Crossing the border into Jordan was a bit of a Midnight Express experience – disorganized and inefficient, with mysterious looking Jordanian officials walking around chain smoking cigs. Going between check stations took over two (2) hours just to walk 1/4 of a mile between check point stations – no joke. It was a downer way to start the trip.
In general, I’m not much of a fan of Muslim countries. The calls to prayer over loudspeakers drive me bonkers.
Petra was impressive – it looked just like it did in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, except for the hordes of tourists.
Did I mention my dislike for mass tourism yet?
It’s a massive complex of ruins, beyond just the famous “Treasury” building, which is really a tomb built for a king.
The ruins of Petra are one of those pyramid things, nobody really knows how they built it without modern tools in 100 A.D. Even the best theories on Petra’s construction don’t make much sense.
The never ending Arab souvenir hustlers and horse/buggy guys were obnoxious, but it’s just nature of being in the third world. I tried to tune it out.
The one night we spent in Jordan was in a “Bedouin camp” (Beit Ali Lodge) which was a nice surprise in the middle the desert. It was like a Hyatt with tents. I met the British woman who owned it – she told me it how difficult it was to operate – it’s not easy to operate a luxury tent resort in the middle of the desert.
The next day, we explored Wadi Rum (Valley of the Moon) which was an epic off the charts visual wonderland. It blew my mind.
I loved Wadi Rum and wished I had more time to explore, it’s still rustic and undeveloped.
Like the Grand Canyon, Wadi Rum is one of of the visual wonders of the world – it’s where they filmed Lawrence of Arabia and several Star Wars movies, among others. I thoroughly enjoyed that place.
Before we left, our tour guide hooked us up with a yacht cruise in the Red Sea for a couple hours, which was fine, but it was windy and the currents were pretty strong, swimming wasn’t enjoyable and the water was a bit cold, too.
The city of Aqaba (Akkaba) is apparently Jordan’s answer to Israel’s Eliat, lots of modern development, but it still has a ways to go – much of it looked empty, like they’re waiting for people to move there or something.
Before I returned to Tel Aviv to depart, I spent my last two nights in the Israeli beach city of Eliat on the Red Sea.