Hospitality

Aqaba, Jordan

We arrived in Aqaba, intending to partake in some snorkelling (diving being out of the question with my eardrum almost but not fully recovered) or just some beach time by the Red Sea.

Well, that went out the window pretty fast.  At the hotel, a big gust of wind blew the door shut…on my fingers.  Profuse bleeding on the floor commenced.  My right ring fingertip was badly bruised, but my middle fingertip was a completely mangled mess.

The hotel receptionist helped me out, cleaning my wound with alcohol (OWWW) before taking me to a pharmacy nearby, as he had no bandaging.  A curious old man, the owner of a souvenir shop beside the pharmacy, came in with us.  The pharmacist was a woman in niqab (wearing the full face veil save for the eye slit) – obviously for a Muslim woman that devout, she couldn’t touch or treat me.  Handing over more alcohol, gauze, and tape, the receptionist and the kind old man followed her direction and wrapped me up. Continue reading

Solitude

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Given how I seem to suffer from heat exhaustion and a stomach illness after each desert visit I do (well, all of two), I was initially apprehensive about coming to Wadi Rum.

Oh, how naive I can be sometimes.  I certainly didn’t suffer at all this time – in fact, Wadi Rum was at a downright comfortable temperature most of the time – but I certainly didn’t expect the scenery that was coming.  (Again, I’m glad I didn’t spoil myself with photos beforehand!)  I’ve been travelling for awhile now, and certainly I’m a little bit jaded, but this one really blows everything out of the water.  Oh, and I had no idea that this area is where T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) was based.  I also have no knowledge of his story, other than what I’ve just learned while there – he worked for the British as a liaison to the Arabs, in support of their revolt against the Ottoman Turks; though friendly to the Arabs, he struggled with the knowledge that his assistance was with an ulterior British motive and tried unsuccessfully to fight for Arab independence.  I’ve also never watched that famous movie (also filmed in this area)…but I guess I’ll have to now!  More recent movies have been filmed here as well, usually with Wadi Rum standing in for alien planets given the stark landscape and the red sand. Continue reading

Wonder

Petra, Jordan

Petra is Jordan’s star attraction, and it’s not hard to see why.  I came in not having seen any pictures, knowing absolutely nothing about the sight other than its reputation as a must-see destination, a formerly lost city.  We began our first day at 6 am, hoping to avoid both the crowds and the heat.

The approach is long – a 15 minute walk from the town of Wadi Musa (“valley of Moses”, so named as tradition states this is where Moses struck a rock with his staff, releasing water), then a few hundred metres from the visitor centre to the Siq, passing a few tombs in the process.  Impressive already…and then we reached the Siq. Continue reading

Crossing

King’s Highway, Jordan

Continuing to avoid the stamp stigma meant a frustratingly long border crossing process to get from Jerusalem to Amman – separated by about an hour directly on the road. We took six.

We first took the bus to Ramallah again, in hopes that the Representative Office of Jordan would be open this time. But when we got there and asked for a taxi to the “embassy”, we were taken not to the office, which was quite some distance away, but merely around the corner, to what the taxi driver and the people at the building insisted was the Jordan embassy. Continue reading