Monday, December 17, 2012

Jordan, Part 2

Ok! Now back to Jordan.  I had left you guys with a little walk around Amman, the Roman Coliseum and Rainbow street.  We move on to the next few days.

One of the new world wonders, Petra is a city carved in this pink limestone, something like 4000 years ago.  Again, not good at history, don't quote me on that.  Anyway it is also famous for a facade filmed in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade or whichever one involved the Holy Grail. It is also enormous and takes like 2-3 days to really explore most of it. Of course I was dumb enough to do a day trip.  I wish I had more time!

The bus ride to Petra is in a minivan.  I call the colectivos because I've taken these all over Latin America, Africa and Asia, and that's the Spanish word for it, but basically it's a minvan of people, you pay like a dollar and they pick people up and drop them off where they need to go, like a collective taxi.  Taline told me an interesting unspoken rule in Jordan, which is if you're in one of these buses/vans, females and males don't sit next to each other.  So if you go sit in a row by yourself, a guy will NOT come sit next to you.  And here I thought I was just weirding people out.
The ticket to Petra is obscenely expensive.  I is 50 JOD which is something close to $75 USD.  It includes entry to the entire area as well as a horseback ride, which of course people will try to finagle a tip out of you after they walk you down a hill.  But I decided what the heck and was sitting on a horse talking to the dude walking it, when I realize my camera, which I had left charging all night, IS NOT WORKING.  MY CAMERA IS BROKEN AT ONE OF THE WORLD WONDERS.  I freak out.  It really didn't work!  I resorted to using my cell phone as a camera for the rest of the day, which is better than nothing, but I'm still kind of mad about it, especially as I managed to fix it after I got back.

I chose to bring my trusty Vibram Fivefingers, which got a lot of stares from the tourists and the locals.  You walk through this canyon type thing which is quite impressive on its own.  You can see the horse carriages tearing through. It kind of looked like a scene from Star Wars.
 So you're walking through...

 And you get to the front entrance, which I completely forgot what it used to be, but this is the famous facade in Indiana Jones!
 So then I took a very long hot hike and got very dusty, but saw many different places, all of which are in my brochure which I am too lazy to take a picture of to demonstrate.

So that was awesome!  I made it home that evening, tired and then we ate a lot of mezze. lol.

Jerash and Asloun:

 The next day I took a bus about an hour and a half up from Amman.  These two cities are about half an hours drive from each other and since I overslept, I first went to Asloun, which has a famous church.  I had a little issue flagging down a taxi but after that, was all good.  My camera worked this time so here goes:

At this point I looked around and wanted to take a bus over to Jerash, but was short on time.  So I asked some nice people at the tourist ticket place if they could get me a cab.  We fixed a price and this dude that doesn't speak a word of English came and picked me up.  We spent a good 45 minutes in the cab first blocking traffic to get two cups of Arabic coffee and then started driving, where I think I learned a few Arabic words but forgot about 10 minutes later.

Jerash is also a giant ancient city but appears to be Roman built.  It was huge.  I got bothered by an unofficial tour guide but he was pretty nice so I humored him and gave him a buck after he was done walking me around the place.  We had a nice conversation about jobs, he says he was a graphic designer but wants to move to Dubai or something.  He also told me that in Jordan you can't have more than one job.  Then he invited me to come to his house and drink coffee with him and meet his mother.  Not sure how real his story checked out to be but I wasn't about to go to his house and meet his mom, so I politely declined and left.

So now it's getting late and I can't get a bus back.  There are a bunch of taxi drivers hanging out having tea at a cafe, so I walk over there and bargain a ride with a dude that says hes driving another guy back to Amman.  The guy he's driving is Asian but is chainsmoking a bunch of cigarettes and is unresponsive.  So I just hang out and have a cup of tea until they are ready to leave.

Once we're in the car, I start talking to the driver, who's name is Yousef.  He's pretty nice and I tell him I'm from the US but my family is Taiwanese (EVERYONE asks me this, they ask, "where are you from?" and I say "the US" and then they ask, "no, where are you really from?" I'm American people!  AMERICAN! anyway it's ok.  The Asian non-responsive guy suddenly perks up.  It turns out he is a Taiwanese dude that works in petrochemicals and has been working out in Saudi Arabia for the past 4 years.  I told him I've met lots of Chinese people traveling, but never another Taiwanese person before. He suddenly gives me a copy of his passport with all his contact info and says I have proof! I should find that paper and take a picture of it.  No, that's a bad idea, I don't want his details all over the internet.  We had a nice conversation on the way back about Taiwan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and some questioning about why I'm not married yet, even though the dude is 38 and only got married last year.  People are funny.

I'm going to put Part 3 later, which is... the Wadi Rum desert with the Bedouins, the Dead Sea, and Ma'in hot springs!

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