January 23-25, 2002
We can't really complain about our Nile cruise on the Beau Soleil since we were after all doing it on the cheap. But we must say that we disliked the fact that so much of the sailing was done at night and that as a result we suffered disturbed nights because our "cheapie" cabins were closest to the engine room.
We ate dinner on the boat which set sail some time after midnight. The next morning we hurried through breakfast as we wanted as much time as possible at our first stop which was to be Kom Ombo.
The temple, was right on the shore and so we jumped off the ship and were at the ticket office in only two minutes. The location of the temple on the east bank meant that the early morning light was perfect. We were very impressed by the quality of the relief work on the columns and walls of the temple. Most of the walls were covered with huge panels depicting various gods and pharoahs. A breakfast companion had been somewhat dismissive of the temple as being too Roman, but we think it would be hard to deny its beauty and grandeur. It was a double temple devoted to the god Sobek, the crocodile, and Horus the hawk, but we recognized neither animal.
After a two hour sail including lunch, we stopped again, this time to visit Edfu temple, which required a short horse-carriage ride from the wharf to the temple. It was absolutely huge and quite magnificent as it had an intact roof. We walked around the temple and through a tunnel in the main pylon to get access to the outer courtyard. We crossed through the main gate in the pylon to get into the inner courtyard, which was spectacular with lots of strongly colored painted reliefs. We were very surprised by the completeness of the temple, being more used to the more ruined atmosphere of the Luxor and Karnak temples.
At dinner there was a very annoying row with an Irish woman at our table called Diana (the same woman who found Kom Ombo too Roman). Gerry and I were in conversation with Rahim, a young Anglo-Pakistani Muslim, about Bin Laden etc., when she very rudely and patronizingly interrupted to declare that we should stop browbeating him. I asked him if he thought he was being browbeaten and he said no, but she was not to be quieted and it took some very angry words from Gerry to shut her up. That killed our conversation, of course, and later we found Rahim and his wife deep in conversation with Diana and her companion Mary, so he obviously was not upset about her interference. No doubt Irish bitterness at the British resonated with him.
We had talked to Rahim the previous evening at dinner and learned that he and his wife were on their honeymoon. They both seemed to be British-born, but he was very upset with Britain and the U.S. because he had just lost his job at Lucent. At first he said that they fired him because he was a Muslim, but later he revealed that it was because he was a supporter of Bin Laden and would not condemn the twin towers attack. Apparently his employer had told him that his views were imcompatible with a harmonious working environment. Anyway, he was very bitter and was suing the company. Another fallout of the issue seemed to be a determination on their part to go and work in Saudi Arabia. He could surely get a job there using his software skills and his new wife was a schoolteacher and so was also employable. As we write this in August of 2004, we wonder if they went to Saudi Arabia and how they feel now about Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda attacks there.