Day 4 28th March 2015
The Egyptian countryside in the morning is brilliant to ride a motorcycle in. Crisp cool air and no rain in sight. All you have to do is twist the throttle and enjoy the road ahead. It’s mostly only farmers and workers around this time of the morning so the traffic is lighter, yet much more diverse and interesting.
You have the early risers for prayer (at dawn) getting about in their wonderful robes, produce-laden donkey carts stumbling along and the amazing scenery along the Nile to keep you enthralled. It’s a very green and prosperous farming route with many photo opportunities and I recommend stopping at any of the tea-houses along the way to say hello and mix with the locals.
My first detour was to the ancient town of Abaydos. This town has been here for so long, they have ruins upon ruins. The temple of Abaydos was built by successive kings Seti 1st and his son Ramses 2nd and is the crowning glory, but if you head past to the right towards Ramses Temple, you will enter the ruins of the original city and it looks the same as it did 3000 years ago, with people still living in the mud brick homes. Freaking amazing!
As usual the ‘no photo’ signs are here and there inside the temples, but if you give the guy 10 bucks they let you do what you want. Ahh, good old baksheesh! Speeding out of Abaydos and ignoring the tourist police screaming at me to stop, I took off en-route to Luxor with the Nile to my left through Farshut, Dishna, Qena and cruised past the Pyramid of Huni, by way of the Western Agricultural road.
It’s a fairly decent road, but fuck-me-sideways, there are a lot of unnecessary speed bumps. Great fun for getting air over, but when you’re loaded up with gear, it’s not that great. (especially when all your stuff falls off and lands in the mud-*sigh*)
Arriving in Luxor I stayed on the West Bank (quieter and closer to the Valley of the Kings) at the Cleopatra Hotel. They have great staff, secure parking and the rooms and food are fantastic. For around 25 bucks a night (175 EP) it’s a pretty great deal.
The owner Nasser is a really cool dude and it’s in a really safe and relaxing area. I got my bike serviced down the road for 15 bucks (100 EP) as I needed to replace the swing-arm bushes (which were non-existent) and still had some play at the rear cog I wanted to fix after trashing it near Sohag. Top class mechanics, they even washed the bike for me and that’s always a good sign.
You can ride straight into the valley of Kings and Queens, which I found awesome and I cut loose through the tombs and dirt-roads as there are tracks everywhere.
In 1997 there was a tragic event at the iconic Hatshepsut Temple where armed men shot and killed some 76 people. So don’t go driving about too crazy, because the security here is heavily armed and may shoot you if you blast full speed up to a checkpoint. Just sayin’. Stop and introduce yourself so they know who you are. And have some tea if they offer it.
The ticketing system here is a bit ridiculous. Instead of one ticket for the whole area, you have to stuff around and get all these tickets at different locations. Around $100 bucks and 10 000 tickets later I ended up at the Valley of the Kings (tomb of Tutankhamen, Ramses 11, 111) and you will notice ‘no photos allowed’ signs everywhere.
Now the secret here is good old baksheesh. Wait until no one is around, grab one of those incredibly annoying touts and tell him you want to take some pics- very quietly. Lo and behold you can now do what you like! Unbelievable. Just take care because they actually police this and you will get fined if you are caught. Pay the touts no more than 100 EP for this okay?
The hieroglyphs in this area are just outstanding! Deep in the tombs the colours still appear vibrant and the beautiful quality of the artists is breathtaking. The Valley of the Queens are just as impressive. I spent a full day here, went home, drank some beer, then got up and went to explore the East side across the Nile.
Cruising through Luxor on my bike was great. A very clean and picturesque city, Luxor has a great vibe to it. Plus there’s a McDonald’s and I really like Oreo mcflurries. I couldn’t be bothered with the whole ticket bollocks again, so I flew top speed up the back of a sphinx statue and got enough air to jump the fence and land in Luxor Temple.
Massive statues and enormous obelisks, covered in detailed hieroglyphs are everywhere, an incredible feat of engineering. After some time here I did a burnout and smoked the rear tyre up the length of ‘Sphinx Alley’ to Karnak Temple. I waited until the heavily armed police stopped to smoke a sheesha and tore through the checkpoint, narrowly missing an armoured military vehicle with a huge 50-calibre machine gunner on top.
Last year (2015) some crazies entered with guns and suicide bombs, but they didn’t make it through the parking lot and were consequently shot and killed, with one detonating his vest, destroying some of the tourist shops and injuring their owners.
As a result you will see a massive police presence around tourist sites with stringent bag checks and scanners, so enjoy yourself but still keep your guard up when around these areas. I headed home for beer, sleep and another early morning start.
Filling up my tank with crappy 92 Benzine, I left Luxor and headed South towards Aswan, down the East side of the Nile- a modern-day Alexander the Great on his mechanical steed, out to conquer the world. A true gladiator that welcomes danger and adversity. I scoffed down my Oreo mcflurry, spilling ice-cream down the front of my shirt and took off into the dusty, morning nether.
Sohag to Luxor via the Western Agricultural Road