Jordan 2007

Sunday 20th May  Tel Aviv to Amman, Jordan

We left Tel Aviv early and travelled through Jerusalem, then back over the mountains, up the West Bank to Bet She’an, then on to the Jordan Border.  It was quite a rigmarole getting through the border and over the River.  We had to pay to get out of Israel, get a bus across the bridge, then pay again to get a visa for Jordan.

We weren’t very impressed with Jordan when we arrived!  It was hilly, hot, messy, dry, dirty and chaotic.  After a stop for lunch we went to Jerash, one of the 10 cities of the Decapolis, which unfortunately also got flattened in the big earthquake of 747AD.

Jerash is amazing. You can see evidence of Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilizations and all the typical parts of a big city of its era: walls, gates (made by Hadrian), hippodrome for horse racing (a la Ben Hur), forum, amphitheatre, temples, churches, shops, streets….  It’s all so original and authentic but much has still to be excavated.  We walked around for 1½ hours in the heat, but coped OK.



Then it was on to Amman, the capital of Jordan.  As we traveled south out of the mountains Jordan emerged as a clean, prosperous, go-ahead country with lots of  agriculture, industry, and development going on (but also with shepherds tending their flocks wherever there is food to be found - even on empty parts of the city!). 

In Amman we went on a city tour and saw the flag (biggest in the world), millions of white stone houses, and downtown.  Amman is obviously doing very well!  We then settled into our flash inner city hotel.

Jordan’s offical name is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.  The King is Abdulleh the 2nd, son of the late king Hussein.  It has about 9 million people, most of whom live in the capital Amman (which used to be called Philadelphia).

The Biblical nations of the Amorites, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites and Nabateans lived here and Moses warred against them as he led the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.  David sent Uriah the Hittite to his death by sending him to fight in Amman against the Amorites (so he could get Bathsheba).  The word Amman comes from the first letters of the names of the ancient tribes that lived here Amorite, Moabite, Ammonite, Nabatean.

Monday 21st May  Petra

We drove 3 ½ hours south towards the gulf of Arabia to visit Petra (called Sela in the Bible).  This is one of the real wonders of the world!  Wow!

Petra was the capital of Edom and is called the Red Rose City.  We entered it by walking through a siq - a crevice in the massive, multi-coloured rocks.  About 1km in we saw the ‘Treasury’ which is an enormous monument carved into the side of the canyon.  It has been preserved pretty much as it was created over 2000 years ago by the Nabateans. There are monuments, carvings, houses, temples, tombs, theatres etc. everywhere and the scale of everything is enormous, showing off the red rose rocks.




The Greeks under Alexander the Great couldn’t conquer Petra but the Romans finally did in 106AD when they cut off the ingenious water supply system.

Petra was on the Kings Highway, the main trade route but died out when a new, better route was discovered.  It was only inhabited by Bedouins till it was ‘found’ in the 1800s and cleaned out.  When Moses was seeking to enter the Promised Land he traveled up the Kings Highway and asked for permission to move freely through the land of the Edomites.  They refused and, as a result, God’s judgement was pronounced on them: the place would become desolate.  See the book of Obadiah.  It was amazing to read this prophecy and find it so accurately fulfilled in the Petra of today.

We spent 4 hours in the sun and heat in Petra, including a big climb at the end, but it was worth it!  What an amazing place.

In the bus on the way back we read the scriptures about Petra/Edom in Judges, Isaiah and Obadiah.  It was great to read the history of the ancient peoples and to actually see where they lived.  It was also great to see how accurately the prophecies were fulfilled as consequences for Edom’s actions were pronounced and came to pass.


We also saw lots of Bedouin shepherds and were lucky enough to be able to ‘interview’ one of them for the video.  

A great day in Jordan.  It sure is a privilege to be here.

You can watch a video of our time in Petra here:  Petra

Tuesday 22nd May    Madaba and Mt Nebo

Today we went to the Madaba, the city of the mosaics.  We saw the oldest preserved map of the Holy Land on a floor of a church there, then went to the top of Mt Nebo and saw another perfectly preserved mosaic there in another church.  We also saw how they produce the mosaics.  An ancient art form!

It was moving being on the top of Mt Nebo as it was here that Moses and the Children of Israel first saw the Promised Land.  There is a magnificent view from the top of the mountain over the Dead Sea, Jordan, and Jordan Valley with Jerusalem and Jericho on the other side.  It was here that Moses died (at 120 years old ‘yet his eyes were not weak, nor his strength gone’) and he was buried somewhere at the base of the mountain.  See Deuteronomy 34.


We dropped off the rest of our tour group who were returning to Israel, and headed back to Amman.  Ross had a tummy bug, but the others headed into town and became celebrities with the men ogling at the pretty girls, Kathy and Charmayne!

Wednesday 23rd May  Dead Sea

A day of luxury and pampering.  We were driven to the Dead Sea Spa Hotel and had a swim in the salty water.  You float so easily but must be careful to keep the water out of your eyes.  We also applied the mud to our skin, which is supposed to be heath-giving.


Then we swum and lay about by the pool, before having a lovely lunch.  Like being in paradise!


Egypt 2007

Thursday 24th May  Amman - Cairo Egypt

We were transferred to the airport and flew on Royal Jordanian to Egypt.  It was fascinating flying over the desert where Moses walked, seeing the Red Sea, catching a glimpse of the Suez Canal and then seeing the tops of the pyramids as we flew into Cairo.  We were whistled efficiently through customs and into our hotel, the Cataract Pyramid Resort.  

The traffic in Cairo is amazing!  There are lots of old cars and everything goes flat out, with no regard for lanes.  For pedestrians to cross the road is a nightmare: they just have to dodge between the speeding vehicles!

The resort is lovely but we became very aware of mosquitos, and everyone being after you for money!  We had dinner at the outside restaurant but won’t try that again, as the mozzies were after us.

Friday 25th May Cairo

Today we visited the Pyramids, saw the Sphinx, and had a look around the Egyptian Museum.   As expected the pyramids were massive, and we walked into the centre of one of them to see the tomb of the Pharoah (empty - and pretty empty of air as well!). There are millions of stones in each pyramid and they weigh 20 tonnes or more each so it was a great engineering feat to build them. Associated with each pyramid are two temples: one where the body of the King is mummified and one where the funeral took place.


The Sphinx was created by the King Khafre because there was a spare bit of rock.  It is lion (strength), and man (wisdom) but the face lost its nose when Napoleon’s soldiers took potshots at it.  The Sphinx wasn’t as big as expected.


There are lots of people pushing themselves at you trying to sell souvenirs or camels rides.  Overall, it was great, though, to see the pyramids of Giza dating back some 2500 years BC.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a great tour of the Egyptian Museum. 

We saw the Kings and gods from the various Kingdoms and Dynasties but the highlight was seeing the components of King Tutenkhamen’s tomb.  He was only King for 10 years but his tomb was found intact so all the artifacts were able to be identified and studied.  The tomb was in several layers of large boxes (all highly adorned) and the smallest one contained layers of coffins in which the mummy was placed.  Lots of different artifacts were buried with the King, and some of his bodily organs were kept in separate vessels.  The only thing missing was the actual mummy (which is still at Luxor in the Valley of the Kings, where the tomb was discovered).  The ancient Egyptians sure sent their Pharoahs off in style!

In the afternoon we relaxed around the resort’s pool.  We have an early start tomorrow for our flight to Luxor, and our Nile Cruise.

Saturday 26th May Cairo to Luxor

We got up at 4am and were transferred efficiently to Cairo airport for our Egyptair flight to Luxor.  In Luxor we were transferred to our luxury cruise ship, the Nile Admiral.  It is sumptuous!  Red carpet, big hotel rooms, 4 decks, magnificent food, swimming pool…..

At 3.30pm (after a siesta) we went on our first sightseeing to see the Karnak and Luxor temples.  We saw their entrances, the big open areas inside, and then the temple where the body of the King/god or Pharoah was placed.  Everything is beautifully decorated with Egyptian script, carvings, pictures, statues and paintings.  Two of the world’s 38 obelisks were there as well.



It was very hot (36 degrees+) and our tour guide went on and on but we survived!

Sunday 27th May  Luxor to Edfu 

We had another early start so we would miss the heat of the day.  We went to the Valley of the Kings where lots of tombs have been dug deep into the mountainside (including Tutenkhamen's).  We went into 3 of the tombs and were amazed at the detailed art work that adorns them.  Charmayne nearly got her camera confiscated for taking a photo in one of the tombs!  We then saw a restored temple for one of the Queens, and the two Colossae of Memnon.  We are getting a bit blasé about old monuments and temples, but these ones are very old, dating back to about 3500BC.


Our cruise finally started at midday and we had lunch and a snooze before stopping at the loch at Esna.  We needed to go through the loch to gain height, as we were travelling up river.  Just two of the big boats can go through the loch at one time so we spent some time waiting.

Immediately we were barraged by people on small boats trying to sell us stuff!  They throw their goods up 4 decks and often got them straight through the window of our room.  Very accurate!  We became ‘friends’ with Mahmood on one of the boats and bought some towels and a dress (and gave him a kiwi as a memento).



The boat is very comfortable with luxury rooms and wonderful food.  When we returned to our room we found the towels had been folded into all sorts of shapes.


Monday 28th May On the Nile

We continued down the Nile to Aswan which is as far as you can go because of the dam. Along the way there were stops for 2 temples (but Ross passed on them, as he was all templed out!).  Nile cruising is great with snoozing, sunbathing, eating, reading, and enjoying the sights of other boats, townships, animals and sunsets….

In the evening we dressed up for an Egyptian dinner wearing the clothes we bought from the boats/stalls.  We looked just like Sheikhs!

Tuesday 29th May Aswan to Cairo

Our cruise sort of got extended and we were able to take a trip to the Aswan High Dam (which controls the flow of the Nile to prevent flooding in the valleys), and the Temple of Philae.  This temple was to have been submerged when the dam was built so they transferred it to an island and re-erected it. We also visited a perfume factory where they distill the essences to create the base for perfumes.






We rested in the afternoon then were transferred to the airport for our late night flight back to Cairo via Luxor. The flight was delayed and we arrived at 2am and were very tired. 

Wednesday 30th May Cairo

We slept in, had breakfast, had a wander around and then had a snooze.  We then hit an internet café and had another wander around (feeling very safe in the midst of the noise and traffic).


We filled in time till we were transferred (through the hair-raising traffic) to the airport.  Our flight for Singapore left just after midnight.

We very much enjoyed our time in Egypt.  Some thoughts about our holiday there are:

  • The Egyptian people are friendly and gracious (except for those aggressively trying to sell you rubbish, or rip you off with high prices)
  • Egypt is hot!
  • Egypt has a proud heritage with its temples and ancient relics.  The tourist industry is well organised to take advantage of this.
  • Egypt is totally dependent on the Nile.  About 1km each side of the river is green and well cultivated, but outside of that it is just a hot dry desert.
  • The Nile cruise was wonderful!
  • Our travel agents provided us with superior service to make the whole trip smooth and effortless.
  • The traffic in Cairo is ordered chaos (but it works!) and most of the cars are old wrecks.
  • You get used to police everywhere with their guns.  As a result we always felt safe.
  • The tipping system is everywhere, and not something that we like.
  • Egypt is a great tourist destination, but be prepared for the heat!

Ross, Gary, Charmayne. Kathy

Thursday 31st May Singapore

We arrived in Singapore in the afternoon and had a wander down to Chinatown, sussing out prices.

Friday 1st June Singapore to Auckland

In the morning we went on the free river cruise (again) and then made our final purchases (cameras).  After a cool down in the pool we were transferred to the airport for our overnight flight to Auckland.  Once again the Singapore girls made Singapore Airlines a ‘great way to fly’.

Saturday 2nd June Auckland to Wellington.

We flew south and were picked up by Phil.  Then we were home!!


What a wonderful holiday we had…..  in the UK, through Europe, and then in the Middle East.

Hope you enjoyed reading about our travels.

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