Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Jordan Travel Tips

Get a Jordan Pass here prior to your arrival if you are thinking of visiting Jordan, it will save you so much money. Coming from the US I got my visa fees of (40 JD/$56) waived when I showed my pass and I did not have to pay entrance fees in certain touristic sites because of the pass.

Jordan is not as cheap as you may assume, $1 is 0.71 JD (Jordanian Dinar). With that being said, don't change too much money at the airport because their rates aren't the best and they have commission fees included. Change enough for a taxi then once you get into the city, go to one of the many western unions around to change your money.

A taxi from the airport into the city should cost you about 20 JD. You can use Uber in Amman although it's technically not legal and drivers found picking up Uber rides are fined. Uber is seen as major competition to taxis within the city so there is major pushback against it.

It's a good idea to get a local SIM card for your phone but that depends entirely on you. I ended up getting one at the airport and it came really handy for me, the provider I used was Orange and I had no complaints whatsoever.

If you are thinking of checking out different cities outside Amman, use the JETT bus which is very convenient. They have packages where you can visit several sites within a round trip thus saving you the hustle of doing it all on your own, the buses drop you then the driver announces when departure is so you can do your own thing and come back to the bus when it's ready to leave.

There are two JETT offices in Amman where you can get your tickets to other cities, JETT Abdali and JETT 7th circle. For Petra get your tickets at JETT Abdali, for Jerash and Madaba get your tickets at JETT 7th circle. Buses leave for Petra everyday of the week but for Madaba and Jerash the buses leave on specific dates so you have to check the schedule on the JETT website.

Carry an adaptor just incase, in Wadi Musa I had to go looking for one as the sockets were not compatible to my laptop and telephone chargers. Thank goodness I was able to find out easily.

If going to Petra and you decide to use the help of a guide, mention that you would like to check out the monastery so that they can give you guidance on what shortcut to use so that you end up seeing all the sites. I found this out too late unfortunately, the route I used to get really good aerial views of Petra was physically challenging because I was climbing up and down a lot so by the time I got to the royal tombs I was too exhausted to continue to the Monastery, I probably would have made it had I not carried my backpack. Can you see all the sites in one day? sure! but now I see why 2 days is recommended. Unfortunately I just didn't have enough time.

Be very careful on which random person approaches you in Petra suggesting to guide you, there are professional guides you can get at the entrance but some of us who are always looking to get things on the cheap decided to use someone who was not a certified guide for half the price. I was lucky that  it turned out well for me but he was telling me that some people are malicious and greedy so they can lead you to a trail that is very tricky and then start extorting more money from you knowing that you will have no choice but to give in since you can not make it out of the trail by yourself. All I can say is that if you chose not to use a certified guide and opt for any random person that offers you a cheap price, you are taking a risk.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Today was such a wonderful day! it is my last full day before departing Jordan so I had decided to take it easy and sleep the whole morning before meeting up with my very sweet taxi buddy called Fadi. Amman is the capital city of Jordan and I think a day is enough to see the city's highlights so saving the exploration of it for the last day had been my plan after having seen the other top sites that I was more interested in checking out.

Fadi had volunteered his own time to show me around the strings attached by the way so don't get any weird ideas. In the afternoon at the agreed time, he showed up and off we went. The first stop was at the Amman citadel which is located on the highest of the seven hills that the city is built on. 

This area holds a lot of history of various ancient civilizations that occupied it so any history buff would have a field day here. Since the site is on the highest hill in the city, the views are amazing and it is an ideal place to relax and take in all that's around you.

Everyone, meet Fadi my taxi buddy and the sweetest dude ever!  thanks to him I got to check out spots in Amman that I never would have known off.

After getting done at the Citadel, our next stop was at the Roman Theatre which by the way you can see from the citadel. The Roman Theatre is impressively huge and has a seating capacity of 6000 people. It was built in the 2nd century AD during the Roman period and was restored by the Jordanian government in 1957, it is important to note that none of the original materials were used but you can still appreciate the very impressive structure.

The Roman Theatre is in downtown Amman so after we were done checking out the site, we decided to walk around the busy downtown area where Fadi took me to all these hidden gems where locals frequent. Nothing beats getting to know a city with a local and I was so appreciative.

I got a taste of a couple of typical Jordanian desserts and although I have a sweet tooth, I have to admit that the desserts I have had here are way too sweet for me. I sure met my match!

Halawet El Jibn (Sweet cheese rolls) - I actually really did like this one, Its made of cheese with sprinkling of pistachio on top.

Kanafeh - Made of cheese, and fine semolina dough soaked in a sweet syrup. We got this at a sweet shop called Habibah that is very popular with the locals, there was actually a long line to order.

That's it folks! I had a very good time getting to know Amman from a local's perspective and it was fun hanging out with Fadi. From the first day I met him when I hailed his taxi, he was so helpful in giving me tips about the city and advising me on places to go. When I would make day trips from Amman he would send his brother to pick me up in the morning and drop me off at the bus station then in the evening when I would come back to Amman, he would be waiting for me at the bus station. I came to Jordan not knowing a soul and left having gained a friend. 

Random Thoughts of The Day:

Amman and Wadi Musa are very hilly so be prepared to get your work out on, seriously after my trip I deserve to have lost at least 5 pounds because of all the walking I have done. Who needs a gym when you can find it right outside your door.

I have really enjoyed my time in Jordan and to be honest with you, I wouldn't mind making another trip here to see more places.  

Arabic seems like such a hard language to learn, it sounds really beautiful in songs and I have been enjoying listening to it. 

People don't flush used toilet paper in most places here, there is usually a bin on the side to dispose of it. I am so used to doing this in other places that I have traveled to in the past so I no longer cringe about it like I used to.

The weather sucked when I first landed here and now that I am leaving, the sun is shining bright and its not as cold. Damn! it, I got cheated out of good vacation weather. At least I never let it interfere with my plans.

Time to go to bed now, I am so sleepy and I have to get up early. If you are reading this, I hope you have enjoyed my updates. Do visit Jordan if you can, it is a wonderful place full of history and very nice friendly people.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Wadi Rum

Today's adventure took me to Wadi Rum (Valley of the Moon) another famous attraction in Jordan which happens to be a desert. A desert? what's so special about a desert?! maybe that's what some of you may be thinking but Wadi Rum happens to be a very picturesque place where you can see some beautiful rock formations thanks to mother nature, and also get a chance to revisit history through inscriptions on the base of certain rocks made by traders on caravans that passed through the desert thousands of years back. Another fun fact is that it also happens to be the setting of the famous historical drama film, Lawrence of Arabia. My journey to Wadi Rum begun in Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses) which is about an hour away from the desert.

As I had mentioned before, Wadi Musa is a town surrounding Petra so if you are planning an overnight visit to Petra, your accommodation will be around Wadi Musa for convenience. Anyway, the airbnb rental that I stayed at arranged for a guide to take me to Wadi Rum early in the morning since my plan was to head back to Amman in the evening. At 8:00 am I met up with my guide Mohammed and we set off to the desert. As we were leaving Wadi Musa, Mohammed made a quick stop at this one area so I could get an aerial view of Petra and he pointed out where the different points of interest within the site were. The view was gorgeous especially with the sun out.

After taking a few photos we proceeded with our trip, the drive to Wadi Rum went by fast and soon we were in the desert. I was blown away by how beautiful the landscape was and how serene it felt, now I understood why it had been highly recommended. At this point I will let the pictures do the talking.......

Check out these inscriptions made thousands of years ago by caravan traders as a way of communicating

Naturally formed stone bridges

Some of the rocks were formed into animal shapes like this one below. Do you see the head of an elephant with it's eyes, mouth and trunk? 

The stone below is shaped like a mushroom depending on the angle you view it from, do you see it?

See the different sand colors? there was red sand, brown sand, white sand and even black sand in different areas. The color contrast was very pretty.

The castle below was built in 1962 for the Lawrence of Arabia movie.

That's it folks! I did have an enjoyable time at Wadi Rum and I am so glad I did not dismiss it as "just a bare desert with nothing to see" because clearly there is a lot to see! 

Random Thoughts of The Day:

Even though the sun was out bright, it was not uncomfortably hot at Wadi Rum. It is the beginning of spring which is the best time to visit as temperatures are comfortable, during summer it get's really hot.

During my tour within the desert, we came across another tour group. Their guide was this older gentleman that looked harmless, he actually looked like someone's sweet pot bellied grandpa and as he was talking to my guide Mohammed, I was busy taking photos and minding my own business. Later as we drove off, Mohammed's phone kept going off and he would ignore it until after 3 attempts by the caller he answered then spoke briefly before hanging up. He sounded annoyed but I wasn't paying too much attention until he told me it was the other guide that we came across. Apparently dude doesn't respect boundaries and likes getting touchy with female tourists, turns out when they were talking the guy was telling Mohammed how lucky he was to have me on his tour because he was going to have a "hot date" unlike him because he had a couple of much older tourists. When he called Mohammed it was to ask him where we were and if he had "scored" yet! the nerve of that pathetic pervert! it's the innocent looking ones that shock you sometimes. Apparently he is well known for his antics within the circle of tour guides, how he is still operating in the tourism industry is beyond my comprehension.

I loved my airbnb rental at Wadi Musa and it sucks that I was not able to stay longer. Its owned by this Dutch lady that traveled to Jordan, fell in love with the country and decided to move there. She is quite a character and from the moment we met face to face we just started talking like we knew each other. Her stories are hilarious!!! I was laughing my head off and when I left this morning I gave her a long hug and told her not to move from Jordan because if I were to visit again I would like to stay longer at her place. She laughed and said, "please do! I am not leaving Jordan."

So she was telling me about the local Bedouins who seduce foreign women who end up getting their hearts broken then come crying to her about being duped. These were her exact words, "Ooh! please! what love?! he told you that you were the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and took you to his cave where you had sex after knowing him for 2 hours thinking it was so exotic then you start talking about love?" Okay, I don't mean to be heartless but can you literally picture the whole scenario of being taken to a guy's cave? I just burst out laughing! the image I conjured was too hilarious and by the way some of the Bedouins do still live in caves. 

Speaking of Bedouins, you will see some of the dudes wearing eyeliner which gives them this intense look. I asked Barakat my guide yesterday why they do that and he said it's to attract women, in my opinion......I thought it made them look shifty but I have to admit that the eyeliner does enhance their looks. Maybe some girls find that attractive, to each their own. 

Now that I have been to Wadi Rum, I have to re-watch the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" I watched it in college when I took a film class but that was ages ago and I don't remember much of it.

It's funny when you ask for directions around Wadi Musa everyone uses meters to describe how far or near a place is. For example, "go 10 meters then turn left" or the "the shop is 5 meters from here, follow this road." I would just nod my head and go, "'Ooh! ok, so go straight and then take the 1st or 2nd left?" 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Year Older In Petra

Today being my birthday, I decided to spend the day in a special way by visiting one of the seven wonders of the world, Petra! I was so excited to make this trip because Petra had been on my list of places to check out. Petra was the capital of the Nabatean Arabs and you can learn more about this fascinating city here.

I arrived at Petra via the JETT bus from Amman which departs everyday at 6:30 am, the trip took about 4 hours. The bus conveniently dropped us off next to the visitor center and once I got my Jordan Pass scanned, I was able to enter Petra. Inside the site there were a bunch of people trying to offer horse rides and tours. This one dude came offering me a tour for half the price of what was being charged at the entrance and a chance to get good aerial views of some of the locations within Petra. I was skeptical at first and as he was giving me his spiel, I was looking around the area he pointed out trying to figure out the likelihood of being heard if I were to scream. A lot was going on through my mind and in the end I was like, "Lord forgive my reckless behavior but you know I like a good adventure, please don't let anything bad happen to me." I decided to take the risk. In my defense I did see this one couple heading toward the same route so I felt more at ease and just like that, my great birthday adventure begun.

The guide who's name is Barakat took me through this amazing albeit physically challenging route as he narrated about the significance of the different locations within Petra. I was huffing and puffing but it was all so worth it because the views I got were unbelievable! Ooh! yeah, and he did turn out to be a sweet guy so of course this eased my initial fears although when I think of it, had he turned out to be a bad guy I would have been in so much trouble! it really was a risky move on my part. Okay folks, let me summarize things because this post is getting too wordy and I know what you want to see the most are the photos, right? before we get to that take a look at the map below for reference, it shows the different locations inside Petra. I was able to see location 1 through 7 which was the Royal Tombs, I would have loved to see the monastery but it was far and I was too tired unfortunately.

Now, let's get to the fun!!

Obelisk Tomb - carved by the Nabateans in the 1st century AD the four pyramids and a statue symbolize the people buried there.

The siq - the narrow gorge leads into Petra, the siq resulted from a natural splitting of the mountain

The Treasury - Almost 40 meters high, no one knows for sure when it was built nor the purpose of it but one thing is for certain, it is impressive!  

High Place of Sacrifice - A place of worship on a mountain plateau, best way to display it on a photo is from an aerial view.

The Theatre - Although you can't clearly see it in the photo below, it consists of three rows of seats separated by passageways, seven stairways and can accommodate 4000 spectators. 

Royal Tombs

Other random photos.........

That's my guide Barakat, I know in this picture he has a sleazy look but he was a true gentleman from beginning to the end.

That's it folks! after I was done with Petra I went to find my airbnb as I decided to spend the night in Wadi Musa which is the town surrounding Petra. After I got situated at my airbnb rental, I treated myself to a birthday dinner at a restaurant nearby, before calling it a night.

Happy 39th birthday to me, may my last year of being in my 30s be filled with bold adventures and accomplishments because I want to end this chapter of my life with a bang!