Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Jordan & Israel - amazing race

Jordan in 4 days was a whirlwind affair. We arrived in Jordan in the morning, bagging just 4 hours of sleep coming from Cairo, chucked our bags and went to check out the Roman theatre for a couple of hours before the sun set at 5pm.
We hired a car from our hostel for the next day to the Bethany beyond Jordan ( the site where Jesus was baptized) and the karak castle.
One of the task that we need to complete for the jordan/ israel leg was to visit the Bethany beyond Jordan. The site is now run by a private company hence entry fees is a little steep( JD12 = USD18 per pax)the fees came with an audio guide and a 45min tour to various points like the church where John the baptist was waiting for Jesus and the Jordan river where Jesus was baptized. Our live guide wasn't a guide ... For us. He was heavily intent on servicing a group that was there the day before. As the other guy in our group said, 'that was the most awkward experience ever.' Still, it was a beautiful place and a great time.

Our car meandered through the mountains and passes by the dead sea before we reach the famous Karak castle. Karak was awesome! It was like a playground with countless hiding holes, stairs and passages throughout the ruins. Kirby mentioned there were secret passages that you could bribe your way into but try as we did, we couldn't find them. The guards seemed unbribable (unlike the dudes in the Egyptian ruins) and after a few hours, we gave up.

Turns out, it was under the museum (that we explored) and we had to ask the caretaker to let us in. Wish we had asked for more details beforehand. :p

We headed to Petra the next morning and spent the day climbing and trekking up the high place of sacrifice and the monastery. It was unbelievable!
The treasury, of course was a sight! We saw that a couple of times on TV hence that wasn't a surprise when we walked to the end of the Siq and saw all the carvings.The monastery, on the other hand, was a view that we both didn't expect. See it for yourself and u will know what I mean. Once you climb to the top, what you see in front of you is the 'coffee shop' for tourists to buy their cup of tea. Chris and I were laughing at the placement of the coffee shop and wondering where the monastery was until Chris turned around to face the other side exclaimed "Holy!!!!".
The climb up to the monastery was definitely worth it.

There was this little girl who left such great impressions in my mind, not just because she was bluntly honest and was asking Chris to give her his bag of chips, but also she spoke with such articulation that doesn't really belong to a young 10 yr old. * (Chris's note: I was saving those chips for 2 days and thinking about eating them during the long hike. No way she was getting them. We did give her candy though )

The crossing of the border from Jordan (the king Hussein bridge) to Israel was legendary. We took about 7 hours to clear both sides of the customs!
The Israeli immigration checks were thorough. Not only did they ask if we are married, and where we are heading to in Israel, they took my Singaporean passport and asked me to wait for over 45 minutes before they eventually returned my passport back. - background checks probably.

7 hours later, we finally cleared all immigrations and got out of the building. We had to wait for another 30minutes for the shuttle bus to get us to the damascus gate in Jerusalem. Everyone was cutting queues when the bus came and we ended up fitting 14 people into a 10 seater bus, with Chris and a few Japanese guys sitting on the floor of the bus.

We had another mission to complete for the amazing race- to celebrate Christmas with baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to arrive in Bethlehem on Christmas eve for the midnight mass. We decided to head to the church of Nativity before the crowd set in and then jet back to Jerusalem ; a thunderstorm was to hit us that night. The church of nativity is said to be the place where Jesus was born. The church was later built over it, I supposed.

We were supposed to head to the dead sea for our last task for the amazing race before we head for Tel -Aviv. But due to certain circumstances and it's also winter, we decided to skip floating in the dead sea. Bummer I know.. Ah well...

That concluded the task #1 of the amazing race world tour edition.

No comments:

Post a Comment