I’m sitting on a bus right now with 19 men and one Monkey. Before you go getting all excited, no, it’s not a Wild Boys Afloat tour – I’m on my way from Amman to Petra! And it would appear very few women travel or walk around in Amman/Jordan, because I feel like I’m sticking out like a sore thumb here. Albeit an attractive sore thumb… the sort that might get me some hand modelling work
It’s hard to say what my expectations of Jordan were before I arrived here, but whatever they were, I was wrong. I really liked Amman, for the two days that we were there anyway. Maybe it was just the awesome falafel, or the cooler temperatures, or the blue skies. Maybe I was just revelling in the fact that I was getting all the looks again finally, after 8 weeks of Jamie being ‘flavour of the month’ in Asia. Everywhere we turned in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, some man or woman would come up to us and exclaim how handsome Jamie is, how much he looks like David Beckham/Brad Pitt, and how lucky I am to be with him. Very tiring stuff I tell you, and I’ve had to make a point to insult him regularly now to keep his ego in check. But now in the middle east, I am the highlight of the Baskin Robbins ice cream selection. White, blonde, and female. Finally, Monkey is my minion again!
We arrived in Amman at 6am after a 9 hour flight from Bangkok. I’m getting better with each of these long flights – apparently I was asleep before we even took off at midnight from Thailand. Maybe there were a few scotches under my belt… but still, I’m sleeping on flights which is progress! We had a rest for the first half of the day in Amman (Friday) and then went out for food – I hadn’t eaten in 17 hours, which might be a new record for me
First meal was at Hashem’s Restaurant, about 100m from our hotel. It was epic. Falafel, pita, hummus and ‘fool’ which I think is just refried beans. Served with tea and a Coke for me – can’t beat a good can of Coke I tells ya! Those who know me well might wonder now if you’ve ever seen me indulge in falafels before and you’d be right in thinking you haven’t. I might be one of the biggest carnivores in existence – or at least, one of the biggest consumers of chicken in Australia. But I was looking forward to testing my taste-buds with some vegetarian delights here and I was not disappointed. It was simply delectable. And only $7 for both Jamie and I, which is expensive, we were told – but well worth it.
Then we saw some sights. The view from the Citadel was spectacular, with blocks of buildings stretching over hills and valleys as far as I could see. Then the amphitheatre which was pretty amazing, but now I’ve seen 3 in 2 days I think I’ve had my ‘fill’ of amphitheatres. Pun intended. Then we walked around some more, caught the sunset from up on Rainbow street, had dinner and a relatively early night. I was searching for good falafel again but was disappointed. We sat down at the most local looking spot and were told that they only sold pizza. Force fed pizza when I felt like falafel – who’d have thought I’d ever say that.
On Saturday we took a day trip to Ajloun, Umm Quays and Jerash. Umm Quays took us to the north-west edge of Jordan, with a view to Israel, Lebabon and Syria. Pretty surreal, to be standing on a hill looking out to three different countries. I mean, I’ve stood at Tweed Heads and jumped from Queensland into New South Wales, but this might just top that! Then we were down to Aljoun for an old crusader castle, before driving back towards Jerash. The sprawling landscape and ancient pillars of Jerash were amazing, but after 2 hours of roaming through there I had shoes full of blisters and was well knackered. We returned to Amman, had dinner at Hashem’s again and had another early night.
Early start this morning to pack, upload some pics and get on the bus to Petra. It takes about 3 hours, so we’ll have the afternoon to check out some of the first sights in Petra before a full day tomorrow. We’ll probably go with a guide for either today or tomorrow – I know a lot of people find guides at popular tourist sites overpriced but we got a guide for 2 days in Cambodia for Angkor Wat and found it really worthwhile. So hopefully Petra is the same. That will be today and tomorrow (Monday) then on Tuesday we’re off for a day trip and overnighter in Wadi Rum. Famous for Lawrence of Arabia, apparently. Spectacular scenery, jeep tours, camel rides and camping in the desert with local Bedouin people. If I go missing, that’s where I’ll be!
Back to Petra on Wednesday where we pick up a hire car and make our own way back up north for Madaba, Mt Nebo and the Dead Sea. We’ve got three nights in Madaba which is more than enough, but should give us a day to relax before heading into Egypt on Saturday.
Now I’m not sure what inspired me to write such a long post about the middle east, when I maybe only offered a few sentences here and there for all of Asia. I’m creating a favourites list on my new iPod as I type though, so maybe the rocking beats are fuelling creativity and communication again. The joys of good music to block out the loud Jordanian radios playing. Time to go start a Mark Ronson sing-a-long on this man-filled bus, I think! Wish me luck!