Saqqara, Egypt

We didn’t spend very long here, but it certainly left an impression on me; I think that’s primarily because of the absolutely magnificent weather we had the day we visited, and the way the perfectly blue skies offset the sand so beautifully.

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It’s one of the oldest burial sites in Egypt, and home of the original pyramid – the step pyramid of Djoser. As you can see in the picture below, it was undergoing a little facelift at the time we visited, but it was still completely breathtaking, having been built around 2660 BC (WHAT?!?!) and standing at 62m high.

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It’s one hell of a sight in real life – anyone else been there?!

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Visiting the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

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This place was regal. Beautiful. Completely surreal. And stunningly enveloped within high rock faces of Deir el Bahari. The day we arrived coincided with a strong sandstorm, which, believe it or not, only made the whole experience even more incredible.

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Quick history lesson:
– The temple is believed to have been built around 1480 BC, for the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut.
– She often depicted herself as a male, which you can see in some of the reliefs around the temple.
– The temple was built in dedication to the goddess Hathor, who was the guardian of the area, and you will also see a lot of statues and reliefs in her image around the site.
– Queen Hatshepsut has a reputation with modern Egyptologists as a prolific builder, and one of Egypt’s greatest Pharaohs, holding her reign for around 20 years.
– The site of the temple is often recognised not for it’s majesty and beauty, but for the massacre that occurred there in 1997, where 62 people (mostly tourists) were killed.

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I thought this temple was incredible striking. The monotone landscape in it’s shades of beige and brown, the swirling sand and dirt seemingly trying to envelope us, the colossal figures that completely dwarfed me, it all made for a really magical experience. I felt enclosed and tucked away by the surrounding cliffs, which only served to give me a sense of peace and calm for some reason. I find it hard to say it was one of my favourite temples in Egypt because they were all so infinitely fascinating, but this place really resonated with me…

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Through my eyes: Colossi of Memnon, Egypt

Thought I’d take a quick Vietnam intermission and flash back to my trip to Egypt last year…

The Colossi of Memnon were not one of the dozens of Egyptian wonders I had heard of and read about before my trip to Egypt last year, which only served to make them that much more fascinating when we did see them.

Two enormous stone statues depicting the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, they have stood for almost 3500 years a stones throw away from the much bigger, well known and modern city of Luxor. These 23m high leviathans once guarded the entrance to Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple in Thebes, and have suffered a little damage, but they are still breath-takingly impressive. This is a photo husband took of me and one of our travel companions walking down to see them up close, in the middle of a sandstorm.

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My Son Sanctuary, Hoi An, Vietnam

My Son Sanctuary
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/949

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After seeing some stunning photos of it, Sib & I knew we needed to see the ruins at My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

My Son, dated from the 4th to 13th centuries AD, is the former capital of the Champa Kingdom. Set in stunning green, mountain surrounds in the Quang Nam Province near Hoi An, it houses the remains of the Cham temple towers.

The Cham people came from Indian origins, and were renowned for their unique building techniques; the towers have been constructed, as our guide explained, without any use of binding agent or mortar, simply brick against brick.

Enough of the history lesson now though – here’s the beautiful space we had the privilege of wandering around for the morning.

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