Published: September 10th 2004September 10th 2004
The Treasury, Petra
This is the postcard shot.
Wadi Rum, Jordan. Famous for the Arab Revolt, Lawrence of Arabia and all things Bedouin. As we walked though the wilderness, there was a perfect silence, a sense of timelessness until my mobile went off with a text from JordTelecom inviting me to phone friends and family back home for special rates in the evening. As we arrived back in the small village, there was a large gathering of arab guys shouting and waving their hands in the air. According to one of the "Bedu" a non local entrepreneur was trying to divert the tourists to his new visitors centre and screw the Bedouin out of a living, so they were there to make a demonstration. So much for avoiding "political gatherings".
Petra: ancient city, built by the Nabataeans (who?), carved out of a narrow rock gorge created by an earthquake or two. Not quite as famous as, say, the pyramids, but everyone will have seen this place in the very last scene of the final Indiana Jones film. I have wanted to visit Petra for years, it is bloody amazing and there is nowhere quite like it in the world. The adjoining town, Wadi Musa is a shadow of
Okay it is yet another sodding theatre, but this one is carved entirely out of rock, which must have taken sheer bloody mindedness.
its former tourist-packed self, due to the fear of terrorism (thanks George, Tony, Ariel, Osama). This means that there are more shysters and "horse pimps" per tourist, which made staying there a real pain in the arse: every five minutes I found myself either telling my life story to a local who was trying to sell me something, detailing my next travel plans and no I do not want to get a taxi to Amman tommorow or just vigourous shaking of hands with absolutely everyone present and being told how welcome I am.
Amman is very much a modern city but in ancient times it used to be called Philadelphia, which is a far cooler name. It has a Roman theatre (I have seen 4 amphitheatres this week, so no big thing).
Someone I used to work with (you know who you are, Matt. No, *you* are) once told me that he would love to visit Barcelona after his dad told him about it. I thought maybe the funky street cafes, perhaps the ambience or the funny looking cathedral (hang on, that's Madrid, innit?). His dad went there to go to "Camp Nou" to stand in the empty
football stadium - "awesome". Okay, so some people love footie so much that they would pay good money to go to a empty stadium (a bit like watching the telly when it is switched off) . On the day we arrived in Amman, Jordan and Iran played each other in a World Cup 2006 qualifier. My first ever international game! As the only two whiteys for miles, we were a little apprehensive on the approach to the stadium. Once in, it was a typical match with the crowd banging drums, face paint and flags and singing about how crap Iran was (Iran won 2-0). With all of the people telling us how welcome we were, we just about managed to see some of the match. To round the experience off, we were charged by the police who were high in numbers but low in intellect and they resorted to smashing everyone to bits with batons. Missed me by a whisker. Next stop, Damascus.
There are more photos below