Our trip to Egypt and Dubai

We had one of our best vacations ever to Egypt and Dubai during the winter of 2007. We left on Dec 15 and returned on Dec 29. The fun part was that 5 families did this trip together. Dhananjay/Lalitha family and Shravan/Shanthi family came with us from Seattle. Ram/Valar and their friends Bala/Subha joined us from Hyderabad. Each of those families had two kids each making it a total of 11 kids. So the kids had a lot of company. We spent 10 days in Egypt and 4 days in Dubai. We had a package deal for Egypt where almost everything there was part of the package including a guide who stayed with us all through. We took a 4 day Nile cruise which was a great experience. We flew toCairo and took the cruise going south to the Egyptian border with Sudan and flew back to Cairo and then flew to Dubai and back to Seattle.

Here are some of the pictures from the trip and my journal with the pictures. I hope this gives a good flavor of the trip.


Kylah shopping and getting ready for the trip

Sabree getting a water massage at the Amsterdam airport

Kids had a lot of fun together from the start. Dozing off at Amsterdam

DAY 1. By the Big Pyramid at Giza.One of the 7 wonders of the world

This pyramid was for a Pharoah (King) named Cheops.

Getting into the pyramid. 5000 year old place. Going to the burial room. Only place we were allowed cameras inside a tomb.

This room is plain. But pyramids just 200 years newer than this had colorful, interesting writings and carvings. But we were not allowed cameras

A boat burried with the Pharoah. To be used to cross to the after-life

Boat still in good shape after 5000 years. Found as pieces of a zigsaw puzzle and assembled back together

2.7 million blocks many of them weighing 2 tons. These were brought from a place 200 km away

It took more than 20 years to build

The size of these are hard to describe. Needs to be seen to be appreciated.

Some scale is apparent when seen next to people. Each block is almost as tall as a person.

We could go only a short way up but even that was tough

It is very hard to climb up these. World record is 8 min to the top.

Climbing to the top not allowed now. Especially for Kylah.

She does not look upset about it. Starting to pose well for pics

Sabree is her coach and main caretaker as always

Very long and arduous camel ride around Giza. But lot of fun (For us, not the camel)

Lot of the places look more backward than rural India. But very beautiful.

The Sphinx symbolizing strength of a Lion and intellect of a Pharoah.

Sphinx symbolizes mastery over all life - human and animal. Another engineering miracle 5000 years old

Now at Sakara. Another place with Pyramids even older - 5500 years!!

Step Pyramid of Sakara. Oldest standing monument in the world

The story is that it started as a large block but it was difficult to build and was built in layers which became a step pyramid

Again incredibly well preserved monuments more than 5500 years old

Rameses II statue in city of Memphis - the old capital. Absolutely stunning in size.

Incredible scale. Rameses II was one of the most powerfull pharoahs

People may remember him from movies like Ten Commandments.

DAY 2. We flew to Luxor. Visited Temple of Karnak.

Largest temple complex in the world. 18 acres. Lots of inscriptions on the walls like Indian temples. 4500 years old

We checked into the Nile cruise. Next 4 nights here. Now taking boat to west bank of Nile.

Valley of Kings. Burial ground for kings. Lots of tombs with enormous amounts of gold and other valuables found here

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Most successful female ruler. Incredibly modern building 3500 years old

Boat ride back to the cruise. Clear skies, cool air and fantastic sunsets all through the trip.

DAY 3. Boat ride at sunrise from the cruise to the Nile banks to take a hot air baloon ride

Seeing more than a dozen huge, colorful hot air baloons against the clear skies of the Nile valley at dawn was spectacular

Our first significant baloon ride. The baloons are much larger than I imagined

Each baloon is about 100 feet tall and carries more than 25 people

Just seeing the balloon land, having people jump off and other people get on is an experience

The yellow Sky Cruise balloon we were going to get on almost landed on our van!!

The smoothest take off I have experienced. Quickly in the air looking over the Nile valley

The wind determines for the most part which areas the baloon goes over

The fertility around the Nile quickly ends and then it is the Sahara

But the Nile valley is the most beautiful greenery one can see

This time of the year the air was crisp and cool everywhere - not what we expected around the Sahara

The great visibility allows seeing an enormous amount of landscape

Some people in our party missed out and did not join us. It was a fantastic experience for those who did

The shadow of our huge baloon

After 45 min in the air we landed on a sugar cane field with great difficulty. Lots of fun for the kids!!

Back in the cruise ship. Sonesta cruises is a top rated cruise line among more than 3000 running on the Nile

Not as large as US cruise liners like Disney but comfortable with 48 luxury cabins.

Kids had a lot of fun in the swimming pool, restaurants etc. Good food, good fun.

Kylah played equally with kids lot older than her and had lots of fun

And all the older kids took terrific care of her. She hardly spent any time during the day with us

The rest of the day was relaxing on the cruise as it travelled to the city of Edfu

Kids spent the time in the pool and in their cabins playing games

Vendors come along in boats, toss in goods into the cruise and make trades!!Day ends with a beautiful sunset

DAY 4. In Edfu at Temple of Horus. We were taken there on horse drawn carts. Fun for the kids.

Ancient architectures in these temples. Lots of hieroglyphic (pictorial) telling of stories. Very interesting.

Again the great condition of these 3000+ year old monuments is amazing

The stories and characters behind the temples keep the older kids engaged

All temples have a similar external structure. Just like Indian temples where the shape is a triangle with the top cut off

Back to the cruise ship and we travel Kom Ombo. Sunset at Kom Ombo

Temple of Kom Ombo is in a beatiful location also along the Nile. Great view.

It is very windy and cold. Sabree is keeping Kylah warm.

Kylah is now really warm - she is inside Sabree's fleece sweater

Lighted view of the Kom Ombo temple.

Back to our cruise ship - The Moon Goddess.

DAY 5. We have cruised to Aswan. Aswan has one of the largest dams in the world.

Dam was built by Russians and then finished by Americans. Egpyt-Russia partership monument in the background

Aiman the guide who was with us all through our stay in Egypt

At the Temple of Philae which is on a spectacular island.

The temple was going under water because the dam was built. So the temple was dismantled block by block and rebuilt on this island

The move and the reconstruction is an amazing engineering feat.

We were back on the cruise and in the evening we took a ride on a sail boat called the Felucca boat

Sailing gently on the the Nile in Felucca is a nice relaxing experience

The Felucca dropped us off close to the Aswan bazaar. It was reminiscent of markets in Indian towns. This is outside a spice store

We are back on the cruise ship. Some last pictures inside the ship before we leave it the next morning

Sameetha and Sabreena, just a couple of months apart in age, have become very good friends on this trip

DAY 6. We check out of the cruise ship as Aswan and flew to Abu Simbel - this is on Lake Nasser on the Egypt-Sudan border

We have now traveled from Cairo which is at the Northern end of Egypt to the Southern edge along the Nile

Lake Nasser is part of the Nile and is absolutely huge. The crystal clear blueness of the Lake is breathtaking.

Abu Simbel has the huge statues that many people identify with Egypt. Again, the scale of these monuments needs to be seen to be believed

This monument was also in threat of being under water and was taken apart and put back together at a higher elevation

This gives some perspective of the scale of these statues

Some other statues in the Abu Simbel monument area

Kylah as she is leaving the monument area. We are leaving Abu Simbel and flying back to Cairo.

In Cairo we stayed at this absolutely awesome Mariott hotel which is supposedly the best hotel in Africa

DAY 7. We finally get to go into the Cairo city. This picture is inside the famous Mohammed Ali Mosque.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Egyptian museum. This is outside the museum.

Unfortunately like many other places in Egypt no pictures were allowed inside.

We saw some absolutely unbeleivable artifacts in the musuem including King Tut's treasures. We have never seen so much gold in our lives

The highlight for me however was seeing the mummified body Ramses II. He died at the age of 67 almost 3200 years back!! Such a powerful king.

After several hours at the musuem, we spent several hours shopping at the the Cairo Bazaar

The bazaar streets again are very much like the narrow shopping streets in Chennai with 100s of shops

DAY 9. These are more pics inside the Mariott hotel. Our family decided that we were going to take the day off and relax at the wonderful hotel.

The breakfast buffet was absolutely one of the best I have ever had. And the ambience of the whole place was awesome.

The hotel had 6 swimming pools including this massive heated pool and also a huge artificial Wave Pool.

As always the kids had lots of fun. And Kylah cannot be stopped from this kind of fun.

The water was lot warmer than it was in the swimming pool on the cruise. So kids stayed for hours in the pool

Kylah is relaxing on a hammock after all her fun in the water

And then she falls asleep with me.

In evening we go to the Cairo mall. This mall is huge and decorated most impressively for the Christmas

Day 10. We are ready to leave Cairo for Dubai.

These are some last minute pictures at the hotel

Kids are saying bye to Egypt.

We arrive in Dubai and are hosted at our good friends Vijay and Latha's house. Sujatha and Lalitha relaxing in their back yard

Vijay and their kids are in India for the vacation. But Latha took great care of us. We had lot of really good, relaxing fun in Dubai

DAY 11. We went on a desert Safari. The kids are playing with the desert sand at the desert village we went to

We missed the desert sunset. But the rest of experience was good on the safari.

Here you see some dancing the background as Kylah is having a good time as usual

DAY 13. Kids are playing at the Jumeirah Beach. You see the famous Burj Al Arab hotel in the background - the world's first 7 star hotel

Saying bye to Latha and getting ready to head home