Thursday, 7 July 2011

Night visitors and into the desert

After a rest and some food (quick tip - if you plan on spending any extensive amount of time at Petra, bring a picnic!), we found ourselves back at the entrance once more, this time as the light began to fade, with tickets to 'Petra at night'.

After the frantic nature of the morning, we were more than happy to hang back at the end of the large crowd making their way in. The entrance walk and Siq was lit with thousands of candles, shadows settling on the rocks and lighting our way. Although advertised as a peaceful, quiet experience, the reality is rather different (as you might expect when over a hundred people are walking along in the dark!). Limited vision only enhances the talking, shouting and various other bodily noises, but it's still an unique opportunity and really quite fun.

The treasury area was by far the most impressive, with rows and rows of candles glowing in front of the main attraction, bringing out the deep red of the rock. Seated on carpets, we listened to traditional music and storytelling whilst being served tea. At the end, there was time to wander amongst the candles and take some really blurry pictures before the walk back.

Yes, it's a bit cheesy, not unlike the sound and light shows of a number of ancient monuments. But the chance to see the treasury and Siq at night, lit so beautifully, is well worth the price.

After leaving Wadi Musa, we drove further south and found ourselves at the entrance to Wadi Rum, another of Jordan's famous spots. The heat was pounding as we hired a 4x4 and driver to take us into the desert.

Vast and overwhelming perhaps, Wadi Rum is anything but the endless yellow sands of many deserts. The colours were incredible - yellows and oranges mixing with brick reds giving a layered effect to the landscape. Huge towering rocks cut through, eroded shapes lending height and shade. Camels lazed around, and gorgeous large dragonflies hovered around us, their iridescent wings shimmering in the light. We saw rock paintings tucked inside canyons, and once our driver knew we were okay with it, were thrown around a few sand banks in his completely beat-up, windowless vehicle.

Wadi Rum is an incredibly beautiful place, with so much to explore. A week there probably still wouldn't have been enough time to get a real feel for it. However, time wasn't on our side, and we reluctantly left, off to the opposite extreme environment.

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