Having been back from Jordan, I am surprised that I have never been to this stunning country in spite of living here, in the Middle East, for a major portion of my life . What made the whole experience more enjoyable, was definitely the company of fellow minded individuals that I got to meet and travel with. Our insanely knowledgeable guide Waleed, made sure that we came across some happy surprises along the way.
Every nook and corner of Jordan has a history and culture so rich, that the more you explore, the more fleeting the time you spent there will feel.
Here are the surprises that Jordan threw my way on my trip:
1. The Dead Sea
Floating on the Dead Sea has always been a dream for me. Especially for someone like me, who can hardly float in a shallow pool, the experience was simply exhilarating. All I had to do was lift my feet off, and the saline water did the rest. I, also, absolutely hate getting tanned. So when I learnt that this area happens to have the most weakened ultraviolet rays in the world, I enjoyed the waters and the mud nearby fully while watching the sky change colors at dusk. Yes, my mouth and eyes did sting quite a bit for the next couple of days, but I convinced myself that it was the healing waters at work! A sincere thanks to my new friend, Ajay for capturing this amazing experience.
2. The Friendly People
Whether it was the bus driver, our guide, or simply any stranger on the road, I was blown away by the warm behaviour of the Jordanians. They were genuinely friendly and willing to help all the time.
Discussing religion is considered rude in Jordan. As Waleed mentioned, ‘Everyone treats everyone as a human’ and in my opinion, this holds true more in Jordan than anywhere else. We met a lot of Bedouins and locals and almost all of them opened up and spoke to us with warmth in a short span of time.
People associate Jordan with Petra and so did I. But, no amount of online research can actually prepare you for that feeling when you peek at this Rose city through the Siq and walk inside.
‘The Siq’ is the main entrance for people to this ancient city carved entirely out of the rocks and mountains thousands of years ago. What surprised me was the fact that this marvelous city was completely hidden from the Western world till the early 19th century! Like others before me, I could not resist the chance to photograph Petra’s most elaborate facade of ‘The Treasury’ through the Siq.
As we walked through the paths and into the city, the sheer magnificence of the place, that makes us look too tiny, took my breath away.
One day, I will probably come back to see this beautiful city by night time. If Google Images are to be trusted, that will be a trip of a lifetime!
4.Yes, It Is Safe
I was obviously skeptical about this place before my travel. The media do not make it any easier either for people to take a decision and hence I had a pleasant surprise when I learnt about the country’s hospitality.
The crime rate in this country is only a 72 out of 10000 and coming from a country like India where rapes and murders are often not reported, I had no right to complain. Even as I walked through the Rainbow Street in Amman on the European inspired paved street and as I walked into a shop to buy souvenirs, I felt warm and good.
Everywhere I went, I heard happy stories from the people about the benevolent King and Queen of Jordan who has done plenty for their people.
This place is indeed a heaven for non-vegetarians though vegetarian food can be found everywhere. Their traditional food ‘Mansaf’ is rice served with lamb cooked in yogurt. During all our lunches and dinners, we hardly ever got past the appetizers which is essentially heavy salads and kebab served with Pita bread.
I learnt that the dinners in Jordan are more of a social affair than a meal. People sit around for hours talking and nibbling their food as more and more culinary delights flow in. We got a chance to cook Jordanian food in a place called ‘Petra Kitchen‘ and not only did we learn to cook and serve it, we ended up getting the recipes for each of their dishes to take back home with us! The chief chef Tariq, who got me confused with an Indian actress, was just another mood lifter for me:)
6. Wadi Rum
The ‘Moon – Valley’ as lovingly called by the local people looks literally from out of this world. The strange rocks and the patterns on the caves have proved to be an excellent location for many movies like ‘The Transformers’ and ‘The Martians’ to depict out of Earth life. As rightly observed by my lovely friend and talented photographer, Bhaven Jain, ‘On a fine day, if you walk through Wadi Rum with no one else around you, there is no difference of being in 700 B.C or 2015 A.D’ and I confirmed that as we were riding our silent camels through this desert.
The nomadic lifestyle of the people and tents made out of goat hair was all very new to me.
7. Historical Heritage
Our first day in Amman was dedicated to the history of Jordan. We started off at the Citadel which has a rich heritage associated with it. It has a long history of occupation right from the rock ages to the very recent Greeko- Roman empire.
We also stopped at the Roman Theater in the city center of Amman from where you will get a beautiful view of the old and the new Amman city.
Jerash was our next stop. This is an ancient town of the Roman era which was destroyed in an earthquake in the early A.Ds and was later restored back to what it is today. Most of the ruins are well-kept and with a good guide, you will understand the history of Jordan very well.
Most of the stories in the Old and New Testament Bible has also played out in Jordan. Including Moses’s grave and Jesus’s Baptism site, this country is a religious pilgrimage for many people who believe in their faith.
Whatever maybe your reasons to visit this country, you are going to thoroughly enjoy it and learn even more! Tune in for more travel details about Jordan and the culture we experienced there.