Wednesday, August 20, 2008

tanned, toned and tired from Jordan part 3

this is the last installment of the 30th birthday travel treat for Ryan & myself. so sorry for the immense delay, folks. been tied up with lotsa things lately.

this will be a lengthy post again – with lots of pictures, too, so i warn you to proceed at your own risk. pardon me as this is the highlight of our trip – a visit to the pride of Jordan, Petra.

on our 3rd day in Jordan, we woke up to a cheerful day, with minds ready to meet our new conquest. armed with two cameras, a light-weight tripod, 3 liters of water, and happy tummies filled with light breakfast, we headed to the Petra Visitor’s Centre to begin our day tour of the magnificent lost city created by the ancient tribe of the Nabataeans.

working our way to get to the Al Siq, which is the entrance to get to Petra approximately 300 meters away from the Visitor’s Centre, we went past this grand tomb:

the Obelisk Tomb & Bab As-Siq Triclinium

and this is the mouth of the Al Siq:

the Siq is a 1,200 meter stretch of long, deep narrow gorge brought about by the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates. once inside, you’ll feel the coolness of the rocks. we didn’t notice the long walk we did because there were a lot of tourists making their way inside Petra, too. and because it was shady, walking was easy peasy.

as soon as we saw the end of what seemed like a never-ending Siq, we instantly felt giddy excited. having a peek of this marvelous beauty was simply amazing:

the world-renowned The Treasury

this was the very same sight featured in the Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade film in 1989. after taking pictures of The Treasury, we proceeded to see more of Petra. having gone past The Outer Siq, we were bowled over when we saw these ruins and tombs ahead of us:

according to the brochure that we got from the Visitor’s Center, if you’ve only got a day to spare, the best places to see in Petra are The Treasury, High Place of Sacrifice and The Monastery (and we intend not to see everything as normally, it would take 2 full days to do Petra justice). as the last two locations require a bit of hike, we weren’t sure we’d actually see them. we obviously aren’t fit to engage in a strenuous activity. good thing there were donkeys available for hire, so we opted to just take a shortcut as we were also pressed for time. we were enamored by a young boy who offered his donkeys to take us to High Place of Sacrifice and The Monastery. what made us bite the deal was when he guaranteed that we will take a different path to see the other ruins usually missed by tourists, and then bring us back to The Treasury by 4:30 pm. after agreeing with a fixed price for the donkey hire, we started on with the ‘real journey’.

we didn’t waste any time and took a donkey to go up the High Place of Sacrifice. meanwhile, hubby had to take a mule going up. at first, i wasn’t scared of riding the donkey. in fact, i was pretty excited! it was my first time to ride one, and knowing how gentle donkeys are compared to horses, i never felt even a slight bit nervous. but when i finally saw the trail that we had to take to go all the way up, fear started to creep in me. the trail was next to a cliff’s edge and the steps were pretty rough and narrow. you bend over a little and you could actually fall off the donkey and go straight into the pit. the whole time i was hanging on for dear life and praying that the donkey doesn’t slip. when the donkey had to turn left or right on the narrow path, i always cringed with horror at the sight of what’s below. yikes! good thing my husband assured me that donkeys are sure-footed - that was reassuring to know, especially when they gallop (oh dear!). but i felt sorry for the calm beast whenever it had to step on rocks as i knew any hard surface could hurt the poor thing’s feet. in the end, i didn’t mind where the donkey had to step on to get atop, as long as both of us were safe.

when we reached the plateau where a makeshift refreshments shop was made, we got off the donkeys and hiked up to the cliff where the High Place of Sacrifice can be found. it was the first hike that we did that day, and my gawd, we were panting like crazy after just a few steps. but when we reached the top, we were rewarded for the bit of hard work we did with the breathtaking view of Petra.

top of the world

High Place of Sacrifice...sacrifice to climb indeed!

we took the ‘backdoor’ to go down the cliff. this time, we opted not to ride the donkeys as it was dangerous. we stopped every 5 minutes or so just to see the view, and i have to admit that it was truly amazing! it was good that we went for the donkey ride ‘cos otherwise, we would’ve missed the other good spots in Petra such as the Lion Monument, the Garden Temple Complex, Roman Soldier’s Tomb and the Triclinium.

The Garden Temple

Roman Soldier's Tomb

a peek at the Roman Soldier's Tomb

the Triclinium

after the Triclinium, we went on ahead and took the donkeys to reach the Qasr Al Bint, which looked like the center of everything in Petra. there was a restaurant just nearby, but we decided to forego lunch so we wouldn’t feel heavy (and lazy) to go up the Ad-Deir, or more popularly known as The Monastery. it was an easy ride, until we got to the climbing part again. but getting up The Monastery was less scary because the trails were wider and the steps were not as steep as those of the High Place of Sacrifice. a lot of people were also walking in the trail, but we didn’t trust ourselves to make the climb so we pretty much relied on the donkeys to take us to our destination.

when we reached the spot, this is what we saw:

The Monastery was spectacular! it was basking in the afternoon rays of the sun, giving it a wonderful color that made it stand out perfectly. just looking at its grandeur made us feel totally mesmerized.

after resting for about 15 minutes in the makeshift cafeteria along with other tourists who were either catching their breaths or having a snack after a long day, we decided to go down and see the rest of the sights. since we couldn’t take pictures going up the trail, we stopped every 5 minutes or so on our way down to shoot some pics. we didn’t take the donkeys going down so it was easier for us to snap away.

heading back to the Al Siq, we took a pit stop at the coffee shop for some refreshments and a visit to the loo. we then proceeded to saunter back to the entrance. part of the deal with the donkeys was a trip back to The Treasury, but we decided to go by foot instead so we won’t miss taking pictures of the other sights.

we went on with the journey and walked past the Colonnaded Street, the Nymphaeum, the Urn, Silk, Corinthian, Palace and Sextius Florentinus Tombs, and the Theatre as we neared the exit. by then, we were already lethargic so all we could do was take pictures. at some point, we even sat on one of those rocks in the shade because our feet were almost on the verge of surrendering.

are we there yet, donkey?

the Colonnaded Street

looks like Grand Canyon to me, honey

more tombs

the ampitheater

taller breed of camels

ugly, beaten feet

last glimpse of The Treasury in its rosy pink glory

in a span of 7 hours, i think we’ve covered pretty much of the essential sights to see in Petra. it was dead tiring, but extremely fun! i never thought Ryan & i will be able to see much of the world renowned ruins considering the enormity of the place paired with incredible heat. but seeing that kind of natural beauty proved me wrong.

that same day, we travelled back to Amman. Jamil fetched us from the Visitor’s Centre at about 4:30 pm. we passed by the inn to pick up our bags, and then sped off to reach the capital in less than 3 hours. for dinner, hubby and i found this Filipino eatery behind our hotel, which was referred to us by the two Filipinas we met in Petra. we had Pork Spareribs Sinigang and Bistek – perfect after a long day of walking and hiking! we also bought Shawarma for our midnight snack and a glass of Slush Puppies to take back to the hotel. we spent the night just watching cable TV till we dozed off to sleep.

the next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel’s buffet restaurant. we packed our belongings right after and checked out at 11:00 am. we were picked up by the same car that brought us from the airport a few days ago, and we were dropped off to the airport in no time. however, luck wasn’t on our side that day as our flight was delayed for 3 hours. we were so bored at the airport and had nothing else to do. to pass the time, we foolishly played a game where we’d pick a letter and call out a Filipino common noun that starts with it. yeah, that’s what boredom can do to you!

well, that wraps up our memorable trip this summer. i hope you learned much about Jordan through this 3-part account. if you do get a chance to come over this part of the world, please do visit it. it’s worth the trip, i promise!


Mommie Van said...

AMAZING pictures gracie girl! grabe ang sarap ng trip nyo...sana i can go there before i die. ahaha^^

aec said...

what a vacation! so much history to see and learn from. :)

Gracie said...

thanks vannie! i’m glad you liked the pictures. i’m sure you’ll come and visit it too in the future.

Gracie said...

thanks for the visit, Mandy! yep, it was a fun and adventurous trip, i must say. and the sights rendered us speechless.