Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Hidden Luxor - East Bank the disabled report

Egypt may have poor disabled facilities but it makes up for it by having the most helpful people in the world.  Guardians, supervisors, police and even a couple of men sitting having coffee leapt up and helped me get where I wanted to go. If I wanted to get there by God they were going to make sure I did. Nothing was too much trouble and it made me love Egypt even more.

I got a taxi round from my house to Karnak. As it is 18 km by the bridge it would have taken too long and used up the battery. I was not going to risk the ferry lol. At the car park only coaches and minibuses are allowed in and my driver was worried I might have a problem on the scooter, he need not. It was almost like a royal progress. Gates were opened and everything was made easy. The visitors center is up on the pavement but I managed to find a place with a slope and there were ramps to go inside and ramps to the model. The ticket office was outside and to get onto the plaza I had to go through a shop to get to the ramp but absolutely no hassle. On the plaza there was a step up however there was a ramp but it was obstructed by debris from  some repair works and tricky to get through. I complained to a worker and he promised to clear it up by the time I got back and all credit to him it was cleared when I got back.

The entrance to the temple has a narrow security gateway but the police encouraged me to go round it where they sit and searched me there. On the quay there was a small steep ramp and then a more gentle ramp. The ground was very bumpy with uneven paving.  Amazingly enough I met a man who organised trips for wheelchair users and he was stunned when I said I was writing a guide book and adding helpful tips for disabled tourists. We exchanged business cards!

The first court and most of the central Amun temple is paved so perfectly ok for wheelchairs although very bumpy. I was able to get as fair as the holy of holies .

 I could not get to the festival hall of Thuthmosis III, didn’t attempt the Ptah temple as that is a sand trap. It was pretty sad to see the deserted cafĂ© and remember the past.

I went out to the Knonsu temple and the path through the block yard was great but before the path around the Khonsu temple was reached it stopped.  About five yards of stony ground which is almost impossible. Although there is a path around the temple it was blocked by scaffolding and the inspector there said it would be up for a couple of years. I complained about that too and he did say he would tell the moudir. I hope he does.

I have a simple really cheap solution extend the path with mud brick. That makes a smooth surface, it is very cheap, does not harm to any temple surface and it is aesthetically pleasing. Also please make ramps 1:12 like this diagram.

I tried to go to the new area of the temple of the hearing ear. With massive help from guardians (see photo) I got inside but although I had been promised it was disabled friendly there was a step, ramps were too step and the pathway to it was impassable.


Still I did get to see it with considerable guardian help.

The open air museum was a total success paved everywhere except the area leading to the Tuthmosis IV colonnade. I got some great photos, although the lack of signs was very frustrating.

So the Amun temple was 75% OK, Khonsu was a wash out and the open air museum a joy. Now it was time to try the Mut temple.

I went back to the visitors center and asked for directions how to get there as I had only ever gone by car before. I also asked if someone could come with me and I was sent this nice young man called Mahmoud. He was really wonderful. He took me a slightly long way as the quicker way had a step. When we got to the ramp leading down to the part of the sphinx alley that goes east/west  against the main alley going north/south. We looked at ways and means, the alternative through the village on sandy soil versus the steepness of the ramp and the condition of the pavement which was terrible. I remember Mansour Boraik telling me the pavement of sphinx alley had been broken by flooding. I hadn’t noticed walking but you sure notice on wheels.

Again a complimentary sidewalk of mud brick would solve the problem. About a third of the way along I wanted to give up but sent Mahmoud ahead to see the condition of the temple and was it worth it. He came back with the guardian who said it was paved and alright. So I went off the pavement and tried the ground by the side. With the guardian pushing we got there. The central aisle is paved and good condition so it was worth it and it had changed a lot since I was last there. Really well laid out, sadly at the end there was a large step and the surface pretty bad but I was satisfied. I would judge the site about 35% ok for disabled.

I had wanted to go back alongside sphinx alley but Mahmoud warned me the road was very broken due to the new gas pipe being laid and obviously the alley itself was not an option with the broken pavement. So I went along the road. I did think about going along the corniche but the road had a padlocked gate so that wasn’t an option. So I used the road, it was OK but I was glad I had the hi vis jacket and knew my way.

When I got to Luxor temple I took one look at the entrance way with its steps and massively steep ramp and knew that was impossible. So I went to the exit, there were a group of police men there, immediately saw the problem and they got some help. The exit gateway was opened up, I was searched one the ramp (the entrance has x-ray) and the ticket office guy came out and took my money over the wall. I was so impressed how helpful they were.

Luxor temple was great until I got past the peristyle hall, there was a huge set of steps and a steep ramp. I guess I could have got help but by this time I was pretty tired so exited.

I then went touristy and got a MacDonalds and went for a hair cut. When I got to the shop I used my horn to try and get attention from the shop to help me get the scooter on to the pavement and into the shop. Almost immediately two men having shisha and coffee next door jump up and helped me carrying the scooter up the kerb to the pavement and into the shop.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate it Also all this time, all this help, nobody wanted money. I did give Mahmoud a tip, he was with me over an hour. He did not want to take it and I had to press him but in the end I said it was for his mother. I knew that would work.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Zahi on the new scan of Tutankhamun This Morning - Timeline

(9) This Morning - Timeline

Many thanks to Tony Hickman for sharing this. Zahi is talking about a new scan of KV62 by the Russians in Nov

Tony also did a transcript

Zahi Hawass has just announced on ITV This morning that there will be another scan by a Russian team in the tomb of Tutankhamun KV62 in this November here is a transcript of the interview............. I want to tell you one important thing, as the Director now of the field work in the Valley of the Kings who are using new techniques that takes photographs that can show what’s under the ground, because we are missing the tomb of Thutmose's II, the tomb of Ramesses VIII, most of the queens of dynasty XVIII were buried in the Valley of the Kings. And the coming November we hope that we can locate one tomb and make a big discovery like the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun .
Zahi Hawass was then asked about the idea of hidden rooms in KV62
We are, we are going to use also inside the tomb of Tutankhamun a NEW radar, it’s a Russian radar, and that Russian radar will make the final word if the tomb of Nefertiti existed inside the tomb of Tutankhamun or not. Because the previous radar that talks about something behind the wall when we did look at it, it did not show anything and therefor soon, in November we are going to use this Radar to find out if evidence of Nefertiti behind the North wall of the tomb or not .
Zahi Hawass was asked if he felt that Nefertiti was in KV 62
I REALLY DO NOT THINK that Nefertiti is buried at all in the tomb of Tutankhamun , for many reasons the first the Priests of Amun would never let someone who worshipped the “Aten” to be buried in the Valley of the Kings.
Zahi Hawass finally stated he felt that there is nothing inside the tomb of Tutankhamun , This theory is not correct .

Hidden Luxor - Disabled temples: Merenptah=No, Rammasseum=No, Seti I YES!!!!!

That is all the temples done now.

Started at Merenptah, which had dusty, sandy debiris on steep ramps and even with the guardians help I couldnt get up

Ramasseum had VERY steep mini ramps going down to a non compacted sandy, dusty courtyard. We could have got down the rmaps, with a lot of help but once at the bottom the scooter would have been stuck. Also the access from first courtyard to second courtyard is impossible for a scooter.

Bt this time I was feeling very demoralised but decided to try Seti temple. There were a couple of steep ramps going in but only little ones and there is one small step in the middle of the central aisle but that is it. Everything else I could negotiate all by myself

I came back along the bottom road to get a look at Hatshepsut, it is there honest, across the fields

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Kunsttentoonstelling “Luxor in Zwevegem” – Grensnieuws

Kunsttentoonstelling “Luxor in Zwevegem” – Grensnieuws

For all our Flemish readers (or use Google translate) this is a news story about the painter Wael Nour and his family on his first European show. Well done Wael

Monday, 10 October 2016

Tuthmosis II shrine in Karnak temple is ready to open after restoration - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online

One of my favourite places, the open air museum at Karnak and now there is even more to see.

Tuthmosis II shrine in Karnak temple is ready to open after restoration - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online: The latest work of cleaning and conservation has been completed -- the bark shrine of Thutmosis III is now ready to be opened for visitors at the Open Air Museum of Karnak.


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Hidden Luxor - Disabled at Hatshepsut

I can not believe how hot it still is, the forecast says 37 but I swear it was over 40.

Everyone has been saying that the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri will be ok for the mobility scooter as it has ramps. Well it is and it isnt, the ramps are so steep!
Second terrace

When I arrived at the ticket office there was a step and a very narrow entrance way but a very obliging guardian took my money and went to the ticket office for me. A policeman came out and searched my bag and they opened up the barrier between the car park and the temple. The path is very smooth and even and at the bottom of the ramp there was a small wooden ramp. The very first thing I have seen to help the disabled.
Small wooden ramp

If I was a few stone lighter or the ramp had been a few degrees less steep we would have raced up there. But the scooter switched off, it couldnt cope. A quick reset and I got off and walked it up the ramp. The terrace itself was fine, very flat but the colonnades had a big step so it was out with the trusty folding seat..
Big steps at the colanades

Going down the ramp was much easier, quite fun actually.The exit past the shops was fine, I stopped and chatted with a few stall holders. They miss the tourists so much. They were pleased direct flights had started but horrified by the price compared to going somewhere like Turkey. I wish EgyptAir would drop its prices.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Work recognised in Luxor

Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Enani embarked early this week on a tour of Luxor in order to inspect recent work at the Karnak Temples, inaugurate a number of archaeological sites, and attend the second round of the Thebes in the First Millennium BCE Conference.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

First day at the Thebes in the 1st Millennium BC conference

First day at the Thebes in the 1st Millennium BC conference was great . Background to the project, some excellent lectures on the texts including a sharing of knowledge where a member of the audience knew a disputed sign. Architecture, pottery and cattle bones and more on the site itself and Coptic text. No I am not going to write it up because they will be publishing and obviously that would trespass on that.
 Dr KhaledEl-Enany opened the conference, which was very crowded

Thursday, 22 September 2016

World Tourism Day

Tuesday 27th, sept, 2016
Festival PROGRAM: -
9:00 AM Meeting at the entrance of visitor center - Karnak Temple
9.30:11 AM Folklore festival "Luxor Folklore band"
School's children singing show - Music rababa
Accompanied with RainBow Flag's carriers

Monday, 12 September 2016

MENTORING AND MATERIAL REUSE IN LUXOR | American Research Center in Egypt

Just received a Newsletter from ARCE about all their work in Egypt. This article on Luxor was very interesting

MENTORING AND MATERIAL REUSE IN LUXOR | American Research Center in Egypt: Two practices are deeply integrated into the site improvement operations of ARCE/Luxor: material reuse and skills mentoring...........

Sunday, 11 September 2016

My Beautiful Egypt - From a Wheelchair users perspective.

I am deeply grateful to Louisa Summerfield, who is a wheelchair user and gave her perspective on visiting Egypt, for the forthcoming revised edition of Hidden Luxor.

My Beautiful Egypt - From a Wheelchair users perspective.

I fell in love with Egypt many years ago, I had just left university on an around the world ticket, Egypt being the last destination of our trip. Since then I have lived in Cairo during the early 1990s and have visited 31 times.

As a wheelchair user I think I can start off by saying there is NO wheelchair facilities or access in Egypt, the roads in every destination have kerbs almost two feet high and whilst I like many others use the main road you still have to at some point get up the kerb fortunately there are lots of willing and friendly Egyptians to help you.

The key in Egypt is you have to rely on manpower in order to access things like taking a felucca on the rive Nile, I looked down on the steep bank and thought there is just NO WAY I could get down there, but to the felucca man there was “no problem, no problem” and within seconds I was thrust into the arms of a skinny but very strong man who literally carried me like the bride down very steep & treacherous stone steps but hey I made it I was in my felucca enjoying the amazing sunset of the Nile.

Where I was most disappointed was the Cairo museum as there were 3 steps everywhere leading into each section of the museum and unless they’ve changed things there are steps at the entrance too, for me they could have made some effort to put small ramps inside the museum. 3 steps meant it wasn’t going to be a steep gradient and some effort could have been made as it was irritating having a whole entourage of people following me around.

In Luxor the Temples were hard going, lots of sand and stone boulders to negotiate and in the sweltering heat with the frustration of getting stuck on a stone I did wonder was it all worth it? The answer is yes as once I was there and experiencing Egypt’s ancient world and history I soon forgot the frustration I felt just to get there.

As for hotels and apartments I don’t think you can say it’s all going to be wheelchair friendly, but if you do your research in context with your budget you can find three star hotels with ground floor access and good sized lifts. The Hiltons were always a good bet I often stayed at the Nile Hilton as everywhere within the hotel had been modified by ramps and even the shopping mall attached to it is accessible via a secret route beneath the hotel. It has to be said that don’t assume 5 star hotels are always the best option for accessibility, I made the mistake of staying at the Hyatt to discover the swimming pool my children wanted to be in everyday was up a whole flight of stairs, again I relied on the helpful hotel staff who almost broke their backs lugging me up there. With apartments most ‘bowabs’ point you into the direction where you can find ground floor access to the lift.

My review wouldn’t be the same without mentioning the famous Egyptian taxis, these clapped out cars from the 70s and 80s with no seat belts and sometimes no hand brakes are of course NOT going to be wheelchair friendly, but providing you have a folding wheelchair the taxi men are usually very helpful and have even lifted me into the car seat. Once in I usually closed my eyes whilst they manhandled my wheelchair and placed it on the roof, often without ant tie downs. You had to hope and pray the journey wasn’t going to be too bumpy.

One of the reasons I love Egypt is there are no laws & regulations on health & safety meaning people are always willing to help you without thinking of a potential law suit, I also have to make a note that I’m quite petite weighing only 45 kilos it might be a different story if you weigh much more!
Thank you so much Louisa, I am sure potential travellers will really benefit from your experience

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

MoA_Newsletter_3_English.pdf Annual pass news

MoA_Newsletter_3_English.pdf: Annual

The MoA is launching a new annual pass for all open archaeological sites and museums. For the first time,
Egyptians, Arab and foreign residents in Egypt are able to purchase an annual pass, which can be obtained
from the Department of Foreign Cultural Relations at the MoA in Zamalek.

Categories and prices are:

EGP 100 for pupils of Egyptian governmental, private and international schools in
Egypt; EGP 150 for Egyptian, Arab and foreign university students residing in Egypt;

EGP 400 for Egyptians
and Arabs residing in Egypt;

$440 for foreigners employed by
embassies and international organizations in Egypt (including
the tombs of Sety I and Nefertari in Luxor),

$340 without these
two tombs; and

$490 for foreign residents in Egypt (including the
tombs of Sety I and Nefertari in Luxor); and

$390 without these
two tombs.

In addition, the Board of the Supreme Council of Antiquties has
approved free entry for Egyptian and resident Arab seniors (60+) to
all archaeological sites and museums open to the public.

Additions to Hidden Luxor - blind or visually impaired visitors to Egypt

When I mentioned on Facebook I was adding disability tips to Hidden Luxor Jim Liddle offered some tips for any blind or visually impaired visitors to Egypt.

1. Tech gear. Try to take as little technology with you when you go: not only can recharging it be problematic, but unless you keep it close, sometimes security can't be guaranteed. If you have a smart phone with the ability to have speech input, load up a personal GPS app. If it can read USB memory sticks or cards, try to get hold of guidebooks before you go and get a friend to read them onto it.

2. If you're a braillist, try to get copies of any basic guides BEFORE you go - very few museums have braille guidebooks available, and those that do have copies which are usually very bulky, out of date and may be illegible through use.

 3. If you have an expert guide with you, they might be able to persuade a sympathetic curator or museum attendant to let you feel some of the artefacts - take a few pairs of sterile surgical gloves for this purpose - this will save any contamination of the artefact and show any attendant that you are a bona fide blind person. It might be helpful to bring a few hard copies of proof of registration while you're at it!

4. Canes and tips. If you use a guide or a long cane. try to get hold of a pencil or pear shaped tip (or two). A rigid tip might require a bit more concentration to use, but rotating tips and Egyptian sand do NOT mix. If you have to use a rotating tip, take a bottle of WD40 or other cleaning agent with you when you walk in sandy areas - dry sand clogs up tips very quickly.

5. Always keep cash to a minimum wherever you go, and your purse or wallet should be concealed. If you wear a watch, get a cheap tactile wind up watch through your local supplier: not only will it be no real loss if it goes walkabout, but talking watches are sometimes very difficult to hear in the high volume crowds which you will find at most locations.

6. Get a pair of anti-glare wrap around sunglasses, to wear over any glasses you need - or even if you don't wear glasses normally. Not only will they offer much needed protection from the sun, but they will prevent fine sand grains getting in your eyes and damaging any contact lenses you might be wearing.

Massive thanks to Jim for these useful tips

Monday, 5 September 2016

Solar Complex at Hatshepsut

I have been given this fantastic picture for use in Hidden Luxor. Although I had been in the sun court before, when I went I couldnt take photos.

The solar court was one of the recent new things to see in Luxor and was opened this Feb

Temple design followed a set pattern and although Hatshepsut's temple is very different from the Ramasseum it does actually follow the same pattern but using terraces instead of pylons. The third terrace has chapels dedicated to the royal cult, to Amun and a sun court and if you go to any other temple to the south is the royal cult chapel, the middle Amun and the north the sun court.. Now this court is open to the public it is easier to note the similarities of design.

Hatshepsut sun court - Jean Ford

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Disable access at Medinet Habu, Valley of Queens and Deir el Medina

Tried out the scooter at Medinet Habu, the guardians was massively helpful.  I remembered it as being flat but the reality was quite different.  Going in there was a steep ramp with a little tiny step at the end. Got down that OK but then there were steps in the main gateway. The guardians were quite happy to lift up those and help me down the very steep ramps into the outside courtyard. The paving stones were great and you could get to God’s wives of Amun chapels, Tuthmosis III exterior and the exterior of the first pylon. However the area outside these paths was large stones which were just not possible for the scooter. The ground really needs to be smooth to work properly.   

The entrance gateway to the first court had a step but again the guardians was massively helpful and totally prepared to lift the heavy scooter into the courtyard. The paving is fairly uneven but negotiable.. there was a ramp to the second gateway but that was impassable. The ground was broken and uneven, no way to get through safely. I was very disappointed.

I investigated the Valley of the Queens in case the path was tarmacked but after the car park it was just natural ground, dusty, sandy with large stones. If you were in a wheel chair and fairly heavy then access along the path is going to be tough and of course the tombs are for the mobile only. Sadly Deir el Medina is the same, the tombs are definitely for the mobile only with steep steps and uphill. 

The path along the village is another natural path not tarmacked so tricky for wheeled transport. You could get a view of the village from the car park.

I still enjoyed the trip and it was lovely to be out and about. The locals were so friendly everyone wanted details about the scooter. Next time I will try some of the other temples. Everyone reckons Hatshepsut should be OK.

Friday, 2 September 2016

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