Amy’s Adventures

Today I add a new focus and challenge to my blogging: the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I’ll be writing every day about a place I’ve traveled to, a foreign food I’ve tasted, or a cultural tradition I’ve learned. Each day, I will start with a new letter. Today it’s A.

Being an English teacher abroad opened up lots of doors for me to travel around the countries where I taught. In 1984, two years after I graduated from college, I found my first teaching job abroad. I continued teaching on and off overseas in different capacities until 2006. The last teaching post lasted for nine years. The A to Z Challenge gives me the opportunity to share these vagabond years with you.

A is for Abu Simbel Temple, Egypt

Taking a row boat to Abu Simbel Temple over Lake Nasser
Taking a row boat to Abu Simbel Temple over Lake Nasser

Abu Simbel Temple is the oldest temple in Egypt, and is located near Aswan in Upper Egypt. Many foreigners flock to the Pyramids just outside of Cairo but I recall the atmosphere being so different at Abu Simbel (Abu is the Arabic word for Father, so literally it means this is the site for Simbel’s father). However, it’s actually a former village in Southern Egypt, the site of two temples of Ramses II, moved to higher ground in the mid-sixties before the area behind the Aswan Dam was flooded.

I didn’t originally plan to visit Abu Simbel alone as not many women traveled alone in Upper Egypt at that time (early ’90s) but my traveling companion abruptly left Aswan to return to Cairo the night before. We’d already arranged and paid for my “tour,” and it seemed silly to waste the money.

So, just as dawn  broke, I met my tour guide, a young Nubian man, and we took this canoe across Lake Nasser, which was only accessible by boat. (I think now there are other ways) Halfway across the lake, my guide handed me the oars and said, “You row. I tired.”  Shocked, I resisted, then finally took the oars and having never rowed before, received my first lesson on placid Lake Nasser.

Unfortunately, this is not my photo. That's in an album packed away in the attic.
Unfortunately, this is not my photo. That’s in an album packed away in the attic.

The magnificent statues on Abu Simbel and my somewhat non-traditional tour with people at the temple were worth the muscle aches I suffered later as I made my way back over the lake, again halfway, being forced to take my turn at rowing.

My guide shown in the above photo, is wearing traditional Upper Egyptian garb. Oftentimes, a white cloth is wound around the head of the men in that part of the country.

I’m pretty sure most tourists aren’t asked to row themselves through the water. Rather, that task was allocated to me a direct result of me being  a lone female traveler.

I rather enjoyed the challenge as the sun was shining and the water was calm.

How interested are you in seeing the ancient temples of Egypt? How do you feel about traveling alone?

You have just read “A is for Abu Simbel” by Amy L. Bovaird. © Copyright April 1, 2015. If you like this article, sign up for my blog  to receive  more articles like this in your inbox each week. My travel articles will continue throughout April.





A is for Abu Simbel Temple, Egypt
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25 thoughts on “A is for Abu Simbel Temple, Egypt

  • April 1, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I’ve read novels about Abu Simbel. I love anything about ancient Egypt and use references to it in my novels.
    I think you’re sooo brave to travel alone in a place like that. When my husband, a group of friends and I visited Egypt, I got a feel for the way things are. Some men tried to get my friends alone with their baby in a stroller by directing them another way. Thankfully, we stopped them.

  • April 1, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Oh, Francene! I’m delighted that you’ve been to Egypt and that you are familiar with Abu Simbel Temple.
    Yikes! Glad you were alert! Yes, one does have to keep his wits about him when going around the city, especially the marketplace (Kham El Khallily). Were you able to go anywhere outside of Cairo? I hope you got a feel for the hospitality and food of the country, too!

  • April 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    That looks like it was an amazing trip! I LOVE to see all things historical – I’ve often thought it would be pretty cool to see the pyramids 🙂 And I’ve never really traveled alone, so I’m not sure if I would like it or not! Might be nice!

  • April 1, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    I love this photo of the carved statues. It wasn’t there last time I visited from another list, dear Amy.
    Just think, rebels in Syria are ruining wonderful things like this right now. Madness.

  • April 1, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Amy, what a cool idea! I’ll have to try it sometime! I just hope I can do as good as job as you did describing Abu Simbel Temple. Thanks for the pics and the info. I would rather travel with my wife or a group, and either way would love to see Egypt some day. Thanks for the preview!

  • April 1, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    I know, Francene!
    What wasted history when they are just flexing their muscles.
    It’s so sad! I have many photos like this. The trick for me is to remember which photo comes from where!

  • April 1, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Ken,
    I recognized your name and am so happy you visited my blog!
    It’s a beautiful trip for the whole family, one you won’t forget!

  • April 1, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    What a wonderful experience! I would like to travel to many places and think seeing ancient places in Egypt would be exciting. For some places, I wouldn’t mind traveling alone, but other places I would be more comfortable going with someone. I think it depends on the culture and atmosphere of the place I’m going to visit.

  • April 1, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Katharine,
    First, let me say I’m so glad you signed up for this challenge!
    I look forward to reading you posts!
    It is marvelous!I hope to share lots of stories here! Much of the time I traveled alone but I usually met great people along my journeys. Maybe we’ll take a journey together one day.
    That would be fun!
    Good luck in the challenge!

  • April 2, 2015 at 12:43 am

    I always enjoy your “adventures,” Amy. Thank you for sharing your photos and your stories. I travel alone (in the States), but as a tourist? Um, no. However, if I were in your place, my cheapness (the paid-for tour) and curiosity would have won over shyness. What a day you had.

  • April 2, 2015 at 1:12 am

    You were brave to travel alone like that.
    As a feminist I hate to read about the attitudes, but then I try to empathize and find compassion. I know the world is made up of a lot of different viewpoints, however anytime women are at risk or in any danger I get more worked up at the thought.
    Of course you were in Egypt many years ago now, but things aren’t changing fast enough in my opinion.
    That is why I believe travel is so important. We need to keep putting ourselves in each other’s shoes if we are ever going to find that common thread of humanity that runs through us all: male and female, no matter where we are from.
    thanks for sharing and I look forward to the letter B.

  • April 2, 2015 at 2:06 am

    Hi Amy,
    You are a brave woman to travel alone like you did. But the Abu Simbel Temple sounds like a great place to visit. I used to love canoeing.


  • April 2, 2015 at 2:18 am

    Thank you, Laura.
    Glad you, too, would have taken the situation in hand and gone ahead with it.
    Driving in the States by myself was difficult. I once drove from San Antonio to Houston and got lost and was frightened by the speed of the traffic. I was a nervous wreck by the time I arrived and I can’t believe I FOUND my destination! Whew!
    Thank you for stopping by today!

  • April 2, 2015 at 2:31 am

    I don’t think I felt in any danger although Upper Egypt is a traditional area, especially in the villages. But because the location I stayed surrounded the Nile, Luxor and Aswan, more locals were accustomed to travelers so I could get by with traveling alone. I think that guy was taking advantage, however. He’d have never let a man row, especially an Egyptian. LOL. You wouldn’t believe the 60s in Egypt. Women in Cairo and Alexandria looked exactly like the women in the west during that time period. It’s only been since that they’ve become more conservative and began to cover more! By the way, they have brightly-colored head covering, not black like the Middle East.
    I have so much to share about Egypt!

  • April 2, 2015 at 2:36 am

    Hi Matt,
    Well, you know, I only had a few more days in Egypt. I wanted to make the most of them. I was in Upper Egypt at that time (which is really southern) and it was so different from Cairo. More relaxed and a different pace of life. It’s said, if you drink the Nile, you will return. So I did and I returned! But I don’t think I could have drunk water from the Nile in Cairo. It wasn’t as clean. It’s just a saying but for me it turned out to be true! LOL. That’s what I say anyway.:)

  • April 2, 2015 at 3:32 am

    Glad to have stopped by your blog ! I love your theme because I love travel. 🙂 My brother recently visited Cairo as part of his work visit and he loved it.

    Rowing as part of the tour sounded hilarious and scary 😛 Great start to the challenge and I shall be visiting more. Wishing you the best.

  • April 2, 2015 at 4:21 am

    I love travel, so you have my interest straight away. My A to Z involves domestic travel. I’m looking forward to your posts.

  • April 2, 2015 at 5:30 am

    I’m so glad you visited my blog! That must have been quite an experience for your brother!
    Isn’t it great how the world is now more accessible to everyone?
    Looking forward to reading more of your writing as well!

  • April 2, 2015 at 5:32 am

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out my blog.
    I hope you enjoy my adventures! I’ll definitely be checking out yours, too!

  • April 3, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Another great adventure. I would love to visit Egypt (and Jordan), and I know I will someday. I think I could travel alone, but I am lucky to have a husband who also loves to travel.

  • April 3, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Hi Rhonda,
    Glad you have your husband to savor your world travels with!
    I’ve not been to Petra but I’ve heard many speak about how amazing it is!

  • April 8, 2015 at 5:06 am

    Thank you, Kristen!
    I forgot to mention that Abu Simbel is the oldest temple in Egypt.
    It’s quite different from others. Since you love history, I hope you can get to the pyramids one day.
    They are truly fascinating!
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on my post!

  • April 9, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Ha ha! Corinne, it was pretty cheeky of him! It was either that or sit at an impasse in the middle of Nasser Lake. I chose the easier way out!;)

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