The Jordan Roundup

14 Aug

*Right now we should be somewhere around Upper Pisang on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal*

The Statistics

Number of days spent in country –  5

Cities/towns visited – Wadi Musa (Petra), Wadi Rum

Number of different lodgings – 2

Flights – 0

Bus journeys – 3

Boat rides – 0

Combi/collective/taxi  journeys – 5

Days of rain – 0

The Budget

Total US dollar amount spent – $603.57

Average cost per day, per person -$60.36

Average lodging cost per night, per person – $14.29  We only stayed in one hotel (3 nights) and our 4th night was spent in the desert outside of Wadi Rum as part of a Bedouin overnight trip.  We had our own room/bathroom with just a fan in Wadi Musa (Petra), which was totally fine since the temperature drops significantly at night.  Breakfast was included.

Average food/drink cost per day, per person – $12.50.  Breakfast was included at the hotel, and they offered a great packed lunch service for about $5 which we took with us every day to Petra, and on the day we left since we had such a long bus ride to get to Amman for our flight. During our desert trip, dinner and breakfast were included.  We ate dinner out the other nights, at local budget restaurants.

The Best

Petra.  It’s just awesome.  This was the main reason we came to Jordan, and we were not disappointed by these ruins.  It’s got a hefty price tag, but it was worth it.  Do yourself a favor and spend at least 2 days exploring the site, but skip the ‘Petra by Night’.

The Treasury at Petra

The Worst

Wadi Rum and the Bedouin Meditation Camp.  We kept hearing about how great a trip to Wadi Rum was, and how we just had to go and spend a night in a Bedoiun camp.  I believe the words “magical” were used.  Yeah, well, we didn’t get it.  The deal is you take a fairly standard jeep tour of the area, then you kick back for the evening at a Bedouin style camp, have dinner, and sleep under the stars.  These trips don’t come cheap. The desert was nice enough, but not much different from some of the other desert landscapes we’ve seen.  Our guide was less than interactive, which was a huge bummer, and the camp itself was filthy with leftover food from the last trip rotting on the tables and counters, half-drunk water bottles strewn about in the sand, and used tissues littering the seating area.

The best part was sleeping out under the stars, which really is pretty awesome and on a clear night you can see basically the entire universe.  For the price, nearly $60 per person for less than 24 hours, we just didn’t think it was worth it.

To be perfectly honest, the other major problem we had, even in the very short 5 days, was the way I (Ashley) was treated by many of the men we encountered.  In the 110 degree heat, I wore long pants, and a long sleeve button up shirt the entire time.  Despite this, I was leered at nearly constantly, with the exception of when we were inside Petra.  In addition, many men did things like wink and lick their lips at me, or made mildly obscene comments as they passed me.  All of this was done right in front of Justin, who was angered, but didn’t really know what to do to stop it.  I want to point out that not EVERY man we crossed paths with behaved this way, but it was enough that I was ready to leave on day 3.

On the first day, we shared a taxi from the border of Israel, to Wadi Musa (a 3 hour drive into the desert where Petra is located) with two single girls, one of whom chose to sit in the front seat for the long ride since she is prone to motion-sickness.  At one point the driver reached over to her and began to stroke her hair and her neck, and we had to ask him to pull over so she could switch seats with Justin who was with me in the back.  She too was in a long skirt and long sleeved shirt.  It was wildly inappropriate, and I found it very bold that he would behave this way with all of us, including Justin, in the car.  We would have gotten a new taxi if we hadn’t been out in the middle of nowhere.

I was disappointed by these situations and felt a bit defeated, especially since we’d heard so many lovely things about Jordan.

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8 Responses to “The Jordan Roundup”

  1. crazytraintotinkytown August 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    How disappointing for you – I hope that other aspects of the trip compensated for your treatment by some of the male population

    • Ashley September 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

      It was a bummer. We’ve been talking about it again recently and we wonder if we were travelling in a different way (meaning, not on a tiny backpacker budget) if we might have had a different experience.

  2. Kristin August 20, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Thanks so much for doing these country round-ups. They are so informative and we will definitely use them in our upcoming Middle East travels. Your stories are so interesting, too. So you think Petra is the only stop we should make in Jordan? We should be there late October or November. Thanks again for these awesome posts! Take care! :)

    • Kristin August 20, 2012 at 9:05 am #

      It’s crazy how close you were to Iraq – did you happen to see Erik? ;) Btw, my mom is really loving your posts, too. She gave me the overview of this one before I even had a chance to read it. :)

    • Ashley September 6, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

      Glad you like them! So, I think there’s probably a bit more to Jordan than we managed to get to in 5 days. If you’ve never spent a night in the desert that might be worth it for you, but i’d choose your company really really carefully. Also, if you don’t get to Israel, you can also go float in the Dead Sea on the Jordan side. Aqaba is sometimes hailed as a fun seaside place to go, but really it looked like an overpriced border town to me.

  3. Esa October 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    When I was in Jordan I got so sick of the harassment, I decided to buy a hijab and abaja and dress like the many other Jordanian ladies. And guess what? It made no difference whatsoever. It’s deeprooted in the partriarchal system of Jordan, which 7iber explains in her blog:

    Hospitality and harassment…that sums up Jordan for me.

    • Hibbe December 28, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      Solo female visitors to Jordan are considered “easy meat”, no matter how much you cover yourself. Jordan is a conservative, traditional country with a patriarchal system (parts of Amman being an exception to this rule).
      No Jordanian male would ever touch a Jordanian female, so avoid this, however friendly it may seem (e.g. plenty of google pictures of locals with their arm around a female tourist: very inappropriate!). They know what they are doing and that it is wrong i.e. disrespectful.

      Never sit in the front seat of a taxi, no eye contact and no friendly conversation: that’s how females get about in Jordan (if not accompanied by a male family member).

      And avoid booking with unlicensed travel agencies. If they do not have the license number of the Ministry of Tourism on their website, forget them. They are unlicensed for a reason (unprofessional, no education in tourism etc.). Those that are licensed are very professional, as they risk loosing their license if the tourist files a complaint with the Ministry of Tourism.

      And do not think you will be safe booking with a non-local female (e.g. European, who set up travel business/married a local), because that is no guarantee for your safety at all. Some of these women are messed up or unstable.

  4. juliatigina July 29, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    Keep Yourself Away From Wadi Rum!
    Complain on Mosa Saleah Al-Zalabeih (Wadi Rum, Jordan)

    It is a very sad story that took place with me in Wadi Rum. It is unbelievable that such a thing can still happen in the 21st century.
    On January 1, 2014 I crossed the Israeli border with the only wish to spend a couple of days in a magnificent desert of Wadi Rum. At 1 pm Mosa Saleah Al-Zalabeih, – the owner of Wadi Rum Galaxy Camp, – to whom I came to work as a volunteer, came to pick me up. He was not just cute on that day. He was incredibly handsome. I fell in love with him from the very first moment. He seemed to feel the same. He was smiling and looked happy.
    On the way to Wadi Rum, I was feeling how this beautiful desert was putting magic on me. Everything was so familiar, as though I had been living there before. I was more than sure that it would be the right place to create a family and to stay for life.
    After 4 months (on May 13, 2014) I came back to Wadi Rum and we got married.
    The first weeks that I spent with his mother were not really happy. The family was very poor and lived in terrible conditions. No kitchen, no shower, no bed linen, – nothing. Children slept on the sand and very often there was no food at all. When the school year got over and all the crowd left to the desert, I was left alone. Mosa locked me in a small dirty room which I shared with mice. He didn’t allow me to speak with anyone and controlled all my steps. I was kept like a slave in a jail. Very often he forgot about me and I had to stay hungry, without food and any means of communication. Through lie, sweet words and sometimes pressure my husband managed to take all my money. He scammed absolutely everything I had. When there was nothing else to take, he decided to throw me away like a trash. He never treated me like a wife. He didn’t spend a JD on me. No house, no food, nothing.
    All the family knew that there was something wrong, but did noting. No one came to visit me or to ask whether I need anything. It seemed that Mosa waited for my death from starving. Then he would bury the body and sign with relief.
    When Mosa decided to get rid of me, I managed to survive only thanks to the family, who found me. They brought me to their home, gave food and clothing. During 2 weeks the family took care of me. Thanks to them I went to the Tourist Police, wrote a complain on my husband and returned all the money. I had to put him into the jail, but under the pressure of the family I agreed not to do it. I was very sick and tired. The only wish I had was to return the money and to go back to my home.
    Wadi Rum is the worst place you can choose to come. People lie here and treat foreigners very badly. The last time scamming is growing so rapidly in this region. In the police I was told that my case unfortunately was not the first one in Wadi Rum.
    My husband treated me so badly. He lied to me from the very first day I know him. He made me leave my job and country. He made me take Islam. He organized a fake wedding in the village to make me believe that I will stay for life with him. After he scammed me for 4100 JD, I was needed no more. He threw me away like a trash. Only thanks to my complain that I wrote in the Tourist Police, I managed to return all the money and finally to come back to my country.
    Sorry to say, but Wadi Rum, like Petra, has become a platform for scamming. People forgot their real values. Traditions and religion are dying here. Money has taken their place.

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