Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Karnak Temple (and the Grinding Granny)
WE went to Karnak on the last day i.e. the day before we were to return home, and they definitely did save the best till last.
I think i'll let the pictures speak for themselves. There's no point in trying to give you a history lesson. If you're interested just google Karnak, and the possibilities are endless. Wikipedia is a good starting place.
My favourite part was the Hypostyle Hall, which is basically a hall with a flat ceiling supported by columns. Each of the Temples we visited had at least one Hypostyle, but Karnak was definitely the most impressive with 134 columns. Karnak was the main seat of the Theban Triad made up of Amun-Re, Montu and Mut, and up to 30 Pharoahs contributed towards the complex over the years, seeking to make their mark on the country's most important temple; hence the sheer size of the place. It's divided into 3 precincts, one for each of the gods. The only one open to tourists at present is the precinct of Amun-Re. Amun was the local deity of Thebes (modern day Luxor) who gradually rose through the ranks and became adopted by the other regions, ultimately becoming identified with Ra-herakhty i.e the merged identities of Ra and Horus.
The columns are so wide in diameter that apparently it takes 10 people linking hands to encircle one. We didn't try this but saw other groups attempting it. Our Egyptologist, Ayman proved to be one of the most politically incorrect people, joking that it would normally take 10 people, but 20 Japanese tourists to encircle one column. Hadihaha..
Other highlights include the Sacred Lake in which the priests of Amun would purify themselves before presenting sacrifices to their god. There's also the statue of the Scarab Beetle which is associated with good luck, as the beetle usually came out with the rising of the sun. It is thought that if you circle the statute 7 times, good luck would be yours. The Scarab beetle is also the apparent inspiration for those bugs that crawl underneath the skin and move about in The Mummy (or was it The Mummy Returns). Oh, and the complex lay buried under sand for over 1000 years until it was discovered in the mid-19th century!
That's enough for now, i think. Remember i'm still taking questions.
If you ever visit Karnak Temple, do not under any circumstances go back in the evening for the so-called Sound and Light Show. It sucks! We paid £17 each for the privilege and basically saw what we had seen during the day, lit up and with amplified narrative (by the way, ancient Egyptian kings and queens spoke with Shakespearean accents!). All i'm saying is save your money and avoid it!!!
On the second evening,after dinner we were introduced to the boat's management and Heads of department. It was kind of amusing, as it took place in the Lounge bar, with all the guests seated and one of the guides would call out each person and their job title and the DJ would start the music and the person would come in and stand at the front of the room. TB and I had loads of fun whooping loudly as each person came in (hey, we had to keep ourselves amused somehow!).
Anyway, after this, we had a supposed 'disco'. The dj was abysmal. The music selection even worse. So much so that we had to stage an intervention, and (to give you an idea on how abysmal the playlist was) we settled for Dancing Queen by ABBA! So not wanting to go to bed yet, we chilled and watched the one or two other people who decided to brave the dance floor.
Eventually, the dj puts on a relatively danceable track. I think it was Mambo No 5 or Shakira's Hips dont lie (albeit the Spanish version), when some guy comes out of nowhere and begins to grind against this girl who it turns out is his girlfriend. The guy actually went on to propose later in the week and whilst the girl accepted the ring, she refused to put it on her wedding finger as the guy is in the process of getting a divorce but technically still married.
But i digress...So they are grinding away, and it's quite raunchy and beyond the playful kind of grinding. TB, who can be quite puritanical, is almost ready to walk out in disgust. Me, i'm really not bothered much, when all of a sudden, this woman who had been dancing away with her daughter and friend, goes behind the guy and begins grinding against him. So, basically, the guy is grinding his girlfriend from behind and this granny is grinding him. I was almost on the floor with laughter! I'm not sure if she knew what she was doing or if she was drunk, or if she thought perhaps a conga line was forming and decided to join in, or what! The girl was so embarassed, which made it all the more hilarious to me...mwahahahaha! And since then, she became known as the Grinding Granny. The End.
I actually took a surreptitious picture of her, but it was one of the ones i mentioned that i lost! Ah well...