We awoke at 2:45am the following morning to start the journey south to Abu Simbel. The hostel had packed us breakfast (bread, boiled egg and juice) and we hopped onto the bus at 3am to pick up other travellers along the way. As Abu Simbel is about forty kilometres north of Sudan, there are some rules around travel there – buses need to travel in a police escorted convoy and there are regulated times for these convoys departing Aswan. The three hour bus ride was quite uninteresting – mostly desert outside and so I slept most of the way. One highlight was seeing the sunrise across the bare, flat horizon, it was very beautiful.
Nothing can really describe the feeling of awe as you look above at the huge statues of Ramesses II carved out of the side of a mountain over two thousand years ago. The depictions inside the temple were also quite amazing, of war, family life… and the wonderful statues of Ramesses with the three gods – Ra, Amun and the Ptah god of the underworld which is the only statue which the sunrays do not fall upon inside the temple.
There is also another temple next to Ramesses temple, the temple of Hathor and Nefertari – built for his wife Nefertari. Inside were pictures dedicated to the beautiful Queen.
We headed back to the bus back to Aswan. At Aswan, we stopped at a local restaurant and tried koshary – something we had seen Egyptians eat in Cairo. Koshary seemed to be a mix of beans, rice, pasta… it was interesting, but by then I had already grown quite fond of falafel and much preferred eating that.
We decided to leave Aswan for Luxor that afternoon so headed to the train station. We purchased tickets on the train and settled down for the ride to our next destination, Luxor.