Today is an easy day for us and one of the most exciting one as well.
We booked a tour on Viator.com and for USD40 for adult and USD 20 for children, we got ourselves a one day tour to The Great Pyramid of Giza (includes entrance fees to the general area), Sphinx, a traditional Egyptian lunch (koshary), visit to The Egyptian Museum (includes entrance fees) and a bazaar.
At 8am in the morning, we got picked up from our hotel lobby and began our adventure at the pyramid, the first and most exciting stop to wake us up from our sleepyhead. Before heading to the pyramid, we stop by a gas station with a view of the pyramid. We went to the washroom and got ourselves some On The Run coffee and cake for snack. We ate them while enjoying the pyramid. The Nutella tart is amazing , highly recommended.
Next the driver drove us to the entrance where our tour guide purchase the tickets and we just too excited and keep snapping photos. Going into the pyramid is not included in the tour and we opted to top up EGP 100 for adults and EGP 50 for children to enter the Khafre pyramid (the middle one).
After the usual security check of our bag, we enter and our tour guide explain the history of Egypt and the pyramids. It is build on the hill and the tallest pyramid look even taller on the hill. Build in 2500BC, the Great Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu) has been standing strong for over 4000 plus year, and one could not stop and wonder how the ancient people can make such magnificent building with almost non-existence technology. The tallest pyramid used to be 146m tall and now it is only 138m as the tip broke off. It took 100,000 workers 20 years to build it. In a year, the workers work 9 months on building and the remaining 3 months was when it flooded, so that was the time where the pyramid building work was stop, and the limestone was transported to the pyramid area using the high level of river water.
The ancient Egyptian believe in the God of Ra which is the sun and since the sun rise in the east and set in the west, the kings stayed on the east of the River Nile and build their tomb on the west of River Nile.
Next to The Grand Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu), we have the son (Khafre) and grandson (Menkaure) and they are not allowed to build taller than their respective father. To make a distinction, the Khafre Pyramid has a painted top to make it look different. There is also a Sphinx next to it which has an interesting story. It was not build intentionally but rather a mistake which turns out to be amazing. That is supposed to be the site of the tomb but due to the piece of stone that was not hard enough , the tomb was moved to another site and when the pyramid was build, this piece of stone decided to be carved into a sphinx, a lion with a human head to symbolise power.
Did you know that till today, the tomb of Khufu has not been found yet. This is because his tomb was build in an upper room as compared to the other pyramid where the tomb is underground. The empty room hat Khufu build for his queen has been found in the middle of the pyramid and words are that his tomb is at the top of the pyramid. Many has tried to look but to no avail as there are many false door and since the building was not build with cement, removing blocks and stone may cause instability and the pyramid might collapse.
Entering the Khafre Pyramid was an experience. The stairs are narrow and we had to descend down before ascending to the room where the tomb is found. There is not much headroom as well and we had to bend down. There was already nothing in the tomb as the mummies has been moved to the museum but it is good to have an idea how the tomb looks like.
Next up, we had our camel ride with the three magnificent pyramids as our backdrop! It is not our first time riding a camel but definitely one of the most unforgettable experience.
Next to the Sphinx there was a temple where the mummification process is made. I think the temple has a more interesting story as that is where the mummies are made. Although the exact process was not known but here is what our tour guide told us. The deceased body was clean with lotus oil (which is one of the scared flower in Egypt, you can see them a lot in the statue and inscription), then the organ is removed except the heart because they believe in afterlife and that your heart determine if you will be going to a good afterlife. Next the body is rub with lots of salts to remove the water and then wrap in many layers of clothes and kept in layers after layers of coffin. The male coffin consists of four layers while the female three layers. Each layer is carefully designed and look different. We saw one mummies in the museum and it was very much well preserved. The facial features are still maintained and even the hair is intact. It is indeed an amazing technique that no one to date able to figure out exactly what is used.
After leaving the pyramids, we headed to a papyrus making shop where we saw real papyrus tree and get an idea how paper was made in ancient days.
For lunch, we had a choice of shawarma and koshary. We had too much shawarma back in Dubai so we decided to try koshary. It is a very traditional Egyptian meal that is a mix of Italian, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is made out of rice, pasta and lentil, served with tomato and garlic vinegar sauce, topped with chickpeas and fried onion. I have to say it tasted amazing! We loved it and glad to have an Egyptian twist to our meals here.
Next, we braced the traffic and reach The Egyptian Museum. I am not sure if I would count ourselves lucky or unlucky. There is a big event going on in a couple of days so the royal mummies has been removed from the collections to prepare for their transport to the new Egyptian Civilisation Museum so we did not manage to see the mummies but because of the move , a collection of special cars has been made for the transport and they are all parked outside the museum so we were able to see those cars up-close and that might not be possible during the procession as many would be rushing to the streets to catch a glimpse of the mummies’s car.
The Egyptian Museum is huge and our tour guide spend time explaining to us many of the history behind the signifiant exhibits and pointed to us many of the details that we would not notice otherwise.
I did not know that the pharaoh wore a fake beard and they has always made them in their statue. The are many kingdom of the pharaoh and each of them has different inscription in their coffin. One even had a goddess protecting him at the cover of his coffin. The Coffin are all made according to their face so that in afterlife, their soul would come back to search for their body. Khufre King had a falcon holding its head in its statue and that make the head strong and well preserved, you can see that at the EGP 10 pounds money.
Another highlight in the museum is this amazing statue with an almost real eyes (made from gemstones). It is the picture on the EGP200 note! The real statue is amazingly real!
We ended the night with a cold Sakara Gold beer before leaving Cairo, heading to Aswan tomorrow for our second leg of adventure!