25 February 2012

Winter Travelogue : Abu Simbel


I forgot to mention that on the way back from Queen Hapshetshut's temple, we took a quick stop to King Imhotep's unfinished temple. Nothing major here, just a couple of erected statues and some broken walls and stuff. 

Before we began our journey to Aswan via train, we went on a fallouka (a yacht) in the Nile river. Again, nothing special here, we made a pointless stop to a small island in the middle of the river, took a few photos and rushed our ways to the train station. Yes we did, we actually ran back to the hotel, quickly took our bags and hopped on the bus because the fallouka thing took too much time. All in all, we managed to arrive at the train station on time.

Unlike the train from Cairo, this train was disgusting. The floor was full with plastic bags, nutshells and bottles, I even found a junkie needle. It was embarrassing just to be on board. More embarrassing when we met with a Korean guy backpacking across Egypt with his mother, I was embarrassed because Egypt is a celebrated muslim country, and a public transportation such as the train could taint the image of the muslims.

I hope he understand that just like any other country, Egypt has her rural village part, along with its people. 

At first we were unsure how to begin a conversation with him, but in the end as we found out that he speaks fluent English, we started to get to know each other. His name was Im, he was fresh from his two-year military training. Her mother assumed us to be non-Egyptians because we looked 'smart'. It was very flattering, thank you omma. She even invited us to Korea, so according to the 'alims, when you got an invitation, you must fulfill it so here I come South Korea :)

Anyway, when we arrived in Aswan, we found out that the guide was not as good as the one in Luxor, he was very, very unfriendly. We were brought to a restaurant which served us bad food, and we were taken to a motel that from the outside could be mistaken as a brothel. Maybe it was just me, but for a tourist spot Aswan was not tourist-friendly.

We took a short rest in the hotel because we need to be travel by bus to Abu Simbel for three hours before subuh. Now, Abu Simbel is that temple that has statues of King Ramses II and his wife (Queen Nefertari?) sitting at the temple's entrance. There were two temples each for the king and queen. It is surprisingly cold here, even though we were just before Sudan. 

The temple was built according to the solstice, where the sun was supposed to shine straight to the holy shrine located at the end of the temple complex. This is a brilliant feat of careful engineering, especially since it was done three thousands years ago with no satellites or telescopes, they were able to map the stars and to understand to the sun's yearly position.

By the way, here was not the original location of the temple, it was moved here by pieces because the original location was now sunk in the water of Nasser Dam, along with most of the Nubian civilisation. It was really sad to know that hundreds of temples are now deep in the artificial lake.

Oh well, until next time :)

13 February 2012

An-Nasr for Syria

Tuhan kata, Dia tak bebankan hamba-Nya dengan perkara yang tak mampu mereka tanggung. 

Nabi Daud 'alaihissalam, baginda diberi ujian sakit selama berpuluh--malah beratus tahun, dan baginda berjaya mengatasinya. Nabi Ibrahim, diperintah menyembelih anaknya, disuruh meninggalkan isterinya di tengah padang pasir. Sedikit pun, baginda tidak kufur. Nabi Nuh, sembilan ratus tahun baginda berdakwah kepada kaumnya, walaupun gagal baginda tidak pernah 'menyalahkan takdir'.

Ya, aku bukan mereka, aku tidak sekuat mereka. Tapi takkan aku tak mengambil iktibar?

Adakah patut kamu menyangka bahawa kamu akan masuk syurga, padahal belum sampai kepada kamu (ujian dan cubaan) seperti yang telah berlaku kepada orang-orang yang terdahulu daripada kamu? Mereka telah ditimpa kepapaan (kemusnahan hartabenda) dan serangan penyakit, serta digoncangkan (oleh ancaman bahaya musuh), sehingga berkatalah Rasul dan orang-orang yang beriman yang ada bersamanya: Bilakah (datangnya) pertolongan Allah?" Ketahuilah sesungguhnya pertolongan Allah itu dekat (asalkan kamu bersabar dan berpegang teguh kepada agama Allah). [2:214]

Ya kita juga sedang diuji. Kita diuji secara senyap terpampang untuk kita oleh ahli sihir-ahli shir moden. Kita diuji dengan makwe-pakwe, masak tak sedap, duit tak cukup, laptop tak elok, telefon Iphone 3g, muzik, filem. Kita diuji dengan dunia yang berpura-pura kekal. Aduhai, ringannya ujian kita.

As we bleed our hearts out because of our silly teenage problems, Syria is under siege. Our brothers and sisters are being tortured, raped and killed as we speak and here we are, in the comfort of the blankets and saratogas covering our bodies, the internet that we use for the wrong purposes, the fresh food we make in the kitchen we called our own using clean water without fear of hearing the sound of bullets being fired or bombs dropped or wall collapsed.

And tomorrow, life goes on as usual, peaceful as the day have always been. Allah Akbar. Ah, if only we have enough body fluids we could produce and all the time in the world; because the list goes on. Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan.

Should we care, yes. Because a muslim who does not concern about the wellbeing of his brother, is not a part of our community. This was not me saying, this was the Prophet's (p.b.u.h).
And only Allah who shall grant victory.

08 February 2012

Winter Travelogue : Luxor

Salam. This is going to be a boring post. Bear with me, and you shall succeed (finishing reading it)

A few days ago I went on a trip to Old Egypt, a few hundred kilometers south of Mansoura. It was eight hours by train with no thermostat, so the whole ride was cold as hell. In Luxor, we went to visit a few temples and tombs like Karnak and Luxor Temples, Valley of the Kings and Queen Hatshepsut's temple. 

Luxor was a small city south od Egypt. It was unlike Cairo, Luxor was a lot more calmer with less people living in it. Other than that was fairly similar, the entrance fee for non-Egyptians were ridiculously expensive, the food was koshary and takmeya in the Delta, and it was the same here. The people and the language, however was different.

Egyptians in Luxor were mostly have darker skin than their brothers up north, and their dialect was a little smoother with several deiffent ways of pronounciations. Orang utara sebut jim jadi ga, orang Luxor sebut qaf jadi ga, jim jadi jim.

Gambar ditangkap menggunakan Sony Xperia X10i *winkwink*

The trip was mind blowing. The massive architecture, the perfect symmetry, the detailed writings, the strong materials, the existing colors on the walls after at least 3000 years. The gods, the holy animals like cobra, dogs, baboons and cows to name a few. It was hard to imagine such an advanced civilisation with such primitive or pagan beliefs, but there's the truth (or is it?) Still there are mysteries shrouding the temples that needs to be revealed.

Imagine, as we thought most of the mysteries have been found, Egyptologists have just recently unearthed a path that stretched  three kilometers between Karnak and Luxor temple with thousands of sphinx on each side which was before buried under roads and buildings of modern day Luxor. Could it be just a pagan belief? Or was those ingenious designs were a product of some sort of heavenly guidance? Where was the Prophets of the times whose names have been mentioned in the holy Quran? At which point in those 3000 years worth of civilisation were Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Aaron (p.b.u.t) alive?

We may never know, but that doesn't mean we should stop digging, does it? For all we know, the written history was a lie haha. Of course, although the trip was fairly educational (well it was), some of the stories were also damn funny and ridiculous. Of all the places I've been to, in Luxor I've learnt a few things.

One, new kings usually smashed older kings' statues and temples. Apparently, out of jealousy because you don't want to be overshadowed by the greatness of a dead person.

Two, even though they were thought to be a few thousand steps behind us in technology, they really do took their religion serious even if it is pagan to a point of stupidity. I mean, baboons guarding hell, seriously? Even so, what they believed made those structures still standing today, and that is saying something.

Anyway, all in all it was a great vacation.The only regret I got from the first half of the trip was not able to visit other sites such as Medinet Habu and Valley of the Queens. :( At least now I could cross out one of my bucket list yay
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