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Published: November 20th 2009
Not wanting to see anything of the apparently rather bland capital of Amman
(In fact I didn't spend one day there, isn't travelling on a time limit fun), I decided to head to the Dead Sea instead. I managed to recruit these two Australian girls to come with me and we all headed off to the lowest spot on the face of the planet, 422m below sea level, to float around in water so salty that nothing can survive but microrganisms and the bizarre creature known to science as the "elderly German tourist".
After a pain free trip there, I ignored all the warning signs which recommended not putting your head under the water, what else is new, and dove in only to immediately have the salt burn my eyes almost out of their sockets. After wandering blindly back onto the beach to fumble around for my drinking water to wash my face I waded back out with a new respect for warning signs in front of large bodies of water.
Apart from the initial shock a few hours at the Dead Sea is incredibly relaxing, it is absolutely possible to float around on your back reading
a book and generally feeling smug about your new found buoyancy. Standing up in deep water you floated up to the level of your nipples, really quite amazing actually. A very nice, salty, floaty type of day. Petra
This is without a doubt one of the most astonishing places I have ever been.
A huge ancient city carved into the solid rock.
Entry to the site is through a 1300m long siq, a canyon created by tectonic forces rather than by water, a beautiful experience in of itself in the early morning light. Rounding a corner you are suddenly thrust out into the open with a view of The Treasury
(Al Khazneh) directly in front of you. Words, my words especially, totally fail to convey my astonishment when I first saw it. Me and a couple of other guys walked up a small goats trail to get a semi bird's eye view of it above the hustle and bustle of the tourist trap below. Itt was totally worth it, hardly anyone up there, some peace and quiet and great views.
The other most famous site at Petra is The Monastery
(El Deir), set at the far
end of the site a good hour and a half walk from the entrance it is best viewed in the afternoon sun, a fact everyone knows as suggested by the crowds.
I spent two full days walking around just admiring the views, the red rocks and tombs and palaces hewn out of the solid rock. Both lunch times I found a quiet spot away from the crowds, invariably high up, taking in the view and relaxing.
A truly beautiful place. Go there if you can. Wadi Rum
Made famous by Lawrence of Arabia the desert landscape of Wadi Rum
and the preserve of the Bedouin people is a beautiful and vast desert landscape.
It is, like Petra, a little touristy these days but is none the less "unmissable" if you come to Jordan. One night under the stars can make you feel like a million bucks, well it can for me anyway.
I planned to spend one night there with a 4x4 tour during the day and a night at a Bedouin tent before heading back in the morning. The tour took us to a number of rather missable sights of varying degrees of dullness.
Taken from way off the tourist trail
The real attraction was the red sand of the desert and the towering cliffs of rock all around.
We had a delicious dinner at the campsite and I spent the night on top of an outcropping of rock with the stars as my blanket. Both the sunset and the sunrise were amazing.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is home to some truly spectacular places.
Next time Israel.
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