Trip report to Luxor

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Trip report to Luxor

Post by pdmlynek » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:44 am

I know that I promised to do my trip report as soon as I got home, but there are so many distractions (such as earning a living :) ) that took my time from posting here. Sorry about the delay.

Firstly, I'd like to thank all the Luxor4u folks who met with me at Fayrouz on Thursday, 7 November 2013. It was one of the personal highlights of my visit to Luxor. The British ex-pat community members are such wonderful people, I felt like I was at home.

The report below was also posted on Tripadvisor. It was written for consumption of people who have not been to Luxor, not for people who live in Luxor, so I apologize up front for including some very obvious observation.

It is Part 3 of a 3-part trip report of our family’s week-long trip to Cairo (4days/3nights) and Luxor (3 days/4 nights) on 1 to 9 November 2013. I split the trip report up, because it was too long for one posting. The first part is on the trip in general and is posted on Egypt forum.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g2 ... Egypt.html
The second part is about Cairo area (Islamic City, Museum, Central Cairo, Pyramids) in the Cairo forum.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g2 ... orate.html
The third part is about Luxor (EB and WB) is in the Luxor forum.

We flew into Luxor from Cairo late Tuesday evening (Egyptair cancelled our early evening flight), and flew back home through CAI on Saturday morning. We spent two days sightseeing on the West Bank (“WB”), and one day sightseeing on the East Banks (“EB”). We spent two nights on the WB, and two nights on the EB.

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******* WEST BANK *******
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MARSAM HOTEL: On the WB we stayed in a centrally located dig house Marsam on WB two nights. Marsam is a hotel/restaurant built within a historic mud-brick building complex that was a rest stop for camel caravans, which later became a housing complex for archeologists from University of Chicago. The construction, even the nightstands, is mud brick. From Marsam Hotel we walked to any of the many archeological sites, including Medinet Habu, Valley of the Queens, Artisans’ Village, Tombs of the Nobles, Hatshepsut Temple, Valley of the Kings, and like, all of which are within a 1.5 km radius. Because all of the archaeological sites on the WB were within walking distance, we did not have to worry about transportation.

During our stay on the WB, we had the hotel kitchen pack us lunch for the trail, so that way we did not have to waste time walking back to the hotel or finding a restaurant. I recommend packing lunch, because there are very few restaurants within the walking distance of the archaeological sites.

MEDINET HABU: this was the first archeological site that we did in the Luxor area, and we were overwhelmed. When one talks about Luxor, one speaks about Karnak, Temple of Luxor, Temple of Hatchepsut, and Valley of the Kings, but I think that Medinet Habu ranks very favorably with these superstars. As recommended to us by Klaus, the German archaeologist who is the proprietor of Marsam, we circled the Temple of Ramses III from outside before going inside the Temple. The art work, the column, the colors -- everything was just phenomenal. We were taken onto the roof of a section of it, for an OK overview of the Hypostyles Hall. It is no wonder that LP put a scene from the Second Court onto the front cover of the 2012 edition of their guidebook. From Medinet Habu we walked over to…

VALLEY OF THE QUEENS: These are very well kept tombs. As opposed to the tomb in the Valley of the Kings (“VoK”), the walls of the tombs that we visited are protected by glass. The colors in the tombs looked very fresh. The quality of the tombs easily competed with the tombs in VoK, except that VoQ seems to have fewer tombs that can be visited than VoK. Of course, at each tomb we had to give 5 or 10 EGP, and about twice if we took photos. We highly recommend the VoQ.

PHOTOGRAPHY: As far as photography in VoQ, as well as other tombs on the WB, such as the Tombs of the Nobles, Valley of the Kings, it supposedly forbidden. Indeed, every entrance to the tomb prominently has such signs. However, when a guard takes the people into the tomb, he points to a few things and asks if we would like to take pictures. For baksheesh. For effect, the guard looks guiltily around, as if to look for some supervisor or antiquities police, so just that it looks very criminal-like, so that the visitor is likely to pay a bigger baksheesh. Whatever baksheesh the visitor gives, it is going to be criticized as being too small. Sometimes there are two guards, one who is with the visitor, and one who is there to appear to prevent other people from coming into the tomb so that other people do not see the visitor take pictures; but in effect, there are now two guards that needed to be baksheeshed.

Asking the guard who goes with the visitor for a permission to photograph the inside of a tomb should be done discretely. The out-right questions like “Excuse me, Sir, would it be alright if I take a few photographs?” is met with the similar WTF look of incredulity as asking a similarly blunt query of a corner drug dealer.

And these guards seem very knowledgeable about cameras, and ways that people try to sneak photos. If the visitor is caught, there are generally two scenarios: one, the guard will say something like “please come with me … see, from this angle you’ll have a better shot”, or “if you are going to be shooting that P&S from your hip, then tilt the camera a little bit back”, or give other pointers on how to take pictures covertly. This bust-but-aide behavior will likely earn a bigger baksheesh than if a person simply asks. Two, the guard will confiscate the camera, will look very stern and unfriendly for rest of the tour of the tomb, so that in the end he’ll be able to get as much baksheesh from the now busted and frightened visitor as possible. The visitor then worries about his possible arrest, permanent confiscation of the camera, loss of his pictures on the chip/film, etc. as the guard extra slowly goes through the rest of the tour of the tomb. But this is all for show: the visitor can then just buy back his camera for 2 or 3 USD or 10 or 20 EGP back at the entrance to the tomb, shake his head or roll his eyes at the guard’s theatrics, ask the guard not to let other people in, then just go back through the tomb again, and photograph it to his heart’s content.

It is crystal clear to me that the only reason why photography is “forbidden”, is so that the locals can get paid. They have families to feed. It is all about baksheesh.

From VoQ we walked to …

ARTISANS’ VILLAGE (a.k.a., ARTISTS’ VILLAGE, DEIR EL MEDINA): This is a beautiful archeological area. As with most sites (except VoK, VoQ, and Hatchupset Temple), we needed to get tickets at the central office, which is about 400 m away. The living quarters remnants consist of a large series of low rise walls. We like the tomb of Sennutem, tomb of Pashedu, tomb of Iri Nufer. The highlight is Temple of Deir El Medina, from the Greek period. I recommend the Artisans’ Village, but not as highly as VoQ, VoK, or Medinet Habu.

Walked back to Marsam Hotel. We had a full day, but although we saw only three sites (Medinet Habu, Valley of the Queens, and Artisans’ Village), we saw them relatively well.

BALLOON RIDE: In the early morning we were picked up by a crew for a 5:30 am flight. We never flew in a balloon before. The flight was about 30 minutes long, and it was phenomenal. The 5 of us were the only passengers, and we were the only flight of that morning. There are about half a dozen balloon companies operating in the Luxor area; I chose Sinbad Balloons because they were quick to respond to my questions when I booked it about a week earlier, they were flying the previous week, and they were flexible with their price. For additional charge they also gave us a well shot and produced 30-minute DVD of our flight, consisting of shots of us being picked up, taking off, and landing, interlaced with stock footage from the balloon. It was much better than expected.

Returned to the Marsam Hotel, had breakfast, packed up, checked out but left our bags in the Hotel, picked up packed lunches, and headed out.

TOMBS OF THE NOBLES: There are three or four different tickets that can be bought at the Central Office, to see two, three or four tombs per ticket for the Tombs of the Nobles. The Tombs of the Nobles appear to be spread over a wider area than VoK or VoQ. There is no map or no description of which tickets are used to enter which tombs. There are no directions or markers how to get to the tombs. Some tickets lets a visitor visit additional tombs which are not printed on the ticket. Essentially, everything appears to be designed such that a visitor needs a guide. What makes it further difficult is that there are several tombs of the same name, and the signs at the Central Office have many misspellings thus the names on the sign, on the tickets, in the guidebooks and at the entrance do not necessarily match. You need to know which tombs you want to see, instead of asking what is there to see. YOU NEED TO STUDY WHICH TOMBS OF NOBLES YOU WANT TO SEE BEFORE COMING TO EGYPT AND WHERE THEY ARE.

Nonetheless, the tombs are very beautiful. We saw about half a dozen tombs in the Valley of the Noblesof Nakht, Ramose, Userhat, Kha Em Het, and Chapel of Menna. These tombs are maybe a step lower in quality than VoK or VoQ, but unless you are an Egyptologist connoisseur on your 3rd trip, Tombs of the Nobles are an acceptable substitute to VoK or VoQ. What is missing in the Tombs of the Nobles is the large size of some of the tombs of VoK.

From there we walked a short distance through the desert to the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. What we found amazing as we walked through this land was that it was replete with ancient artifacts poking through the surface. Small vases, figurines, carvings, and lots of pottery shards littered our walk. There is no way for us to know if these artifacts were from 50 years ago, 500 years ago, or 3000 years ago, but most were poking through the surface and not laying on top so there were likely not dropped there the night before.

HATSHEPSUT TEMPLE (DEIR EL BAHARI) This famous site is one of the top 3 or 4 sites in the Luxor area, we found it very photogenic. Unfortunately, when we visited, we had a problem, because there were about 2 or 3 buses there full of tourists -- it was difficult to take a picture of the temple from the parking lot without including tourists in the shot. Although in pretty much every other place we went to we were either only ones there, or there was a couple of people there, this site was mobbed with dozens of people.

The towering cliffs above the Hatshepsut Temple and the façade thereof makes visiting it worthwhile, however, aside from the pastel-colored friezes on the lower northern arcade, I would not classify this temple as highly as some other ones in the area. Maybe there was something that we’ve missed.

The Hatshepsut Temple area is patrolled by guys in civilian clothing with what looked like Heckler & Koch MP5. Perhaps the shadow of November 1997 is still haunting the locals.

As with other sites, there is a row of shops selling souvenirs. I was very shocked, or actually offended, that one store owner pulled me over to offer me ancient artifacts. Yes, I know that people are trying to make a living, but selling off heritage like that just seems so unconscionable.

HIKE FROM HATSHEPSUT TEMPLE TO VALLEY OF THE KINGS
We ate our packed lunch at Hatshepsut, and then we walked over the hills to the Valley of the Kings. The path through the hills is well worn, though not marked.

From our short experience in Egypt, we knew that if a tourist wanders off some touristy path or area, he is usually yelled at, whistled at or stopped by some local men; it is never clear if these people are doing this under some clout of authority (military, police, guides, caretakers, etc.), or if they are just locals hassling me for baksheesh, or some good natured persons simply not wanting us to get lost or into trouble. In this case, we had our minds set to hike up the hill to the north of the Hatshepsut Temple, and because we wanted not to get yelled at or stopped, so we just hiked up as fast as we could, resting behind boulders about 2/3 way up. Although we wore earth tone clothing, it is likely that people around the Hatshepsut parking lot could see us, but nobody raised any alarms because, presumably, it looked like we knew what we were doing.

The walk is advertised in guidebooks to be about 50 minutes, which is pretty much close to what it took us. On the top of the hill, almost right above the Hatshepsut Temple, is a red brick building, from which about half a dozen 20-year olds came out as we walked by, swarmed around us. I had no idea if they were trying to hold us up, or demand that we pay them a toll for trespassing on their mountain, or they were just clumsy at being friendly trying to make use that we don’t get lost. Our family simply went into the usual defensive mode, by being overly friendly, communicating only in our limited Arabic, not responding to English or any other European language, and taking lots of pictures with our cell phones of the area around, which happened to include them in the shots. I have no idea if that is the correct approach in Egypt, but it seemed to work, and they let us go on.

VALLEY OF THE KINGS: This is the highlight of the Luxor Area, or at least the West Bank. There are about 65 tombs in the VoK, most of them off limits to tourists permanently. Of the two dozen tombs that are available, they have about ten open at any one time, rotating them. We bought tickets to the King Tutankhamen tomb, and 2 additional tickets (each of which allows the visitor to visit three tombs of own choosing). We did KV1, KV6, KV11, KV47, KV9, KV62, and KV8. At every tomb there was a guard who opened up the tomb, took us in, showed us where are the best angles to photograph the tomb from, and received a baksheesh from us.

During our three hour visit, there were tourists from about 2 or 3 buses visiting -- not overwhelming, and we visited every tomb by ourselves without having to share it with other tourists, but it was hard to find solitude and enjoy the site without seeing other persons.

Words just can’t do it justice how beautiful the tombs were. It is not the quality of the art work that blew us away -- to our lay eye there is not that much difference in the quality in VoK vs VoQ or the tombs of the Nobles. It is sheer size of them (most anyway). Some of these tombs are very large, long entry ways stretching deep into the hills, with cavernous burial chambers. I was impressed.

TAXI: By the time we finished, it was late afternoon, and we did not want to hike back over the hills, so we had to find a taxi. This of course presented a problem for us, in that the taxi that was there knew that we were stuck and asked for 300 Egyptian Pounds to take us to Nile (about 10 km). This was about 20 times the going rate. We knew that this would be a problem when we were planning our hike months earlier. We solved this problem by lamenting among ourselves several times during the last hour at the site about the lack of transportation within an earshot of a guard or a roving salesman. As soon as we walked away, the guard or salesman got on his cell phone, so that by the time we left the last tomb, about 3 or 4 taxi drivers were in a really nasty fight between themselves about who is going to take us. We ended up paying 30 EGP (more than a fair price) to the boat landing, which included a stop at Marsam to pick up our bags, and about a 5-10 minute stop by the Colossi of Memnon.

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******* EAST BANK *******
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On the East Bank we stayed for two nights at the Winter Palace. It too is well located, within walking distances of the Luxor Temple, shopping streets, ferry to the WB; only to Karnak we took a calache.

WINTER PALACE: Caught a ferry (1 EGP each) to the East Bank, and walked the 500 meters to the Winter Palace hotel. I chose Winter Palace to stay at for two nights because it is more than just a place to overnight. It is a destination in itself. It is a historic British colonial era hotel, now a 5 star establishment operated by Sofitel, with a restaurant where dinner jacket and a tie is required. Of course it expensive by Egyptian standards, but compared similar hotels in Europe, America or Asia, it is affordable to mere mortals. There were several other people in the hotel, mostly older people or yuppies. Relatively few kids. The pool was nice, but on the cold side (swimmable, but not much for lounging around in). I highly recommend Winter Palace simply for the Victorian-era experience.

KARNAK: Phenomenal place. The vast scale of the huge complex is mind-blowing -- supposedly it is the largest in the world. The most impressive was the Great Hypostyle Hall. We spent many, many hours there, but just like visiting some of the world’s largest museums, we purposefully simply ignored large swaths of Karnak, and concentrated on few selected parts. This place really deserves to be seen over several days.

LUXOR TEMPLE: This is also an excellent place to visit. Compared to Karnak it is not very large, but it did take about 2.5 to 3 hours of our time, and we saw it relatively thoroughly. The colonnades around the Court of Ramses III and Court of Amenhotep III were better than the Hypostyle Hall. The best part for us was the densely decorated Amun’s shrine.

We visited the Luxor Temple in late afternoon, early evening, so that we saw it coming in daylight, and saw it illuminated on the way back. The lighting at dusk or about 15 to 30 minutes after sunset are particularly photogenic; they turned out much nicer than I expected. However, there is a right balance to be achieved -- photographs that we took too early did not turn out as well, because the brightness of the sky overwhelmed temple and because the artificial lights that just came on had a weird color balance before they equilibrated; photographs of the illuminated temple taken in darkness just overwhelms the inky background, and the shadows are just too harsh. I highly recommend visiting some sites at dusk for excellent photos, but I wish that prior coming to Egypt I would have spent more time around a local city for a practice run, so that I would better understand dusk light, camera settings, white balance, logistics of photograph taking at dark, etc. And I also wish that we would have taken more time outside the Temple prior to going, so that we could have enjoyed the sights that were not illuminated, such as the Avenue of the Sphinxes.

SOUK: We are not big shoppers as some other travelers, so I’ll leave a detailed review of the souk to others, but we did find the market area interesting. The touristy market, Sharia Al Souk, was not as touristy as I imagined; although geared mostly to tourists, there were a few locals buying household essentials. In a few instances where I wanted a specific item, but the shop I was visiting did not have it, the shopkeeper gladly took me to another store that did have the item.

RESTAURANTS: When we stayed on the West bank, we ate at our hotel, Marsam, because there really was no town, no restaurants, nothing. On the East Bank we had a breakfast at the Winter Palace, which we excellent, served on white starched linen by tuxedoed waiters.

In the souk we enjoyed the Al-Shahaby Lane Restaurant for lunch. We wanted to eat there the first night on EB, but a bloody family feud with improvised weapons (chains, chairs, heavy ashtrays) erupted between the proprietor’s family and someone else just as we were arriving. We dove for cover in the surrounding buildings, and there were a few tense moments when the five of us were split up. When the police sirens started to approach we decided to go elsewhere, and come back the next day for lunch. For lunch we decided to forego the people watching and turf war on the street, and sat on the rooftop portion of the restaurant, overlooking the Luxor Temple, with Nile in the background (you can make out the Hatshepsut Temple if you know where to look). The food was good, we even tried camel stew.

For two dinners we also enjoyed food at smaller restaurants for locals on the outskirts of the touristy section where there were no menus, or no menus in English. We were guided by the smell, and simply pointed to several pieces of chicken on the spit that we wanted.


I am an experienced traveler, but a newbie to the Middle East.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by LovelyLadyLux » Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:23 am

Interesting report! :up :up

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Bearded Brian » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:07 pm

Thank you for taking the time to write your report, I enjoyed reading it.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Kaiserbernese » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:53 pm

Excellent trip report!

I love the method of obtaining a taxi after your long walk, I'll remember that one!

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Glyphdoctor » Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:29 pm

pdmlynek wrote:
It is crystal clear to me that the only reason why photography is “forbidden”, is so that the locals can get paid. They have families to feed. It is all about baksheesh.
Actually, photography is forbidden (not just "forbidden") and not for the reason you think. You didn't come when there were a lot of tourists, but when there are a lot of tourists, the tombs can get quite crowded, and there is a need to increase visitor flow. Moreover, the more time that anyone spends in a tomb, the more they breathe and sweat, damaging the paintings on the walls. People who stop to take photos, take more time in the tombs, and thereby cause more damage. This is a rule that was put in place in order to preserve the tombs so that the guardians' grandchildren will still be able to benefit from their presence. Even if some of them bend the rules for baksheesh, that is their own individual decision, and is not in any way connected to the actual decision made by archaeologists to ban photography in the tombs.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Glyphdoctor » Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:30 pm

Kaiserbernese wrote:Excellent trip report!

I love the method of obtaining a taxi after your long walk, I'll remember that one!
Actually it came across to me as a rather cruel trick. Encourage a bunch of out of work taxi drivers to waste gas driving up to the KV thinking they will find work only to send a bunch of them away.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by newcastle » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:25 pm

Glyphdoctor wrote:
Kaiserbernese wrote:Excellent trip report!

I love the method of obtaining a taxi after your long walk, I'll remember that one!
Actually it came across to me as a rather cruel trick. Encourage a bunch of out of work taxi drivers to waste gas driving up to the KV thinking they will find work only to send a bunch of them away.
I quite agree!! You'd think she'd have had the decency to give them at least 20LE apiece for their wasted journey....hardly a dent in the pocket of someone able to afford The Winter Palace.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by pdmlynek » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:40 am

newcastle wrote:
Glyphdoctor wrote:
Kaiserbernese wrote:Excellent trip report!

I love the method of obtaining a taxi after your long walk, I'll remember that one!
Actually it came across to me as a rather cruel trick. Encourage a bunch of out of work taxi drivers to waste gas driving up to the KV thinking they will find work only to send a bunch of them away.
I quite agree!! You'd think she'd have had the decency to give them at least 20LE apiece for their wasted journey....hardly a dent in the pocket of someone able to afford The Winter Palace.

“A cruel trick?” That’s cute.

Look, I have no problem being honest about things, or not playing “a rather cruel trick”, but from the little that I’ve seen of behavior of operators of taxis and caleches, it is my understanding that lack of honesty and purposeful misunderstanding is the norm.

We are talking about the same people who have fed me the following gems over our short stay in Egypt, aren’t we?
“That was 5 BRITISH pounds, not EGYPTIAN pounds!”
“Well, that was 10 pounds for EACH of you.”
“OK, here we are at the Luxor Museum, like you asked. Yes, of course it is closed; everybody knows that it is closed on Fridays. But that’s OK, just hop back on I’ll take you back to your hotel or someplace else.”
“Oh, you just flew in so very late? And you want a ride from airport to Luxor? No problem. 300 pounds.”
“Oh, you are stuck here in VoK and need a lift to Nile? Sure, I’ll be happy to take you for 300 pounds.”

The taxi drivers are big boys who know how to play the game. I am not trying to trick someone who is mentally deficient. Am I somehow obligated to get screwed every time that I need their service?

And by the way, I do not know what you, Glyphdoctor and newcastle, do for living, but do you seriously consider a person who expresses interest in your product or service as playing “a cruel trick” on you if they do not buy your goods or services? I call that comparative shopping and a way that free market works, and should work.

And from the point of view of the cabbie, it is called “prospecting”. Been there, done that. (Actually, am there, doing that.)
I am an experienced traveler, but a newbie to the Middle East.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Dusak » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:09 am

I applaud your comedy break pdlmynek, these tomb raiders need to get their comeuppance from time to time. It was not you that phoned these taxi's but the eavesdroppers that hoped to get a ''little thank you'' off the successful hijacker. But, GD is a self proclaimed Egyptian and will not stand for any payback trickery concerning her fellow adopted country men. :D One-upmanship is alive and kicking in Egypt. :up
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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Glyphdoctor » Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:18 am

So you lump together all taxi drivers? Because some tried to trick you it's ok to play games with another group of taxi drivers who didn't try to trick you because of the behavior of others? Payback is ok if you payback the same person who tricked you but not collective payback. It's about common human decency that applies anywhere in the world.

You knew in advance you would need a car to pick you up, so why not arrange before you set out for the day for someone to be there when you called or at a certain time. You could have asked at your hotel to bring a driver and named your price then and believe me there would have been plenty who would have accepted it without question with just a phone call to them as it would have meant guaranteed work when there was no other work to be had. I'm sure you could have easily found someone to do it for 30LE in advance without having to drag a bunch of others up the mountain for nothing. There's nothing wrong with competition but under current circumstances believe me you didn't need to go through dragging a bunch of people to fight for your services and waste their gas and time in the process.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Subversion » Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:27 am

Yet again a "new" contributor to the forum tries to engage and ends up getting a public berating!

I agree that there are aspects of pdmlynek's post that perhaps have misinterpreted the reality underlying certain situations - for example, I was always of the understanding that photography was forbidden inside the tombs as the flashes damaged the painted hieroglyphs - perhaps I am likewise incorrect. Countless times I have seen Baksheesh change hands for the taking of illicit photographs -personally I feel it is wrong - it is being perpetrated by Egyptian nationals - but perhaps pdmlynek is right in that it provides a family with an income - there is a broader picture!

Reading about life in contemporary Luxor, I realise that whilst "end outcomes" haven't always changed, the motivations and thought processes that govern behaviours have - perhaps pdmlynek is right - perhaps in today's Luxor, whilst the rule is that photography is forbidden the underlying motivation by the "guards" is not to protect Egyptian heritage but to provide the opportunity to earn additional and much needed income.

I have no issues with being corrected, I welcome the opportunity to become better informed, that is why I engage with the forum - but is it really necessary that these attempts to inform are seasoned with a good spoonful of vitriol, contempt, disdain and intellectual superiority?

I firmly believe that trying to be a Roman in Rome is nigh on impossible - because despite your level of integration or your acquired knowledge you will never be an indigenous Roman. No one, be it resident ex-pat, "bingo" tourist or seasoned traveller gets it right every time.

For me, becoming a regular visitor, always involved a vertical learning curve at every trip. I used to reflect on some of my beliefs and behaviours of earlier trips and think "what was I thinking when I said/did that".

How I actually learned to develop my understandings, was by listening to those who corrected my misunderstandings in a kindly way, both Egyptian and Ex-pat - who actually understood and forgave the fact that I was not an indigenous Egyptian.

A bit of cyber "wrist slapping" is one thing - but it does go too far sometimes and all it serves to do is alienate contributors.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Dusak » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:12 am

Why do you continually swim against the current GD? This was not, in any way a preconceived plot to seek mischief on the taxi drivers en-mass. He made the comment to open ears to get a taxi. Who phoned the taxi's? Not he or his family. ALL taxi drivers, without exception, will attempt to gain as much money out of the passenger as is humanly possible. I have been in countless taxi's and if I hadn't stated what I was going to pay, I'd have been seen as another mug. That is why it is important to get all taxi's fitted with meters. This would see the end of the proverbial charge of the Light Brigade when they can smell an oncoming overcharge.
Life is your's to do with as you wish- do not let other's try to control it for you. Count Dusak- 1345.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by newcastle » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:23 am

Dusak wrote:Why do you continually swim against the current GD? This was not, in any way a preconceived plot to seek mischief on the taxi drivers en-mass. He made the comment to open ears to get a taxi. Who phoned the taxi's? Not he or his family. ALL taxi drivers, without exception, will attempt to gain as much money out of the passenger as is humanly possible. I have been in countless taxi's and if I hadn't stated what I was going to pay, I'd have been seen as another mug. That is why it is important to get all taxi's fitted with meters. This would see the end of the proverbial charge of the Light Brigade when they can smell an oncoming overcharge.
They have (or had) taxis with meters in Hurghada. Total waste of time. Either they were covered by what looked like the skins of several dead animals or they were "broken". The police had a brief blitz of fining taxis without functioning meters, or meters that hadn't been turned on, and then got bored with the idea. Agree the price, per car, in the right currency and, on reaching your destination, get out , hand over agreed fare and walk away. Tip optional, If you don't have the right money (or something close to it) be prepared for a fight for your change!! P.S. Watch out for the various slight-of -hand note swapping scams.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by LovelyLadyLux » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:00 pm

In Mexico in ALL hotels, tourists stops and just about anywhere a tourist might be are long wide signs set on the streets with states rates from A to B. These are all pretty comprehensive lists but they detail most anywhere a tourist wants to go.

VOK and other sites could easily have published standard rates back to Luxor to known drop off sites or hotels etc.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by newcastle » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:32 pm

LovelyLadyLux wrote:In Mexico in ALL hotels, tourists stops and just about anywhere a tourist might be are long wide signs set on the streets with states rates from A to B. These are all pretty comprehensive lists but they detail most anywhere a tourist wants to go.

VOK and other sites could easily have published standard rates back to Luxor to known drop off sites or hotels etc.

It's a while since I was there but there was a large board outside Luxor airport with taxi fares to the various hotels etc. It bore no relationship to what you were expected to pay in practice!

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Glyphdoctor » Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:37 pm

Almost all taxis in Cairo now have meters and they are used. In the very rare (like maximum 3 times, maybe only 1) occasions when I have gotten in a taxi where it wasn't working, I got out again before it moved. A couple times I have had to ask them to turn it on or reset it when it was already running. In one case, he made some excuse about it not being resettable but I knew how much it should have cost based on the point where it had started and gave him that when I got out. It can work as long as it is implemented with fair rates.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Glyphdoctor » Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:42 pm

Subversion wrote:Yet again a "new" contributor to the forum tries to engage and ends up getting a public berating!

I agree that there are aspects of pdmlynek's post that perhaps have misinterpreted the reality underlying certain situations - for example, I was always of the understanding that photography was forbidden inside the tombs as the flashes damaged the painted hieroglyphs - perhaps I am likewise incorrect. Countless times I have seen Baksheesh change hands for the taking of illicit photographs -personally I feel it is wrong - it is being perpetrated by Egyptian nationals - but perhaps pdmlynek is right in that it provides a family with an income - there is a broader picture!
As one of those who was personally involved in developing the policies concerning visitors in the Valley of the Kings that have been implemented by the government, hearing someone claim that the ONLY reason that photography is banned is to support the baksheesh system is a personal affront to me. Not intentional I know, but nevertheless it isn't something I am going to let pass without comment. What the guards do is another matter, but the policies themselves have a sound reason behind them and aren't just an elaborate government sponsored scam. Some of us are concerned with preserving these sites for future generations and that is why these rules are in place.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Bombay » Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:45 pm

newcastle wrote:
LovelyLadyLux wrote:In Mexico in ALL hotels, tourists stops and just about anywhere a tourist might be are long wide signs set on the streets with states rates from A to B. These are all pretty comprehensive lists but they detail most anywhere a tourist wants to go.

VOK and other sites could easily have published standard rates back to Luxor to known drop off sites or hotels etc.

It's a while since I was there but there was a large board outside Luxor airport with taxi fares to the various hotels etc. It bore no relationship to what you were expected to pay in practice!
That went about the same time as Mubarak.

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by Kaiserbernese » Fri Dec 13, 2013 7:48 pm

Despite the vitriol I STILL think it was a good way of getting access to a taxi.

I have occasionally overestimated my ability to walk certain distances in the heat and that always seems to be the time when I don't see a taxi or all the mini buses are full!

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Re: Trip report to Luxor

Post by LivinginLuxor » Sat Dec 14, 2013 8:01 am

No objection to cameras being banned IN the tombs, but I fail to see the logic in banning photography in the landscape of the valley as well.
I might agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong!
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