09 February 2013

tuktuk to tuktuk to tuktuk to tuktuk to temple
temple but no sight seeing
walk though town
pigeon houses and nice old men
tuktuk to tuktuk to tuktuk to taxi

Tuktuk views...

Tuktuk views…

Today we do attempt number two for Qasr Qarun. We are determined to make it to this temple. We like seeing less touristy, quiet sites. Even though in Egypt you don’t do it to have a cheaper day, as all the sight and museums seem to have a set starting ticket price of 25LE..
We go back to where we caught our tuktuk yesterday and make it overly clear that we are not interested in going to the lake, but want to see the temple. We even looked up the Arabic word “Ma’abad” and it seems to work. This one only went for about a kilometre or two and then we were told to get off and walk to another station two streets over. Through some back alleys we found about three tuktuks. Was this the other station? We made our wishes know and found a ride.
A long drive out through a different part of the Al Fayoum basin to another town for a tuktuk change over. We try our best Arabic : Ma’abad Qasr Qarun”, just to get a confused look back and the reply “I don’t speak English”..??.. But we were speaking Arabic, or trying to do so. Our Arabic is so bad, that they don’t even recognise that it is Arabic..
A younger man with limited English got us to the right tuktuk and joined us as he was heading to Qasr Qarun too. Here we found out that the Q’s are silent and it is all supposed to be pronounced as Asr Arun. Now we understand the confusion.
The tuktuk left, not even being half full, only to drop us a little later to again change over. The new tuktuk was found with Samir’s help and although it was already full, they could squeeze us in. And then another four people with kids and shopping and washbasins and the rest.. A bit uncomfortable for the next hour or so.

This is it.  The big one in town.

This is it. The big one in town.

Just before town we get dropped, and Samir got off too, just to give us his phone number in case we needed anything. He then continued to walk into town as we were picked up by the temple guards.
The temple from a distance is one big square block with not much detail set in the desert. There used to be a whole town here, Dionysus, but only the temple remains. It was built in 4BC and dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile-headed god. Mummified crocodiles were found on site.
We pay for our tickets, but don’t actually get any. A guard walks us over to open up the temple. And apparently also to walk us through as he does not leave our sides.
some big columns remain next to the big entrance.

Pretty impressive.  If somewhat simple

Pretty impressive. If somewhat simple

Inside it is simply layed out but with still good carvings above the doorways. Little rooms go of the main ones, but not much to see in these. At the end is the Altar with a hidden room behind. We like to think the priest hid here to hear the prayers and respond, pretending to be the voice of the crocodile god. We are told the catacombs are closed, but we are led upstairs. Here there are partial carvings left next to what was a roof altar.
Great views over the desert and the village. We cannot see the lake from here, as this town is a few kilometres away from the water.

The crocodile god put in a personal appearance

The crocodile god put in a personal appearance

We notice some mudbrick constructions left one one side of the temple and some hills and holes in the surrounding sand. We will go have a look around later. This temple has lots of different rooms. No decorations and nothing to go on what they might have been used for. The guard does not speak much English and is not in a talking mood.
Coming back out of the temple, we let him know that we will go for a quick walk around and we see him on leaving. This is not allowed.. We are not allowed to look around the site, or even look on the other side of the temple at the mudbrick remains.. Disappointing. It makes for a very quick temple visit.

We wander to town for a coffee. Along the way are some pigeon coops. Big cone shaped constructions from mud. Not to be rude, but these are almost more interesting than the temple..

Is this better than the temple?  Have a tea and think about it!

Is this better than the temple? Have a tea and think about it!

At the little cafe we have some misunderstandings and we end up getting a pink tea instead of coffee. This is the warm version of the local hibiscus drink and is very nice. Tuktuks go past heading in the direction of Al Fayoum but as they are all full, we decide to walk further to get to the tuktuk station. Again people are very friendly and eager to get their photo taken. We don’t see any places to have lunch and grab a chocolate bar from a small roadside shop instead. It takes all our persuasions skills to pay, as the shop owner at first refuses to take our money. He does not speak English, except for “I love you”. How can we not be smiling?

The old men.  We ended up stealing their chairs!

The old men. We ended up stealing their chairs!

We walk straight through the village without finding a tuktuk station, so walk back. Some nice old men waive us over and ask to have photo’s taken. Great as we don’t usually take photo’s of people as we do not want to offend. They then get up of their seats so we can sit and are signalled to wait there for a tuktuk to go past. One appears instantly so we can give the men their seats back.
Again we go though the tuktuk change over rituals and it takes a while to get back to Al Fayoum. (Bloody 5 hours on public transport for half an hour of sightseeing..)
We are dropped somewhere on the outskirts with no idea which way to go. We start walking hoping to come across something we recognise. The streets here are filthy. Garbage piles on the sides of the streets with rat nibbled dead cats on top and kids running through it all barefoot. Why is none of this cleaned up? Or why is it not somewhere out of the way? It is horrible and a few times we have to try not to gag while going past. At a bigger road we hail down a taxi to take us to the hotel, showing our little note with the hotel name in Arabic. We are happy to get back to the hotel after the dust, dirt, noise, pollution and overall assault on our senses of the last half hour.
We grab some more filled crepes on the way and find a seat next to the canal to eat it. From the corner of our eyes we see movement it the water and realise it’s big rats hopping along the floating garbage.. Appetite gone, we call it a day.



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