Of Pyramids and Sphinxes

Aside from the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China, are there any man-made wonders of the world that can be considered equal to these timeless pyramids in Egypt?

Courtesy: Messer Woland
Map of Giza’s Pyramids (click for larger version) Courtesy: Messer Woland

Getting to Giza from Cairo is easy. I took a taxi from Khan el Khalili in the city to the Pyramids, but initially the driver did not want to turn on the meter. When I threatened to get out of the taxi, he reluctantly turned the meter on – and I thought Malaysian cabbies were bad! As a rule of thumb when travelling in Cairo, you should only use the yellow taxis (a bit like New York taxis) and AVOID AT ALL COSTS the black and white ones, which are not fitted with meters at all! It cost me 30 Egyptian Pounds for the one way trip from downtown Cairo, and cost roughly the same in another yellow taxi on the way home. Seeing as I did this return journey on more than one occasion, the costs soon add up. But seeing as I am at the last remaining original Wonder of the World, I still thought it was money well spent!

Your ride home?
Your ride home?
From the car park...
From the car park…

I was fortunate enough to spend a good few days in the Giza Necropolis, which enabled me to visit on two separate occasions AND still have time left to view an epic sunset over these incredible architectural splendours. I can remember seeing a photo on Instagram or Twitter around Christmas time supposedly showing snow on the Sphinx and the pyramids. I admit, I fell for it at first, until a bit of further research showed that it has never snowed here at Giza. The photo, therefore, was regrettably a hoax. However, when you attend this place in person you can forget about such hoaxes and just take in the sights and sounds the way that it was intended – in pure unadulterated sticky heat!

I found the glare of the sun to be pretty bad here
I found the glare of the sun to be pretty bad here

Long before even the existence of the Aztecs, Incas, or even the Mayans, there was a civilisation here in Egypt that had the ability to build these pyramidal structures in the middle of the desert. Even to this day, scholars do not uniformly agree on the methods used to construct the pyramids. There are three pyramids here at Giza: the Pyramid of Menkaure, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the largest of all, the Pyramid of Khufu, which was for 3,800 years the largest structure on the planet. As a group, they are the last remaining of the original 7 Wonders of the World.

Simply epic!
Simply epic!

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On my second day at the Pyramids, it was a much sunnier occasion, and this unfortunately brought even more heat and humidity. However, the night before I had been doing some research on the pyramids. On my first day, I was only interested in being there, yet for my second day I wanted to actually learn something significant about what I was looking at. I learned all about how the pyramids were structured from the inside out, and learned precisely what all the affiliate buildings around the 3 pyramids were used for. There are also cemeteries and funerary temples located in the area. And as you may expect, I did take the opportunity to have a camel ride around the Pyramids. The whole shebang took around 20 minutes and the camel was very well-behaved, thankfully. Unlike, say, using elephants for transportation over at Angkor Wat, I did not see any moral issue with camel riding.

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pyramid2

Perhaps just as exciting to see the pyramids, was the opportunity to get a look at the famous Egyptian Sphinx which lays just in front of the Pyramid of Khafre. I was lucky on my second day in the area that the heat had scared away many of the tourists, so I was able to get some nice pictures (including the obligatory selfie) of the Sphinx in all its glory. Before this, I had only seen it on TV programmes and in other people’s photos, but you really have to be there to understand just how majestic it really is!

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