Back into time in Petra, Wadi Rum, Amman and Jerash
18.09.2010 - 21.09.2010 34 °C
18th of september until the 21st of september.
So, now i am waiting in Amman Airport for the flight to Sharjah. Sharjah is about 10 kilometres from Dubai. Back in time, to see what happened all between the busride to Amman and now
After arrival in the Amman busstop, i just joined some backpackers. The best is always to stay with a group. Especially when one of them has information or a lonely planet. And so we walked in a line of 6 persons to the busstop. For just a few cents we were dropped of at a station, close to the city centre and our intended hotel. Some people had a lonely planet and we headed to hotel Farah.
It took a short while and with some help, we found it. For 5 Dinar a night (about 5,50 euro) i booked a 6 dorm, including breakfast.
After, i was just working a bit to catch up with some stuff i needed to do for my websites. After about 2 hours, i was getting too tired and actually i forgot what i was doing by then. I really felt the exhaustion starting to catch up with me.
19th of september.
Today i was very eager to go to Jerash. Since now, i booked another flight and had to cancel my egyptair flight, i have more time to explore Jordan. Jerash is a city that has been build by the Romans. Despite the fact that it does not have a strategical position along a trade road, river or sea, it managed to become quite big. It became the administrative centre of the surrounding area. This area was called (if i am correct), Philadelphia. The soil was, and is, very rich on minerals. Therefore a whole array of artwork arrived. Simply, because there was an overload of food. People could start thinking of other things.
I was very enthousiastic to go to this special place.
I asked the guy who worked at the hotel (hostel?), and he explained me all. I have to say that everyone is really friendly here.
I went to the main road and with some help of people around, i found a bus going to a big station. Untill now i am unsure of the name. I keep on mixing the names. And the fact that all is written in Arabic, does not help me too much.
Anyway, from there, very quick, i could take a shared taxi to another station. From there the bus should go to Jerash..
should indeed, because what happend was crazy and time wasting. A lot of Jordanians speak English, and some even on a very good level. So in general, it is very easy to travel around.
That said, let's get back to the busstation
So, one guy was making promotion 'Jerash, Jerash, Jerash'. So, i was certain this was the correct bus. I asked when he would leave. He didnt speak english. But after a while i could understand it would be in 5 minutes. Remembering the 5 egyptian minutes, i expected to leave in about 30 minutes to one hour. So, i waited..and waited...and waited. After 40 minutes i asked again: 5 minutes. Oke, i wanted to give it some more change, because i really wanted to see Jerash. In the meantime i was playing a game on my mobile. A boring game. But well, what can you do when you are waiting?
Anyway, after 1 hour and 15 minutes i asked for the last time. 5 minutes was the answer again. I gave it another 15 minutes, and yes, the bus was almost full, and i know they leave usually when the bus is full/ nearly full. But i was getting too annoyed. I left, didn't ask my money (1 Dinar: 1,08 euro) back and took, quickly, a shared taxi back to the centre. So far, total loss of time, nearly 3 hours. Crazy.
I went to the hostel (hotel?)..funny, because they call it hotel, but have dorms of 6. And i asked for directions to go to the roman Theatre, and the museum with old clothing. Of the prince, princes, kings and more. I got the directions, and quite easily, walked to the place. I have to say, i was amazed. This theatre, build on a rock wall, could take about 15000 people. Yes, it was packed. But, imagine about 2000 years ago. A show being played, outdoor, beautifull view. What else you want? Statues at the entrance. Wow! It is not a very big monument. But i just sat down and enjoyed the view, imagining what happend there so long ago. And was thinking of my sweet girl She should be here with me.
I actually forgot what i was doing that evening. I know i went to restaurant Cairo. A very good and cheap restaurant. For 3 dinar, you will have a great meal.
The 20th of september:
Dead sea time. What? Yes, dead sea time. So, this morning i was doubting of whether to give Jearash a second try, or to go to the dead sea. But going to the dead sea by myself would be a bit difficult. In the morning i talked to some people and they turned out also to go to the dead sea. So we went together. First a taxi. The drived told he knew the way to the busstation. But it turned out he didnt. Thus, we lost about 1 hour. After, we went with a bus to the correct station. From there, we used a shared taxi to arrive at a place close to the dead sea. From there, we took a taxi to the dead sea. Entrance fee is either 10 JD or 15 JD, depending whether you want to use the simple or premium beach. Well, the 10JD beach is already expensive, (11 euro) and i can tell you better not to use the toilets here.
The dead sea itself was amazing! You can actually float on the water. And yes, really float. It is so enourmous salty, that the pressure is a lot. And i met an Iraqi and two Jordanians. They told me that the sea level is only decreasing. The sun melts the water away. So in 20 to 50 years, it will be gone. Probably the Jordanian government will open a waterway from Aqaba, to fill the dead sea. They also told me that if you would go to far in the lake, that the Israeli's will shoot you. Yes, there is still a lot of animosity.
After floating around, and taking 3 mud baths, it was time to get back. This was all very easy. In the evening i bought a beautifull present for my girlfriend. And actually i am also carrying something else. But since it is 2 kilo's, i am thinking of using a bit myself. At the checkin at Amman to Sharjah, the backpack weighted 17,7 kilo. And those 2 kilo's make the difference between a nicely wearable back, and a heavy back. So..now in Dubai, i will use part of that 2 kilo of amazing stuff. Later more info
The 21st of september:
Last day in Jordan. In a way i am very happy that i decided to take some extra days in Jordan. It gave me the time to explore more of this beautifull country and see the hospitality of the people of Jordan.
Today i took a second try of getting to Jerash. In a way it really attracts me. I have seen several pictures of Jerash and it is called the second main archeological site of Jordan, after Petra. Today the gods smiled upon me, because very quick i got a ride to the busstation and from there, a ride to Jerash. Since i didnt have money, i needed to go to an ATM. My idea was to not have too much money left when i leave the country. A very helpfull passenger, showed me first a bit around the city and then the direction to the bank. He even invited me to his house. I refused. Mainly because i was on limited time. But the offer was really nice. The people are so different from the Egyptians, although they are neighbours. Jordanians are, as Egyptians, very proud. But their hospitality is far more real then Egyptian. (Remember that we have to make a distinction between Egyptian salesmen and common people: the common people of Egypt are very very nice too). But yes, taken on average, Jordanians will help you without asking for bak'sheesh, tip. They will start a conversation for the conversation, or just because they are interested. Not for money. Even salesmen.
So, after getting my money, i went back out of the new Jerash city and walked to the ancient Jerash. But not after i took 2 very delicious nectarines . Walking back took about 20 minutes. Already the contoures of the ancient city were unfolding. It's just amazing! Upon arrival, first i had to walk trough a 'soukh'. Well, touristic soukh, nothing traditional. As in Egypt, Jordan has found the benefit of marketing and thus, before you can enter or exit a site, you have to find your way trough a bunch of salesmen. But here, they just asked once, maybe twice, but always respect it when you say 'no'. And even help you finding the ticket office.
So there it was; Jerash. After 8 JD entrance fee (8,80 euro), i was inside. And yes, it is magnicicant. This is next to Rome, the best preserved Roman city i have ever seen. When you wander around, the incredible entrance bow is almost totally intact. Then, on the left, Circus Maximus. Circus Maxiumus, where the horseraces were held. Or, chariot races. Can you imagine? 5 or more chariot riders with horses, racing for fame! Incredible. Half of the stadium is still intact. Unfortunately, after an eathquake in the 20th century, part of this magnicicant city, was damaged severely. I took my time to make pictures and a movie. Imagine the atmosphere thousands of years ago! 2 times a week, there is a show with chariot racers. Unfortunately, it was not this day.
But the walk continued. Up, up to an incredible square. The centre of the city. This is were everything happened. Trade with people from all surrounding areas. Jerash was on an important crossroad between asia, the arab world and europe. Nevertheless, once the Roman empire was split in two parts, trade started to decline. But because of the abundand food resources, created with the help of the vertile, vulcanic soil, Jerash managed to be an important city in the region.
Here, on this square, there is a large circle of pillars. All decorated with the most beautifull sculptures. This all can be seen best when you walk up. Higher, to the temple of Heracles, or in Roman, Hercules. Hercules, indeed, the half god, half human.
From here, you can see the circle of pillars, and, in the centre, a big pillar. Then, after the circle, there is a pathway, still paved by the original stones. This pathway too is surrounded by huge pillars. You really start to feel humble when you see all these magnicicant buildings from ages ago.
Going up, you will arrive to a sort of colleseum. I imagine that Gladiators have fought here. ( i am not sure about this). Based on the style; a cirlce, with a lot of seats around, for me, this is a likely thought. Beautifull!
Then, walking back down, trought the centre, over the lane, surrounded by pillars, the temple or Artemis (Greek), or Diana (Roman) unfolds itself. Artemis, the Goddes of the nature. This, luckily i remember from my secondary school Latin classes.
A true Roman city lies before you. Truly incredible. The houses are still visible. The pillars, the sacred places. The Circus Maximus and the Colloseum. Incredible. I am glad i went to see Jerash.
Walking back, i had a look in the small museum. Not too much to see, but there are ancient coins and potteries. It is very interesting (for me) to see what they showed on the coins. In fact, Jerash was declared partly indepenant from Rome. Therefore, they were allowed to have their own coins. All of them show 'libertad'. Freedom. Nevertheless, they were under the scepter of Rome.
Going back to Amman turned out to be easy too. I found a shared taxi, almost full. 20 minutes later we left. Once in Amman, i shared a taxi with a few Americans and we went to the centre. From there, we all went our own way.
In the evening i had a nice chat with a guy from Bangkok. His nickname: Pong. His real name: Pongtharan. He explained me a lot about Thailand and gave me some good advices. He is back in Bangkok the 8th of october. So i might meet up with him. He lives in Canada. But he goes back until next year march. He has no real plans. Just relaxing.
In the evening, i took a bus to Tabarboor bus station.From here, the busses go to the airport. I had 3 hours till final checkin. The duration of the bus trip is about 1 hour. So plenty of time..you think.
Someone helped me finding the right bus to get to Tabarboor. Normally i would take a shared taxi, but because it was evening, they didn't go anymore. I asked, and yes, the bus went to Tabarboor. But not after a 20 minutes wait. Ok, there we went. After 10 minutes, i got a bit anxious, because we went in a different direction, into a neighbourhood. And later, back to the main road, to another neighbourhood. I asked again: yes, to Tabarboor. Ok. Later, again: yes, to Tabarboor.
Well, after about 40 minutes, i was doubting too much. And i asked to be sure. No, not Tabarboor.
I mean, fuck, be honest from the start. Now i lost 1 fucking hour listening to 'yes Tabarboor', and in the end, it doesnt go to Tabarboor. Once the bus went to the mainroad, i took a taxi. And although i was still safely in time on the airport, it costed me 22 euro (22 JD). Waste of money and time.
The taxi is a story apart. The guy seemed very friendly, and i was eager to learn about his past, the Jordanians and more. We had a nice conversation. Talked about the King of Jordan and the Queen of Holland. And then he started talking about his two wives and i explained that there is a cultural difference between the Western countries and the Arab countries on this. He couldn't really understand and agree. I let him talk. After all, i needed him to get to the airport. Then he started talking about his 4 children. And that his wive does not work (actually he was surprised to hear that my mother works. In Arab countries this is uncommon). Well, i have one brother. He thought 'just one?'.Well all kinds of cultural differences. But interesting ones. But then he started explaining why muslims should have a lot of children. To make war against Israel. Agains the Jewish..bla bla. Ok, at this point i didn't discuss with him anymore. I needed him to get to the airpot, and that's it. So it mainly became a one sided conversation of him explaining why it is good to have a lot of children and why Israel should be destroyed. And when we got out, i gave him the money and just a few coins as tip. Is that all? Yes, it's all. But i have 2 wives and 4 children. I didn't respond, but in my mind is was like; Fuck it, first you talk full of proud of your two wives and four kids and that you can only have more wives (maximum 4) if you can give them a decent living. Then you tell me that you have 4 children to have war with Israel and after, you make all those expensive 'hobbies', my problem. Ciau man.
If he wouldn't have talked about Israel and didn't responds in this way, he could have had a bigger tip. After all, i had more money i wouldn't use anymore, because i was leaving the country. But..well..
So on the airport. The checkin. My bag had to be checked, because there was a knife in it. Yes, in the luggage that goes in the plane. Not the handluggage. But the guy was very polite and said sorry. So all was fine.
But also, i had the 2 kg special package. That was the mud from the dead sea. My bag was super heavy. 17,7 kilo. I was thinking of throwing away the mud. I know, mud from the dead sea is priceless in Europe. Call it Cleopatra, or Forever Young, a nice flacon, and it is very expensive.