Trip Start Oct 13, 2009
18Trip End Nov 26, 2009
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Where I stayed
Al Jabal Castle Hotel
I had booked a car online from Reliable Rentacar, though I wondered if they would be. Sure
enough, a little before 11am today, a driver from RR showed up to tear me away from the
Ibis, and take me to their office about 10 minutes away, where they tell me that they don’t
have available any of the small cars which I had booked. However, they gave me a “luxury”
car (a Chevrolet Epica; no I’ve never heard of it before either), for the small car price and
they will deliver the small car to me tonight at whatever hotel I will be staying at! Even
though that will be in Ajloun, about100km from Amman. OK.
So with white knucles gripping the wheel, I dived into the Amman traffic, to find my way out
of the city, towards Jerash in the north. (Actually, my knuckles weren’t white at all; it just
sounded good. I’ve driven in far worse traffic.) Arrived in Jerash to visit what is apparently
one of the best preserved Roman cities in the world. It certainly is, but unfortunately a lot of
other people had the same idea, and I found the car park packed with tour buses from
Amman, and swarms of ugly tourists all over the ruins. (OK, I’m one too, but at least I’m a
solo ugly tourist which makes a smaller scar on the scenery.) In the end I managed to quite
successfully dodge the swarms, and spent a pleasant, though hot, couple of hours
exploring the ruin, followed by a Lebanese kebba and Arabic salad.
Onward about 35km through rolling hills to Ajloun, where I had called ahead to make sure
there was a room available at the only hotel in town - the Al Jabal Castle - which is nothing
like a castle itself, but named as suchh beause it is on the steep road from the town to the
Ajloun Castle. It’s a bit shabby, but the room is only 30JD (about US$44) including tax and
breakfast, and has private bathroom and a balcony with a grand view over the town.
Walked down the hill about 2km to the town, just as the sun was setting, with the mournful
wail of the call to prayer from the several mosques in town, echoing around the valley. Not
another Westerner in sight, and there were frequent “hellos” from passersby, or from
windows above me. Walking past some fruit stalls, one stallholder insisted on peeling a
banana for me, even though I insisted that I was only looking and not buying. “OK” he said, ”
Welcome to Jordan!” Another insisted on giving me an apple, with a similar greeting.
Walking back up the steep hill in the dark, a group of men sitting on the pavement with a
kettle, insisted on giving me a glass of hot tea.
All this friendliness to strangers seems really genuine, unlike the artificial chuminess that
you often encounter in Asian countries, where you soon learn that they are often expecting
some financial benefit.
Still haven’t decided whether to take up Haitham on his offer of a room or not, but I did
check that the only hotel in Umm Qais has rooms available. Though at 15JD per night,
maybe Muitham’s abode might not be as humble.