Deserts and camels and religious sights...
Trip Start Dec 04, 2008
9Trip End Jan 29, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
I arrived at the tiny Amman International airport around 5am after a rubbish sleep (on the midnight flight from bangkok, a cup of coffee and a snack on the plane (note: coffee #1), 'spruced' to the best of my abilities, testing a perfume in duty free, grabbed my bag and headed for a taxi to Amman proper - about a half hour trip from the airport. The sun was coming up, which was a beautiful way to start my time in the middle east, hopefully it will end with a sunset and everything will be beautiful..
It is so so SO different to Asia! Ohhh kafefee!!
**The colours are different!! There is no green, everything is grey or brown and dry
**The houses are concrete block houses - like little boxes with flat roofs
**The signs are in Arabic, (which just looks like scribbling)
**The driving is crazy..ok scratch that, its crazy in asia aswell...
I arrived at my hotel, had a cup of nescafe ('coffee the world over...Nescafe' (Coffee #2)) and got to know the guy working there - at this point in time, its 6ish and no one else has surfaced. he told me there was a tour going that day, to bla,. bla and the Dead Sea -- I was in. Then, becuse it was my first time in the middle east, he offered me Turkish Coffee (#3.5)-- A tiny cup of STRONG black coffee lacd with cardamon, and just yummy. He told me they smoke a lot while drinking this, I politely declined, but did accept a second cup an hour later (#4-5ish).
The group set off at 9 and our first stop was Madaba, a tiny town with a beautiful Greek orthodox (I think) church, decorated to the nines with amazing religious mosaics. It was breathtaking..as soon as we entered there were candles burning, giving off beautiful warm glow, chandaliers hanging fromt he ceiling, and bright msaics everywhere. On the floor was the remaining third of a huge mosaic created in the 2nd century AD (i think) of all of the biblical sights between lebanon and egypt, of which there are a few. It was a gorgeous wee church..just lovely.
Next, we drove to Mt Nebo, the sight where Moses s said to have gone (at age 120) to look out at the holy land, have a chat with God and then die
To get to Bethany beyond the Jordan, our next stop, we drve through the desert..THE DESERT!!! Granted, Im in the middle east, oh desertous terrain, but my first time was very exciting, I even saw camels traversing down the side of a hill..!! My first day in the middle east and I saw camels! BRILLIANT! We were stopped after about half an hour at an Army checkpint, where we were told we couldnt take any more photos, as we were wentering a military base.. exciting, but there was really nothing to take pictures of, aside from the mysterious grid like positioning of many mound of dirt..the mind boggles..
Bethany was interesting, the main point I took away was that the west bank is called the west bank because it IS the west bank (of the Jordan river..)!! Other than that, they have archaeologicalised the church and path down to the Jordan where Jesus was baptised, and further along the trail, at the border of palestine, there were people swimming in the holy water - Im not sure wether it was a baptismal thing or a matter of their own religious wantings..they were all in white so very pure and whatnot..
Lastly, we visited the dead sea, which was just fantastic! I couldnt get over the floating thing, it was just the craziest phenomenon - you lean back and you legs just pop up- you can 'sit' there and read a book quite happily - next time (and Ill be going back I hope from the israel/palestine side of things) Ill take a book and chill out... having said that, it was a touch chilly being winter and all.. I even floated straight up and down, like i was standing up. It was just crazy! The water was veeeeeery salty (yes, i tasted it, and it damn near burned my mouth, it tasted hideous.), real sea salt was washing up with the tide and the rocks in the shallower areas were coated in salt aswell.
I got lathered up in mud with Claire, the atheist RE teacher from australia who refused to touch the water at Bethany in case she burned (hahahaa!) and our skin was lovely after doing so..too much fun.
So that was day one. By the time we were on our way back to the hotel, the coffee had worn off and I was utterly exhausted. But not a bad first day in the middle east huh...?