This blog post is a guest article by Suzy Bicker. Suzy is an avid traveller with a big love for America and the Deep South. She has a multitude of experience travelling across America and working at Camp America but also has brilliant stories about other trips she has taken over the last five years. Here she tells us about her trip to Jordan in 2014.
Why a trip to Jordan?
During my degree in Childhood Studies at Nottingham Trent University we had the privilege to spend 3-5 weeks in another country experiencing an international placement which we had to fund and plan ourselves. After much deliberation I finally decided on Jordan… why? I knew it was going to be something completely different to anything I had experienced before in every way possible. Decision made… time to put the ideas into action.
Day 1: Mount Nebo
After my three week placement my mum flew out so that we could travel Jordan together, see all of the sights and experience the culture differences of Jordan as a country. On our first day we went to Mount Nebo which is an elevated height in Jordan, approximately 817 metres above sea level, mentioned in the Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. It is now seen as the memorial of Moses. It was a very picturesque place that had a feeling of value and importance by the people around us that were there as well. We wondered around the ruins which had a beautiful view looking out onto the dessert with nothing much around at all. It takes just over an hour to drive to Mount Nebo from Amman, a lovely drive with lots to see and well worth the drive.
Day 2: The Dead Sea
We drove to an area where we could swim in the Dead Sea, it was truly beautiful, like something from a film. We got into the Dead Sea and you just floated because of all the salt. You could barely put your legs on the ground because the force of the salt water just keeps you afloat. You must be careful not to get the salt in your eyes as it will sting an awful lot. I found that out the hard way so was much more careful afterwards. I then found mud patches that people were putting all of their bodies. I joined in with this. The mud was thick and easy to spread on your skin, it was something I had never done before and I loved it. If you are in Jordan it is a must to go to The Dead Sea. An experience you cannot get anywhere else in the world.
Day 3: Amman (The Capital City)
We decided to do some shopping in the capital and see some of the local surrounding areas in the town. Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a modern city with numerous ancient ruins. When I and my mum were walking the streets of Amman, we were definitely mostly the only two females around. It felt slightly strange and naturally a lot of people would stare at us as we were quite clearly white Europeans. It made me feel uncomfortable and nervous if I am honest but it is something I had learnt to deal with over the past 3 weeks. We saw little chicks for sale just sitting on the floor, sheep’s wool and homemade jewellery and souvenirs. It was nice to see a non-tourist part of Jordan where people are living their normal daily lives and it was interesting to see their shops and things they require in their lives. Later that day we went to Amman Citadel which is a national historic site at the centre of downtown Amman, Jordan. It is in the centre of Amman and is at a high level. It is the most beautiful way to look over the city. It was breath taking seeing how much the city has grown around the central area. This is a must do if you are in Jordan. It’s the equivalent to being up the Empire State building looking over New York City.
Day 4: Petra
Petra is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and this was what I was most excited about being able to have the opportunity to go and visit it. It is without a doubt Jordan’s most valuable treasure and greatest tourist attraction. It is a unique city, carved into the sheer rock face by the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab people who lived there more than 2000 years ago. To go into Petra costs around £50 if I remember correctly and once you are past the payment gates it is just beautiful, there are people riding horses all around you, there are horse carriages you can go on if you wish too as the walk is at least 30-45 minutes to get to The Treasury. As we walked, the rocks seems to get closer together making the gap for us to walk through smaller and smaller and the tops of the rocks seemed so high at this point, it was like walking down a corridor and when you look up you can see the blue sky. Eventually you come to The Treasury and you step out of the ‘siq’ which is the narrow corridor rocks and it’s just there, WOW, straight in front of you. This amazing rock the earth has created and then the fact that it has been hand carved by people to look so royal and beautiful, the detail is just insane. There are camels around and they are beautiful. It felt like were in a movie. I didn’t realise how much there was to see, as you walk out further you come into the ‘town’ like area which was once there. There were holes cut out in the side of the rocks which were once homes, we climbed up steps that led us to a temple looking building, we even walked across a small wooden bridge to lead us to more cut holes into the rocks. Looking down onto the city that once was there was incredible. I would recommend anyone to visit this truly beautiful wonder of the world. Going through Petra, a little bit higher up on the camel, it was crazy and it felt like we were royalty. If you ever get this opportunity take it and I can promise you it will be 110% worth every second. Sounds cliché, but it isn’t.
Day 5: Wadi Rum Dessert
Straight from Petra we drove to Wadi Rum Dessert where we were going to camp out in the dessert. This was something I had always wanted to do so I was beyond excited. My God Father and Mother came with us. Luckily they knew the owners of the Jabel Rum Camp which is where we would be staying; we got the best tents there as we were special visitors. We had two single beds, a seating area with beautiful cushions, a small coffee table and we were the only two tents to have our own bathroom with a sink, shower and toilet. We really did feel like we were royalty now. We were welcomed with drinks and snacks and introduced to the couple that ran and owned the camp site, close friends of my God Parents. There was a central area where everyone could sit around the camp fire with comfy cushions. We waited for dinner and to our surprise the dinner was cooking under the sand. WHAT? yes they dig a hole and put the lamb under the sand in a container which is then heated from a fire on the top. It cooks all day long and it is finally ready for dinner time. The men who worked at the camp dressed in very smart clothes and began to dig down into the sand to get the dinner, it was like watching a show, something I had never seen before, I was amazed. After this we collected our food like a buffet, with humus, salads, rice, lamb, fresh fruits and cakes. There was too much delicious food to choose from. After this it was time to sit back, relax and enjoy the drinks in the beautiful evening of the dessert night. We were in the middle of nowhere sleeping out under the stars. It was time for the evening entertainment which I was extremely excited for. They would have a groom and bride and perform a Bedouin wedding ceremony. I was excited until I was told by my God Father that I would be dressing up as the bride because we were special guests and it was a privilege to do so. I was so embarrassed and nervous, but once they dressed me up and put eye liner all over my face and I met my groom to be, it was fun; we danced around while the music played and ceremony took place. Once this was completed everyone joined in dancing and enjoying themselves like it could have been the evening of a real wedding. Well, that is definitely something I will never forget. I ended up being the evening entertainment, what an experience. After that we sat up around the camp fire while chatting away before we headed back to our tent to get some lovely sleep before heading to Aqaba beach the next day. Anyone looking to go to Jordan you absolutely have to camp in Wadi Rum Dessert.
Day 6: Aqaba Beach
We wake early because of the sun which is beautiful beaming into our tent, Mum and I take a small walk and climb some rocks to get a nice view of the dessert and the camp site below us. The sun had just risen so it looked beautiful, this was a last minute idea we had but it was a lovely way to see the dessert properly and early in the morning. The next adventure waits so we say goodbye to the wonderful staff at Jabal Camp Site and begin our drive to Aqaba beach. Aqaba is the only costal side of Jordan; therefore this is the most tourists like area and a popular place for Jordanians to live too. We went to the beach and it was beautiful but because there were so many tourists I didn’t enjoy it as much because all of the other things we had done were so special and different experiencing a real Jordanian experience with my God parents and mum. In the evening we went for dinner and walked around the market stalls which were lovely to look at all the treasures and souvenirs.
Day 7: Jerash Ruins
On our final day we went to the ruins of Jerash, these are the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River. Without seeing these ruins it is difficult to explain the true beauty of them or the feelings you get wandering around these ancient ruins knowing that once this was a city where Romans lived and had a beautiful city. They are discovering more and more ruins as the centuries go by which is exciting. It has been kept in amazing condition for the public to visit with a small entry fee. This is a must do if you are coming to Jordan to travel or for a holiday.
Tips for Jordan:
- Wear clothes that cover your legs and at least your shoulders.
- Watch out for camels.
- Can be very hot, wear sun block.
- Lots of traffic on roads especially in Amman.
- Drivers do not drive in the European style.
- If you are a white European, you will stand out and you will be looked at a lot.
- Do not drink the tap water.
- Be careful in the Dead Sea, do NOT get the salt water in your eyes.
- Try to learn or pick up some Arabic, it really does help!
- You probably will experience a culture shock, make it a positive one.
- If I could have seen anything else in Jordan I would have wanted to go to the Hot Springs.
- As a young European women I did not go anywhere alone which I was advised to do so by my God parents, so they came with me everywhere even when it was myself and my mum. This is something you can decide for yourselves.
Thank you to Suzy for this contributed article.