Friday, March 28, 2008

Visiting Fishes in Sharm

Well, Sharm el Sheikh was pretty cool. We went to a big hotel next to the ocean and sat around in the sun for a morning. The hotel had a huge swimming pool but I forgot my bathing suit and no one was sure if a moose was allowed in the pool. The people were saying that this is a real vacation place. As far as I can see that means that no one here goes for long walks in temples or tombs or anything. A lot of people were just lying around in the sun and sleeping.

Some people were in the water playing and then someone who works for the hotel came and started some music so that the guests who wanted something to do could play some games and do some exercises. It was pretty interesting to watch but looked like you could get pretty tired. They jumped up and down in the water a lot. I guess that my people weren't bored because they drank coffee and ate ice cream instead. A lot of the guests in the hotel were from France but also a lot of them were from someplace that Maryanne called the Gulf. I haven't seen the Gulf before but I heard of France.

While everyone was watching the people bouncing in the swimming pool, I was looking around to see what else interesting was going on. All of a sudden I saw this guy on a big white horse come walking by the pool. Well, I thought, maybe the horse is going swimming. If horses can go swimming, then maybe a moose can too. But it turned out that the horse didn't go swimming. The man was nice though. He works for the hotel and it turned out that Maryanne knew him. They have horses there that people can ride so he let me sit on the horse for a picture. Maryanne said she didn't see why she would pay to ride a horse when she can do it for free at home. Oh well.

One of the things that people do in Sharm el Sheikh is to look at fish. We went to the shop for people who want to look at fish or go to the mountains to see what sort of fun things we could do. Some people wanted to go to see a place in the mountains called St. Catherines. It's a monastery where monks live. They had to explain that monks are nothing like monkeys..if they were it would be much more fun. But it didn't matter because the monastery was closed and we couldn't go anyway. Everyone thought it would be too cold to go swimming to see the fish, even though I thought that I looked pretty good in the mask to see fish with. So instead, the next day we went on a boat with a window in the bottom. Everyone said not to worry because no one was going to open the window while we were in the boat.

The next morning we went down to the beach and there was a boat tied to a dock. We got into the boat and there it was...the window in the bottom of the boat. Wow! It was very cool. While we waited for everyone to come to take a ride on the boat, we looked at fish that were swimming by the beach. Fish are really amazing. They slide around the water very gently and then flash! They are gone. The fish in Sharm are beautiful colours. Some of them are blues and greens and yellows, every different shape and size and pattern. Stripes, squares, big spots, fish with long fins, fish that are big and small...everything.

After a while the boat started moving and we very slowly went around the water in the bay looking through the window at the fish and at things that looked a lot like plants growing in the water. The plant things are called corals and they come in all sorts of sizes and shapes and colours. The fish seem to like to live near them and some of the small ones even seem to hide in the corals. It was really fun to look at the fish and the corals. I hoped that maybe we would see a shark or a whale but the fish weren't all that big. There were some fish that looked like Nemo in the movie though.

One of the people on the boat with us wanted to go swimming with the fish and the boat stopped by some corals so that he could swim. The rest of us just sat around on the boat and bobbed up and down for a while. The sun was warm and the breeze was nice so I decided that sitting on boats is a good thing to do. This boat wasn't nearly as big as the Nile boat, but I think boats are a good idea. It was much better on the boat than it was on shore because unless someone has planted something green in Sharm el Sheikh, it's all rocks and sand.

Later that day we sat on the balcony at the room of the hotel and watched all the boats coming back from visiting fish out at sea. A lot of people in Sharm go out in these boats all day long and they jump in the water to visit fish. It sounds kind of strange to me. They could just look through the bottom of the window boat.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Seeing The Big Places

After lunch we all went out of the boat to get on a bus to go see two very big temples. The first temple was called the Temple of Karnak and it really was big. There were statues of lions with sheep heads on them in front of the front wall of the temple. Apparently in Egypt when something has a lion body and some other head, it's called a sphinx. So these were called ram's-headed sphinx statues. If it has a person's head, it's just called a sphinx. I wonder what they'd call it if it had a moose's head....

Once we went through the front gate, there was a big empty space with some very large statues and columns. One of the statues looked like it had feathers coming out of its head, but that might have been because it had a palm tree just behind it. Maryanne has been telling the other people we are traveling with that they should wait to see the temples in Luxor because the other temples really were not as amazing. Well, I guess that she was right. Everywhere we looked there were groups of people listening to guides in a million different languages, taking pictures and getting sore necks trying to see the tops of all of the very tall things in Karnak.

After the huge empty space, we went into something the guide called a hypostyle hall. At first, I thought he said hippostyle hall and I was pretty excited that we were going to see some hippos, but there aren't any hippopotamuses in Egypt anymore. If the last space was very empty, this hall was very full. There were hundreds of huge columns in the space, and people with cameras everywhere. The room was almost like a giant forest filled with enormous trees and tiny little people. Just the sort of place that a moose would really like. The guide man said that there are 134 columns in the room and that at one time it was very dark, having a roof of very large stone blocks on top of the columns. There was a lot of time to build such big things because they say that the kings were building in this place for over two thousand years. I wonder how they could remember what it was that they were building.

We walked all over the place at Karnak. There are so many broken buildings there. I wonder how people know what they all are. The guide man said that people learned to read the pictures that are carved on the columns and walls. I guess that the old Egyptians used the pictures to carve their names on the buildings. One of the things that they built in Karnak was a very pretty swimming pool, but I never saw anyone swimming there.

After a while we found our bus again and we went to another temple in the same town. This temple was called Luxor Temple and one of the things that I liked about it was that there were places where I could sit and rest. I sat on one king's lap. They said that he was a strange king called Akhenaton but that he made this statue before he changed his name to that. This temple had been covered in sand and mud for a long time and the people forgot that it was there so they built a mosque and a church on top of it. When they dug the temple up, the church and the mosque were left way up in the air. Now people in the mosque are over the old temple. Very strange.

There were a lot of statues of the old Egyptian kings in this temple. One of the kind of cool things was the fact that they would put statues of their children with them. I got a picture of myself next to one of the girls. She was very pretty.
After all of our traveling around, this was the last day on the boat. We were going back to have dinner and sleep and then in the morning we were going to fly to a place called Sharm el Sheikh. Maryanne says that this is a holiday place on the Red Sea and that I would see fish there. I wonder if the sea is really red like the sky was the last night in Luxor.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Morning In Luxor

This morning I woke up early, looked out of the window, and saw the most amazing thing. Huge balloons were floating up from the green fields across the river into the sky. Maryanne said that people ride in baskets under these balloons to see the river and Luxor from up in the air. I think that is really cool.

After breakfast we got on a bus and went over a bridge across the Nile. We were going to a place called the Valley of The Kings. At first, it didn't look like much, mostly a lot of white rock and sand. But then we went into some tunnels that had been cut into the hillsides. Inside were some beautiful paintings of people eating things, talking together and doing all sorts of things. There are rules that don't let people take pictures of the tunnels so Maryanne couldn't take any. The tunnels are called tombs and the guide said that Egyptian kings a long time ago decorated the tunnels and left statues inside so that they would have company when they were dead.
There were lots and lots of people there waiting to go into all the tunnels. We only saw three of them because we had to see a lot of other things that day. To get all the people in and out of the valley they used little trains.They were pretty nice because all that walking made everyone pretty tired even though they all kept saying how good it was that it wasn't very hot. But we still had another valley to visit and another temple or two. There were many buses waiting for all the people at the Valley of the Kings and it wasn't so easy to find ours but we did eventually and we left to see a temple for a queen called Hatshepsut. She made herself the king of Egypt for a long time and even wore a fake beard. She made a special place for herself next to the cliffs.

This was a really big temple and we climbed three sets of stairs to see all of it. One of the amazing things in these places was how many people there were from everywhere in the world. People everywhere. There were all sorts of drawings and carvings on the walls here. Some of them showed the lady king doing things, but more showed the people who worked for her. They say that the king who came after her didn't like her much and he took all her pictures away. One of the guards helped me out by carrying me around for a while because I was getting tired of looking at so many columns and walls and things. We went back to the bus again and went to another place, the Valley of the Queens, where there were more tunnels but the pictures weren't nearly as nice as in the Valley of the Kings. By this time we were getting pretty hungry and tired, so we were very happy to see the last place for the morning.

The guide called these two statues The Colossi of Memnon. They were very, very big statues of men who were pretty broken. The guide said that once long ago the statues used to make a sound in the morning when the sun warmed up the stone, but sometime ago they fixed the statues and they don't make the noise anymore. We looked around at the statues and the area around them where people are trying to understand what had been built around the statues. But we were glad to go to have lunch.