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Pole to Pole

Day 59: Luxor to Aswan

The Nile 
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Nile Cruising: fancy dress night with Gerald and friend.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleUp on deck to watch the sunrise. It's Nigel's birthday, but he's already out and about trying to find somewhere to set up the camera, and muttering darkly about the vibration of the ship's engines. It's cold enough for a sweater as I settle down to watch the show. By six o'clock the first reflections of pre-dawn light can be glimpsed in the water. The concentration of light grows slowly, expands and then widens into an expanse of pale pink, extinguishing the stars. A half-hour later the crest of the sun edges into a whitening, cloudless sky and within a matter of seconds it is riding free of the mountains, growing in power and brilliance until it is a ball of molten gold. At this point, as if sunlight-activated, the onboard muzak tinkles into life . . . 'Raindrops keep falling on my 'ead'. I'm not sure they'd know what a raindrop is round here.

After breakfast we put in at Kom Ombo, twenty-five miles from Aswan, to visit the Temple of Sobek, the sacred crocodile. Pat is persuaded to come along despite claiming she has 'temple fatigue', and despite a brisk wind which is continually blowing her straw hat off.

'This hat's a mixed blessing,' I hear her muttering, as she chases it across the Hypostyle Hall.

Abdul, his hairless skull protected by a knitted white cap, is a proficient but intimidating guide. He reels off facts, figures, details and explanations with unassailable authority and then fixes us with a piercing gaze,

'Any questions?'

Having learnt in the last thirty seconds that the frog is a symbol of life, that this temple is dedicated to a sparrowhawk as well as a crocodile, that women in ancient Egypt delivered babies in a sitting position and that in the mummification process the brain was pulled out through the nostrils, no one really knows where to begin.
The Nile 
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Nile Cruising: a short break from reading.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 59
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: The Nile
  • Book page no: 128

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