Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ass Backward Aswan!

Temple of Isis at Aswan
For the purpose of book research, the single most important event on this trip was a boat ride out to
Philae Island to see the massive temple of Isis built by Ptolemy XII. Today I achieved this goal and oooooohhhh, man, did I get a juicy little nugget of info there! Can't wait to write it. And the journey was as interesting as the destination.

In getting to the island, I stepped off my taxi where the boats were and observed a large group of tourists disembarking from one (name badges, matching pink and white T shirts, shorts, cameras around necks.) As I approached, naturally I was touted for a boat, and after a few minutes of negotiation I was happy with the price. I stepped onto the boat, one of the decent-sized boats you see here all over Aswan.

Then my guide led me directly over that boat and onto the tiniest little motor boat I have ever seen. It almost would have fit in a bathtub. I hadn't even seen it.

In the Boat to Temple of Isis
Of course, it made sense, given the fact that I was one person, and a small person at that. But I seriously thought I might fall into the Nile. As it turned out, I did not fall in, but my guide was polite and the trip was fast and I did get some splashes to the eye at no extra charge.

The second bonus I experienced in Aswan was touting during dinner - by the server. I wandered into a restaurant near my hotel, selected for the fact that I could sit at an outdoor table near some parked boats and enjoy the sun setting over the Nile. After I had committed to an order, I looked up the restaurant in Frommers and almost walked out when I read the review. Whoops!

Except I couldn't walk out, because the man who had seated me and taken my order then climbed into one of the boats next to my table and spent the entire course of my meal trying to sell me a boat ride. Of course, I was kind of stuck there until he brought me the check. How bizarre is that?

I must say, the touts here are more persistent than the ones I have encountered elsewhere. On my way to dinner, I was followed for a couple of minutes by a boater not readily taking no for an answer. On the way back, as I was secretly laughing at a poor middle aged couple desperately trying to rid themselves of one, my same guy appeared again to remind me about karma.

He said to me, "Boat ride? One hour! Remember me?"

I said, "Yes, I remember you, and the answer is still no."

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