Jordan: Seeing Beyond the Desert Sands
After spending three insightful days in Egypt, I travelled to Jordan with its world-class archaeological sites, spectacular desert scenery, friendly people, delicious food, and guaranteed sunshine. Jordan, officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, is an Arab nation located on the East Bank of the Jordan River.
Our first stop was Wadi Rum and Rum Valley, also known as “the Valley of the Moon”. This protected desert wilderness in southern Jordan resembles the red landscape of the planet Mars and has been used as a setting in many movies, such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Martian, and the famous Star Wars trilogy. Driving through the area, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the dramatic landscape.
After exploring Wadi Rum, we drove north for about two hours to the historical city of Petra where we spent the night. The next day was spent exploring the age-old city of Petra. Petra was the ancient capital of the Bedouins and is known for its tombs and temples carved into pink sandstone cliffs, earning it its nickname, the “Rose City”. The most famous structure in Petra is The Treasury, a 45m-high temple with an ornate, Greek-style façade, and made famous by the Indiana Jones movies. Before visiting Petra, I had always assumed that The Temple was near the entrance of the rock system. Imagine my shock when I realized we had to walk over two kilometers to get there!
Our entire walk through Petra took a total of five hours. Not only was the Temple a 2 kilometer walk downhill, we also needed to give enough time to walk another 2 kilometers back up. And the Temple was just one of several fascinating sites in Petra. We also took a lot of time just taking in all of the sites and of course, taking pictures! By the end of our visit, I was so exhausted and hungry that that I did justice to our buffet lunch. What a perfect reward to a tiring but fulfilling visit!
In the afternoon, we drove to Amman, Jordan’s largest city and capital where we checked-in for the night. The next day, we drove to Mount Nebo, which is the place where God showed Moses the Promised Land. The site is 817 meters high, high enough to see the natural landscapes of Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, Bethlehem, and the distant hills of Jerusalem kissing the skyline. The view was stunning!
Apart from the view, Mount Nebo is home to the renowned Brazen Serpent Monument and the Byzantine Basilica which is a memorial church to honor Moses. The church houses an incredible mosaic map on its floor, a Mosaic Handicraft Center, and a Museum. Definitely worth the visit.
After Mount Nebo, we said goodbye to Jordan and made our way to the border for the final leg of my 3-country tour, Israel. Visiting Jordan left me feeling amazed. I was not prepared for the absolute natural beauty of the country. To some, Jordan may seem like desert with very little to offer – but Jordan is beyond a mere desert. It has historical significance to Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and it is home to one of the most spectacular vistas on earth.