7th March 2008
I got to Sharm el Sheikh by plane last night and arrived here around 6pm. At 2am I was whisked away, it was supposed to be 3:30am and I get this mad call, say my tour to Petra is waiting in the lobby and I have to run around like a mad thing and run down and get into the van. We drive around and pick up others from hotels and then get ushered out of the van at a gas station.
A few moments later another big bus pulls up and we are ushered onto this bus. It is all very confusing for poor little me and as it seems to be me, and a load of Russian people and I can’t understand what’s going on. We drive away into the night through the Sinai Mountains, it is magnificent scenery even at night, actually especially at night. We have a short pit stop and then we are away again. It has started to get light and then us as well as a few other buses arrive at the Taba border, this is the border between Egypt, Jordan and Israel, security is heavy. It takes us all about two hours to get through passport control, a waste of time for me who planned ahead and got a multiple entry visa. We then all get on board a boat called Petra Wonder and we are off up the Gulf of Aqaba.
The ride is very bumpy and almost everyone but me choses to stay inside, I ride up the back of the boat hanging over the edge, nearly losing my Indiana Jones hat and getting soaked in the process. The boat ride takes about an hour, and we disembark at Aqaba Jordon. All our passports are collected, and we are ushered onto a bus. I manage to get on one with all English-speaking people thank god… I couldn’t take anymore Russian locusts.
We drive through Aqaba city and out guide Mian, point out two cities, one is Aqaba and the other is Eilat in Israel. You can see both at once. We drive through some very rough terrain, the more rural side of Jordan and I saw Bedouin children playing in the dust, as well as wild camels. We drove though the Wadi Rum, which is where they filmed Lawrence of Arabia. In the distance you can see the sic, the ‘canyon of the crescent moon’.
We finally get to the site of Petra after about 2 hours. We pay to get in and me of course, straight away gets on a horse. I ride down to the beginning of the sic, being led by a little Bedouin boy. The sic beckons to us and we go into it, it is a really long way about 1.2kms. The guide leads us along pointing out this and that and then at the end he tells us to keep to the left to avoid falling debris. He then leads us a little further and tells us to keep looking right and leads us to the left, he says ok you can go straight ahead now….and there it is the Treasury of Petra peeking through the last bit of the canyon at us, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of complete awe. We walk up to it and I’m afraid Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade doesn’t even do it justice.
It is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, although, like almost everything else worth seeing in this world, is completely surrounded by tourists. I loved it just the same. I had pictures taken in front of it looking like Indiana Jones and then moved on to the rest of the city. Which in parts is almost as spectacular. The Roman amphitheatre is a sight to see. I managed to walk back up the sic in time to meet the bus and I must say the walk back up is not for the faint of heart.
We are loaded onto the bus again and were taken to the Marriot for lunch, which was lovely, authentic Jordanian food, with a view overlooking the Jordanian mountains. Again, back on the bus and the guide says he has a surprise for us, we drive up the road a little way and are ushered into a small building on the side of the road, the building does not look like anything special, we go in and Mian (our guide) tells us the spring flowing inside this building and the rock behind us are the Spring of Moses, where Moses’ staff struck the rock and produced water. Nice Surprise, only our bus got to see it.
We drove all the way back to Aqaba city and got to see the tallest flag in the world, it was getting dark and in the Arab world Friday is a holiday, so there were people everywhere. I walked around and there were some young boys singing around the flag and children playing, old men drinking tea and women probably gossiping. I walked around by myself and didn’t get hassled by one person! It was so refreshing after Cairo, hassle city.
We got back on the bus and drove to the marina, we were given our passports back stamped with both and entry and departure visa, how efficient I thought to myself. In Egypt, they seem to do everything the stupid way, or the slowest way possible and it has shit me off at times. The boat ride back was nice, behind us could be seen Israel and Jordan and in front of us Egypt. I’ve never been able to see three countries at once. I spent the whole trip on deck talking to this nice Dutch couple. We got back to Taba and spent another hour attempting to get through customs and loaded back onto the bus which waited around for about an hour for some unknown reason.
We drove 2 hours back to Sharm el Sheikh, stopping for a rest in Dahab on the way, a rest I think no one wanted, I think everyone just wanted to get back. We got back to Sharm and were dropped in the same petrol station, and I got onto a smaller bus. The small bus took us all back to our hotels, the slow, stupid way. Dropping off people at one hotel in one street and then going somewhere else and then to another hotel in the previous street. I got back to my hotel the Amar Sina Resort at about 2am, 24 hour round trip!