Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Exploring Jordan’s Wadi Rum: What are we doing?!

The afternoon sun was intense by the time we arrived and the wind had stirred up the desert dust. Jordan’s Wadi Rum looked as vast and unforgiving as it did in the epic movie, Lawrence of Arabia.

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Sand storm brewing in Jordan's Wadi Rum
We’d spent the morning at Petra, the ancient rose-red city carved out of sandstone cliffs centuries ago. We were on a day-long outing -- booked long before boarding our Oceania’s Nautica cruise ship in Bangkok bound for Istanbul.  We’d opted out of the cruise ship’s tours offered in the Kingdom of Jordan. Instead, the two of us set off with a tour company’s driver who turned us over to local tour guides at Petra and  at Wadi Rum, with whom they contract for services.

Stretching for more than 278 miles (720 kilometers),Wadi (Arabic for ‘valley or river channel’) Rum is also known as The Valley of the Moon.  Our tour was through just a small portion of this expansive landscape, yet, that which we experienced seemed a vast, isolated world. 

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A long lonesome road in Jordan's Wadi Rum
DSCF3193We left the main highway and were following a narrow road to nowhere it seemed, when in the distance we saw a beat-up old pickup along side the road. Our driver pulled up behind it and its driver, a Bedouin man with a red checked ‘shemagh’ (scarf) covering his head, came back to our car to get us. He was our next tour guide.

With sand swirling out over the landscape we opted to ride in the cab with him, instead of in the back bed of the truck with its rather firm seats. His command of English was a bit limited, but far better than our ability to speak his language.

With our original tour-company driver assuring us he’d meet us in a couple hours for our trip back to the ship, we were off!  In an old pickup. With a Bedouin driver. In the Wadi Rum. In Jordan. In the Middle East. . .

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Setting off in the Wadi Rum - Jordan
. . .and when the pickup left the pavement and began bouncing over the desert sand, I have to admit that for several moments, my brain was bouncing as well.

It was silently screaming, “What are we doing?!?!” 

I had obviously let  my imagination get away from me – I’d listened to too many ‘well-meaning-but-overly-cautious-ones-back-home’. 

What were we doing?


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Wadi Rum - Jordan
In reality, the time spent in that pickup traveling where roads didn’t go, may have been the highlight of the outings we had during our month-long cruise through the Middle East.

The Wadi Rum was designated a ‘protected area’ in 1998 and in recent years it has become a popular destination for eco-tourism.  Hiking, camel treks, rock climbing and camping bring thousands of tourists here each year. And that thriving tourism business is providing a new source of income for the Bedouin communities of the Wadi Rum. 

Still, with increasing tourism, we saw just one other tour 'truck' similar to ours in the distance and one other  Bedouin with his camels, hoping to convince some visitor to take a ride on his giant beasts.

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Visiting with the camel-ride vendor - Wadi Rum, Jordan

Our guide knew his route – we’d have been hopelessly lost and turned around without him – and after slipping and sliding over the sand (which reminded us of driving in snow) he topped to point out some of the area’s ancient rock drawings carved into the sides of the sandstone and granite mountains that make up the Wadi Rum.

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Ancient rock drawings - Wadi Rum, Jordan
Then on we bumped and slid through the sand, no markers or signs in sight but our driver with some innate GPS system it seemed knew which way to turn and when.

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A portion of our route - Wadi Rum, Jordan
Amazing stretches of desert. And some of the astounding moments we experienced still bring goose pimples and smiles when we look at these photos. . .

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Absolutely loved this and not a posed scene for tourists - Wadi Rum, Jordan
Time went far too fast and we ended our tour with a stop at The Seven Pillars of Wisdom landmark named for the book – by the same title – written by Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.  Much of the award-winning 1962 movie, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, was shot in this Wadi Rum.

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Seven pillars of wisdom - Wadi Rum, Jordan
Our time at both Petra and Wadi Rum was too short.  We wouldn’t combine the two places into a single day’s outing again.  Both are deserving of far more exploration. Should we return, we’ll do it in the early morning before that unrelenting Middle Eastern sun reaches its full intensity.

Any number of tours are available in the Wadi Rum and a good source of information is found at www.wadirum.jo    Should we get back there, I want to camp out over night.  Next week I’ll tell you where I plan to camp! 

Just for the record: I did leave information in our ship’s cabin that provided the name of the tour company, phone numbers, our destinations and estimated time of returning to the ship – just in case something had happened to us (intended or accidental) or that might have caused a delay in our return.

Safe travels to you all and thanks to those subscribers who’ve alerted me to problems with Feedburner’s distribution of blog posts.  If you’ve subscribed but are not receiving posts regularly on a weekly basis in your inbox, please let us know in the comments below or send us an email to travelnwrite@msn.com.  Many thanks!

Linking this week with:
Mosaic Monday – 
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

42 comments:

  1. Oh, what a wonderful experience.

    Since I know Steve will never agree to a visit to Egypt, I will have to rely on your great posts to get the idea.

    Keep sharing your adventures.

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    1. So glad you are enjoying the tales of our Middle Eastern adventure! Keep working on Steve, you might one day get to Egypt, which is an amazing place as well!

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  2. Awesome!!!! I might have been wondering myself to take off with a stranger into nowhere but this looks most exciting. Can't wait to see where you're going to camp.

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    1. Oh Gaelyn, you won't believe where I want to camp! I know you'd be willing to go with me - not so sure I am going to convince The Scout that he wants to go with me!

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  3. I do know that feeling from adventures in Thailand and Shanghai! The odds are that things will turn out well, but still you find yourself fervently hoping you won't be a statistic! What marvelous fun this turned out to be! "That time we were in the truck in the middle of a desert with the Bedouin guy..." Definitely isn't something everyone can say!

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    1. It is fun knowing that people like you understand exactly what I am saying - it is one of those unforgettable moments, but as you noted, you also hope that those worrying friends back home don't end up saying, "Told them so!" Thanks for stopping by today~

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  4. Fascinating photos!
    Thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-walls-of-san-juan.html

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    1. Thanks - your photos of the walls of old San Juan were spectacular this week - as always love being a part of the linkup!!

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  5. Beautiful place to explore. That drive is long.

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    1. It was long and exotic and foreign and simply fantastic! Thanks for the visit - Rajesh~

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  6. I can relate to that feeling of "OMG! What are we doing?" also. It's closely related to putting our trust into a map, guide book or driver's hands and (kind of) closing our eyes and jumping out of our comfort zone. Sometimes the foreigness of a place can seem overwhelming but what amazing stories and experiences to remember! I really enjoyed this post Jackie, as it made me feel like I was there and definitely summed up one of the aspects of travel I love most!

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    1. Oh Anita, I knew there were many like us - and you - out there who could relate to that "OMG moment" when you imagine the hometown headlines and readers saying, "What were those two old people doing out there anyway?" Glad you enjoyed this post, Anita.

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  7. wow, what an amazing trip. I think I would have been a little worried too, wondering where the heck I was going. I think leaving info with the ship was a great idea.
    But I think that it is moments like this where we step out of our comfort zone and trust, is when we get the best experiences. I wish I was more brave.... Happy travels and thank you for a most enjoyable post.

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    1. Sometimes I am just like you Jill, wishing I was a bit braver. I am usually the 'but, what if. . .' person in this traveling duo and Joel's response is more, 'if something is going to happen to us, it will, whether here or there'. I guess that just makes for balance between us (or opposites really do attract! ;-) )

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  8. Hi Jackie, I so enjoy this post of yours from one of my favorite spots in the world. Wadi Rum is out of this world indeed. I agree that Petra and Wadi Rum deserve more time for exploration. I hope you get to go back to do some more. But it seems like you made the most out of the short time you had. Hey, have you seen the new movie "The Martian" with Matt Damon? It was shot in Wadi Rum and it's pretty spectacular.

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    1. Oh Marisol, just yesterday I was writing my third and final Wadi Rum post and I needed a Lawrence of Arabia quote (our books are in Greece) so I did an internet search and you should be pleased to know your blog post about the area was the first to show up. (Confession, I used the quote from your blog, but credited you, because it was the best one I found)! Yes, I'd love to go back to Jordan and will have to see the new movie - thanks for the tip!

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  9. What a fantastic experience that you will never forget. I read this quote from Yomadic (blog) today "Those unexpected journeys, to the lesser-travelled places, are priceless. They give you an everlasting lift, in a way that the well-trodden and well-marketed destinations often struggle to do." Seemed appropriate for this occasion.

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    1. Oh Jan, I love that quote as it does so well sum up the joys of lesser-traveled places. Reminds me of what we love about Greece's Peloponnese vs. the Santorinis and Mykonos, well-marketed destinations. Thanks for sharing it.

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  10. What an experience! I think when things do not go as "expected" or as "imagined" is when the experiences end up being more memorable. I like all sort of of road trip, so, I think I would have liked something like this.

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    1. You are exactly right Ruth - and in places so foreign, places that I've not even given much thought before being there, everything is rather unexpected and an adventure. I would love to go back one day but can't help but wonder if some of the magic would be gone because I now know somewhat what to expect. Thanks for the visit -

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  11. What an adventure! I've had a few of those in Central America. Petra is on my bucket list.

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    1. Oh Sharon, keep it on your bucket list - in fact, move it up a notch or two! Thanks much for commenting; hope to see you back here again!

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  12. Hi Jackie! What a great adventure! Your shot of Ma and Baby camel is priceless. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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    1. I had that photo made into a small canvas print as it is one of my very favorites -- and not staged at all. They were just 'there' one of those priceless travel moments. Thanks as always for hosting, #TPThursday

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  13. What an wonderful adventure and I love the shot of the baby Camel suckling its mama.

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    1. Margaret that scene tops all the travel memories collected on this trip! It was so unexpected and obviously not posed. . .thanks for the visit - glad you liked that photo too!

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  14. Wadi Rum looks fascinating and I think the photo of the track winding through the desert conjures up all sorts of magical mystical stories.

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    1. It really was a magical sort of place; you could easily let your imagination run away with you in this place. Thanks for stopping by, Jo!

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  15. What a fascinating place. The picture of a portion of the route in Wadi Rum even looks like snow. It must have been an interesting drive.

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    1. It was great - once I got the 'fear-factor' out of my head! I finally decided that if this was the way I'd be ending life, then so be it - and instead, it was a great way to really live life! Thanks for the visit Donna!

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  16. What an OMG moment! I have heard of Petra but then you let Wadi Rum come alive! I would lose to see the Seven Pillars of Wisdom and the wide expanse of desert with un-touristy camels and their younr 'uns. OMG indeed!

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    1. Oh Carol, you would love Wadi Rum! It is still unspoiled by the increasing eco-tourism there and thankfully tourism still has 'eco' in front of it! Thanks for the comment.

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  17. What an amazing time you had in the desert. And those camels look like lots of fun, did you get to ride on any of them?

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    1. No, we chose not to ride a camel - when I calculated the drop distance from the top of the camel to the ground, I decided I could be quite happy looking at them through the camera lens!

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  18. That sounds amazing and the desert looks so interesting.

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    1. Thanks much for stopping by and leaving a comment - it really was an amazing part of the trip!

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  19. What an interesting place. So much of travel is putting your trust in someone else-it's amazing we don't have more of those 'What are we doing here' moments. I chose to get on the camel in India and after almost being flung off halfway through the trek, was a nervous wreck the rest of the way. Next time I'll stay on the ground like you did!

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    1. Alison, I agree about those "what are we doing here?" situations. I am glad you've reconfirmed my thoughts on the camel - I calculated how far I might fall and decided to just be happy with photographs! Thanks for sharing that experience!

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  20. Fascinating adventure; lots of interesting aspects in all posts, previous posts! Just like in a movie! So great to have such an extraordinary experience, travelling far in so many days...Thank you for sharing all these with us through your camera lens.
    Warm greetings in March!

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    1. Alexa, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment! Enjoy this month!

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  21. Our experience with the Wadi Rum was driving through to Petra. We did get to stop at a Bedouin tent (not like the luxurious one you showed), and they certainly had a gig with the tour guides, but it was authentic enough to us, and my son got to see camels. What I couldn't get over was how many people we saw walking through the desert. I kept wondering, where are they going?

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