Jordan, possibly the most breathtaking country I have travelled to, is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the east and south; Iraq to the north-east; Syria to the north; Israel, Palestine and the Dead Sea to the west; and the Red Sea in its extreme south-west.
I know what you’re thinking. CODE RED, CODE RED.
WAR ALERT. BOMBS ALERT.
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But no, I have been there, I have walked on its historic soil and have inhaled the old and kebab smelling air. Although it may be surrounded by war-ridden countries, you’d be surprised to know that it hasn’t been involved in a war for over a hundred years! Never have I met such peaceful people, so full of joy and hospitality, just waiting to serve and help. It was an 8-day trip and I visited several different places, however, I will be mentioning two of the places, the ones which took my breath away.
THE DEAD SEA
The dead sea is a salt lake and is said to be the lowest point on earth. It is called ‘dead’ because of its lack of ability to host any flora or fauna. As we descended towards the dead sea in our mini van, I could feel the pressure in my ears and had to keep blowing it out. It wasn’t painful or anything, just a tad bit uncomfortable.
Once we reached our resort and stepped out, the sultry air made it quite apparent to us where we were. The dead sea, one of the saltiest lakes on earth. We made our way to the shore (quite naturally in bare feet) and began to hop like live prawns in a pot. Sharp salt crystals and rocks everywhere! We decided to keep going, hoping we’ll find some soft land. We painfully made our way into the water, waiting for it to reach our knees, and then fell backwards. Pop! We were floating on the water, possibly 70% of our bodies over the water level.
Our tour guide had instructed us earlier never to lay on our stomachs lest you may face the dangers of the salty water getting in your eyes or nose. We lay in the water for a while, the heavy air setting the scene for us, and then decided to bake.
Baking is the process of plastering your body in the soft dead sea clay and baking it in the sun. Sounds funny, but definitely worth it!
After collecting some salt crystals to show friends back home, we made our way back to our rooms to digest the wonders we had experienced throughout the day.
It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a Newdigate Prize-winning poem by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. The city is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the colour of the stone out of which it is carved.
Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Arab Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction. The Nabateans were nomadic Arabs who benefited from the proximity of Petra to the regional trade routes, in becoming a major trading hub, thus enabling them to gather wealth. The Nabateans are also known for their great ability in constructing efficient water collecting methods in the barren deserts and their talent in carving structures into solid rocks.
To enter the City of Petra, you must walk through a Siq, a long passageway bordered by huge rocks. It amazes you that these Nabateans were able to create such a long passageway in rocks. The walls are lined with a water system that carries the water from the lakes nearby along the walls, into the city.
When you enter, you are met with a throng of all sorts of tourists, Bedouins, camels, donkeys, and horses. Yes, that’s right! Donkeys too! The area is vast and tiresome to cover all in one day so you have the option to sit on the animals or walk around.
We chose to walk on our way in and around and then use donkeys a quarter way out.
The entire place is a haven of tombs. The Nabateans are buried in little areas caved in the rocks. Due to past earthquakes, their homes were all destroyed, leaving tombs, tombs and only tombs!
Having said this, I would like to add that I have been to many historical places, but no place has given me the heebie-jeebies the way Petra did.
Jordan was by far the most educational, historic and beautiful trips I have ever taken and I would definitely recommend it if you are a history buff or want to simply achieve the health benefits of the Dead Sea!
If you have ever been to Jordan road trip, do share your experience with us in the comment section below!