Asia, Jordan

JOURNEY TO JORDAN: HERE I COME!!!

Alone again. After eleven days with a group of new friends, I was alone again.

Alone in a new place is a bit scary, even though I used to travel alone.

The group tour which started from Jakarta ended when the bus entered Queen Alia International Airport. We parted our way at Amman Airport, Jordan after eleven days together on a pilgrimage tour through Egypt, Israel and ended in Jordan.

Not enough time to say goodbye to all friends, they were busy carrying luggage to the airport. Some remembered and hugged me tightly.Most rushed to check-in. I did not mind because I felt sad being separated from them. The tour guide from Jordan approached and chatted when he saw my sad face.

Besides sad, I am also worried and scared. Always like this, a trip to a new place scares me. No matter how many times I have traveled alone.

Long story short the bus driver dropped me off on the main road and pointed to where to take a taxi. He also added that there was no need to be afraid because Amman was very safe. He said “Welcome to Jordan” before closing the bus door.

Even though he dropped me off on the main road, it deserted during the day. Vehicles rarely passed by, most taxis and other public transportation. Some locals walked fast. Shops, restaurants, and other businesses closed. I then remembered (reading from several blog articles) that besides the fasting month of Ramadhan, that day was Friday. Every business closed on Fridays. Jordan’s weekend is Friday and Saturday.

While waiting for the taxi on the side of the road, I suddenly felt sad (again). I missed my travel partner. We enjoyed tremendous days even though it was the first time we met.

I missed my roommates the most. My roommates carried large suitcases full of gifts and clothes. They amazed to see that I only carried a cabin suitcase. Our room was messy. The most ludicrous thing was when we were debating the temperature of the air conditioner, who slept in the extra bed (there were the three of us in the room), who showered first and many others. I could hardly believe, three adults (one of us already a grandmother) were still arguing for trivial matters. Hilarious!!!   

Nevertheless, I couldn’t wait to start a new travel experience. Especially since Jordan was the first country to visit in the Middle East. Scary and, at the same time, fun. Of course, the good side was enjoying the local culture, visiting fun new places and meeting new friends.

 

Meet New Friends

As a solo traveler often I worry about loneliness.

It turned out that making friends with locals and travelers in Jordan is easy. Locals were friendly wherever I went. I met new friends who gave a new nuance on my first solo trip to the Middle East.

When I traveled to Petra and Wadi Rum I met adventurers from various countries. They came in groups or solo.  From work colleagues, husband/wife, relatives, friends who met once a year to adventure together.

I met a professional photographer from the Philippines who works in Dubai. We met at the Jet Bus Station in Amman on our way to Petra. He greeted me in Tagalog and, as usual, I smiled and said: “I am from Indonesia”. We both laughed and discussed plans to visit Petra.

The next day we accidentally met again at the ticket window at Petra. We agreed to explore together. When we entered Petra, he just said, “Where’s your camera?” Immediately I offered my cell phone or DSLR camera. He captured my poses from different angles. He advised me to be more relaxed and gave an example of a relaxed pose. Of course, he also gave a crash photography course.

On another occasion, while I was on my way to Wadi Rum from Petra, I met a group of oldies. A youthful of heart group from Cape Town, South Africa. They took every opportunity to joke, debate and discuss anything. Even they had a leader (I impressed with her memory and ability to count without a calculator), there were cheerleaders to friends who tired even some specialized in calculating how many luggage they carried.

We happened to meet on the way from Petra to Wadi Rum on the shuttle bus. They related to each other. Brothers and sisters, wife/husband and best friends who have traveled together for decades. They traveled the world together, and even last year they went to Borobudur Temple. I rarely heard foreigners mentioning one of the attractions in Indonesia besides Bali. When meeting foreigners, many don’t know that Bali is part of Indonesia. 

During my stay at the Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, I met a volunteer from Spain. After working for six months in Amman, she planned to stay for two weeks at Wadi Rum. She worked without pay but got free accommodation, transportation, and food. In return, she would help with the smooth running of each activity. She would welcome guests, gave them direction, guided and even spent the night at the campsite. At Wadi Rum she realized that water was a very valuable element. After a week in Wadi Rum, she only took a bath once.

During a tour with Land Rover 4×4 at Wadi Rum, I met four people who were IT professionals in Germany. Every year they meet and travel abroad together. One of them could climb the rocks like a monkey… hahahahaha. He took a different route. I was the first person to climb. When I arrived at the top, I (with short breaths and trembling knees) surprised to see him already sitting on a rock and relaxing.

The advantage of traveling with this group was that they understood my discomfort with height. They helped me up and down the towering high rocks. They patiently guided me on which stone to hold or step on. Some even guided me from above and friends behind kept me from slipping.

On the way back to Amman, I was anxious because of the shuttle left in the morning. Two people left the camp late. When these two people boarded the Land Rover, I was already late. I had to take a taxi that would be expensive. Also at that time was a fasting month (Ramadhan), public transportation was rare. Apart from that the terminal would be quiet, although everyone said Jordan was a safe country, I remained cautious.

Long story short, two people who were late felt guilty and promised to drive me to Amman. But they did not go straight to Amman. They took a tour with camels and then visited several sites before returning to Amman. Of course, I did not mind. I was very fortunate to meet nice people so that I could return to Amman for free plus visiting sites that I knew were not covered by public transportation. Hmmm … blessing in disguise. Although I worried, finally, I smiled broadly.

Until now I still comunicate with my friends. I enjoyed doing my solo and group tour this time.

 

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One of the archeology site at Madaba, City of Mosaic.

 

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St. George Church – Greek Orthodox Church.

 

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St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church.

 

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I choose COURAGE than comfort.

 

Photography

When I plan every trip, I always look for a place that is rich in culture, unique local customs, beautiful nature, and delicious food. Besides that, I enjoy learning through the camera lens.

Therefore when I told the travel agent, I disappointed in the first conversation:

“At least we stop about ten to twenty minutes.”

“Huh … really?” I did not believe my hearing.

“What do you mean, only twenty minutes?” I began to feel uncomfortable.

“The schedule is busy from morning to evening. It’s not easy to travel from one place to another in group in a busy place. “She enjoyed her torment.

She knew I loved taking pictures, so she gave me honest answers.I appreciated her. However by doing that  she burst my bubbles in a few minutes of conversation.

There was no time to enjoy the atmosphere and lives of residents (I like to sit on a park bench while watching people passing by). My mind wandered when I saw people in strange clothes walking past us. I saw it from many travel videos from YouTube about the culture, history and daily life of the locals. I wanted to experience the same thing.

I missed so many good photo opportunities. However I determined to concentrate on this pilgrimage agenda. Certainly, I also annoyed by the limited time. I loved to take the time and experienced the closeness to things I only hear or read from the news, websites or, even, someone who is already there.

Yes, taking cool photos exceeds all the souvenirs that I bring home. However, in the end, I chose to experience being there. Being in a place thousands of years ago became the most important place for humanity.

 

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Panorama from Kerak Castle.

 

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Ruin of the Castle.

 

A jam-packed Versus Relaxed Agenda

During a busy tour schedule visiting historic sites, I had very little time to myself. Even though everything went smoothly, sometimes I  stunned and looked around while thinking “where am I now?”.

Because I couldn’t negotiate travel schedules with groups, I tried to make my traveling schedules more relaxed in Jordan. Apart from Petra and Wadi Rum, which I planned and booked in advance, I did not plan anything in Amman.

The group on the last day visited Amman Citadel and Mount Nebo.Therefore I just enjoyed the night life in three days. Walking along this part of the old city enjoys the habits of the local people breaking their fast. I astonished at the drastic changes day and night. I could not cross the alley or the small road. Traffic jams, sidewalks congested with people walking or gathering.

I could not wait to enjoy the variety of foods that I only see in magazines or vlogs. Seductive with various names that are confusing. By the way, the most annoying thing when joining a tour group, the food provided for more than a week was Chinese cuisine. Huh ??? … far from Indonesia, of course, I wanted to enjoy local food. Since many tour participants could not stand the seasoning of local cuisine, the local travel agent provided us with menus that suitable for the “Indonesian stomach”.

While searching for travel information, I watched a lot of documentaries, video blogs and read travel blogs about the countries I would visit. I know from experience that I won’t have time to read brochures or guidebooks during the trip. I prefer to enjoy than to concentrate on books or maps.

Imagine how people lived a thousand years ago. Incised in the memory of every curve of the rocks in Petra and Wadi Rum. Smell a delicious plate of Falafel in the old city of Amman. Therefore the journey after Jerusalem was more relaxed.

 

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Up…up…up!!! more stairs and rocks to climb.

 

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From Indonesia?

For the first time in the story of my journey through the world, a souvenir shop owner could immediately guess where I was from. When I asked him how he guessed it, he said from my smile. 

Jordan visits by many Indonesians. Most are people who make the pilgrimage. He could speak a little in Indonesian. We talked for a long time.

Before returning to the hostel, I bought some fridge magnet decorations. He persuaded me to buy bags, carpets or other souvenirs. I honestly said that I did not carry luggage like other tourists.

Many other experiences were very striking and would always be remembered. I had read in a magazine that I felt at the time:

 

 

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Wadi Rum – Valley of the Moon.

 

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