Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jordan Part 2 of 2 - Petra and Wadi Rum

I spent the second half of the trip in southern Jordan at Petra and Wadi Rum. Petra is a city that was carved out of the sandstone rocks in about 600 BC. The rock formations and the colors in the rocks were beautiful. It's also one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. It's also been the set of many movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the 2nd Transformers movie.

This is the entrance to the park. It's called the siq and is a long narrow split in the rocks.
This carving was called the Treasury. As elaborate as the outsides are, the insides of most of them are nothing but an empty square room. Some of them were used as tombs though.

The Monastery.
The Romans conquered the area about 2,000 years ago and the ruins in the bottom of the picture were just recently discovered and are still being excavated.
The oleanders were in full bloom and were really pretty against the rest of the desert colors.

This is still someone's "house" (cave carved out of the rock).
This man and his family lived in one of the caves too. He had a son that was about 7 years old who would be his "sheep dog" and round up the lost sheep. It was pretty amazing to watch him do it. He was able to climb the cliffs and run through the sand just like he was a sheep himself. Instead of using dogs, it seems that throwing rocks when they start to stray and having your 7 year old sons track down the lost ones works just fine. I added a video at the bottom that shows the man working the herd.
We went on a hike the 2nd day that was incredible. It followed the path of an old riverbed that is dry now, but that floods during the early spring rains. The path got really narrow in some places and we actually had to climb down in some places by putting our feet on the sides of the walls and inching down. There really wasn't a way to go back - only forward.
This is a blue lizard that we saw on one of the hikes.
Life Could Be Better! This was a store in the town of Wadi Musa just outside of Petra. I have no idea what an H20 Pharmacy is or why their slogan was what it was.
Just like we have deer crossing signs, they have camel crossing signs along the road.
These next pictures are from Wadi Rum. It's the desert in the southern part of Jordan and really is the stereotypical desert with lots of sand, vast openness, and lots of colors...and yes, lots of "wild" camels. The movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and also parts of the 2nd Transformers movie. Some of it looked very similar to Monument Valley or the area around the Grand Canyon.
After camping, we took these camels into town in the morning.
(yes, it was as uncomfortable as it looks! After only an hour and a half ride, I'm glad it wasn't any longer)
View from the top of a sand dune.

We camped one night in the desert in a Bedouin camp. The guy on the left was the host of the camp and was absolutely hilarious (not that the raki he drank before we showed up had anything to do with it or anything). The guy on the right was a jeep tour guide who dropped off another group of tourists to camp there.
Video of a Bedouin sheperd

Baby sidewinder

Jordan Part 1 - Holy Sites, Amman, Dead Sea

Well, it's been more than a month since I started my trip to Jordan, but it's better late than never. I am going to do this in 2 separate posts because I couldn't narrow down my pictures enough to put it all on one.

I went into the trip with not low expectations, but not the highest of expectations either. I had heard many good things, but really didn't know what to expect. However, this was one of the best trips of the last year and a half. Compared to Cairo, I thought Jordan was much nicer, more "civilized", and the people were much more friendly and accomodating. In fact, the Jordanian people were some of the friendliest people I met in all of my travels the last year and a half. Especially in comparison to the pushiness or unfriendliness of the people in Cairo or Istanbul, the Jordanians were really no comparison.

This is Amman. The Roman Ampitheater near the bottom of the picture is about 2,000 years old. There really isn't much to do in Amman, so I didn't stay there too long, but used it as a base for day trips for a few days.
This is one of the many pictures of the current King (Abdullah) and his dad, the late King Hussein.

Roman ruins from 2k years ago in Amman.

Very typical scene in Jordan - a sheperd tending his flock. There are still many nomadic people living in Jordan (called Bedouins) that just raise sheep or goats and live in tents and move around depending on the vegetation and weather.

Jerash, Jordan. This was an old Roman city that is still being discovered. The enormity of the city was indescribable.

This was a gladiator re-enactment in Jerash.
Chariot race in Jerash.
This is the view from the top of Mt. Nebo, where Moses is buried. The sign points out Jerusalem (46km), Bethlehem (50km), Jericho (27km), and Hebron (65km). Although there wasn't much to see necessarily, just being that close to those cities you hear to much about was a surreal feeling.

This is the Sea of Galilee on the northwestern-most part of Jordan. Israel, the Golan Heights, and Syria can be seen bordering it.

This is near the Jordan River and is said to be the place where Elijah ascended to Heaven on a chariot of fire.
The Jordan River. It's been dammed up, so it is barely a creek today. Because Israel is on the other side of the river, there were border patrol everywhere.
This is the site of Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. Again, just standing in that very place where Jesus was, was something you can't describe.
Standing next to the Jordan River with Israel in the background.
And you think Americans profile?
View of the Dead Sea
Salt on the rocks
I knew you could float better in the Dead Sea because it is so salty, but I didn't realize you actually float effortlessly. It was amazing. You could literally just lay back in the water like you would on the couch and you wouldn't go under. I'm not sure you could even go very far under the water if you wanted to. Here Alissa and I are with our mudbaths - nothing like a free spa treatment! It really did make your skin really soft...but I think one time was enough for me.
Sun setting over Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jericho. Jericho is the town that is lit up on the right side. The other towns are just behind the mountain range. The first star we saw was in the west, which of course was over Bethlehem, so naturally that was another one of those surreal experiences.
This is Lot's cave, where he lived with his two daughters. The area around the cave is where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are, which are the towns that were destroyed by fire and brimstone in the Bible.

We camped at the Dana Nature Reserve one night and did some hiking the next day. We saw some ibex (similar to an antelope or mountain goat), which are pretty rare to see. They were running alongside the cliff and I have no idea how they didn't just fall off!
This is the town of Dana, which is built right on the top of this plateau that just drops off into the gorge.
This is the gorge - we hiked to the bottom and then back up. Yes, it was at least 90 degrees, so I would not have wanted to do it any later in the year!
This is the port city of Aqaba on the southern part of Jordan. It is on the Red Sea and is only about 5 miles from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel.

We had a sandstorm on the last day. This is at about 2pm and was in Karak, Jordan. Because there wasn't much parking at the castle we wanted to tour in this town, we took a taxi from another part of town. When we were ready to leave, there were no cabs around so we just started back-tracking the way we came hoping to find one. Remember how I said there were many pictures of the King all around Jordan? Well, for whatever reason, in this town (nowhere else did we experience anything like this at all) there were FOUR separate stores we saw with Saddam Hussein pictures in the windows! As bad as we wanted pictures of them, needless to say, we found a taxi as quickly as we could and got out of there.

4 Sale! I wonder if the recession caused the value of this one to decrease too.