“Is it scary Dad?” Fathan asked me before he was going to bed. We just wrapped our day in Luxor as we returned from Karnak Sound and Light Show, and prepared for a long day tomorrow, starting with a balloon ride. This is his first time.
The hotel staff told us to be ready at 4:20am for the balloon ride but three minutes before the time, telephone rang from the receptionist asking us to go to the lobby. The receptionist has also prepared 4 breakfast boxes as per our request. Then one guy asked us to follow him walking down to the river Nile, passing through an Egyptian tourist bazaar. There, a wooden boat waited for us. Few minutes later 2 couples, two staffs and one cameraman joined us and off we sailed 500m crossing the river Nile.
Arriving at the balloon launching pad, an open area close to the road to the Temple of Hatshepsut, we saw several balloons were getting prepared. One ballon was taking off when our ballon was being warmed. Soon after our pilot came and provided a short safety briefing, focusing on how to respond to crash landing. Wew…this only made Fathan more scared.
A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket , which carries passengers (our basket has 16-person capacity divided into 4 boxes, separated by a pilot and fuel cylinders area in the middle) and a source of heat (four propane cylinder with quadruple burners). The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope. The pilot manages the flight by a combination of actuating a specific burner, and opening a vent. He also takes into consideration the prevailing wind.
The first balloon to take off was Sindbad then followed by our Salem balloon . Later while up in the air we found out that the Sindbad balloon ventured out close to the Nile while ours only maintained a close position to the Temple and vicinity.
In this 45 minutes floating over Luxor, we could see contrasting images of monotonous color of the desert and green-yellow farming area, peeked into a private life of the villagers, and enjoyed a golden rays of sunrise. Life is indeed totally different when it’s seen from a bird eye view.
The flight took us from seeing the Valley of the Kings, and nearby Temple of Hatshepsut, then to Rammeseum, the Tombs of the Nobles, and Qurna Village.
The balloon finally made a soft landing on a different landing area and immediately a group of people jumped out of the truck, knowing what they’ve got to do.
On 26 February 2013, a hot air balloon carrying foreign tourists ignited and crashed here, killing 19 of the 21 people on board, making it the deadliest balloon accident in history. Since then, the industry has been under scrutiny. Choose only reputable and certified company.
COLOSSI OF MEMNON
Our van dropped us in a parking lot near Colossi of Memnon. We were then met by our guide, Hassan.
Hassan started his story of the two statues in front of us. He said that they are the statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and has stood for the past 3400 years (since 1350 BC). They were intended to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep’s memorial temple. Unfortunately, with the exception of the Colossi, however, very little remains today of Amenhotep’s temple, due to annual inundations.
Madinat Habu refers to an area on the West Bank, Luxor, however it is well-known for its temple: The Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III. The temple is an important New Kingdom period structure and is probably best known as the source of inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the Sea Peoples during the reign of Ramesses III.
What amazing about the temple is its decorative structure including use of colors, details of relics and neatness of art workmanship. Majority of them are still well preserved.
The complex has three pylons. The first pylon leads into an open courtyard, lined with colossal statues of Ramesses III as Osiris (was an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead) on one side, and uncarved columns on the other. The second pylon leads into a peristyle hall, again featuring columns in the shape of Ramesses. This leads up a ramp that leads (through a columned portico) to the third pylon and then into the large hypostyle hall (which has lost its roof).
As we were in the hypostyle hall, a man approached us to follow him to the tombs but we politely and consistently refused him.
Hassan told us a story of what the life looked like in the past including the use of middle area as a festival area where common people could come, and meet the King, and the inner areas where only nobbles and the King relatives could go in.
He made fun of the boys by asking them different names of Egyptian god and how they are represented on the reliefs:
– Anubis – a jackal-headed god associated with mummification and the afterlife
– Horus – usually shown as a falcon or as a human child, linked with the sky, the sun, kingship, protection, and healing
– Isis – goddess of health, marriage, and wisdom
– Osiris – god of death and resurrection who rules the underworld and enlivens vegetation, the sun god, and deceased souls
– Ra – the foremost Egyptian sun god
– Amun – king of the gods and god of the wind
COLOSSI OF MEMNON