Friday, December 31, 2010

Exploring Urdun

Ruins of Jerash

I had a blast year end celebration with family in December 2010 ! This time we complete the year with a short trip to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Unlike Dubai or UAE, Jordan (or Urdun in Arabic) is a very old country sitting on a crossroads of various ancient civilisation. It has been inhabited by men for more than 1000 years since the stone age world. There were a lot of traces of civilisation, religions and empires here from Roman Byzantine, Umayyad, Abassid, Fatimid, Ottoman, British until the current dynasty of Bani Hashim (decendant of the Prophet Muhammad's tribe).

We flew to Amman on December 12th 2010 (which was a National Day of UAE) vide FlyDubai airline which is a budget airline similar to Air Asia. For traveling and accommodation we used the service of a travel agency in Amman called Jordan Direct Tour. They quoted me USD665 per person for 5 days including different 3 stars hotels, a car and a dedicated driver. It was worth the price and I really recommend Jordan Direct Tour for a family or group tour in Jordan. Absolutely hassle free. But take note that the quote price may vary according to season, hotel and places to visit.

Legionnaires of Jerash

Here is my travel itinerary prepared by JD Tour:


Day 1 (Thursday, 02/12/2010), Arrival Amman

Upon arrival, a member of our staff will meet you at Queen Alia International Airport for assistance with customs

and immigration procedures.

Day 2 (Friday, 03/12/2010), Amman/ Madaba/ Mount Nebo/ Dead Sea/ Amman

Breakfast. Morning departure to visit the Christian town of Madaba, "The City of Mosaics" and take a detour to

Mount Nebo, the site of

endearing monastery. Depart to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the earth for a swim in its warm salty waters.

Free time at leisure including Entrance fees and lunch at the Dead Sea Spa Hotel. Then transfer back to Amman. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 3 (Saturday, 04/12/2010), Amman/ Petra visit

Breakfast. Transfer via the desert highway for a full day visit of Petra. The visit of the ancient Nabatean Capital starts on horseback, followed

by a walk through the Siq, a long narrow fissure between two overhanging cliffs. The tour then proceeds to gradually unfold the mysteries of

the Red Rose City. Overnight at the hotel in Petra.

Day 4 (Sunday, 05/12/2010), Petra/ Wadi Rum/ Amman

Breakfast. Transfer south to the enchanting desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan's largest desert and one of the most spectacular desert landscapes in the

world. Jeep Tour inside the Wadi and transfer back to Amman. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 5 (Monday, 06/12/2010), Amman/ Jerash/ Departure

Breakfast. Proceed north to visit the Graeco-Roman city of Jerash; one of the most preserved in the Middle East. Transfer back to Amman.

Transfer to QAIA assistance with formalities and departure.

Sight-seeing in Wadi Rum

We did exactly what was planned in the itinerary. In fact when I first saw the itinerary suggested by JD Tour I got kiasu and tried to squeeze in a few other places not mentioned in the itinerary like Village of Ajloun, Kerak (for Crusader's Castle) and Beida (an extension of Petra). However they explained that if I include in those places, it will affect the timing to visit the more important places suggested by them. I thought they should know better than me and so finally I just agreed with the itinerary. It turned out to be a very well organised trip ! So for a trip of 5 days in Jordan, try the itinerary above.

My wife and I had our different favourite places during the trip. I enjoyed the sightseeing trip in Petra which reminded me of the Indiana Jones movie and several other Hollywood movies shot at Petra, the latest one being the Transformer 2. My wife likes her relaxing dip in Dead Sea where we float so easily as if our bones were made of styrofoam. We covered our faces and bodies with free Dead Sea mud for about 3 hours and we almost missed our lunch..

The weather in December was a lot colder than Dubai. It was around 15 - 17 degrees celcius and very dry. We were lucky(unlucky?) that we didnt get any rain during our trip. I remember the coldest weather was during our one night stay in Petra. It was cold and windy, I could hear my bones were rattling ! Luckily I heeded to my friend's advice to bring gloves and warm jacket.

On the third day I met my colleague El-Ghul who coincidentally was back in Jordan for the weekend. He came picked me up from the hotel and we drove around town using his dad's antique car. He came with his sister who has long migrated to Australia. So both myself and El-Ghul's sister became tourists in Amman that night. We hung out at a chic bar in a trendy street near the First Circle in Amman. El Ghul told me that the First Circle is the first roundabout in Amman and was where all the development of modern day Amman started. There were a lot of roundabouts (called circles by locals) and hills in Amman. The whole city is built on hill tops. But to me the most memorable circle was the Fourth Circle because that was where El-Ghul's suddenly stop whilst ascending a hill on the way back to my hotel. The car ran out of gas ! But we were quickly rescued by El-Ghul's friend within half an hour and the city trip was completed with a bit of fun memory.

So that was the short of it..enjoy the pictures.

Amman Colloseum

The Treasury Building, Petra
..a view from the Sig (like the shot in Indiana Jones movie scene)

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves..

Bill Vaughan
(American columnist, 1915 - 1977)


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