Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

The Wonders of Ancient Egypt

Luxor Temple at night.  Wow!


Who on earth would not want to travel to Egypt!?  Me!  That's who!  Well, at least that is how I felt for a good deal of my travel career.  Egypt really never made my radar screen as far as gotta-get-to destinations go. 

But then in the winter of 2003, I got the travel itch.  (I usually start to get cabin fever during this period of time every year.  Winter is when a major chunk of my trips are planned).  Then one night I was surfing the net and came across a page on Egypt by chance.  The next thing I knew, I was booking flights to Egypt for a two week program that would take us to many of the most famous sites in this amazing country!

After our trip, Som and I were very happy that we decided to spend a couple weeks in Egypt.  We never tired of visiting and learning about the ruins and temples.  We both loved the desert scenery of the Sahara and the northern Sudan.  We both became very disillusioned with the extremely agressive nature of the Egyptians however.  In fact, we became pretty jaded and bitter about our endless negative interactions with the Egyptians we met throughout the tour.

Well, we felt this way until we actually got off the beaten tourist path.  Once we were able to shake our full-time body guard and police shadow (we were in Egypt soon after 911 and the Egyptians were not about to have a dead American on their hands, so we were evidently assigned a secret police "shadow" for our stay in the big towns! This actually became pretty extreme when our "shadow" would literally stop FOUR lanes of traffic for us in order for us to safely cross any road we wanted.  If anyone came too close to us he would scold them....fascinating!).  Well, anyway, once we were able to shake our "shadow" and get in to the markets to see the everyday Egyptians, we found that they weren't so bad afterall.  The people associated with the tourist industry however were absolutely horrible.

Our program involved the normal destinations like Luxor, Memphis, Karnak, Valley of the Kings, Giza, Abu Simbel and many others.  We loved the three night cruise of the nile as well. 


Be sure to visit our other Photo Galleries for more spectacular images of our travels! (Pbase Galleries)


Here are some images of our expedition to Egypt.




We were both very impressed with the Temple of Hatshepsut, also known as the Queen's Temple.  The statuary and the way it was nestled in to the side of the impressive mountain was very beautiful.




Catching some meditation time in the Temple of Hatshepsut!



The statuary at the Temple of Hatshepsut was spectacular.  If Hatshepsut really looked like this, she was gorgeous!



A local perfumery in Luxor.  Here we were able to break away from our sometimes-very-annoying guides (not all were - some were in fact excellent, but some were simply assholes...) in order to mingle with the locals.  We walked the back streets of Luxor for hours cruising the local markets and side streets.  We loved this morning's trek.



Baskets filled with fresh herbs and spices in the Luxor market.



What can I say, seeing the Pyramids at Giza is an event of a lifetime!  And watching Cokie playfully crawl on the massive stones that make up the Pyramids was a sight I will enjoy remembering forever.  I just wish he could remember this trip.



The late afternoon sun setting behind the mountainous Pyramid.  There are entire neighborhoods in Cairo that experience sunsets much earlier than others due to the massive size of these Pyramids.



Our family Christmas photo...



Although the Pyramids at Giza were sights to behold, I was actually more interested in the "lesser" pyramids, like the Step Pyramid seen here, or the Bent Pyramid further south.



I really enjoyed Philae Temple.  I'm not sure if it was because there were no throngs of tourists there when we visited it, or perhaps it was it spectacular island setting.  Or maybe it was due to its pristine condition.  Who knows...





No matter where we go, Egypt, Africa, Asia, Mexico, America...where ever, Cokie and Som ALWAYS pass as locals!  And no matter how hard I try, I ALWAYS look like a dumb American!  Dang!




I can't remember exactly what rubbed Cokie the wrong way this afternoon, but he was sure PO'd.  He refused to move one step from where he was in this image.  His pouty expression still makes me laugh.  What a cutie.



Luxor Temple as seen during one of our night strolls.




One of the most spectacular aspects of Kom Ombo Temple is the vivid colors that still exist in many of its glyphs.  I can only imagine what these temples must have looked like when they were still in use.



I remember telling Som, "I can't believe you let that dude put a live Cobra right on your head like that!  I am impressed, girl!"  She replied, "That was a real Cobra!?"



The columns of Karnak are perhaps the most impressive structures in all the temples. 



The statuary in Karnak was awesome as well.  I wish I remembered the names of the various statues and sites better. 



Another view of Karnak Temple.



While most of the tourists were being hit up to buy overpriced carpets and trinkets, Cokie and I stole some time away and checked out Guma Village on the way to the Valley of the Kings.  This was MUCH more interesting!





One free afternoon, we hired our own private Felucca for a two hour cruise up and down the Nile near Luxor. Once again, Cokie was our "visa" for a much more personal experience with the locals.  Traveling with children in many ways is the best way to go.  People who don't travel because there children are "too young", or for whatever reason, are missing out.



We arrived at Edfu temple the second the last bus of tourists departed. It was amazing how deserted the temple became!  We owned this one too and this made for a much more enjoyable experience. Notice Coke and Cokie in front of the facade!



"Ra", the sun god as seen on the facade of Edfu Temple.



A Nile sunset!



Cokie and Somie at the Colossi of Memnon.



Cokie and me trekking the back streets of Cairo's ancient Christian Quarter.  JC himself even camped out here when he was being chased by the Romans.




King Tut's mask as seen in the Cairo Museum. What a spectacular exhibit.  I thought I had seen all of it in Chicago when I was a teenager, but now I know I only saw a small part of it.  And to think, Tut was a nobody!  The real Pharoahs had a lot more "stuff" in their tombs.



Although it was quite a trip all the way down to Abu Simbel, it was worth every bit of it!  What impressed me even more than the temple itself was how they moved every pebble of it from its original location which is now at the bottom of Aswan Lake!

Be sure to visit our other Photo Galleries for more spectacular images of our travels! (Pbase Galleries)