That's the view of the Nile we had from our hotel room in Luxor. As the sun set, we would watch the sailboats move lazily to make shore, occasionally scooting out of the way of one of the stately river cruisers that bring tourists from Cairo down to this tourist hotspot. It was tranquil, relaxing and quite lovely, and in the back of my mind I couldn't help but think that here I was sitting along the banks of the mighty Nile River.
Which is why it is probably a bit of a let-down when I tell you the very most interesting thing we saw in our hotel room was the toilet.
For here in this ancient city, home of centuries-old temples and tombs and statues, we discovered a 21st Century marvel. We had an electric toilet.
Sure, it seemed a bit odd to see a rather lengthy set of safety warnings on the underside of the lid. After all, I thought, I seem to have more or less mastered how to use these things without having to read guidebooks before and whatever injuries and discomforts I may have incurred couldn't really be blamed on the toilet.
But closer inspection showed an electric wire leading into the back of the toilet and a very complicated control panel on the wall, just above the unautomated roll of paper. And on that panel, among other options, were buttons for Wash, Dry and Massage.
It was time to read the instructions.
The good news is that they were so funny that they made me pee, but I was in the perfect spot for that to happen. So, without further ado - but with a warning that you may want to consider where you are when you, too, read them - here are the electric toilet's instructions (and I have typed them exactly as they appeared):
1. Don't throw the burning cigarette or flaming stuff into the bowl, or possibly incur the dangerous fire.
2. In order to avoid electric shock, don't use in the place where it is prone to splashing the toilet body with water or in the rather quite moist conditions.
3. The electric shock will possibly take place, when removing the plug off with wet hand.
4. Set the temperature at low level prior to use for children, the older, and the handicapped to be free from damage to skin by high temperature.
5. Avoid keeping the heavy substance or human stand-up on the bowl body, toilet seat, or their top covering, or possibly bring the damage to operation system.
6. Keep the hand or something off the outlet of dry air in order to avoid the injury caused by high temperature of electric shock.
7. Water resource is limited from tap water supply, or possible get the skin diseases, such as skin irritation.
8. Don't flush other things down the toilet, besides feces, urine, and toilet paper.
9. Don't use at zero Celsius degree or below, or it is possible to make the inner component parts break down due to water frozen.
10. Cut power and water supply off for a long time of un-use.
11. Cleaning with the neutral detergent, don't use the following items, toilet cleaning agent, alcoholic cleaning solution, volatile solvent, and brush, avoid damage to the toilet seat surface.
12. Forbidden to use the cement on the bottom of Ceramic body, its inflation nature will lead to cracking to the body. Manufacturer will be irresponsible for any problem caused by using with cement.
In order to operate this item quite well, it is advised to read the user's guide closely ahead of operation.
Sadly, I never did figure out how to actually make the thing work so it just became a throne without a royal flush. But I felt really good just knowing that this hotel in the middle of Egypt had tried to enhance our holiday experience by making a visit to the loo a bit of an adventure. This was especially true because after the hotel buffet, I really did need to throw flaming stuff into the bowl. Fortunately, nothing untoward occurred, probably because I was careful not to flush other things down the bowl.
And as a postscript, I should add that in the morning I was sitting in the room when a wet, naked LK bolted out of the bathroom. "Can you please come in and help me figure out this shower," she pleaded. "It's all high-tech but I can't figure out how to adjust the temperature or control the flow of water."
So in I went. I studied the various knobs and controls for a second. When I leaned in to try to sort it out, she said, "Don't turn that knob up. I did, and all it did was make cold water shoot out straight at me."
Of course, I registered what she said just a split second after turning that knob up. And no, we never did figure out how to make the shower work properly, either.