Jordan

[Country map of Jordan]

The first part of the Jordanian processing was customs where I was asked if I had any electrical goods, this included such as videos, TVs etc but not still cameras. I guess digital still cameras would be included. This question went with a customs form which had a brief note entered.

On to the passport hall where the passports were handed in without any need to fill in an entry form - even though both Lesley and I had pens at the ready. This was done quite quickly and I think I queue jumped a bit being a rather unique specimen, a British family traveling from Saudi Arabia. There was a man hanging around the entry queue area who I first took for an applicant but as he was there for some time, appeared to be Jordanian and knew very well what was going on then I expect he was at work 'say no more'. After passports it was on the car details and the first step - after changing money, this was the first border crossing so far with exchange - was to sort out the third party insurance. This was JDs 34 or so. The Jordanians call the Dinar 'JayDees' which can lead to a double take the first time you here this -apparently this was not the case 10 years ago.

After the 3rd party was done, which lasted a month we could then go on to the car entry bit where the Carnet at last was filled in. All that work finally paid off and thanks to Mrs Hanlon. in the AA. With the third party done it was on to the temporary registration. I had told the vehicle registering person that we planned to spend a week in Jordan then go on to Egypt for a couple of weeks and back through Jordan and on to Syria. He gave me a two week license which could be renewed on re-entry from Egypt. It was at this point that the Carnet was stamped, a very unimpressive event considering the effort put into getting it and the theoretical cost of it the car was not inspected, the carnet was barely looked at. After the car license, at last based on the Pakistani number and registration - no big deal, they just did it the registration of the video camera was done, this cost JD 3.5. and was accompanied by a form that I had to fill in which had the serial number. The form was split, one part going with my passport along with a note on the entry stamp, the other part was retained. The Camera was not inspected.

All of the above was carried out in what appeared to be the most chaotic border crossing area, the greatest number of things had to be done, but surprisingly enough it was the slickest. Everybody knew what their job was and where to go next, and everybody was most helpful. The best analogy between the two crossing points, Saudi and Jordanian was that the Saudi one looked like a military installation as one approached it while the Jordanian had the appearance of a village.

Onwards from the Border post with dusk falling and about 10 kilometers into Jordan we stopped and pulled into an expanse of flatness with a layer of small black stones covering it. We drove about 1 kilometer away from the road and stopped for the night as darkness descended. As with the previous night, having not set the clocks to the local time and having driven west we really noticed the delay in sunset. 1,200 kilometers at this latitude means more than an hour of extra daylight but a that one theoretically gets up that much later. At this stage I have no idea what the time is. Tea, Sooup and Fruitcake for supper nd to bed.

April 18th

Up as usual with the seesaw bird (sounds like a squeaky seesaw) and a bit of a reorganization of the packs ready for night at a Hotel in Amman. Coffee and porridge and a slow getting up.

Left camp with tacho at 7641 and trip at 291 - zeroed left at 08:30 I think.

Fuel gauge reading full.

stopped at Qayser al Azraq which was fairly ruined, apparently by an earthquake in 1926 but which fortunately left the room purported to be Lawrence's command centre.

then Amra

then Kharana

and finally to Amman where we started by getting a bit lost - Amman had grown extraordinarily in the 15 years since Lesley had last been here. Anyway, we found the old British Embassy where it used to be but no 'Abu Ahmeds' which was Lesley's old hangout for lunch from the Embassy. Anyway, rather than sink to the level of burgers we went up a level and had Schwarma which seems to be called something a different here and costs 300 fils each in downtown (third circle). Bought a local map of Jordan which was pretty useless,

After Lunch and a time check it was on to the Hotel hunt and the Intercon round the corner which gave a realistic Discount (diplomatic) but was full, as was the Marriott which suggested the Regency. We checked the Meridian which seemed fairly upmarket and they had rooms. But we were put first off in a room next to the lift which went Pong every time somebody used it. There was no way I would be able to sleep in this room. There was no alternative away from the lift so we left. Why have such a loud warning, why have it in the first place defeats me, maybe everybody is deaf these days, but yet another indication that the guest is considered a punter rather than a customer.

We finally settled on the Regency which was an exceedingly run down 5 star hotel that as trying. But another pointer that we were punters was the fact that water was only available on payment of an extortionate rate. The upstairs roof restaurant and pool was 'impressive' but as that was a relatively public room and should be self financing it rather defeated the object of paying such a high rate for a mediocre room and the privilege of paying inflated prices. I must ask someone in the hotel trade what the logic is, maybe it is simply a case that the punter pays so screw them for all you can get.

April 19th

We left the hotel early on, it is a depressing overpriced place that has no feeling of welcome apart from a decided welcome to pay over money. Breakfast might be good but the prospect of being charged for 4 brunches while only eating two - after all there are 4 of us, is disturbing. The one thing we did get for free was a fill of the Gerry cans in preparation to going through Whadi Rhum. This took a while as they first insisted I should bring the water cans to the bar to have them filled. It was only after a degree of insistence that it wouldn't be nice for the other guests that I was given directions to the rear of the hotel and the kitchen staff were told to expect me.

This hotel appears to be one that Lesley had a problem with back in 1983or thereabouts. On going to the nightclub and taking into account the sign saying 'Minimum payment JD 15' thus paying for beer and the like to a little more than that, the rule was interpreted to read 'entry fee 'JD 15'. This caused a few hours of arguing with the management. Had we known at the start we wouldn't have touched this place - the sign is still there, I wonder whether the rip off is a nightly thing for unsuspecting entrants. Steer clear of the Regency!

Onwards and after what seems to be a routine of getting lost in cities with little in the way of signposts to cater for the visitor or one who wants to get out of the city, we top off the tanks at a small garage and are served by a person who seems to have screw loose. Not only is a large volume of diesel spewed over the forecourt but he spends a good deal of effort begging for the Saudi rials that he caught sight of. Basically the implication being that as he is going to Saudi Arabia he  should have them.

Trip meter 255, 40 litres

We stop off at the next garage to use the supermarket prior to heading for the red sea.

Lesley is suffering, the cold /flu that I had on the road in Saudi Arabia has migrated to Lesley and she is in a bad way. More than that, the rear seats of the Land Rover are better described as a torture rack, she says her back is in agony. Having chosen a Land Rover for this trip based on the fact that they are used routinely for long distance expeditions, does everybody suffer, is changing the seats the first thing that people do?

The Dead sea is all it is made out to be, apart from having a filthy foreshore the water looks clear and is unbelievably buoyant.

We hit Aqaba with Lesley in a pretty bad way and decide to check in to a hotel so that she can recover. The Coral Beach seems reasonable and the right price for what it offers US$100 less 25% Diplomatic Discount. Lesley takes to her bed while Geoff and Dom and I head for JD, Lesley ,

April 20th

Al Hasho imi - el cheapo but good and just like what the locals use

Finally stop in our own private little bit of desert

Kilometres trip at 680

April 21st

Spent the day in the desert recovering. This was really started when we re-discovered re-hydrat and Lesley started to drink a litre or so. The effects were almost immediate. The main reason we didn't try it earlier was that Lesley had taken my cold / flu and we thought it was a more pointed version of that rather than a lack of essential bits in the body.

Meanwhile Geoff and Daddy went of to explore, we walked round the knoll at the side of which we had parked and discovered a large and forbidding sand dune which we climbed to the very top. Dominic was with us at that point and he wanted to go back to his mummy, This was used as a reason to make a quick trip back to get a camera and a tray to try sliding down a dune. However we sat on the tray we couldn't get it to slide as it kept digging into the sand at the front.

The rest of the day was spent beating the heat as the sun came ever higher and the temperature rose. Inside the tent was hot and though shady it was hot - worth saying twice! I put up a shade at the side of the car which helped and then later realised that there was a reasonable shade area under an overhang near the camp. That was where we retreated to and spent the rest of the time recovering and keeping out of the sun.

Dinner was Spaghetti and white sauce with tuna. A delicious concoction which was consumed avidly by all of us.

April 22nd

Up late as the sun came over the adjacent hill top, I think we woke at about 08:00 which considering we had been waking at 06:00 was astonishingly late. But what to do with the day? Lesley was well on the way to recovery from a nadir the day before. Petra was the main possibility but as it was unlikely that we would be there before 11:00 if we worked fast, that was unlikely, especially as the price had crept up to JD20. Anyway, we broke camp slowly and unhurriedly. While we were breaking camp the camel patrol visited - the Wadi Rum police by all accounts. Very pleasant and after a brief stop for photos and having Geoff sit on the saddle, off they went.

We finally left the camp site at 11:00 and drove around the desert a bit. We ended up on the main rod next to the rail track. Just to make sure we had seen all there was of Wadi Rum we headed down the road towards the village, through the bit where they must have shot Lawrence of Arabia and finally to the bit where the entry fee was asked for. As the only bit beyond there seemed to be the 'touristic' village we decided that we had seen the best bit of Wadi Rum, the bit that didn't have any development.

Full steam ahead towards Petra and up the Desert Highway amongst all the trucks heading variously to Amman and I expect a few to Iraq. Finally we hit the turn off to Petra and a good 30 kilometres through landscape that was akin to Welsh Wales with a distant moonscape. Petra was met with a degree of development that Lesley didn't recognize and Lunch as recommended by the Lonely Planet in the Wadi Petr restuarant on the corner next to the roundabout. A good lunch and to another Lp recommendation which was the Peaceway just up the road where we were met by the Desk person whose favorite expression was 'welcome' used at all opportunities and accompanied by a sickly smile. He was very keen to see whether the hotel was in our LP guidebook it was in the Jordan/Syria but not the Middle East one. For some reason the LP writer must have taken a shine to this place, maybe the 'welcome' was frequent enough.

and before heading tow

April 23rd

What did we do? We went to Petra...

April 24th

Leaving Petra at 10:30 Tacho at 8503 - trip at 861

leaving Aqaba 14:11 Trip 998 - zeroed tacho 8640 53 litre to full

This was the day that we were going to cross 4 borders.

First the Jordanian border where we were processed by way of a number of numbered doors. Please go to door 4 for the passport processing where we had to pay the exit tax and get our stamps - kindly done by the Jordanians on a separate sheet of paper. The Carnet was stamped for exit purposes and we managed to complete the processing quite quickly. On to Israel where we hit civilization and a border post 'manned' by a selection of very attractive young ladies who were the image of efficiency and projected the feeling that we were in fact entering California rather than a middle eastern country.

First the customary questions about who packed the car, did we have guns etc then on to visa and customs processing where we all had to assemble and get stamped - as with the Jordanians on a separate sheet of paper. The whole process took about 1/2 an hour and cost nothing as we fortunately still had our Turkish Green card which also covered us for Israel and and we were into Israel where we drove straight through to the border with Egypt.

The exit process was equally slick though longer as there were a number of people going through the same way as us. First we had to buy our exit stamps which we were able too do with Sterling the change being given in Egyptian pounds at a poor rate of LE 4.4 to 1 (in Egypt it is 5.5 or thereabouts). On we went to the passport control where we all had to show ourselves and get a stamp. After this we moved on to the customs part where they processed the exit of the car, again very quick and with few formalities.

Jordanian sites :-

http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/jo.html#geo

http://www.jordanembassyus.org/

http://meltingpot.fortunecity.com/oregon/639/   one of the best sites

 

 

 

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