‘Jordan and the Mystical Land’ by Kavita Kumble

Cut back and rewind to October 2015, it was on one monotonous day at work that I stumbled upon this online trip to Jordan. It was going to be a girls’ gang there and I really, till then, was not much aware of Jordan. As I researched, I figured out that this looks so much more interesting with the culture and its people. It would be a great destination to explore.

Though there were many doubts about the safety and security as this country is landlocked between SyriaIraq, and Turkey, I went ahead and booked my tickets. And trust me, it was safe and we did not face any issue other than men trying to flirt around which is normal in those places as they don’t see women much around without a Purdah. It’s a Muslim country, so obviously you must be conservatively covered and dressed.

There is no pre-arranged Visa required in Jordan as you can get it on arrival.

We were 25 girls from across India who were part of this trip and all like-minded travel explorers. Mind you, all of them were very gorgeous ones.

As we landed in Amman Airport, it was quite a revelation. As soon as you land at the airport, you can sense that there is something special about the culture of the place in the air. We checked into our hotel and decided to explore the city by taking a walk in the evening. There are beautiful markets around selling great souvenirs, sweets, and other stuff. Don’t be surprised as you get hooted with ‘Jamal’ all over there, as it stands for a ‘Hot Woman’. Initially, we were taken aback a little by those. However, we got used to that by the time the trip ended.

Our six days in Jordan started with a water trek at Wadi Mujib. A short drive from Amman, we landed by morning all prepared to catch this beautiful gorge which we had to wade through knee-deep in water and climb some steep rocks with ropes to a beautiful waterfall. It was one of the most thrilling adventurous treks with the sun throwing in hue colours on to the gorge. We finished the trek in 5 hours and got all exhausted. We then took our bus ride to Petra.

Petra was possibly established as early as 312 BC and it was unknown to the world until 1812 when Swiss explorer Johann Burckhardt discovered it and introduced this wonder to the world. Today, Petra is put across the list as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Petra is also known as the Rose City as the entire place is carved out of that stone.

We reached well in time to see ‘Petra by Night’ wherein the entire place is lit with candles and some songs, music, and that special Jordan tea. Though we were dead tired after a day-long trek, we enjoyed the mystical night walk with the full moon in glory beaming over. I recollect over half a kilometre in those ruins was alone walking the trail and it was pitch dark with only the moon lighting the path. There was not a single voice or movement, and that was one of the closest I felt to the place. We had to get back next day to see the Monastery and walk the place but before hitting the hotel, we decided to hit upon a Turkish Bath. However, that turned out to be damp as it was a squeezy little place but we girls still had a blast.

Next day, we left quite early as we had to walk around the entire place and catch as much as we could.

We were stocked with our hats/umbrella and loads of sunscreen to save us from the sun. The Treasury looks gorgeous in the day as it was at night in those candles. It was massive, very well maintained and seemed a little unreal. I was smiling unknowingly as I stared at the treasury in wonder.

Petra is massive! And it’s filled with monuments, tombs and other carvings on the cliff. The place also has a lot of kids around who are absolutely adorable trying to sell you some trinkets. I had a wonderful time talking to them and clicking them. Few of us decided to hit the Monastery which is on top of a mountain. It’s a good 600 odd steps of climb to reach the top. But it’s worth the climb. The view from the top catching the whole of Petra is a remarkable sight. There is a lot to catch up in Petra and perhaps a day is not enough. The Siq, The Treasury, The Monastery, High Place of Sacrifice and the Royal Tombs. It’s too much to see in a day but if you have the chance to stay a few more days, then that’s the dream itinerary!

We crashed for the day after all that walk. The next day, we were all ready to drive down to Wadi Rum Desert and the Dead Sea.

Jordan’s desert is majestic and ‘Wadi Rum’ has a lunar-like landscape. It’s known as the Valley of the Moon with crevice-riddled cliffs and the light which is ever-evolving inspired an unbridled awe.

The Landscape is breath-taking and as we drove down, we took some amazing pictures. It’s expansive so you can easily take pictures with not many people around, unlike Petra where it’s not possible. It’s a peaceful escape from the crowded Petra and you can also camp over at the desert. The place has rock drawings, inscriptions and temples left behind by the Nabataeans who once inhabited it. The Bedouins live here now and though the place has extreme temperatures, they live with much more modern comforts today.

Numerous Hollywood Movies were shot here and are quite popular. The popular movies filmed here are Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryPrometheusRed PlanetThe Last Days on MarsTransformers: Revenge of the FallenPassion in the Desert and The MartianLawrence of Arabia is the most famous among the lot and was filmed in Wadi Rum. On the outskirts, you can still explore the train and the train station featured in the movie.

We then drove to the Dead Sea and had an overnight stay over there. Having read so much about this place and seen many photographs of people floating over the sea while reading a magazine, the girls were all very excited about hitting it.

The Dead Sea which is at 14,000 feet below sea level is the lowest level on earth and is in the record books for the same.

It’s also the deepest hypersaline lake in the world and one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water with about 35% salinity which makes it almost around 10 times saltier than any ocean in the world.

The area has become a major centre for health research and treatment as the waters of the sea contain up to eight times more minerals than most seawaters (I still have it in my refrigerator – the Dead Sea mud that I collected from there. Occasionally, I put a mud pack on my face to get that glow.)

The sea is said to cure a lot of conditions ranging from joint pain and arthritis to skin and heart problems.

It was so much fun floating in there. There were 25 women in bikinis at the beach. Our guards went berserk looking at the entire lot. It was too much for them to handle in a single evening. But one must keep a few things in mind before one makes the plunge in that water. Ensure you don’t have cuts or bruises as the sea is highly saline and will burn the skin off. After all that indulgence, we decided to have one party night, and it was music and dance that evening.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful country as we drove back to Amman for our last night stay. We had a scheduled brunch at our guide’s house at Amman and I think that meal was one of the best food I had in my lifetime. We were happy to interact with his wonderful family. As we said goodbye to him, it was with huge sadness, as we realised our trip has ended. This was one trip to cherish as I made some wonderful friends. Almost all of the girls are still connected and we occasionally share some trips together.

Don’t miss to stock up with some great Arabic sweets to take home. They are mouth-watering. Also get some sand art in a bottle as souvenirs.

So if you are thinking of hitting Jordan for your next trip, don’t hesitant and pack your bags right away!

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