Blogs from Middle East


Middle East » Iran July 10th 2019

Na iran som bol riadne nazhaveny co som cital cestopisi a stretol par ludi. Vraj velmi priatelsky ludia a nadherna krajina. Hovno, ludia vo vacsine pripadov samy odrbavac, cest par vynimkam pri stopovani ci pri ceste do mausoleh busom. Pozitivne prekvapenie prislo ked mi jeden chlapik dal svoju platobnu (?) Kartu s prednabitym kreditom (vyuzil som to len na mhd) Ono takychto falosnych ojebavacov som ozaj nezazil ani vo vietname ci indii. Tam ked cloveka ojebali aspon sa netvarili ako najlepsi kamosi na svete. No a co ma najviac dojalo, bola majitelka (?) V hosteli v esfahane, ktora to ospravedlnila touto vetou. Ludia nemaju peniaze tak klamu turistov. To jak keby povi, ludia nemaju peniaze preto zacnu kradnut. A nezabudla k tomu pridat priatelsky usmev, miesto toho aby to odsudila. Pristal som v teherane skoro rano. ... read more

Middle East » Jordan » West » Dead Sea July 3rd 2019

We can’t help but notice that the breakfast buffet here includes free champagne. This seems a bit incongruous in a country where the overwhelming proportion of the population is Muslim, and alcohol doesn’t seem to be all that readily available anywhere. Our desert camp out in Wadi Rum, for example, was dry in more ways than one. A sign outside reception advises guests that “Outside food, beverages and hubbly bubbly are not permitted inside the Hotel”. I wonder why anyone would feel a need to smuggle in their own “hubbly bubbly” when it’s laid on for free at breakfast. I don’t think there are any non-Muslim university students staying here, but if there were I’m sure they’d be only too keen to start the day by knocking back a few glasses of free champers. Having commented ... read more
Kempinski Hotel with Dead Sea in the background
Greek Orthodox Church next to Jordan River
Greek Orthodox Church next to Jordan River

Middle East » Jordan » West » Dead Sea July 2nd 2019

We are exhausted after a very long and tiring day yesterday so we sleep in for a long time. We awake to see the view of the Dead Sea from our balcony in daylight for the first time. It is spectacular, with the morning sun shining on the hills of Palestine and Israel in the distance on the opposite bank. I go for a wander, and watch people swimming from the beach below me. Actually they don’t seem to be swimming at all; floating on their backs just above the surface would be a better description. Anyone who tries to swim face down seems to get involuntarily flipped over within a few strokes. I‘m itching for us to try this. The breakfast buffet includes something called “foul”. Whilst this sounds about as appetising as yesterday’s buffet ... read more
Kempinski Hotel, Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea
After application of Dead Sea mud

Middle East » Jordan » South » Petra July 1st 2019

I‘ve just managed to fall asleep when I feel a gentle tap on my arm. Issy says that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to find the camp toilet in the dark so she wants me to show her the way. In a half daze I remind her about the torch on her phone, and I’m asleep again before she’s left the tent. I awake to the dawn, and Issy’s nowhere to be seen. I panic. I decide that she must have got lost on the way to the toilet and is now wandering around lost in the desert. I wonder what I’m going to tell our offspring, and worse still her Mum. I throw on some clothes, and am very relieved to find her sitting in the communal tent watching a caravan of wild camels ... read more
Wild camels, Desert Moon Camp, Wadi Rum
The Siq, Petra
The Treasury, Petra

Middle East » Jordan » South » Wadi Rum June 30th 2019

The guests in the next room decide that the best way of disciplining their noisy child is to lock him out in the hotel corridor. His response is to keep screaming while trying to bash the door down. Now the whole hotel is awake. Today we start our two day adventure to Wadi Rum, which is about four hours south of Amman, and then to Petra. Our driver and guide introduces himself as Fadi. He says that he is Palestinian and that his parents first came to Jordan many years ago after they had finished studying. He tells us that 70% of Jordanians have Palestinian roots. The landscape starts to get a lot more arid as we drive south on the main highway connecting Amman to country’s only port of Aqaba on the Red Sea. We ... read more
Locals relaxing, Wadi Rum
A true local, Wadi Rum
In the back of our chariot

Middle East » Jordan » North » Jerash June 29th 2019

Today we have arranged to visit the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Jerash, which is about 50 km north of Amman. Our driver’s name is Haitham. He tells us that as recently as the 1980s Amman was a relatively small city, but it has experienced enormous growth in recent decades. We ask whether a lot of this is due to the influx of refugees. He says that some of it is, particularly Iraqis, and more recently Syrians many of whom are currently living in two large refugee camps near the border. He says that it has recently become a lot safer in Syria and a lot of the refugees are now returning home. I think that the standard applying to the word “safer” might be a bit different here to that back in Australia. ... read more
The Cardo Maximus, Jerash
Temple of Artemis, Jerash
Arch of Hadrian, Jerash

Middle East » Jordan » North » Amman June 28th 2019

We’re still feeling very intimidated by this sprawling city and its seemingly grumpy residents, but we decide to be brave and head off to see some of the sights. Our confidence is not helped by the security guard manning the x-ray screening machines at the entrance to the hotel, who tells us to “be careful”. We could see the Amman Citadel from the hotel window, and the ever reliable Google Maps told us that it was less than two kilometres away. What it failed to tell us was that Amman is built on a series of hills with deep valleys in between them. We climb the wrong hill, and then need to navigate a series of precipitously steep steps down that hill and then up the right hill on the other side of the valley. Even ... read more
Lots of steps up to the Citadel
Amman from the Citadel
Temple of Hercules, Amman Citadel

Middle East » Jordan » North » Amman June 27th 2019

Today we have a day of travelling from our mountain retreat here in Oman, to Amman in Jordan. We’re very sad to be leaving Oman, which we both think has now become our new favourite country. There seems to be more gunfire than ever coming from the army base across the canyon this morning, and we suspect that this is likely to get even worse when half the British Army arrives here in a few days time to join in with the training exercises. I wonder if any tourists have ever been hit by stray bullets while they were staying here. Maybe it’s just as well we’re leaving today. We take the long drive down the mountain and along the highway back to Muscat airport, and board our plane for the three hour flight to Amman. ... read more

The resort has installed glass barriers to make sure that none of its guests have their holiday plans disrupted by accidentally falling off the rim of the canyon hundreds of metres down into gorge below. I’m keen get some happy snaps from a bit closer to the edge so I go for a wander to see whether safety standards might be a bit looser elsewhere nearby. I wander through the outskirts of Saiq and find a spot where I can get right up to the canyon rim above the villages we hiked through yesterday. The views are beyond stunning. I share the view with two European girls and their Omani guide. The guide looks a bit concerned that his charges might be getting just a bit too close to the edge for comfort, and yells at ... read more
Downtown Saiq
The Chef’s Garden at the Anantara Resort
Terraces below villages in the canyon

I get up early to take some happy snaps of sunrise over the canyon. There aren’t too many people around, but I’ve got lots of goats for company. This morning we have signed up for a hike through three of the small villages that cling to the walls of the canyon. Our guide’s name is Maher, and we are joined by a Japanese lady and her two young sons, and a couple from Hawthorn in our humble hometown of Melbourne. We haven’t gone too far when we come across an elderly man in long white flowing robes walking very quickly up the steep hill towards us. He greets Maher enthusiastically, and they have an animated conversation in Arabic. The man laughs almost constantly. Maher tells us that he is over 100 years old, and he walks ... read more
Guardian of the Canyon at sunrise
Canyon from Jebel Akhdar at sunrise
Village on the edge of the canyon

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