3. Petra (by night)

​Wadi means valley

Wadi mujib



up up up

the cool rough texture of the sandstones

beyond the treasury

Took some polaroids with some of the Bedouin there. After some discussion and their multiple attempts at lowering the donkey price from more than 40usd to 12usd or 7 usd something lower, we fell for it (noobs) and took the donkey up.

We rested our whole heavy weights on the donkeys’ backs, and I felt bad, I really did. If I had more time, I would have definitely wanted to climb those steps myself. But I was here only once in a lifetime, I wanted to see more. Sorry donkeys.


Highlight was the sandstones, the beautiful sandstones that melded into beautiful shades of beige and pink. 


actually, they remind me very much of Lickitung the pokemon

Shades of earthy colours, like hardened paint gently dripping towards the pull of the earth

2 Korean guys

 

As the sun slowly started to set, we made our way back to Valentine Inn (following 2 Slovakian girls) where we had a huge yummy dinner (with potato salad and hot soup, I remember)
Set off for Petra by Night after the sun had set. Our hostel van took us there.

I had been anticipating Petra by Night with breathless excitement even before the trip, when I was reading up on Petra by Night’s availability. I think I had expected the view to sweep me away, or some sort of magical performance or twinkling feeling that would make me feel like it was an incredible sight.

But it wasn’t, not really.

We walked through the Siq, where we had passed through and back in the morning. Somewhere along the way candles started to appear. As we walked closer to the treasury the guides reminded us to keep our volumes down.

when we arrived — many candles wrapped with brown paper bags (?) were placed on the ground. Beautiful, sure, but possibly quite underwhelming… the show started. A man started playing his flute, another played another instrument and sang. After that, the photo session commenced. The lights turned off at 10pm.

 

 

I suppose it was very much a tourist show. But ohwell, Petra  by night, you sure knew how to make visitors visit you twice.

Subtle things like females cutting hair for men

Girls preferred cause more easy to manage

Abortion they go Cyprus

They wear that hat thing depends like occasion festivals parties or cooling like air con in summer and warm in winter like kalpak

​ Female cut hair for men

Religious channel money advert

Prefer females more tame

Eg infidels and How pple will be rewarded in paradise will be recognised

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3. Petra, Jordan

Petra – what I came to Jordan for. So happy I couldn’t help jumping around 🤗🤗🤗 with tombs, monuments and sacred structures intricately carved out of a sandstone cliff, stretches of earthy colours are etched across its majestic breadth 

From Amman we had taken a shared taxi with another girl, passing by Madaba, known for its 6th-century mosaic map of the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. We also went to the biblical hill of Mount Nebo, which overlooks the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. Passed through the King’s Highway, stayed one night in Dana Eco Lodge before heading to Petra the next day. 

Notes:
Mount nebo And from Amman to Dana we took like a day tour to madaba through the king’s road, karak castle then to dana (27jd each shared taxi)- 8.30am we reached at about 4pm.
From Dana we took a 2 buses through Ma’an to Petra- 3jd and 3jd
Petra to wadi rum – 2 hours or so, 7jd per pax shared taxi

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We met Maya from Australia. I learnt that 30% of Australians are Atheists. Wow, that’s a pretty high percentage. Interesting. 

We had bought the 2 day pass at Petra online, as part of the Jordan pass. Checked in to Valentine Inn, which was really near Petra. The shuttle bus took us there, but it’s walkable (we walked back after Petra by Night).
If I’m not wrong – I can’t remember if this came first, or the Siq – but the moment we entered there were many men on donkeys trying to sell us donkey rides e.g. Indiana Jones tour, etc trying to convince us we didn’t have time. 
After some huge drop in their prices, we somehow caved in and got on their donkeys which were to send us somewhere (we thought the entrance – but it wasn’t). 
^ losers who didnt walk. Booooo us
After we got off we were stupidly  fooled into tipping both the guy and the donkey. ‘$5 is for me, you also need to tip the donkey’ or something like that, he had said. Basically we stupidly tipped both him and the donkey. We fell for it like losers. Why? I dk why. I think we were too tired to argue or something HAHAHAHA but on hindsight er……. tip for the donkey too?? lol
we were also like ‘okay….. so the donkey ride DOESNT bring us all the way to the treasury…..’
too late
After passing the entrance, we had to walk through this long canyon. Took many photos along the way and we were like ‘man at this rate we’re never gonna reach THE highlight – the treasury’ and so we focused on the path

Petra was beautiful. I was so excited, I danced around with joy as we walked through the Siq (canyon). 

and… FINALLY!!! THAT VIEW OF THE TREASURY.

#milennials #camwhore #brb #selfies 
#7wonders


mosaic city

2. Dead Sea

An Iraqi mother and her 2 children were floating in the Dead Sea. The sun had set and it was raining, and the children were eventually lost. The civil defence forces arrived for rescue and one managed to grab hold of the 2 children; unfortunately the waves were too strong and they swept out of sight. The next morning they were found at the Israeli side of a resort, alive. They had drifted along with the current through the night. (Source: 2015 news – stories from our Jordanian host) 

Well I lost the photos from the first two days from my camera for some reason, sadly. 

I landed in Amman airport, lyn a day before. I waited for Mohammad at the airport. I was a little nervous, because of my text the night before, and also perhaps I carried with me a certain… impression of Arab men. I’m sorry, but let me acknowledge it here. I do. But Mohammad is definitely one person that helped me to reshape or rather broaden my perspective a bit. Of course he’s not like the other Jordanians, he’s a… generally more open-minded, more connected, able and willing to discuss issues. (I say this also because he’s the main Jordanian we hung out with, thus I may be mistaken when i say ‘more’).
I remember asking questions after questions (ahahahaha) and I’m trying to put into words now what were some things I learnt – i asked about honour killing (young members of the family to escape harsh jurisdiction), education, Amman as a medical hub, Israel (and his inability to get the visa despite applying 3 times + skewed (IHO) ‘peace’ agreement), complexities of dating a Jordanian woman (family, pressure, marriage, uncertainty in how to behave in a way that does not bring shame to her), gender issues (observable + haircut, etc), arranged marriage.
I saw the ‘religion’ channel on TV, in the hospital. 



Come to think of it, he’s the first Jordanian I’ve met in my life. 

Dead Sea – we managed to come up with a cost-free solution. Is it that Asians really love taking photos? What I mean is – is it fair for me to say it’s an Asian (cultural) thing? I do think so, but I’m not sure if i can necessarily pinpoint as that. It could be a social-media-generation thing. But then see Thailand, Russell (Philippines), …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On hindsight, what an honour to have visited this site. I count myself tremendously lucky. The dead sea! Afew years ago I’d never thought I’d get the chance to visit. I am tremendously lucky. I was bursting with excitement months before my trip, during my planning. It was more beautiful than i pictured it to be, more tranquil. We had the place to ourselves, the quiet. The mud, and the cool texture of it. Natural mud. The misty horizon. The smooth surface that a single stroke broke into a tremble of ripples.

 

1. Amman, Jordan



I didn’t write much this trip; each night I got home I was sleepy, and maybe a little lazy. I have an hour before the plane lands and I get sucked straight back to reality, so here’s to seizing time (and fresh memories).

More than one person asked ‘Why Israel?’ Why Israel and Jordan? Sometimes I am briefly amused at the fact that a year ago I wouldn’t have thought I’d be heading there. Some destinations feel so far away, and the Middle East is one of them. Like India, it’s not something I thought I’d visit this year either. I quite like these surprises. After these trips of the year I now feel like I don’t have to be surprised anymore, plans can happen and many things lead to them – opportunities, timing. Who knows where I’ll be next year? 


I suppose Israel has been in my head for some time now, from meeting Natalie in La Paz, the Israeli guy in India. Actually I’ve met a couple of Israelis. The idea of Jordan first emerged from my interviewee for my thesis. I remember balking at how she went to Jordan and Syria alone – a tiny girl like her. Then, my perception was of complete awe. Where is Jordan, isn’t it so dangerous? No! she said. She met the loveliest people there. She told me about Petra and the warm hospitality of the people. And then Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s instagram featured Petra some time back. I instagram-messaged that photo to Papa. I remember thinking: if Mr Lee can visit Jordan, and meet a group of Singaporeans there, surely it’s safe enough for me to visit?

What is safety, and what is danger? I find it so hard to say. ‘Is this place dangerous?’ I don’t know how to answer that. Is Jordan safe? Yes I felt safe, but I was with my host most of the time. Yes there were catcalls, yes it’s not the most organised so it may feel a little disorientating at times, but I did feel safe. And then there’s Karak castle shooting, and the man who reached out to Lyn, which was annoying. Does that make the place unsafe? Not really. It’s still pretty safe, because nothing happened to me. Right? 







For me, I felt okay, relatively safe (normal) in Jordan, and I felt safer in Israel. I think back to the 2 Korean boys we met. We told them we were heading to Israel and they said ‘wow, [we] heard that Israel is the most dangerous country in the world!’ The most dangerous country in the world? I felt absolutely safe there, and if i were to compare West Bank, Jordan and Israel, I’d say I felt safest in Israel, because of its level of organization and structure and clean streets. I think again to Rio de Janeiro. I did not feel unsafe there, it felt normal, even though I was walking alone. 


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So what is safety again, do I perceive safety based on its level of development / structure? I suppose so. And of course the fact that nothing happened to me. And I’m really glad of course, and thankful. Thankful that I’ve got a pocket of experience that has helped me to understand the world a little better. Thankful for all the beautiful people we’ve met, thankful for all my helpful hosts, male hosts who weren’t sleazy at all. Thankful for the opportunity to have asked questions that filled my ignorance, understanding the Middle East a little better – geographically, politically, culturally. I would say I have learnt a lot, and each time I come home after these visits I am intrigued by news articles discussing them. I like that very much, when I find myself interested in these issues I was previously almost apathetic to, because of my prior ignorance. But now I can connect with it perhaps in some sense, and it makes me appreciate the world a little better.




carls junior?

4. Santorini Sunset

 

The Santorini Sunset

If this is the crowd of tourists that winter receives, i can hardly picture what summer must be like

Santorini is actually a group of islands in a kind of circle, up until about 1500 BC the area was one island but after a huge volcanic explosion the island took its present form, hence the islands form a circle around the crater.

Santorini is a subduction-zone volcano, and is one of the active volcanoes of the Southern Aegean Volcanic Arc. These volcanoes have formed in response to the continued, slow, sinking of the African plate northwards beneath the Eurasian plate. At the northern end of the caldera is the Santorininian town of Oia; here you can see houses built along the volcanic rim of the caldera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


“Houses built on the edge of the caldera – The ancient civilization of Santorini was completely destroyed by a catastrophic volcanic explosion that occurred sometime between 1620-1640, BC. With every trace of life gone, all that remained was covered with volcanic ash, lava and pumice stone, which eventually lead to the creation of a compact soil, called “aspa”.
Today, houses are dug sideways or downwards into the surrounding pumice (volcanic rock). The main building material is the red or black lava stone. Fear of the volcano and earthquakes forced the locals to minimise the height of the buildings and the use of arches.”

3. Athens, Greece (photo log)

Greek mythologies

The one I most remember:

‘According to Greek mythology, Pandora was given a box or a jar, called “pithos” in Greek. Gods told her that the box contained special gifts from them but she was not allowed to open the box ever. Eventually Pandora could not resist her curiosity and the temptation that was overcoming her, and so she released the jar’s lid. 

All at once all of the evils of humanity were unleashed. This meant that sickness, suffering, diseases, war, hard labour, jealousy, greed and hatred escaped to make their way into the world. Pandora tried desperately to close the lid of the jar, but by that time there was only one thing left in it. 

All that remained in the box was Hope. It fluttered from the box like a beautiful dragonfly. 

Even though Pandora had released pain and suffering upon the world, she had also allowed Hope to follow them. From now on, Hope would live with man forever, to give him succor just when he felt that everything was coming to an end.’





 

 

 

 

 

 

acropolis

 

 

 

 

 

texture of the rocks

 

echoes

 

 

rocks

food

 

 

2. Santorini, Greece (photo log)

Half a year has now passed since I drafted these. 
I now keep these pictures here as a memory space
how time flies.

crater rim

Shades of Santorini’s blue: Since antiquity, in Greece, the color blue is believed to ward off negative energy and evil spirits. Blue doors, walls, windows and charms are seen at every corner. White is used especially to reflect the harsh sun rays to keep the interior of houses cool; blue and white also represent the colors of the Greek flag 🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷

first time renting a car

love this. apartment decor idea

The iconic Santorini symbol of the Oia view and the blue domed churches. 🇬🇷 Actually, what I find more geographically fascinating are the houses and restaurants built along the steep slopes of the caldera rim. Santorini (subduction zone volcano) owes its existence to the volcanic activities (to be specific, sinking of the African plate beneath the Eurasian plate). The 1600BC eruption of the volcano plunged most of the island under the bottom of the sea, creating myths such as the sinking of Atlantis. 



Here, in the touristy town of Santorini, I found (to my surprise) one of my favourite @bookstoresoftheworld – with its rent-a-cat sign hanging surreptitiously outside the door, the exclamations of Wilde and Whitman on its walls, fervent scrawls of ‘just read it!’s fondly placed upon selected hardcovers. A ceiling patterned with kaleidoscopic spirals of authors’ names, dusky gold-embossed hardcovers gleaming on the wooden shelves. A chandelier of paper sheets, basking in the orange evening glow. 📚📓👓

Athens, Greece

Before everything slips away, let me sit and write about Greece. It is Thursday, and my second day lying on this cosy sofa, cushion behind my back, with my laptop on my lap. Usually, I would be frowning in disapproval – I am overseas! Possibly the last time I’m here! Should I really be spending my day just sitting here, instead of exploring further what Athens holds for me?
But nah. Giving myself a short break, before my next flight. I should take this time to contemplate about the trip.
Various strands of thought:
Greece.
It’s nice to be in Greece, everyone’s heard of Greece as a country.
The Greek mythologies and Plato and the Olympics and Cartography and the Marathon and alarm clocks and modern philosophies. The Ancient Greeks and their various inventions and tall structures we’ve heard about. Zeus and Gaia and Poseidon and Aphrodite and Apollo and Athena, names embedded even in our modern vocabulary.
There are many stray cats in Greece. Vasiliki tells me there’s a unique breed of cats in Greece – a mixture of breeds. I googled and they suggest the Aegean cats, native to Greece.
Magnets sell the Greek cats / donkeys.
Olive seems to be a significant part of the Mediterranean diet. Olive trees, native to Greece (12.5% of the world’s production, a brief Google search suggests) and countries like Italy / Spain / Turkey. This brings to mind the topic on Geography of Food – why do people eat what they eat in different countries?
Pies stuffed with cheese / spinach / ham / cream cheese. Olives. Potatoes. Fish, steak. Grilled prawns. I ate a lot of these in the last week. In our last nights, we ate at an Indian restaurant – masala potatoes with lots of spicy sauce and i realised the delectable taste of sauces is actually quite essential in my perception of a palatable dish. That, or a plateful of carbohydrates. I love carbs, it’s undenial. I LOVE CARBS.
On my last night I couchsurfed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dharamsala, Himchal Pradesh, India (Triund Hill)

‘Dharamshala is a city in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Surrounded by cedar forests on the edge of the Himalayas, this hillside city is home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.’


Mcleodganj, home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile. Here, I met the craziest fun-loving guitar-playing-on-a-hill hosts whom I learnt from about the caste system, the hijras, the sacredness of the cow in Hinduism, and other cultural curiosities.

my hosts

I had so much fun with them, we were laughing nonstop from almost the night we met to the next day. Short, but sweet. I took many videos of them singing. We did one birthday song with them strumming the guitar. I was so happy.

full of nonsense (as usual)

People my age, exactly my age. Making fun of my Chinese eyes. Man, I don’t get that too much around here, it took me awhile to get used to and reminded me to check my privilege here.
I think back to the first night my bus reached the terminal at Dharamshala at 9pm or something. The sun had set. Divyang said he’ll pick me up. I didn’t feel that worried, but my panic meter started rising when we drove into the darkness (poor street lighting) and he said he wanted to bring me to a place. We stopped at the entrance of a gate. It was a cemetery.

The rest, as it unfolds, is a hilarious memory. I will always remember this epic experience. Lollllll

Dharamsala definitely feels safe. Tranquil. Many restaurants here sell Tibetan food – the mantou and noodles, etc. Shop signs in Tibetan. I briefly asked if the locals here feel threatened by the influx of culture. Seems like in the initial beginnings yes, but now it’s better and generally peaceful. Borders.