The Rant of the Armchair Traveller

From the comments in my last post, seems like Egyptology is a favorite subject of many, if not now, at least some time in our curious life. I’ve had the chance to visit Egypt twice during my travels to the Middle East. Since now is the warm month of May, kicking off the travelling season, and alas, since going anywhere far is a remote possibility for me at present, an armchair revisit is timely, if only to suppress burning wanderlust.

Here are some file photos from my last trip to Egypt five years ago. I only stayed in Cairo and its vicinity. But from my recent reading of Lord Carnarvon and Carter’s King Tut Tomb discovery, I regret I didn’t venture further to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. However, I did see the iconic King Tut’s mummy mask at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. Photography was forbidden, so no King Tut’s portrait here.

But I can show you another marvellous exhibit. In 1954, a Pharoah’s boat dating back four millenium was dug up in pieces and since reassembled. Beautifully showcased in another museum near the Great Pyramid of Giza. Photos were allowed here, but Arti’s pocket Lumix wasn’t enough to capture the magnificent whole. If you’re interested, click here to a full description.

Pharaoh’s Boat buried 26th Century B.C.

Another view:

The Pyramid and the Sphinx are probably what travellers go to Egypt for. While the Sphinx is a limestone statue of the mythical creature with the lion body and the human head, the Pyramid was piled up in stones. Can’t say which one is easier to make.

The oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is still standing, The Great Pyramid of Giza was built for the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, a 20 year construction process which concluded around 2560 B.C. (Wikipedia data) As for Arti, no exact date was needed. Standing at the foot of the humungous pile of neatly stacked up stones was an experience itself.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Not far from the Pyramid, The Sphinx:

The Pyramid and The Sphinx

A closer look… so what if I’ve lost a nose, I still stand sit after all these years:

Let the stones speak:

and the children listen:

We were travelling in a bus through the desert, and stopped for a view. Here are some other children I saw, took this picture through the window:

Mount Sinai, the legendary place Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. At the foot of the mountain range is St. Catherine’s Monastery:

 Man’s best friend. They wait without complaint:

The desert is mesmerizing regardless of the hour:

Desert moon at dusk

While I faithfully pick up mail for neighbors gone to Paris, or read with pleasure blog posts of your recent travels, I feel like jumping on the armchair bandwagon and join the massive global tourism movement. Ok everyone, I’m coming along.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

24 thoughts on “The Rant of the Armchair Traveller”

    1. Thanks for your contribution to Armchair Travelling, Cathy. Your post on Tasmania(c) is just wonderful! You’re right, one of these days when all conditions are met, we should come out of our virtual blogger world and go on a real life group tour. That would be quite an experience. 😉


  1. Some things change, some stay the same… I love your photos. Did you go inside the Great Pyramid?

    I was there 24 years ago in March. I did visit the Valley of the Kings (and Queens!), saw where they found Tut’s coffin. I have photos somewhere… I did a four part blog series on the 20th anniversary. There is a link under “Popular Posts” in my sidebar, should you be so inclined.

    I have had more travel than anything else on my blog lately… LOL! I might soon have to change the name….


    1. Michelle,

      Thanks. And to answer your Q., no, I was close to stepping into the narrow and low clearance path to get inside, but was overcome with claustrophobic apprehension. It was very tight and low clearance, you have to bend your back all the way through.

      And oh you’ve been to the Valley of the Kings, how marvellous! I must head over to your blog and take a look at the photos. Thanks for letting me know.

      P.S. Just been to your blog and read those four amazing posts on your trip to Cairo and Luxor. You’d had a much deeper Egyptian experience than I had. Looks like that trip had shaped you as an artist and a keen photographer. Was going to comment there on your blog but couldn’t… maybe you’ve closed the comment section. Anyway, I’ll leave it here hope you’d come back to read this.


      1. Thanks! 🙂 I am so glad you bothered to read it. It is a bit lengthy! I think that it was one of those life changing things… Back then I wasn’t very visual. LOL! Most of the pictures were awful! I styled myself more as a writer.
        As for the comments, I think it is set to turn them off on all posts over a certain age. Helps control spam, I guess!


  2. Your photographs of the pyramids and sphinx are incredible; you have such an incredible eye and most probably a great camera too! Thank you for shaing…


    1. Heather,

      Thanks. You’re too kind. I used a pocket camera only, a Panasonic Lumix, for easy travelling. I think I just bought it then, five years ago… still using it now. 😉


  3. Stunning photos. It’s the size that gets me every time. How peculiar it must be to be standing so close to those enormous, famous, overwhelming landmarks. The Pharaoh’s boat is amazing, so thin and sharp and grand!


    1. Yes, I’ve seen a lot of photos but it’s quite something to stand in front of them. I had the chance to actually go inside the pyramid, but the passage way was narrow and low, I was feeling a bit claustrophobic. That was regrettable.


  4. Gorgeous photos Arti! Thanks for sharing them. The sphinx looks so tiny with the pyramid in the background. I’ve always thought the sphinx was huge too, is it small or does it only look small next to the pyramid?


  5. I have wanderlust, too. But no going anywhere for me either; we have a wedding on the farm this summer. 🙂

    How fabulous that you got to visit Egypt and see these wonders. I remember as a girl looking at my parents’ and brothers’ slides after theirs, and being enthralled. I knew then from those bigger images on a big screen how it could not be captured fully on film. To stand there must be an experience of a lifetime.

    One day you will go back, I suspect, and with further knowledge and curiosities, discover even more to captivate your artistic-literary-historic heart.


    1. Ruth,

      You’re too kind. This is the first time someone used these three words hyphenated to describe me. But I love that word ‘heart’. Yes, it was also quite surreal too to stand there not just seeing the monumental structure, but all those crowds of people, camels, and cars. I’m not sure whether I’d have another chance to visit there anymore, since the ‘been there, done that’ feeling does exist. And also, I’ve so many other places I haven’t set foot on.


  6. Lovely photos. I’ve never been, but have the feeling the pyramids much be like the Eiffel Tower: no matter how many times you see it on TV or pictures, it’s still an amazing sight to see them live.


    1. Alex,

      As I was saying in my reply to Ruth, I’m not sure if I’ll have the chance to travel there, but if I do, I think I may not look at things the same way as I did years ago. Many of my present readers might not have read my old posts. I used to post more about travelling than books and movies.


  7. Such splendid photos! And what an experience it must have been. My only hope is that those who long to travel to see these things have the opportunity. Such treasures don’t exist in a vacuum. Egypt-the-country is far from a museum, and the political turmoil there has brought some loss in treasured antiquities. It’s not hard to imagine extremists of one sort or another searching for high-profile targets, with unhappy results. Already, travelers who wish to experience part of Texas’ Big Bend are having to travel with armed escort because of the drug wars and human smuggling. The same easily could happen in Egypt, though for different reasons.

    One of the new marvels in the latest Tut exhibit was the model of King Tut himself and the accompanying film detailing the DNA research that helped detail his ancestry.

    As for the Sphinx’s nose – that’s what happens when you don’t use enough sun “block”! 😉


    1. Linda,

      Interesting how modern science and technology can help with the accuracy of archaeological findings and research. And now DNA evidence? Amazing.

      As to the Sphinx’s nose, it was just a casual observation on my part, never thought deeper than that. But apparently there are many theories as to the cause of it. Michelle below has offered one such.


  8. Arti, this is a fascinating post and all the photos are amazing. I hope they showed up in a publication because they are truly worthy! What intrigued me most is Pharoah’s boat. I mean, I know they had the sea and all, but I just never think of them hanging out in a boat. A big boat!

    Poor Sphinxy — well, if I were able to survive for many years, I guess losing a nose wouldn’t be so bad!


    1. Jeanie,

      Thanks for your kind words. And yes, the Pharaoh’s boat is truly a beautiful artifact exhibited in an elevated way which is spectacular. I remember also seeing in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo one of Pharaoh’s travelling lounge chair. It has three folds, with hinges to open and close for easy travelling, just like those we have today that we put in our backyard. It’s amazing how innovative and ingenious many of the artifacts are.


  9. I think it was Napoleon’s men that got the Sphinx’s nose for target practice in the early 1800’s. You have to wonder what the Gods thought of that!


    1. Michelle,

      Your comment piques my curiosity to find out more. And you’re right, Napoleon’s military practice is one of the causes attributed to the loss of the nose, and there are some other theories too. I just didn’t think twice of it when I first saw it. If you’re interested, I left the link in my reply to Linda’s (Shoreacres) comment above. Thanks for coming back and letting me know about this. 😉


      1. I wasn’t aware of the other theories – thanks for the link! I seem to remember that’s what we were told during the tour. With a little more research, it is, in fact, a myth! Apparently the nose was missing long before Napoleon’s time. The idea is romanticized by the Orientalist painter Gérome with his painting of Napoleon at the the Sphynx. Perhaps it was just the desert after all… 🙂


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