My Trip to Jordan
I went to Jordan for a week. This is a country
in the middle-east, surrounded by countries that you probably know the names of, and that
you likely wouldn’t want to visit quite so much.
Jordan itself though is a brilliant country. Through good leadership it has managed to
avoid conflict and is regarded as a very safe place to travel to. It relies quite heavily
on tourism so I think it’s in the country’s best interest to keep it that way.
I always worry before I visit a place. What if I do something wrong and offend everyone?
But I needn’t have feared- Jordan is the friendliest place I have ever visited and
at no point did I feel at all threatened by anybody. There are some places I’ve been
where I feel like everybody wants my money. But not here. You’re expected to haggle,
otherwise you will be ripped off with stuff like taxi prices. They’ll say 5 Jordanian
dollars. You say 2! They look all offended… but then eventually are like ‘okay’. Being
me I felt rude, especially since I have the money to pay full price. But at the same time,
I don’t want to be a ripped off tourist who will end up raising the prices for everybody
else. ‘Supermarkets’ are actually really small things with a selection of crisps and
chocolate. They don’t have prices listed- you find out what things cost at the till!
Sometimes we felt the prices were unreasonable, and ended up haggling the prices down! It
felt weird. But who wants to spend $1.50 on water when elsewhere it can be had for 50
cents. Some parts of the country are very touristy-
like Petra- but others, not so much, and when in local places we’d get a lot of looks
from people who were just curious. Especially when visiting restaurants, children in particular
would stare, only to look away nervously whenever we returned the favour!
Jordan’s capital city, Amman, is a confusing place. For a start, my phone’s GPS location
is all but broken. Second, many of the roads are a bit curved so you end up heading in
the wrong direction. Third, most place names are in Arabic squiggles so it’s difficult
to find shop names to figure out where you are. And fourth, it appears there’s a fine
line between what’s deemed worthy of a street on google maps, and what doesn’t get included.
So you may think you’re looking for the fourth left, but in actual fact it’s the
9th and ¾. But you know what? I’d rather be lost in
Amman than I would in New York. EVERYONE we met was friendly. If you ask a question, they
will go out of their way to help you, even if they know very limited English. When lost
in the market district, one shop owner even shared with us his mobile hotspot. People
say hi, some strike up conversation I think just to practice their English. And I can
say that while the bustle of the capital was overwhelming on the first night, by the end
of our trip we felt right at home. It’s a Muslim country. I haven’t been
to many before and it has a different feel to it! There are Mosques everywhere and they’re
kitted out with loudspeakers which will kick into action regularly, day and night. It’s
not pre-recorded either, you can hear them pick up the microphone, clear their throat
and then begin their chanting. Although I don’t have a clue what was being said, I
grew quite fond of it and it made me feel I was somewhere different to home!
It’s a man’s world in Jordan. I travelled with my girlfriend, I was expected to go everywhere
first. I was handed things first. To visit a mosque, a woman would have to cover herself
while I wouldn’t have to. Whenever we used a taxi, my girlfriend would have to sit in
the back. I got a certain satisfaction from this, but I don’t think she was so keen-
and honestly since she was the one who organised everything and knew what we were doing or
where we wanted to go, it wasn’t always very convenient!
We had an interesting discussion with one taxi driver about women’s rights. He considered
them to have equal rights, the only issue being that a woman shouldn’t speak with
a man other than her husband in certain situations. So although a woman is allowed to drive, she
shouldn’t do it alone just in case she breaks down and needs a man’s assistance to get
on her way again. You decide what you think about that!
Women are covered. I would say I only saw about a dozen women in full Niqāb clothing,
but almost everyone wore a Hijab. Out of respect we wore long clothing at all times. And it’s
funny- by the end, if I spotted a tourist in short shorts and revealing top I got kind
of offended by it. They stand out like a sore thumb. I was quite fond of wearing all-white.
I thought it made me look a bit like Lawrence of Arabia, but it might have just made me
look like the biggest tourist ever. It is a place with mosquitoes. I required
a few injections a month before travelling and ended up walking about with sore arms
for a few days. Once in Jordan, we cautiously plastered ourselves in deet the first day
and used netting over our beds for the first night… but after that, got a feel for the
place and didn’t bother. We only got a couple of bites throughout the trip and it wasn’t
bad at all, even in Aqaba (The clubbing town of Jordan) which is apparently the worst place
for mosquitoes. You will need sunglasses. I have never been
anywhere so bright in all my life! I am not a shade wearer, but everything there’s so
shiny and chrome, you either wear them, or are reduced to continually squinting and hating
life. Bring glasses. It’s best to avoid salads and to stick to
bottled water in a place like Jordan. I’ll admit, a few times I did accidentally have
salady things then worried that I’d go down with food poisoning, but I managed to remain
healthy! The bottled water was more of a problem though. I’m a real cheap-skate. Some places
charge 2 dollars for a bottle of water! Knowing that 1.5 litres can be had for 50 cents, I’d
stock up whenever I could, even if it meant stubbornly lugging 6 litres of water about
with me around Petra all day. For the first half of the holiday, I really didn’t drink
enough. I’d rarely pee, would forever be rationing it out and would spend the night
with a dry mouth and headache. By the end I was a changed man, remaining hydrated and
drinking water even when I didn’t feel thirsty. I suggest you do the same while you’re out
there. It’s really not worth being frugal when it comes to something like water in a
hot country. When I went in early October the temperature
was somewhere between 25 and 35 degrees each day, depending on where we were. I noticed
this country doesn’t use much air conditioning. Maybe because they’re used to hotter than
that in the Summer. But even though our rooms generally came with air conditioning, we ended
up not using them. Simply sleep naked without covers on and it’s fine. Just the way I
like it any way. It had barely rained for 7 months when we got there, but sure enough
the last day we got caught in a storm. The hotels we stayed in were about 20 dollars
a night. We chose central locations since we did want to walk to most places- but taxis
are everywhere if you’d rather- again I’m talking about central Amman. I will warn you
that they don’t care about pavements out there. They’ll park on them, will place
stuff on them, dump grit on them… it’s a nightmare to trundle bags over them! It
really makes me appreciate the pavements we have in England.
Also, it’s rather loud out there. People beep their horns seemingly for no reason.
Car horns are loud. Vans are louder, and trucks are the worst. I felt there was some kind
of conspiracy where they’d wait until alongside you before BLASTING THEIR HORN. I’m pretty
sure I’ve sustained some hearing loss from the continual barrage my poor eardrums received
out there! Of course, some of these horns are from taxi drivers looking for business.
Even at 6 in the morning you’ll have no trouble flagging down a taxi if you really
would like to get somewhere. Some of them can be pushy! Especially at bus stations,
they’ll chase you for several streets and won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It can
be over-bearing, to the point where we instead chose to walk for 40 minutes out of spite.
I was the one carrying the bags. So what is there to do in Jordan? There are
many ruins and landmarks that we went to, but honestly, Petra spoiled us by being the
best by far. For logistical reasons we did Petra early on, but it did mean that we took
the castles and ruins we saw afterwards for granted somewhat. The other highlight was
the Wadi Rum desert. Both of these things I would like to make separate videos about
since there’s a lot to say about both! The third thing I’d suggest doing is the
Dead Sea. That’s the floaty one. It’s actually a large lake that’s been dried
so much it’s now about 400 metres below sea-level. It’s the lowest point on Earth!
Being so low down, this was the hottest bit of Jordan by far and even I- someone who HATES
water- was happy to go for a swim! At the time I didn’t even think about the
water’s temperature- but it was WARM! I wouldn’t even say luke-warm. It was proper
bath temperature in the dead sea. Far hotter than the resort’s swimming pools were. It
was brilliant! Even better than I expected! It doesn’t feel any different as you’re
getting into it, but once you start floating you feel like you’ve suddenly gotten very
good at swimming. It’s a bit of a shock to return to normal bodies of water.
Now, there’s something wrong with me. While everybody else is blissfully floating around,
I sink like a stone in normal water. Annoyingly, people say that I’m not relaxing or whatever,
but as soon as I relax I’m off at high speed to meet Davey Jones! Maybe I’m just doing
something really really really wrong, but so far the only way I have found to stay afloat
is to hold my breath while kicking all my limbs like crazy! It’s very tiring for me.
I can’t even tread water without shooting very quickly down the Z axis.
But even I float in the dead sea. It’s a lovely feeling! I did a little compilation
of different moves that I don’t think are possible anywhere else in the world. You can
have all 4 limbs AND your head out of water at the same time. Being a sinky stone kind
of guy, at points I’d look down and imagine what would happen if it suddenly changed back
to normal water again …but luckily for me, it didn’t. The Dead Sea gets 2 thumbs up
from me! Which is possible even while swimming in it.
Just don’t get it in your eyes. There’s so much salt in the dead sea that it will
sting like hell if it gets into a cut. Even your mouth isn’t recommended. It’s even
a bit uncomfortable down the end of your DICK. Apparently, you shouldn’t spend more than
20 minutes in the water or else… osmosis or something. I think we were down and around
the water for about an hour. Time really flew and I was sorry to say goodbye. The sun was
really fierce and I didn’t want to get sunburnt, but then I guess being 400 metres below sea
level, you’re actually better protected there than you are normally!
I don’t think you can just go down to the dead sea. Apparently, some bits aren’t safe
or clean, so instead you go to a resort. Even if this wasn’t the case, I suggest you do
because you’ll really want a shower afterwards. Rub your fingers while they’re wet and it
almost feels like they’re greasy. Even after several showers and a swim in a normal pool,
my skin still felt weird. I don’t think the dead sea can be good for you. It is called
the dead sea, after all. It’s surreal to see salt crystals coating
the rocks. I was careful when entering and leaving the pool since I knew that cutting
myself would hurt like crazy. But for some reason a lot of the rocks were unaffected
and were smooth to step on. Just be careful of your electronics. Salt
isn’t good for them! I unfortunately forgot about this and asked some people if they could
take pictures of us while we were in the water. Since they had just gotten out, their salt-laden
fingers went all over my camera! I can now hear the salt grinding away whenever I manually
focus it. So that was another highlight of Jordan. My
last one was somewhat unexpected. We were visiting ruins and castles- which as I’ve
already said is a bit boring if you’ve already been to Petra. We were at a place where they
used to weave baskets hundreds of years ago or something. I almost got into trouble here
because, while I was waiting for my girlfriend to come out of the toilets, I absent-mindedly
started looking at the pictures I had taken on my camera through its viewfinder, only
to notice a man next to me giving me nasty looks. I quickly realised it looked like I
was taking pictures straight into the women’s toilets. Embarrassed, I got away from there
and came across this view. That there is Israel. And there… is Syria!
I guess I hadn’t really thought about it until then, but it was a bit strange just
to be able to look across at a country in the midst of civil war. It’s not like there
were aircraft roaring overhead, or huge checkpoints and barriers to separate the countries. Syria
was just chilling there, the next hill along. It looked the same as where I was stood. I
think in that moment, I learned a lot. Before I had come to Jordan, I thought it might have
been dangerous. And now here I was, looking right across at Israel and Syria, thinking
that they looked peaceful and inviting! Of course, you can also see Israel across
the dead sea. And we were just miles from Egypt when in Aqaba, and close to Saudi Arabia
when in the desert. I’ve come a long way. I remember when I first saw Scotland and thought
I was being adventurous! Yet here I am, a few months later.
And that’s a Philip guide to Jordan. Like most places I visit, I didn’t know much
about it before I went. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as when I saw Yosemite
or the Grand Canyon. But you know what? This was better. It might even have been my favourite
holiday ever, even if I spent most of it exhausted, thirsty and sleep-deprived. It’s bitter-sweet
that it’s yet another part of the world that will never be a mystery to me again.