One sunny Friday morning back in London, I was sitting in the office having my morning coffee and a bit of a yarn with my desk neighbour when it coincidentally came up in conversation that we both had dreams of seeing the legendary site of Petra, one of the 7 new wonders of the world. And so it was decided then and there – we were to journey to the ancient land of Jordan (6 weeks later). Who says accountants aren’t exciting adventurous people?
So where exactly is Jordan, one may ask. Well …it’s in the Middle East, and going anti-clockwise, its neighbours are Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria. And the second inevitable question, said person may ask – Is it safe? And to that, I and the choruses of incredible Jordanians who we met say YES.
I’ve really been dragging my feet on writing up about my time in Jordan, only cos it was one of the most fascinating countries I’ve ever visited (it definitely made my top 3), and as such, I want to do it proper justice. Not saying I don’t make an effort with everything I put up on here, but after visiting this beautiful country and meeting its people, I feel a personal duty to share my experience, in the hope that others will be encouraged to give it a chance despite all the news we hear coming out of that part of the world right now!
From London, Amman was about 5 hours direct on Royal Jordanian airlines. We had organised a private tour, as it was our first time to the Middle East and being an unmarried female, I had a bit of trepidation about navigating an Islamic-dominant culture unassisted by a local (that said, Jordan had been noted as being one of the more westernised and progressive of the countries in the region). The company we went with was Discover Jordan, and from the get-go, Raisa and the team were absolutely excellent, accommodating and responsive with organising our private tour. Furthermore, they had a representative who would meet us before passport control, to take care of all our paperwork and visa woes (they have visa upon arrival arrangements) and personally escort us through. Talk about service!
In the lead up to the day, I’ll admit I was bloody nervous. Feeling the way I did, I didn’t even tell my family in Australia that I was going – cos god knows how anxious my parents would have gotten! No matter how many times I’d read online that Jordan was perfectly safe to travel to, it wasn’t enough to ease my mind until I actually spoke to someone who had gone there first hand – my colleague Teresia whose sister worked in Amman (though she hadn’t gone to Petra). Which is why I think it important to recount this in detail, for the benefit of anyone who may have felt the same way I did. So excuse me cos this may take awhile 🙂
We arrived in the capital city of Amman on Friday night, which is kinda the equivalent of Saturday night since the Jordanian weekend is moreso Friday-Saturday, rather than Saturday-Sunday. We stayed the first night in a motel near the main strip, Rainbow Road, and what we noticed is that despite being predominantly Muslim and thus not having an alcohol-fuelled culture, Jordanians stay out pretty late smokin their shisha !
Also as we were in the car to our motel, our tour guide Mohammad pointed out Ikea, whose signage was in Arabic script and was only recognisable because of the universal blue/yellow colour scheme. The following morning, I woke up at 4am in a daze to loud siren noises making me think I was in a warzone – but turns out it was just the morning call for prayer from the nearby mosque (which happened again an hour later). It was all these little cultural nuances experienced in our first 12 hours that made me appreciate that this was gonna be one mammoth educational experience.
Ok so you made it this far, through what has turned out to be one arduously long prologue. Staying true to my forewarning, it is going to take awhile and I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns into a bit of a series of posts. But trust me, Jordan is worth it! Stayed tuned amigos 🙂