I was planning to be at the Jordanian Embassy first thing in the morning, but you know what I’m like by now and after going to sleep around 5am, I had no real intentions of being up with the lark. I got there about 11am-ish only to discover that you can’t get a multiple-entry visa from the embassy. Why I need a multiple-entry visa is a story for another day, but it was a bit of a blow for the smooth running of The Odyssey.
So then I headed over towards The Pyramids. I was supposed to go last week, but laziness and procrastination got the better of me. There would be tickets on sale at 1pm to go inside the Great Pyramid, something that has always been a dream of mine. Whenever I’ve been to the Pyramids in the past, the Great Pyramid has always been closed for one reason or another. Along with seeing a shuttle launch and attending a full-moon party, it has been something I wanted to not miss out on this time around.
The journey there was a bit of a nightmare. I took the glorious Metro across town to Giza station, but the taxi that I took from the station was driven by a fool. He drove me to the wrong entrance to the complex (because he wanted to drop me off at his friend’s stable and also buy a ‘ticket’ somewhere I know you can’t) and by the time we got there, it was already past 1pm. If I missed out on my one and only chance to get inside that damn pile of rocks because of a bloomin’ corrupt taxi driver, I’d be spitting blood for a week.
But it was okay – although I had to trek all the way up the Giza plateau to the proper entrance in order to buy a ticket, I got one. I GOT ONE!!
Utterly made up, I made my way into the last great wonder of the world, the tallest building in the world for four thousand years, the resting place of the 4th dynasty king Cheops and the riddle wrapped in a puzzle wrapped inside an enigma that has focussed the great minds since antiquity – The Great Pyramid of Giza.
I get a lot of flack for not hanging around places long enough to experience them, but what people who don’t know me don’t get, is that I’ve already been to a ton of places and fully experienced them before The Odyssey began – from the Taj Mahal to Machu Picchu to Angkor Watt to Petra to the Parthenon, I’ve been there, done it and got the T-shirt. Even ones that are sadly no longer with us, New York’s twin towers and the Sari Club in Bali to name but two. But if there was one place I always kinda had my eye on for hanging around, it’s Egypt. I know I’ve been here before, I know that things haven’t changed much in the last ten years, but there’s something magical about this place – a link to the distant past that cannot be replicated anywhere in the world.
I always thought I would descend into Cheops’ tomb, but you actually go up to it (good pop quiz question there methinks) along a series of low ceilinged slopes. Once inside, others might begrudge the E£100 entry price (about 15 quid) because it’s just a room. But when you’re in there it’s just so much more, it is a haven of solace in which the greatest kings the world has ever seen would continue their adventures towards the afterlife.
Because of the plethora of tombs and pyramids and catacombs in Egypt, I guess it’s only natural that you might think that the Egyptians were obsessed with death. Nothing could be further from the truth – they were obsessed with life. Death scared the bejesus out of them and they went to great lengths to try and survive it. And when I say great lengths, they don’t come much greater than the Great Pyramid. Over one million massive blocks, over 100,000 labourers and over 20 years to build the damn thing… all so one guy can have a nice easy transition into the afterlife.
Once in the tomb chamber, I monkeyed about (as I have a habit of doing), getting a photo of me in the sarcophagus, jumping out and going RAH! at hapless tourists, sticking my hand into a hole in the wall and pretending it was stuck. Ahahahaha GOD I’M FUNNY.
I then thought I’d have a nice sit down and quietly drink my water. At this point, there was only one other guy in the tomb room and he sat down too. It was all nice and quiet and calm.
After a few minutes some noisy tourists rolled in. But upon seeing me and the American guy sitting quietly against the wall, they assumed that that’s what you’re supposed to do inside the Great Pyramid of Cheops, so they sat down too.
This is only natural – whenever you’re put into a situation that you’ve never experienced before (like entering a the tomb chamber of the Great Pyramid), your best bet is to copy what others are doing. But then more tourists came in, looked about, and sat down too. Before too long there were over FIFTY people in the chamber, all sitting quietly – some praying, some meditating, some daydreaming – all in complete silence. I was giggling. Derren Brown would be proud.
I sat with interest to see what would happen when a bunch of rather loud Japanese tourists entered the (now full of sitting people) chamber. Lacking the social etiquette that their civilisation is usually famed for, they made a complete racket (one would be tempted to wear shoes in their home just to see how they’d like it) and my cult of quiet sitters grew annoyed. Shhhhhh! Fired a French lady sitting with her back against Cheops’ empty sarcophagus. Shhhhhh! Shot an American man by the entrance. Before long the Shhhh’s drowned out the Japanese tourists enthusiasm and they quietly (and respectfully) left the chamber. My cult of quiet sitters had successfully won it’s first tribal conflict.
I was proud of how far we had come in just half an hour of not saying anything. But it was now time for me to do what all good messiahs should do and I made a timely exit… always leave them wanting more, that’s what I say.
Crikey, could you imagine if I had resumed my earlier shenanigans and jumped into the sarcophagus again? They probably would have eaten me.
Upon exiting the Pyramid, I was seriously made up. Not only had I achieved another of my hidden goals of The Odyssey, I had also had a moment in there that I’d never forget – although by now, I’m sure my cult would have fractured into various denominations, each convinced a different seated posture is the orthodox one.
I spent an hour or so ambling around the Pyramid complex (I could never get bored of these things) and passed by ol’ Sphinxy on the way out and answered her riddle (the answer is me with a hangover). I grabbed a bite to eat in the fabled KFC and jumped a taxi back towards Heliopolis to see what Kendra had planned for the evening.
As things came to pass, Kendra had no plans so we ended up staying in and watching vids. Yes I should really leave tonight, but I can’t be bothered. I’d much rather put my feet up, upload some tapes to my laptop and watch The Wrestler. What’s one more day? I’ll leave for Jordan tomorrow.