Monday, 6 June 2011

Driving along a highway...

After soaking up the beauty of the landscape and wildlife of the Philippines, my heart began to yearn for some ancient history. When I found reasonably-priced flights to Jordan, I couldn't snap them up quick enough!

We flew into Amman, and spent the first day wandering around the city before collecting a hire car later on for the rest of the trip. After drifting around downtown, where we we staying, we visited some of the Roman ruins in the centre of the city, before heading high up to the Citadel, where more ruins lay as well as great views across the whole city. As we often find when exploring a new capital, our meagre guide book map wasn't particularly helpful, but wandering around the back streets, escaping from the heat in small shops and watching the locals go about their day made for a lovely day.

After a too-short stay, we picked up our transport for the trip, and started south to Petra. Although the main desert highway would have been the quickest and smoothest route, we had heard so many recommendations about the beauty of the King's highway that we decided the extra time spent in the car wouldn't be wasted. Within just a few miles of Amman we knew we'd made the right choice. The sprawling city gave way to vast open terrain, huge bare hills and desert plains. The colours were incredible and ever-changing as the day went on, adding depth and a magical quality to our surroundings. The sheer scale was amazing - we kept stopping the car as photo opportunities arose, each time thinking that it couldn't get better...until the next stop.

There were no other cars, and the winding roads combined with steep ascents and descents made for an exciting driving experience. Although usually huge fans of taking public transport everywhere, the freedom to stop when we wanted, take detours to interesting sites and really appreciate the beauty of our surroundings more than made up for the loss of experiencing Jordanian buses!

After a few hours of driving, we stopped high above a dam to take even more photos, when we were accosted by a local offering us the usual drink and a rest in his tent. After a long stretch in the car we were happy for the rest, and were soon happily listening to the life story of our host as he plied us with tea and melon looking out across the water. A tour of his open air, flushing toilet 'the toilet with the best view in the world', a quick climbing lesson for F (well, a scramble up the rocks), the obligatory purchase of a bit of jewellery and even more tea later, we were back in the car, accompanied by a huge melon rolling around and some free necklaces for our female relatives. Oh, and a plea to add him as a friend on Facebook... welcome to the modern world of Jordan's Bedouin!

We continued on, found ourselves lost in a town after taking a wrong turning and circling the centre multiple times, and finally made it to our destination just as the sun was setting. Rolling into Wadi Musa, we found ourselves a place to sleep, and settled down for the night.