Frankly, I’m surprised Lorna and I lived to write about Wadi Rum. Something seriously needs to be done about the quality of driving and enforcement of the driving rules in Jordan. And don’t even get me started on Egypt, because they’re way-worse. And I’m not the sort of guy to just sit around and cross my fingers and not say anything to the maniac behind the wheel. But it’s a different ball-game when what you’re saying is lost in translation.
Still. Somehow, we made it.
Pulling-in to Rum, you definitely get the feeling you’re stepping back in time. There’s a few street lamps on the street, but other than that electricity seems to be scarce. This is a good thing when you want to get away from it all. No distractions. Just you and a few people in a jeep, riding around, exploring the desert. Earth in its natural form.
The bus we rode in on, as I mentioned earlier, was terrifying. We were picked up from the Sun Set Hotel in Petra for $10 AU. We were dropped off at the tourist center to buy tickets. We were told everything was taken care of, and that guides were expecting us, but when we got there nothing was organised. Frustration aside, eventually we chose two local Bedouin to show us around Wadi Rum in their open-air 4×4 vehicles. You know I love giving free-tips, so here’s another one for you. Make sure you get an open-air jeep. You don’t want to be crammed into the back of a standard one, looking out the window as if you’re watching a movie.
Lorna and I were with one other couple and were told to wait in a shed just before the desert while the jeep came. We sipped on local tea and waited. We watched a local little girl skip toward us, while-we-waited.
Eventually the jeep rolled up. Yeah, they’re in no hurry in the desert. But it’s a good thing. Eventually you wind-down to their level.
Our first visit was Lawrence’s spring. Apparently, near the top of this little mountain, near the tree, is where Lawrence of Arabia is said to have refreshed himself by washing and drinking from the spring during the Arab Revolt. T.E. Lawrence wrote about his experiences of the Arab Rebellion in his book the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
Apparently, the Arab Revolt occurred from 1916 for a few years and was initiated by Hussein bin Ali with the aim of securing independence from the ruling Ottomans and creating a single unified Arab state.
It was awesome to see camels roaming around! Although we didn’t like the fact their feet were tied together so they couldn’t go too far.
Next up we were driven to climb up and run down a sand dune. Always fun!
Then we visited ancient Anfashieh and Alameleh inscriptions, which are basically rock carvings showing camels and wildlife of the time.
We walked through a smaller version of Petra’s siq, which lead us out of a great canyon to reveal more of the amazing Wadi Rum desert.
Next up we saw Lawrence of Arabia’s house. Well, no one can prove it was his house, but many believe he lived here for some time and possibly stored weapons.
We saw the mushroom rock which another race of beings called Silvers left behind as a clue on how to open a gateway to their world.
Okay. Maybe I made this bit up. But if you haven’t read my book yet about Silverbirch, now would be a good time.
Next up we risked our lives and walked across the narrow Um Froyth rock bridge.
And then remembered that it takes food to stay alive as a human on Earth. Our new Bedouin buddy drove us to an overnight camp made of goat hair, where we ate tuna wraps and sucked juice concentrate out of a small cardboard box with a straw. You can stay overnight here, but it’s best if you bring your own sleeping bag. Otherwise you’re using the goat-hair blankets that hundreds of other people have used. And they never get washed. Depends on what kind of experience you’re after, I suppose.
Lorna and I chose not to stay the night. The stars would have looked amazing though, out there in the Wadi Rum desert with no light pollution. Instead we were taken back to the shed in Rum, where we waited an hour for a taxi to drive us back to Petra.
And again, we were reminded how dangerous it was to hop into any sort of moving vehicle in Jordan. The driver made a gas stop. Then a cigarette stop. And travelled at speeds of up to 150km/hour. And he had his son in the front seat.
Still, for $50 AU for a taxi-ride for 200km, we were thankful to check back into the Sun Set Hotel again for one more night before leaving for the comforts of Europe again, the next day.
Oh. Here’s an amazing documentary we were shown on the bus to the airport. Well worth a look if you’re serious about visiting Jordan.
Rob Kaay is an Australian author and musician.
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