Tag Archives: Petra

Petra

18 Jun

“A rose red city, half as old as time.” Isn’t that just so romantic?? The description fits Petra perfectly.

Undoubtedly the pride and joy of Jordan is Petra. We spent 2 days hiking around Petra and it is our choice for most beautiful place in the world. Without a doubt, Petra is one of those places you absolutely must see before you die. The combination of the natural beauty along with human craftsmanship isn’t comparable, there is nothing else like it out there.

To read more about Petra, go here. But really, the entire place is indescribable and pictures don’t do it justice. We’ll just show you how we spent two days there:

Our hotel, Petra Moon, was an easy two minute walk down the hill from the entrance of Petra. We took advantage of our proximity and got our start at 6am each morning when the site opens.

20120619-112403.jpg

Day 1:
Whereas we spent half days at other world wonders (3 hours each at the Great Wall and Taj Mahal, 1 hour at Christ the Redeemer), we dedicated two days to Petra. A single day ticket for people daytripping from Israel costs 95JD, whereas a 2 day pass is 55JD. This is the way Jordan encourages tourism in their own country. By the way, similar to the Taj Mahal, nationals pay a fraction of the cost, 1JD.

Booths lining the path to the entrance: Indiana Jones snack shop!

20120619-112407.jpg

It’s about a brisk 30 minute walk to the Siq, you can see some carvings along the way.

20120619-112414.jpg

20120619-112425.jpg

We started getting all googly eyed when we got to the Siq. Such a beautiful path! It takes maybe 10 minutes to get through the Siq if you don’t stop to take pictures. Bonus, the Siq is also wonderful because it’s shaded!

20120619-112420.jpg

I think our most favorite part of Petra was exiting the Siq and seeing the Treasury unfold in front of us. It was incredibly magical and we were awestruck. The best part about it was that we had the entire moment to ourselves, not a soul was around. We literally just stood there and gawked at the entire thing. It was just so gorgeous. And since it was overcast, the lighting was just perfect for photography.

20120619-112429.jpg

We spent a good hour at the Treasury. You can’t go inside unfortunately, but we sat on one of the benches and just hung out. It was also fun to people watch and look at their reactions when they see Petra for the first time.

20120619-112433.jpg

20120619-112437.jpg

We took advantage of the overcast day and went on a 2 hour hike to the Monastery, Petra’s #2 attraction. If you’re up for it, this is a good hike to take because many other attractions are along the way.

20120619-112446.jpg

20120619-112459.jpg

20120619-112451.jpg
Can’t believe that arch is still intact!

Above: Coliseum Below: This is Petra’s version of Third Street Promenade/La Rambla/Champs Elysses

20120619-112455.jpg

Brown University currently has an excavation project going on. Did you know that experts say only 15-20% of Petra has been uncovered? Amazing! Generations to come will hopefully have more to look forward to.

20120619-112509.jpg

20120619-112513.jpg

20120619-112525.jpg

The Monastery is larger and less intricate than the Treasury. Definitely worth the hike!

20120619-112520.jpg

20120619-112504.jpg
Throughout the park, you’ll be asked persistently and constantly to pay for camel and donkey rides. We must have been asked at least 2 dozen times on the first day. The locals won’t take no for an answer. Here’s the deal:

Even though your ticket gets you a “free” ride from the entrance to the Siq, you still have to pay “tip.” We opted to explore the entire park on foot. I read that the camels, donkeys, and horses are abused, beaten, and overworked. Jerry actually even saw a worker drop kick a camel in the head, which was so sad. At our age, it’s easy to turn down rides because we can handle the distance and heat. However, I can see that an older person or a young kid might benefit from paying for rides. Petra is so huge that you realistically can’t explore the entire thing in one day. We had the luxury of two days, which not everyone opts for.

Day 2:
Again we left at 6am and had the Siq/Treasury to ourselves. Day 2 was looking to be a very sunny day, so we immediately left for the hike that gives an overlook of the Treasury.

20120619-112441.jpg

20120619-112530.jpg
Along the way, we explored some tombs.

20120619-112535.jpg

20120619-112541.jpg
The natural colors are so gorgeous!

20120619-112547.jpg

20120619-112605.jpg
This dog was annoying at first because it kept following us around and sniffing our food. It was also quite dirty and so we didn’t want to pet him for obvious reasons. However throughout the hike he grew on us and we even named him Buddy. He was sort of like our hiking guide, it was endearing! In some areas the trail was not marked as well, and so Buddy would “guide” us in the right direction.

20120619-112600.jpg

20120619-112554.jpg
Left: We are back on the ground a few meters from the Treasury. I’m pointing to where we hiked up to! Right: Up on top is a nice tent like structure, perfect to relax and rest before going back down.

We opted out on seeing Petra by Night (Jeannie kept wanting to call it Paris by Night, those of you who are Vietnamese would get this joke), because we heard it was crowded and very touristy. The description sounds romantic, seeing Petra in all it’s glory by candlelight/moonlight. But after watching youtube vids and reading online reviews we gathered that we’d essentially be herded with other tourists in a large group and be forced to watch a “cultural” show with music/dancing, and whatnot. Not our idea of a good time! It’s also pretty pricey and not included in the 2 day ticket.

Other tips:
Bathrooms are really clean, well at 10am, I don’t know about 5pm, but up to date plumbing and western style. They are also a decent number of facilities throughout the park.

Food is very expensive inside the park, so at dinner each evening before, we ordered a few sandwiches to go and we also picked up fruit and drinks from local markets. Of course this only works if your hotel room has a fridge.

Petra is the name for the Archeological Park/site. When you book accommodations and eat out, you’re actually in Wadi Mousa, the town that serves as a gateway to Petra. We thought we’d clarify this because we were initially confused as well!

Definitely go for the two day ticket. The weather was perfect at 6am when we headed back to the hotel by 1-2pm or so, it was pretty uncomfortable. As we made our way back shortly after lunch, we saw folks that were barely heading out. That’s too ambitious for us! Also, the later you go, the more crowded it is, that’s when the hordes of tour buses caravan dozens of tourists at at time. There is just nothing comparable to having the Treasury to yourself, even for a few minutes!

The view from our hotel. Beautiful!

20120619-112611.jpg

20120619-112616.jpg

Indiana Jungs!

20120619-112622.jpg

All in all, Petra was our favorite place on this trip so far. We’ve got a month to go before we fly back to SFO, so it’s safe to say we don’t think anything will top our Petra experience.

So what are you waiting for? Book your ticket now! While Jordan is a very safe country at the moment, who knows what the future will bring. The region is so volatile (latest news: Syria), and so it would be a shame if Petra ever went the way of the Bamiyan Buddhas. Although I highly doubt that would happen (would be the travesties of all travesties), one can’t really predict the future. Especially for a region like the Middle East.

We hope you enjoyed this post! Our next post: floating in the Dead Sea. We ❤ Jordan!

Jordan: Good Country, Bad Neighbors

18 Jun

We were both pleasantly surprised upon arrival in Jordan. Perfect 80-degree weather, good food, and extremely friendly and welcoming people. Jordan is a progressive, relatively westernized, safe country which just happens to have bad neighbors with Syria and Iraq (among others) in the Middle East. Everywhere you go, people say welcome to you, smile, and practice their English. It’s refreshing to see and a huge change from India where we felt so unwelcome. In addition, there is no tension between Christians and Muslims, and the country has taken a very progressive stance on women. Shorts and bare shoulders are not a problem like in many other parts of the Middle East.

Driving in Jordan is civilized and very similar to driving in the US. In fact, all of the major US car rental agencies are present in Jordan. We rented a Toyota Yaris for our drive to Madaba, Petra, and the Dead Sea and it turned out to be a great decision. Because the cities are separated by stretches of desert with no rail and limited bus connections (think: similar to I-5), we could drive at our own leisure. Being a LA driver, I had no issue with the driving and found the drivers to be quite courteous, although they tend to take unnecessary risks like passing around blind corners.

To give you a sense of our schedule:
Day 1, fly into Jordan, pick up rental car, stay in Madaba
Day 2, drive to Wadi Mousa, the town which serves as a tourism hub for Petra
Days 3/4, explore Petra
Day 5, drive to Dana Biosphere Reserve and stay at Feynan
Day 6, all day at Feynan
Day 7, drive to Dead Sea, float, drive to Madaba
Day 8, all day in Madaba
Day 9, drop off rental car and fly to Madrid
As you can see, having a car was so useful and convenient! And, we ended up not venturing into Amman at all.

20120611-213549.jpg

20120611-213702.jpg

20120611-213735.jpg

20120619-000521.jpg

20120619-001623.jpg
Quick stop at Kerak Castle on the way to Petra.
Food in Jordan is good too. Tired of vegetarian food from India? Go to Jordan, where you eat beef, lamb, and chicken kabobs all day, everyday. I was in heaven, although Jeannie got a little tired of the meats and started ordering cucumber and tomato salads as her main dish.

20120611-213627.jpg

20120611-213751.jpg

20120611-213635.jpg

20120611-213642.jpg

Scenery in Jordan is unlike any other country we’ve been to so far. There’s plenty of dirt, but it’s not dirty, if that makes sense. We chose to make Madaba our base point rather than Amman. Madaba is closer to the airport, smaller, easier to navigate, and more historically relevant. Madaba is one of the most ancient cities in the Middle East, dating back thousands of years. In fact, the oldest map of the Holy Land is a floor mosaic set in one of the churches in Madaba. In addition, it seems that all cities have a ubiquitous mosque spire which belts out calls to prayer at various times of the day.

20120611-213557.jpg

20120611-213648.jpg

20120611-213654.jpg

We’ll talk about Petra and the Dead Sea in future posts, but here we’ll briefly mention our time at Feynan Eco-Lodge. On paper the lodge sounded good, but it just wasn’t our kind of place. We get the whole sustainable tourism deal, but we felt that Feynan fell short and didn’t live up to its full potential. We didn’t mind the no AC or no Internet, but we felt that sleeping in the rooms was equivalent to sleeping in a clay oven that had been baking all day. There was not much to do unless you liked hiking during the hottest part of the day, and though vegetarian food can be tasty and healthy, the food at Feynan was neither of these and instead very oily and depended on jams, sauces, and dips to supplement the meal. Also, I feel like there was this expectation to spend money there, for example they seemed to look down on us when we declined offers of paid guided hikes, and also when we opted to not order drinks during meals. We weren’t expecting the place to be a 5 star Four Seasons type of oasis, but you can’t just slap an Eco-tourism label on things and expect people to be grateful for an “authentic” experience. It’s sort of putting and organic sticker on an apple, people aren’t going to miraculously think it’s the best apple ever. If the apple tastes good, people will eat it, regardless of its origins. There were some highlights though. We saw the most gorgeous sunset at Feynan. We also got to see a bunch of planets and stars through their very powerful telescope. And also, we had this really amazing soup that almost made up for the other lousy dishes. So overall, a slight miss in a country full of hits.

20120611-213612.jpg

20120611-213620.jpg

20120619-000355.jpg

Coming up in Part 2 of Jordan: Petra.

First Impressions: Jordan

26 May

We’ve still got posts on Vietnam, Thailand, and India coming your way, but we thought we’d drop a quick post about first impressions of Jordan while it’s still fresh on our minds!

First off, Jordanians are incredibly friendly, and not because they want something from you! They just want to say hi, without any pretense of selling us anything. Supposedly Petra itself
is not like that, but we’ll see.

The children are super friendly, they will wave hi and say hello as you’re walking/driving by.

The food is really tasty and simple. The meats are very tender and flavorful. Jerry has ordered the mixed plate grill (one kebab each of chicken, lamb, and beef) three meals in a row, that’s how good it is! Prices vary greatly for the same amount of food depending on how touristy the location is.

20120526-202346.jpg

Super high taxes on everything. There is a 17% tax on food!

Speaking of expensive, we bought some fruit and it was PRICY. But we needed something to supplement the meat we were eating. I tried to order a fruit salad at dinner and it turned out to be a serving of canned fruit, bummer. So we’ll pay a little for the real deal. Apparently the local markets by Petra are not allowed to sell fruit and veggies, instead vendors have to specifically sell at a warehouse by the bus station.

20120526-202352.jpg

Driving in Jordan is not all that different than driving in the states. Yes, you read correctly, we rented a car for our week in Jordan! Luckily they drive on the same side of the road and the drivers are pretty courteous, they will actually yield. The traffic circles/roundabouts take a bit getting used to though. More on driving later…

20120526-202335.jpg

The king (King Abdullah II) has his pictures everywhere. Not surprisingly, we found this in Thailand and North Korea as well. I haven’t see any of Queen Rania so far, which is too bad because I think she’s one of the most gorgeous woman in the world!

We’ve only been in Jordan for about 32 hours, and we love it so far. Tomorrow the Indiana Jungs explore Petra!

%d bloggers like this: