Africa & Middle East / Jordan / My Travels

Jordan: Move On, Never Look Back

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” – Joshua (Numbers 14:6-9).
Joshua is the faithful follower of God who was appointed by Moses to take over after his death. Joshua led the people of Israelites to cross Jordan River to complete the mission to take them to the Promise Land.

The Treasury at Petra

The Treasury at Petra

First of all, just like what happened to me in Paris — I LOST ALL MY PHOTOS AGAIN!!! My SD card was again corrupted and lost all my photos except those on my phone. Most of the photos we lost are the ones when we were floating at Dead Sea! ;(
Now, let’s move on…

Horse carriage for those who doesn't or cannot hike, hikers should stay attentive as they don't have built-in horns! :P

Horse carriage for those who doesn’t or cannot hike, hikers should stay attentive as they don’t have built-in horns! :P

Jordan is not only popular because of its Biblical heritage, there’s so much more to see in Jordan – ruined Roman cities, Crusader castles, desert citadels and the Dead Sea.  You will see plenty of men wearing robes and leading herds of sheep across the desert just like how I picture the old times in the Bible. Jordan became more popular destination because of the magnificent Petra even before it was chosen as the New 7 Wonders of the World. It is also one of the reasons why Jordan was on my list and so every traveler should!

Camels inside Petra

Camels inside Petra

Jordan is one part of the Holy Land (along with Israel now, which in the past, is part of Jordan too) that most of religious pilgrims today start retracing God’s revelation to mankind in Jordan before they continue to Israel. Most of the Bible stories in Old Testament happened here in Jordan from Adam & Eve, Noah, Job, Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, up to the New Testament from John the Baptist, to Jesus Christ, up to Paul and other disciples.

Jordan is blessed with spiritual heritage when God first manifested Himself to human beings, it is documented that this land witnessed several prophets and God interacted several times with human beings and the full history of Salvation. Most of the archeological sites in Jordan were excavated and identified places where Biblical prophets, including Jesus Christ, preached the Word of God, performed miracles to ordinary people. We are blessed that it is now easily accessible today and that new sites are discovered every year.

The entrance to Petra

The entrance to Petra

It is rich in Biblical heritage, however, Jordan is a Moslem country. But it is one of the very open-minded countries in the Middle East. It is also very safe and not so conservative. Though, you will really have to respect their culture and religion (Moslem as majority) by the way you behave. A lady can walk around by herself and should not wear provocative clothing if you don’t want to attract attention especially with guys! One important thing to take note of travelers going to Jordan is, it’s not cheap.  The driver/guide we hired for 2 days already cost us 200JD or US$280 plus tip.

 

Places we’ve covered:

1.  Amman Citadel  (2JD or US$3)

It was around 12mn when we arrived the new airport of Amman. We took the shuttle going to downtown instead of taking a cab not knowing we can only save few dinars as we still needed to take a cab from the bus terminal to our hotel. The trick is, just ask locals around first how much it will cost before you agree on a price. In our case, we only saved few dinars.

Amman Citadel

Amman Citadel

Our hotel (Jordan Tower Hotel) is centrally located in downtown, it’s more of a guesthouse than a hotel, the room is very basic, but the hotel staffs are really very helpful and they speak English. From the rooftop, you can already see the Roman Amphitheatre on which we didn’t visit the next day. We only visited Citadel and our driver/guide Omran, drove us around to see the city. Around 10am, we were already on our way to Petra! We took the Desert Highway coz it will only take 3hours instead of 5hours if we take King’s Highway. There’s nothing to see but of course desert, so we slept during the trip :P

Mosque inside The Citadel

Mosque inside The Citadel

2. Petra (50JD for one day or US$70)

As soon as we arrived our hotel in Petra (Petra Palace Hotel) it’s already past 1pm, so we had to hurry after checking in to the gate of Petra (which is just few steps from our hotel) to get in as it closes at 3pm!  We were fortunate to arrive a day early than US Pres. Obama’s visit, as they will close Petra for him! I will definitely hate him if it happens we arrived the same day he planned his Petra tour! :P

Obamacare :P

Obamacare :P

Petra Hotel

Petra Palace Hotel

We didn’t make it to the free guided tour for small groups (max of group of 3 only) as this is only available in the morning, so we just grabbed a map and did it on our own, which is just easy as there’s also some explanation for each site you will encounter. We didn’t take any horse ride even if they told us it’s part of the ticket as I was warned that they will still ask you a fixed “tip” rate at the end of the ride, also the I pity the horses, they look so tired and exhausted even in a fine weather.

From the gate of Petra, we were already welcomed by massive rock formations that are indeed jaw-dropping when you experience it in real life! I have been following all the photos of the travelers going there and I promised myself that one day I will see all these for real, and I thank my friend Rutchel for initiating the idea of this tour, I have waited long enough for friends who kept telling me we will go there someday, I am so thankful to her that she invited me over.

The entrance to Petra

The entrance to Petra

As we entered the mouth of the Siq, the mile-long fissure in the rocks that lets the outside world into the hidden city, we got more excited and didn’t stopped clicking our cameras in every corner, it’s that amazing! Tour groups poured down the narrow gorge and horse carriage with passengers distracts us most of the time but we couldn’t care less about it anymore! It wasn’t that cold along the Siq so I really quite enjoyed my trek, I never felt tired a bit until we reached– The Treasury! I can’t believe it with my own eyes, it’s really beautiful and majestic, it really deserves a spot in the New 7 Wonders of the World.

The Treasury peeking from the Siq

Along the Siq

As we continue walking in a more spacious area, the more the sandstorm hit us, real hard. It’s so strong we couldn’t move, open our eyes and a bit painful on my skin…so we just decided to cut our journey sad to say. Our final stop is only halfway, which is the Roman Theatre. We took a rest and humbled by the graceful beauty of the huge oval forum, with Roman columns, where, at some point I think Jesus preached and healed there hehe.

Sandstorming around

Sandstorming around

The Royal Tombs at Petra

The Royal Tombs at Petra

Obelisk Tomb and the Triclinium

Obelisk Tomb and the Triclinium

On our way back, we felt a bit tired and took our pace slowly this time. It’s getting colder to so it really sort of affected our pacing. We started seeing armies (Jordanians and Americans) preparing perhaps the site for the visit of Pres. Obama the next day. We planned to swim at our hotel’s pool but it got colder during the night, especially Petra is a highland.

So after we freshen up and scrub off all the sand from our hair and body, our driver Omran picked us up to bring us to La Maison Hotel’s Arabic dinner buffet on which he got us a good deal of 7JD or US$10 as he knew the owner hehe. After a glass of wine, I am feeling pretty dog-tired, but Rutchel still wanted to explore the little town more so we headed to Cave Bar which is a cave-like bar at Petra Gate Guesthouse (it’s an expensive new hotel actually, not a typical guesthouse!) located right at the gate of Petra. I’m glad we did, coz we experienced a traditional Jordanian “night party” where crowd danced in Arabic steps in of course Arabic tune too, it was fun to watch and a learning experience too not until they played Gangnam Style, ulk! Then we call it a night ;P

Cave Bar at Petra Gate Guesthouse

Cave Bar at Petra Gate Guesthouse

3. Dana Eco-Village

On our way to Dead Sea the next day, we took the King’s Highway instead of the Desert Highway. King’s Highway is the most ancient route, it was mentioned in the Bible as the route that Moses wished to follow as he led his people north through the land of Edom.

Fog along King's Highway

Fog along King’s Highway

On our way, it became really foggy as we get closer to the highest altitude of Jordan. We stopped by Dana Eco-Village, where you can still old typical Arabic houses. It’s a village I always picture an old Middle-eastern village. Here we saw how locals live and perhaps the real Jordan. Actually, I imagined little Aniken Skywalker roaming around than little Jesus Christ in it hehe.

Dana Village

Dana Village

Dana is about 500 years old, and preserves many aspects of Jordanian villages of the 19th century villages of Jordan. It hosts Dana Nature Reserve with eco-tourism facilities. We stopped to one hotel (Dana Hotel) to use their bathroom, and were surprised to meet a fellow Filipina working there! Oh well, I should not be surprised anymore as Filipinos are everywhere anyway, but here in an old village???Lol!

I am thankful for our guide to bring us here even it is not part of our itinerary, as this is the kind of village I want to see in Jordan, however, I also thought that if we didn’t stopped here, perhaps we could still make it to the summit of Mount Nebo. Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience I guess that not all who traveled in Jordan would experience it ;)

4. The Baptism Site of Jesus Christ and the Jordan River (12 JD or US$17)

This place is one of the highlights of our trip to the Holy Land. When we got our tickets, we were given an audio-guide too, on which we never used at all as there is an English-speaking guide anyway. At the shuttle, he showed us where John The Baptist lived and various churches built by different countries all over the world.

We started walking down the Jordan River, it wasn’t a wide as I thought from the Bible stories, but our guide told me that it used to be wide of course.  Jordan River played a significant role in numerous events of Bible History: after Joshua the Israelites entered the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan River that, like the Red Sea, God divided it for them, this is also where Elijah ascended to heaven with chariots of fire, this is also the place where Elisha baptizes and healed many people, and of course, this is the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ!

The Jordan River

The Jordan River

Then we reached the exact location of the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ, I literally looked up in the sky and imagine how John de Baptist saw the heavens opened and saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (though I didn’t see any single bird!). My friends and I were blessed to be the ONLY people in the batch of tourists that time, who were allowed to go inside the barricaded site and asked to stand on where Jesus stood to meet John de Baptist. I’m not sure how true that part is, but I was still grateful for that experience our guide gave us. When we all had our moment of silence to pray, that was when I felt His presence :)

The Baptism Site of Jesus Christ

The Baptism Site of Jesus Christ

5. Dead Sea (25JD or US$35)

We went to see and float at Dead Sea at Amman Beach which surprised me with its facilities in a good way. We were thinking of experiencing it at one of the big hotels along the shore to have a better facility and beach part, but Omran told us that we just go to the public (paid) beach as it’s the same beach anyway. Sounds fair enough and so we did.

However, I am not sure if it’s the Amman Beach side of Dead Sea that’s is not really comfortable doing the famous “Dead Sea Floating Shot” while reading your book because of the stronger waves, or it’s just us who couldn’t just pull it off longer hahaha! I suspected this as we are the only ones in the crowd who tried doing this pose, and of course, I drenched my book! But it’s quite an experience so it’s still worth it hehe but like our friends say, it didn’t happen if we don’t have pictures! Lol! Oh well, it’s just in our memories now haha!

Dead Sea

Dead Sea at Amman Beach

The water was cold for this season, but it gets warmer as you soak yourself in, it’s so oily coz of all the things that have died in it over the years, nothing can survive the Dead Sea that’s why it’s called as such. We couldn’t float properly also because of the strong waves hitting us and it’s not really a good feeling when you had some of the water gets in your eyes! It was like 10x worse than putting salt directly in your eyes, gah I hate it lol! So just after we had our photos each (on which we lost haha!), we decided to move to the swimming pool as we couldn’t stand the stinging feeling as salt started to form on our skin as we get dry! Seriously!

Salt forming quickly once you get out of the water!

Salt forming quickly once you get out of the water!

6. Mount Nebo (2JD or US$3)

We were an hour late for the closing of this place (4pm) so we didn’t really get to the summit where Moses first saw the Promised Land on which he would never enter. It is also believed that Moses was buried here. At summit, you will view the entire Holy Land including Betlehem, Jericho and Jerusalem.  Along the highway, we slowed down to see the Serpentine Cross on top of Mount Nebo, the cross symbolizes the bronze serpent taken by Moses into the desert, and the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Maybe when I visit Jordan again, I will definitely make sure that I will be able to see the summit ;)

Serpentine Cross on top of Mount Nebo (shot from the highway)

Serpentine Cross on top of Mount Nebo (shot from the highway)

7. Madaba the Byzantine Mosaic Art City (3JD or US$4)

We were running very late as almost every place in this part of the country closes very early. And as expected, we didn’t manage to squeeze in everything in our itinerary in one day. We skipped lunch, but still wasn’t able to make it to the places where we can see the Old Map of Holy Land in mosaic. We just went to one church that has mosaic patterns on its floor on which we almost fail to see it as it was getting dark already.

Madaba Mosaic

Madaba Church with Byzantine Mosaic Art

Closer look at the Byzantine Mosaic in Madaba

Closer look at the Byzantine Mosaic in Madaba

Then, we stopped by a good restaurant in Madaba (Dana Restaurant), to have our late-lunch-early dinner buffet. It was closed already but since our guide knew the owner (again!), they accommodated us and served a lot of food from the buffet! It was really good and cheap ;)

Very refreshing Mint Lemonade at Dana Restaurant. Jordan is known  with good Mint Lemonades!

Very refreshing Mint Lemonade at Dana Restaurant. Jordan is known with good Mint Lemonades!

 

During our 3-hour flight from Dubai to Amman (Jordan) I engrossed myself reading all the Biblical associations of Jordan to the Old and New Testament. I was amazed that it started even during the times of Adam and Eve up to Jesus Christ.  Here are some of the stories worth sharing:

1. Adam & Eve – They interpreted the description of Garden of Eden to the bank of Jordan River in the Jordan valley given that this place is lush with vegetation and animal life.

2. Noah – The tomb/shrine of Noah in Kerak, but our guide only showed us the Islamic castle of the Crusaders when we drove along this town.

The Burial SIte of Noah

The Burial SIte of Noah at Kerak from Kings Highway

3. Job – The tomb/shrine of Job at Salt, Amman, the most obedient bible character I know of, he is the wealthy, righteous man who endured hardships with much patience and ultimately was rewarded with God’s blessings.

4. Abraham and Lot – In the towns of Numeira, near the Dead Sea is where you can find ruins that they believed to be Sodom and Gomorrah, the cave where Lot and his daughters found refuge, even a  statue stone that dramatizes Lot’s wife when she turned her back and disobeyed God’s instructions.

A statue of self-encrusted stone on a cliff above the Dead Sea dramatizes the Biblical story of Lot's wife who turned into a pillar of salt as she looked back toward Sodom and Gomorrah, Jordan.

A statue of self-encrusted stone on a cliff above the Dead Sea dramatizes the Biblical story of Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt as she looked back toward Sodom and Gomorrah, Jordan. (photo from a postcard)

5. Jacob and Esau – A preserved temple in Pella is believed to be the place where Jacob wrestled with God, after he wrestled with God his name was changed to Isra-‘el.

6. Moses and Aaron – Well it’s just too many sites around Jordan linking his route from Egypt to his mission to take his people to the Promised Land, up to his death at Mount Nebo.

Burial SIte of Abraham at Mount Nebo

Burial SIte of Abraham at Mount Nebo

7. Joshua – Moses anointed him to complete his mission, and was successful to cross the Jordan River to reach the Promised Land, the ruins of the Walls of Jericho can still be found today.

8. Elijah and Elisha – Elijah’s Hill is where Elijah ascended to heaven with chariots of fire. In Jordan valley is where Elijah anointed Elisha as his successor, he also crossed the Jordan River and baptized and healed a lot of people in this river.

The way to Jordan River

The way to Jordan River

9. John The Baptist – Bethany, this is where John The Baptist lived his life. And at Machaerus hilltop is where he was beheaded.

10. Jesus Christ – Jesus was baptized in Bethany and gathered His first disciples and where the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit manifested itself at Jordan River. He preached and healed in Jerash, and visited Petra with his disciples during their ministry.

Israel just opposite the Jordan River, there are guards there so no one can cross-over.

Israel just across the Jordan River, there are guards there so no one can cross-over.

And that ends our weekend getaway trip to Jordan!

Yes, it was very short yet worthwhile. Even if I didn’t lose my photos, I really intend to go back to see more places like Jerash and other Biblical sites, then perhaps, at that time I can continue my trip to Israel. I know it will be a risk as UAE doesn’t really encourage people to have a stamp from Israel, but we shall see. It was truly devastating when I lost my photos, especially that we only used my camera at Dead Sea to have that “must-have-Dead-Sea-floating” shot. I only have very few photos from my phone. Most of the photos I’ve uploaded here are from my friends’ point and shoot cameras and I just post-process it. I am still thankful that at least they can share me some than have nothing at all.

Elephant look-alike along The Siq at Petra

Elephant look-alike along The Siq at Petra

My photos may have vanished just like the lost city of Petra, I trusted the Lord that He may recover it for me so I can share with friends my experience during this trip, I was sad but I also prepared my heart that in case it can’t be recovered anymore, I know that He has His purpose. The process I’ve gone through trying to recover it, was just like Moses’ wandering in the wilderness, it tested my faith, because after several attempts, the more it becomes clearer to me that it is not possible anymore, but I remained hopeful and faithful.

When my last sort told me they couldn’t do anything anymore, I thought I will break down, but I have acted on it still with a grateful heart because I realized, that the wonderful experience of following some of the biblical heritage from Moses to Jesus Christ and that all these Bible stories I’ve been hearing for so many years have suddenly fit into place, is something I could be thankful for, I couldn’t be more blessed than that! And because of that, I should still be grateful.

So just like Lot’s wife, I shall move forward and should never look back ;)

IMG_5694

Majestic “The Treasury” of Petra

Advertisements

One thought on “Jordan: Move On, Never Look Back

  1. Pingback: My journey to the – 7 New Wonders of the World | heart & sole

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s