The Baksheesh Pays Off- Luxor, Egypt

I was asked by travel clothing company SCOTTEVEST/ SeV to write an article for their weekly Pocket Guide newsletter. I am happy to announce that this post will be featured there!

a stone structure with columns with Ramesseum in the background

After a long day of visiting some amazing sites around Luxor, Kim and I decided to make one last stop before calling it a day.

We walked over to the Ramesseum, a memorial temple of Pharaoh Ramesses II.
Unlike most of the other sites we had visited, there weren’t many other visitors here. We may have passed a couple of others leaving as we entered the site, but that was about it.

a man walking in a blue robe
Soon after entering, a guard asked us if we would like to be shown around. We politely declined and hoped he would leave us alone and let us enjoy the site on our own.

In Egypt it is hard to go anywhere without encountering a local with his hand out. They all want their “baksheesh” or tip. For example- while visiting sites, guards will ask for baksheesh to allow you to take photos in areas where they are supposedly not allowed. Or if we asked for directions, that person would expect their cut as well. Kim and I love to explore and wander on our own when traveling, so you can see how this would become extremely annoying to us.

a man jumping in the air
Jumping time

We started walking around the Rasesseum and took some photos. Of course the guard did not listen to us and began to follow us around. Kim and I kind of laughed it off and proceeded to walk around ignoring the guard until he asked us a questions which got our attention.
He asked us if we liked mummies!

a man and woman standing in front of a mountain
I was immediately interested in what he had to say. In his limited English, the guard explained to us that a French team was still excavating parts of the Ramesseum. They were on break for the summer due to the extreme heat.
We decided to let him show us around. We followed the guard over a thin string about 3 feet off the ground (the security fence???) into an area they had been excavating. The section we stopped in had a couple of holes covered by small sheets of metal with a couple of rocks holding them in place.
a metal plate with two bricks on it
Protection for the Mummies
a close-up of a dirt floor
Mummy #1

Kim and I could not imagine what was underneath the coverings.
The first area was interesting but did not look like much. From what I could tell, it was a sarcophagus with a mummy in really poor shape inside. You could see that it was the shape of a body (the head looks to be visible) and had some coloring still left on the sarcophagus.
I figured that this piece could probably be restored and placed in a museum just about anywhere in the world.

a mummy in the ground
Mummy #2

The next area really blew me away. The guard lifted another cover to reveal a mummy consisting of a torso and head which were clearly visible. There were also other bones and another head close by.
I could not believe that this mummy- most likely a few thousand years old was just laying in this shallow grave with junk and garbage all around it.
I wondered if there were plans to remove this treasure and display it in a museum eventually.

a man wearing sunglasses and smiling

I wanted to be in a picture with the mummy but it was a bit difficult to get due to it being below ground. After trying to get a decent shot, the guard asked me if I wanted to go in and pointed towards the mummy. We laughed and passed on his offer…

two people standing in front of a rock
The guard
The Ramesseum ended up being one of our most memorable and favorite visits around Luxor.
Having such an ancient site to ourselves was amazing in itself. Getting to see the mummies made for an experience that I’ll never forget. I am glad that the guard was a little persistent and offered to share the site with us!
This is probably one time I can truly say the baksheesh pays off!
Here are a couple of more pictures from around the site:
a man standing on a large rocka stone building in the desert

2 thoughts on “The Baksheesh Pays Off- Luxor, Egypt

  1. Thanks for the info…
    They may have not been significant(I never said they were)but to my wife & I and anyone that has seen these pictures, they were pretty amazing!
    To see anything that old, close up and not behind glass in a museum- wow!

    I think you are going at a great time! We went in August.

  2. These Mummies would not have been significant.
    There were countless burials near sacred sites in Ancient Egypt.Everybody of course wanted their chance of an afterlife.So the ordinary people would locate their coffins close to the tombs of the nobles.Mummies were so common that in Victorian England they were in fact used as fuel in steam train engines.
    I will be in Luxor this July(2012) my first trip to Egypt.July may be hot,however as you would realise there are less tourists,so I expect to have more chance to explore without being crowded.

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