Greetings from Jordan
Aqaba Travel Blog› entry 5 of 8 › view all entries
Wow â€“ we love Jordan. The people here are so friendly. Baksheesh (tipping) isnâ€™t as big as it is in Egypt and neither is the begging. The country is beautiful and a lot cleaner than Egypt also.
We left Nuweiba on Sunday on the ferry. The ferry cruises up the Gulf of Aqaba past Saudi Arabia and Israel and drops us off in Aqaba, our gateway to Jordan. Aqaba is a biggish port with lots of shopes â€“ even McDonalds (rarely seen in Egypt). We met our new guide â€“ Riold who is Jordanian and fluent in English and Russian (should the need arise). He is really friendly and knowledgeable and is filling us up with loads of history and answering all of our questions about Jordan â€“ even my annoying ones about why we donâ€™t see any women on the street, etc.
The food here is to die for â€“ infact some of the group are trying to prove that with bouts of travellers gastro lasting days on end. Loads of pita bread still and the best hommus Iâ€™ve tasted yet. Shish kebab is big, as youâ€™d expect and there are dips galore.
After our one night in Aqaba, we headed off for the desert. We went to Wadi Rum which is about 40 klms from Saudi Arabia. This desert area is scattered with amazing rock formations made from sandstone and granite. I havenâ€™t seen anything like it but only to try and compare it to the Olgaâ€™s area around Ayers Rock. Not in colours but in formation shapes. The sand ranges from yellow to orange and it spans for miles and miles in every directions. There is a small village here of beduion people (the Arabic name for aboriginal) and we stayed the night in there village in small tents.
The next morning we packed up and set off through the desert in search of Petra. Today it was Little Petra which is still in Petra, still a small village carved into the sandstone rocks but much smaller and less dramatic as the Petra we all know and love thanks to Harrison Ford and his hat and whip. Yennick from our group, another Canadian likes to pose for us with his classic photos. At kom-ombo temple in Luxor it was his Steve Irwin pose (complete with khaki shirt) next to the mummified crocodiles, followed by the slab of rock held above his head at the top of Mt Sinai â€“ in true Moses fashion (at least according to Hollywood anyway) and tomorrow, at the big Petra, he has arranged a holy grail to drink from.
We have been travelling ok so far. I had 1 afternoon of bad belly but I consider myself lucky compared with Debâ€™s 3 day bout of it. We are drinking water like there is no tomorrow â€“ although there is nothing quite walking through the desert, mouth full of sand and only having that dregs of that warm water bottle youâ€™ve been carrying all day. I canâ€™t imagine how these guys cope with their Ramadan â€“ no food/water/cigarettes from dawn til dusk. Now thatâ€™s tough.
Highlights so far:- (thought Iâ€™d do this now as I have a feeling that Petra will surpass all)
Â· Definitely the pyramids are so famous that seeing them is surreal.
Â· Cruising down the Nile can take you directly into the pages of an Agatha Christie novel just like that.
Â· Abu Simbel is up there for me. This amazing temple of beauty, detail and sheer magnitude left me standing in front of in awe that man could make something so beautiful.
Â· The hot air balloon ride was another way of looking at this amazing country. Also, something Iâ€™d never done before so it was doubly good.
Â· The hieroglyphics we have seen at all the temples are amazing. Hard to think that the human race was clever enough (all those thousands of years ago) to communicate with us today in such a way and to provide us with the stories behind each of the temples.
Â· Definitely being able to ride on camels and donkeys was pretty cool. Something that I thought Iâ€™d be crap at and fall off of frequently but that I found quite natural in the end.
Â· Overnighting in the desert was something out of the blue. An unexpected treasure. The vastness of the land and the stillness of the night is something I hope I will remember forever.
Â· The tummy bug thing is never fun. No matter how many times youâ€™ve had it, it always brings along something new and wonderful to be experienced. This time it was intense stomach cramping â€“ yay!
Â· The final steps of Mt Sinai, although they brought a sense of achievement, were really hard. Iâ€™m talking like a whole day spent on a stairmaster. My calve muscles are still recovering.
Â· Not being able to find my passport at the ferry terminal between Nuweiba and Aqaba. I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of being stranded on the port waving to the ferry as I make my way back to Cairo to the Australian embassy. Stuck in the middle east with no passport â€“ not high on my to-do list. Luckily I found it after 10 minutes. No, 10 excruciatingly long minutes!!
Â· My favourite pink thongs (or as Deb and I have to call them for this trip â€“ flip flops so that the Canadians and Americans donâ€™t think that we are talking about our g-strings) have finally fallen apart. These favourite shoes of mine have walked me through India, Thailand, China, the States and Vietnam. I owe them, it is true but it was a sad moment when I had to pull out the gaffer tape that someone bought to strap them together till the end of the trip. They will be my gift to Jordan!
Â· At our dirtiest and dodgiest hotel, The Happy City in Cairo, Deb went investigating behind the toilet to see why we had no water pressure and it wouldnâ€™t flush properly. She turned the tap on the wall, only to find that the bidet built into the toilet squirted her from her head down. Shreiks of â€śooohâ€ť and â€śahhhhhâ€ť came from the bathroom as she described what had happened. I doubled over and held my tummy as I laughed and laughed at this one â€“ still puts a smile on my face. Yes, did check with Deb before sharing this tale with you all J
Â· Sam (from the UK) and me standing in the Valley of the Kings deciding how Howard Carter (the british archaeologist who discovered King Tutâ€™s tomb) found these tombs. With pompous English accents we stood there in 40 degree heat in the middle of the desert having this discussion...
â€śRight, men, we are going to start to dig here. Iâ€™m not exactly sure why but just go with me on this one. I know itâ€™s hot but Iâ€™ve got a really good feeling about this.â€ť
â€śOk, so I was wrong about this site. We all make mistakes. What I want you to do is go home, come back tomorrow and we will start again over in that mountain of desert rock and sand. I know itâ€™s hot and youâ€™ve been digging in the desert for a year now but trust my gut on this one.â€ť
Maybe it was just a â€śhad to be thereâ€ť moment or maybe it was just us getting delirious in the desert sun but damn we laughed about this for hours.
Â· Matt, a paramedic from Canada, decided to climb up one of the rocks we were near when we stopped in the desert at Wadi Rum for the sunset. It was enormous â€“ something like that scene in Crocodile Dundee when Ernie Dingo is top of that huge rock mountain. Anyway, he scooted up that mountain (in thongs) and made it to the top. Made a little rock monument up there and then decided to descend. He got half way down and got stuck. 10 minutes later and we decide to send up the guides to help him (with the group chanting â€śjust jump Mattâ€ť encouragingly to him and his wife, Eileen, sucking on cigarettes nervously). Men in long Arabic dresses climb up to help him and we have about 4 men on the rock all trying to get down. They work it out and greet us back on the ground. Matt, the adrenalin junkie of the group, turns to us all (patiently waiting and making gags at his expense for the past 20 mins) and says â€“ â€śthat was awesome, wanna do it againâ€ť.