Saturday, October 09, 2010

Egypt and the wow! Factor

Everyone has learnt something about Egypt, but it's not until you do the tour that you realise the impact the Egyptians made on this part of the planet. Most of the days we spent here were around 44 degrees Celsius. And it's approaching their winter!

The number of temples and structures devoted to the dozens of gods, is overwhelming. The fact that it's difficult to find a flat surface without heiroglyphs is also overwhelming. It seems that the Egyptians, whoever they were and wherever they came from, did nothing else but build massive stone structures and then write all over them.

Their engineering and mathematics must have been outstanding, but they didn't leave evidence of much else.At one stage it crossed my mind that we had paid a lot of money to see a lot of broken down old rocks. But every cent was worth it. It's something everyone needs to do once.

Our guide, Osama is an Egyptologist who knows his subject inside out and is also very passionate about it. Of course he is, he's Egyptian. How could anyone live here and not be interested in the history? Osama provided extensive overviews of each and every antiquity as well as held the group of about 34 together from a logistical point.

The townships we saw in Egypt are almost identical with other poor muslim Arab countries; run-down, dirty places with rubbish everywhere. Most muslim countries don't seem to work well. Author Ayan Hirsi Ali in her recently released book "Nomad" attributed this to the lack of critical thinking ability and a lack of motivation found in Islam that attributes everything that happens as the "will of god" (Inshállah) and waits for him, her or it to do the heavy lifting. Despite thousands of years, they still don't seem to have learnt that depending on someone else to do things, even Allah, is risky and the result shows in the lack of societal progress.

What I find most remarkable is that the Egyptians were obviously excellent civil engineers but believed so strongly in the supernatural as to spend most of their time, effort and resources building and preparing for an afterlife not founded on rationale or evidence ... humankind's continuing need to find a purpose for being and an explanation for the universe that has perpetuated throughout recorded history and resulted in thousands, if not tens of thousands of religous myths, even by today's enlightened masses.

The question foremost on my mind is why, after the Egyptian civilization crumbled and after the Roman era, why has this great country become a second-rate country? Maybe if I read the book on Egypt that Christina bought, I'll find out, although I feel I already know at least part of the answer.

At the time of writing, we have spent our first day at Istanbul ... an apparently much more civilised, clean and functional place than Egypt.



Susan said...

I have an Egyptian friend who says she hates going back home because it becomes so clear to her that, in her words "we peaked! 5000 years ago, and we've been going downhill ever since"!!

Having just come back from Cairo I am now totally convinced that the pyramids were built by aliens lol!!!

I still loved the place but a very resiliant sense of humour is a necessity if you're going to spend any time there! For example - we were driving past the pyramids and in one part there's a very pretty canal on one side of the road, until you look closely and realise it is full of rubbish. So I look right and there's an incredible view of the majestic pyramids, then I look left and there's a dead horse floating down the canal with its legs in the air!! Sublime to ridiculous taken to the nth degree!!

Robin said...

Thanks for commenting Susan. It is a sad state of affairs in Egypt. The tax on tourists is high and they must be raking in billions from tourism, but don't appear to be putting anything back.

Jan Bailey said...

Hi Chris and Robin
The present day egyptian is a mix of all the foreign peoples, Italians, Greeks, English, French, Italian, Arab, that came after the wondrous civilisation of Ancient Egypt had its end. Were you told by your guide that the pyramids were still in tact thousands of years after they were built and cased in beautiful gleaming white stone? Did he tell you it was the present day Arab Egyptians that stripped them, tried to destroy them in search of plunder?
You stated it correctly, the place is shabby and rundown where the muslims are in charge. All the reconstruction and
discoveries have been done, and maintained by 'foreign invaders'.
The millions that is poured into the country by foreign tourists does not flow very far from the top! "If God Wills" is a cop out so that they do not have to take responsibility for all the decaying garbage. A lack of 'little grey cells' adds to the problems. Enjoy the wonder and beauty of what was done by a past intelligent race and only hope that foreigners continue to stop the present occupiers from destroying it completely.

Robin said...

Jan, thanks for your comments. Our guide did tell us about the damage caused by plunder. We weren't suprised about that of course.

I'll post something shortly about Turkey ... a population with a majority muslim population that works largely because it retains secularity.