fence to enjoy the view of Lake Nassr. Suddenly out of nowhere come two tourist police yelling at us to get away from the fence! We asked why because we were not even leaning on the fence and were at least a foot or two away. They said it was not allowed, but for a little baksheesh we could stand there and they would take our photo in front of the lake!
Really frustrated that we can’t have two seconds of peace with out someone trying to get money out of us, we left the complex and walked to the edge of the lake (on the other side of the fence) and raved about the hypocrisy and ignorance that abounds in this nation/culture…