I'm just back from a research trip to Egypt. It was an amazing experience. However many times I had studied pictures of it in books or on TV, nothing prepared me for the impact of stepping into my first ancient Egyptian tomb of a Pharaoh.
It is utterly breathtaking. The artistry, the exquisite beauty of the carvings, the mystery and the sense of timelessness are overwhelming.
Because of the political turmoil in the country at the moment, there are barely any tourists there, so I was privileged to see the great sights of Egypt without jostling crowds or impatient queues in the hot sun. Hatshepsut's temple, Tutankhamun's tomb, Saqqara and Karnak, the glorious antiquities inside the Cairo and Luxor museums, all lie quietly undisturbed by chatter or clicking cameras.
But what turned out to be good fortune for me is of course causing Egypt's economic downfall, as they badly need tourists to return with their dollars and euros. The Egyptian people are warm and welcoming, and I experienced no difficulties of any kind, despite being in Cairo during the protests in Tahrir Square. And I ended the trip with a real highlight - a hot-air balloon flight at dawn over the desert and its treasures. Now I can write my new book with the amazing inspiration and energy I drew from those ancient tombs.