I'm here in Jordan (Amman- Petra)

Trip Start Mar 23, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Well I think I'm here. My head is a little fuzzy even though I have now had a good nights sleep.

Plane trip in a nut shell:

Auckland - Brisbane: had a free seat between the lady beside me and me. She was going to Dubai for work but sounded Kiwi. Nice lady, she said I would love it in Jordan/Egypt. So far she is right. Had an hour in Brisbane airport with no Australian money and the exchange would not change my $5 NZ or take silver. So no cup of tea to calm the nerves, the bastards!

Brisbane, Australia- Singaore: Had a French man sat between me and my new "Friend" (we exchanged a few sentences at the point she's my friend, don't ask me what her name is though...) He couldn't speak much English and when he sneezed it sounded French- I know I am odd. The movies wouldn't work for an hour or so after take off so I attempted to sleep soon after they came back on. Got about 1 hours sleep through the whole 8hr flight. Stop off was for in Singapore so it would have been 30mins in the airport so I sat on the plane and tried to regain the sanity I lost due to lack of sleep. I soon realized that I have lost my sanity a long time ago so instead I read more of the Da Vinci Code.

Singapore-Dubai- think I watched tv, can't remember. Had really nice funny looking fruit as part of the fruit salad- white with black seeds through it... no idea what else I was eating though.

Dubai- went through customs ok. I had about 7 1/2 hours there and was booked into a Hotel. I flew in at 6.30am and went though customs which took about 30mins roughly. I then went though to meet my "driver" who wasn't there. Walked around for about an hour before asking the people who booked it all etc based in the airport. They called him about 8.30 and he picked me up just before 9. It took 30mins to check in and then instead of hoping to get 3 1/2 hours there found out I only had 2 since the driver left earlier than I thought so I had 1hour sleep and 1hour of BBC news. No hassle at Dubai airport. Nice McArabian chicken wrap though at McDonalds. I felt rather small at the airport.

Dubai- Amman, Jordan. Flight was good. Saw the "Family stone" movie, hate Sarah Jessica Parker but the movie was good. Strange though having all Arabic announcements first then English. Had a 40-something Arab lady a row in front of me who had her cell phone on the whole flight. It rang twice just before we landed which bothered me a bit. So far Jordan has been the best landing- not because of the plane with the strange noises at the wing and the jumpy baggage compartments but from the view. It was amazing seeing real desert etc. I felt as though I was actually away on holiday.

Jordan: Strange seeing people walk across what I thought was a motorway from the airport so casually. Think I over tipped the men who carried my bag to the taxi. Had a man in a suit welcome me at the airport when I couldn't figure out how to get out he said if I give him $1,000 he would tell me then he happily showed me where to go without actually taking any money, or asking for it. Nice man.

I could tell I was at the right hotel when the taxi stopped since the was a big blue Kumuka coach/truck parked outside. Hotel is good. Only seems to have male staff. Kept interrupting there tv watching last night with stupid questions. Felt guilty- silly me. I went to a local shop to buy a couple of packets of chips since I was to tired to have a proper dinner. I didn't understand the man who served me properly and I thought he asked for 17JD so I gave him 50 so I could get change, he didn't mind and c\gave me heaps of notes back counting them as he went... counted them again back at the hotel he'd asked for 17 local cents... very honest of him to give me the right change without taking any for himself, very stupid of me not to realize the difference. Had kissing sounds aimed at me from a group of teenage boys on the way back.

Had a great sleep. It was wonderful hearing the prayers being called, the real thing not the filtered stuff you hear on tv.

My head is still fuzzy as I type this, jet lag I guess.

Wow I'm actually here at last.


So I went for my walk trying to find the gallery and the markets. I walked into a place called "I Canvas" which wasn't a gallery but a restaurant. Luckily I was stopped before I got near the door and it was closed so I didn't make a complete ass of myself. Found the gallery after being re-directed, wonderful artwork. It was interesting to see how the works were from all over the middle east rather than just Jordan. It was 3 levels but was still smaller than the one I am used to in Auckland. It was strange seeing the range of works from sculptures of found objects to wonderful paintings also a plaster sculpture or the female pubic region -odd for such a country that does not depict humans normally, but the work wasn't from a local.

One my way staring at the work I found an American lady, Susan. She was staying in Jordan with a exchange type group and was staying for 6 days. We talked about the work and she then introduced me to the lady she was staying with. I ended up being invited to go with them to the gallery around the corner. It was a 2nd gallery for the same place, both the National gallery. This one only had one exhibition of a Greek artists almost unhealthy obsession with Alexander the Great- so many huge paintings just of Alexander in different settings etc. Odd. After that and looking at the over priced gift shop I was then invited to visit the Jordanian host's brother. After this I learnt that maybe learning something about the stock market may help a lot here. I had a tiny mug of Turkish coffee, I hate coffee but this was nice. I can't imagine any New Zealanders doing that, inviting a stranger in so happily. It was great to have some company with people who weren't being paid to be polite.

About 2 hours later from first leaving the hotel and the short walk back I made myself go to the markets. There was lots of gold necklaces, door nobs (don't know why) magazine stores and copied DVD stores. Sorry Teeba no Sesame St- a few Disney which seemed to be in English. Kept being looked at oddly when I asked for childrens DVD's- maybe next time I should borrow a child off someone first.

I was made even more paranoid than usual on my walk with so many people tooting their car horns, I still don't know if its was at me, a person near by or a building they were tooting at.

Tip: If you turn down a long street and a local woman gives you a very odd look it is probably because you are walking down a long dead-end street.

Random thought: #1 Kept seeing an ad on BBC News TV for NZ- it looks great! No one has ever given me a flax bag of shell-fish (pipi's) before though.

#2 Desk draw in my room is possessed- it keeps opening by itself.

That night I met Sam (tour guide) and Christi (driver)- a nice couple from South Africa who have been working at Kumuka for 9 months- they shouted me pizza for dinner so I have to like them :-)

March 26th.

Met the other 2 people on my tour, they got into the hotel at 3am- poor buggers only got 3 hours sleep before having to get up and ready to leave. We drove off to the Dead Sea, it took 2 hours to get there. We got changed in rather dirty changing rooms and I felt very naked walking down to the water (or should that be liquid salt?). Normal sea water has 3% salt, Dead Sea has 30%. Damn strange lying back and having you legs burst out of the water and float there. We were warned before going in not to taste it, Sam did when she first went in and the tip of her tounge swelled up like a strawberry for 2 weeks. Ops... After relaxing there for a while we fell about trying to get our balance to stand and made our way back to the beach (made with sand imported from outside of Jordan!) We then started trying to find an area near the edge of the water which had mud to cover ourselves in. We didn't have much luck until one of my legs decided to find a hole and dive in up to my knee. That hurt a bit and I cut myself a little but after covering myself with much it stopped bleeding etc. I don't think I have covered myself in much before since I was about 3 years old and it was from my garden (sorry mum and dad for the mess). After getting clean and turning white again we had lunch and headed off to Petra. It was a 4hr drive but was amazing. It is strange that I come from such a green country that I love the look of all the sand and rocks etc.

So now its 6.17pm local time - early morning NZ time and I'm here in the hotel. The couple on the tour and I have just been to seen the well that Moses created by striking a rock (the one the Jordanians belive he created). We found a wonderful guide on the way, a 10 year old boy. He showed us where the old one is rather than the new one we were looking at then he showed us around his Grandfathers (?) shop and how they make artwork in vases with sand- camels with different coloured layers of sand. He talked to us for about 15mins or so. I bought a magnet there for 1.5JD and gave him 2JD and told him to keep the change, instead though he insisted I take another magnet since "I like you, you are nice and kind" very cute, good sales man. I'm sure I will see the magnets for cheaper at Petra tomorrow but it was worth the money.

Off to have dinner soon. I will wrote about Petra as soon as I can.
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