We’ve been on a beach for almost a month and I haven’t written anything. Not even the budget round up for November. Yes, I will publish it
before the end of December soon. Hopefully. In the meantime, I’ve been content to make my way from our bungalow to the beach, beach to the restaurant, restaurant to happy hour at our beach bar. I feel we’ve earned it. Since leaving Istanbul about a month ago, we’ve been to three countries (not including the airport transfers in Cairo and Athens) and eight cities. Here’s a bit of a wrap up of the past two months:
Jordan. In just five days we visited: Amman, The Dead Sea, Mount Nebo, Madaba, Petra, Wadi Rum. Here are some photos:
Here’s a view from the breakfast room in our hotel in Amman:
It was amazing, if a little unsettling, to see so many place names that we regularly see on the news. Like passing the highway exit sign to Iraq. Or the view from the top Mt. Nebo of Israel and Palestine across the River Jordan.
We floated in the Dead Sea, with its salty water, thick and viscous like oil. It was weird and my sandals will never quite be the same.
Below is a 6th C Byzantine mosaic map found beneath the tile floor of a church in Madaba. It is the earliest known map of the region and is often used by Biblical archaeologists trying to locate sites mentioned in the Bible. Apparently it works, though it doesn’t seem to be to scale.
Petra. I’ve wanted to visit Petra for a very long time. It did not disappoint.
I was filled with eager anticipation walking through the Siq, a 1.2 km narrow gorge that leads to the Treasury. The Treasury is the oft-photographed and most complete building in Petra. You’ll recognize it from photos, and Indiana Jones.
We also climbed 800 steps (no, we didn’t count) to visit The Monastery.
No blog post would be complete, without a photo of Swanson petting a cat.
Wadi Rum. We toured through the desert by camel and stayed the night in a traditional Bedouin camp. The stars!
Our transportation for the day. This one is Swanson’s buddy, named Ali-an.
As the sun went down, our guide sang Bedouin songs that seemed to keep the camels moving along at a steady pace. That’s me bringing up the rear.
We spent one night in a Bedouin camp in the desert. Our hosts prepared a feast, which included chicken prepared over coals and buried in the sand. Swanson ate two pieces! It was so good, and he was so hungry. We played games and listened to music. No wifi in the desert so found ourselves having long conversations and challenging each other to complete extraordinary physical feats. It takes serious concentration to lie on your back, balance a glass of water on your forehead and stand up without spilling it. Hours of fun:
Sadly, we only had five days in Jordan. It was amazing to visit the Middle East and I wish we could have spent more time in the region. As our host in Wadi Musa said: “Jordan is a quiet house with noisy neighbours.” Such a rich history (the archaeologist in me dreams!), incredible culture and food, and unfortunately so much strife. Even our flight from Amman to Cairo made a wide detour around the more unstable areas:
Within a week of visiting Petra, we found ourselves in Bangkok for a few days before we flew off to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat (again). With no time to adjust to culture shock, my head was spinning. Petra and Angkor Wat in the same week! With Bangkok in between! Thankfully, I knew what to expect from Bangkok, having passed through several times before.
Love it or hate it, Khao San Road has obvious appeal for long term travellers. It’s easy to restock depleted sundries like toothpaste and ibuprofen, the beer is cheap, and onward passage can be easily booked.
Siem Reap, formerly a dusty little town that just happened to be the closest settlement to Angkor, is now a bustling tourist town full of big hotels, with big parking lots for big buses. Pub Street! We were in Cambodia in 2003. A lot can change in just over 10 years. It’s nice to see some money going into the local economy, most of the hotels and businesses appear to locally owned, and not big chains from elsewhere.
Some of the Angkor highlights in photos:
Monkeys at Angkor Wat! Especially this mama and her baby:
And these monkeys climbing on our tuk tuk.
A crowded temple and a storm brewing:
There were a lot more tour groups this time around, in 2003 we had some of the temples almost all to ourselves. There was a line up to photograph Ta Prohm, the famous temple with the tree growing over it. Hence, no photo here. We have many that we took last time, but they are all on slides! Slides!
After Angkor Wat, we headed straight for the beach. In the 24+ hours it took us to get here, we rode in Mr. Moth’s tuk tuk, an airplane, a taxi, an overnight train, a bus, a shuttle cart, and ferry and the back of a pickup truck. And it was well worth it: