Monday, October 30, 2006

Ride that donkey

Day 11
Today is the day of the hot air balloon ride. I feel a bit apprehensive, but the worse thing is the hour or so of sleep I've had. We go without Shady to the launch site. Our balloon basket is enormous, with capacity for 32 ( we only have 30 on board, gulp). The basket is divided into four sections carrying 5 people each, with two 3s at each end. I'm at the end. The implication of this, I later realise, is that I'm not sheltered from the burner. My goodness, we were toasted. We were dressed warmly as it was cold before sunrise, but a few blasts on the gas and my tan was developing nicely! The view was pretty, with sunrise, but not as good as I thought it would be. We could see desert, mountains, and the Nile, but it was slightly hazy, and, well, not what I was expecting. Given the choice of that or three hours sleep, in hindsight… Oh well!

When we landed we bused over to meet Shady and those who didn't do the ride. Now it was Donkey Time! We were each matched up with a donkey. Mike had chosed to attempt to ride "Wanker", who apparently has a rather unstable temperament, and has been responsible for an incident in the past where he tried to mount another girl's donkey, then covered the girl, not the donkey, in, well, let's not go into details! I get pushtouy or something, who is apparently one of the quicker ones. They seem so small, and I worry I'm going to squash her when I mount! Anyway, up and the moment you're on top, it charges off down the road, as cars speed by in both directions. Hilarious! We're supposed to be able to control the speed by digging our heels into their stomach to speed up, and pulling on the small rein to slow down. Neither of these works for me, in fact pulling on the rope merely triggers my girl to turn round and look at me with an angry look! Won't do that again, sorry!

After a while I start to get the hang of it. I'm near the front of the pack, and there's a bit of rivalry going on with Mike and Carolyn as to who is the leader. Problem is that the donkey's tend to settle down into just following the one in front, it's actually very hard to get them to overtake. Plus the one in front will generally speed up if it hears the one behind going faster. In the end though, my superior donkeymanship wins the day, and I am first up to the Valley of the Kings.

This valley is where Kings started burying themselves instead of the Pyramids. The idea was the Pyramids were beacons to grave robbers. This valley is relatively remote, and the tombs are all deep underground. Tutenkamun's tomb is here, and was found later (and not robbed) because it was actually buried underneath another tomb. Now they have started to dig underneath the other entrances, and only 18 weeks ago found something new and interesting which they are still digging out. Archeology in action! By the end, despite Adel's interesting explanations, I think everyone was somewhat templed out. We headed back to a hotel we had for the day for some quiet time before the train back to Cairo overnight. I had a back massage for half an hour for 99E£, which was sooo nice. I think I dozed off towards the end. Then up by the rooftop pool for some snoozing (and snoring) in the sunshine. Train ride back didn't sleep as well, as I had a bit of a sore throat and blocked nose from the excesses, so kept waking myself up snoring! Doh!

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