JORDAN

Dodane dnia 2011.01.12 -- Zaktualizowano dnia 2012.08.08

Czytaj blog Adeli  |  Czytaj blog Krisa z kraju JORDAN

 

JORDAN
08.11.2010 – 23.11.2010 - 638km - 15 days

 

Jordan left in us very mixed feelings. It is a country where many things experienced for the first time. The first time, we saw Bedouins with camels, for the first time we stayed on the desert, the first time we saw groves of dates, the first time we were swimming in the water so salty that it’s impossible to immerse a head, the first time we saw the village with black children, the first time landscape has changed so much that we felt that we were really far from home.

For the first time also, people tried to cheat us on every step, the first time, children greeted us with shouts of "money, money", "fuck your mother ", "fuck your sister" and threw stones at us. For the first time we were chased away from the camping spot. For the first time we met in the Arabs world lack of hospitality, hostility and aggression. For the first time we were beaten up and for the first time we were armed with sticks, gas and stun gun. In conclusion, Jordan has a beautiful, unusual nature (especially for someone who has not seen before desert). Swimming in the Dead Sea – was also an absolutely unique experience, but people are so horrible that it's hard to say whether we can honestly recommend visiting this country.

We should mention however, that all cyclists who stayed on the main road, didn’t have such situations with locals as we had. For those who do not feel adventurous hunters, we advise to remain on the main trail. But those then will not see, what we have seen, going off the main road (for a detailed description of the route go below to ROUTE section.)

CULTURE DIFFERENCES
The biggest problem were people. Very often hostile and unpredictable.
When you will be passing through villages get ready for this that people will shout “hello, what is your name”, “hello, how are you?” or “welcome, welcome” and after that stones will be thrown at you.
Jordan is a Muslim country. Respect their culture. They seem to be more conservative than Syrians. Sometimes it didn’t feel comfortable for Adela to cycle in her cycling shorts. Most of the way she wore long, loose trousers.
Men should never touch any woman and should never look into womens’ eyes. Only a husband has the right to do that.
It’s worth knowing, that when you are offered a meal, you should leave something on your plate. This is a signal for your host that you are fine and that you don’t want to eat any more. Same with drinks.
The left hand is perceived as a dirty hand.  Arabs don't use toilet paper. They use water and left hand.  Don't  greet people and don't make any gestures to others with your “dirty” hand.
Take toilet paper with you when going to the toilet, if you don’t want your right hand to become “dirty” too :- )

STEREOTYPES – FACTS AND MYTHS
“In Middle East you will experience great hospitality”
It was so true before we had reached Jordan!!! In Turkey, Syria and Lebanon people were sometimes even to hospitable. Every day we were offered tea, coffee, free meals and friendly chat. In Jordan it hardly never happened! Most of the times when something was given to us, it was followed by questions: “How do you like Jordan? Jordan good? Jordan people good?” So it fact nothing was for free because you pay a price with obligation to admit that Jordan is a nice country. But it is not.

DANGERS
People. Mainly fucking kids and youngsters who were throwing stones and insulting us. Once, in Aquaba, when we were cycling in the evening, a guy run across the street and without any reason or warning, he hit Adela in the head. Rafael also got a punch. After the guy started to throw stones at us. In our entire trip, Jordan was the first country where we experienced a violence. Also, it didn't feel safe to leave anything unattended. We couldn’t trust Jordanians at all.  

LANGUAGE
Arabic. On the route we took, people spoke surprisingly good English. We didn’t have much chance to practice Arabic.

VISA

We entered Jordan from Syria through Daraa border crossing. It is better to take this crossing because there is much less traffic than on the main one, where motorway goes through.  On Syrian side everything went very quick and smooth. Note that on Syrian side, on this small border crossing, there is no money exchange. To be able to leave, you will have to have 500 SYP in cash, to pay the departure fee.  
Visa to Jordan we bought at the border. It is issued for 1 month and it costs 10 JOD (about 10 €). It must be paid in JOD. At the border there is a money exchange office with better rate than in the rest of the country.
Don’t let officials to make you wait together with buses and cars. They were suggesting that bike is also a vehicle and they wanted us to fill up some forms and wait in the long queue. We refused it and left just after we bought our visas.

OVERNIGHT / CAMPING

We didn’t feel as safe as in Turkey or Syria so we were trying to hide more than there. It felt that somebody can come in the night and steal something. Once a guy didn’t like that we stayed opposite his house (even though he didn’t own the land) so he called a police. After 1 hour of discussion they let us stay.

WATER
Tap water is disgusting. We drunk it, but it was really bad.  If you will be cycling through the desert, take more water with you.

FOOD
Best in Jordan are bakeries. Worth a try are cakes stuffed with dates. While in Jordan people eat manly pita bread, sometimes you can meet on the street bakers, baking a delicious, big, round bread, which tastes like a pizza base. In Aquaba you need to try the best falafel ever!

ROADS / TRAFFIC

Roads are very good and well signposted. We’ve never been cycling on an unpaved road. All signs are spelled also in Latin alphabet, so it’s easy to find a right way. Traffic is not so dense and drivers seem to be much more careful than in neighbouring Syria and Lebanon.

ROUTE
We entered Jordan  from Syria through the small border crossing in Daara. The first few tens of kilometers we rode on the main road north - south, then we turned into a side road to Ajloun. A day later, after a steep uphill, we arrived to the Ajloun castle. From there we pulled to Jarash. We do not recommend this route because it gives a steep climbs and the landscapes, or the castle itself are not worth the effort. In the villages we passed we had a lot of trouble (throwing stones and insults), so it is better to go straight from the border to Jarash. From Jarash we went to Amman. It was a very tiring route because the road runs uphill, it is very busy, with narrow road side. We were so tired of climbing, that we did not reach the city center. Amman is located on seven hills, so we did not know even where to find the center. We passed only one of the hills and we headed towards the Dead Sea. At the seaside, besides the empty hotels there is NOTHING! You have to bring water and food supply for the whole day. The water in the sea is so salty that it’s impossible to get out without a shower. Unfortunately, all hotel beaches are paid. There is one, free, fantastic place, where are the hot springs of fresh water. There you can rinse after bathing. Descent to the beach very polluted but water itself is clean. It is not easy to find this place but you can find it knowing that it is the only place along the whole route, where you find vendors selling water and snacks. Opposite their stoles, you have to jump over a road barrier. At the bottom, there are the hot springs and the "beach".
Both, the bath and the journey along the shore (with a view on Israel), provided us with unforgettable experiences. The landscape has changed in the desert, suddenly on our way appeared camels, nomad’s tents, palm groves and dirty villages with black children.
After Fefila village, we turned to Tafila. Though amazing, rocky mountains, we went to Petra. On this route, Shubak was the first place between Amman and Petra, where we could stock up on food. After visiting overrated and overcrowded Petra, we went to Aquaba direction. After the pass, we turned to the village Dilakha. Once again we were rewarded for leaving the main road. Suddenly we found ourselves in the desert! In Charendal was a first shop since Dilakha and the last before Aquaba. Next heading for Aquabę, we drove through the desert and along the border with Israel. From Aquaba we got a ferry to the Egyptian side of the Red Sea (Aquaba - Nwebe).

MAPS

Better take one with you. Don’t rely on getting a map in here.

CURRENCY

The currency is Jordanian Dinar (JOD).

1 EUR = 0.97 JOD
1 US Dollar = 0.7 JOD
1 PLN = 0.24 JOD
(November 2010)

PRICES
The problem in Jordan is that people here are not bargainers like in Turkey or Syria, but scammers who will try to rip you off  in every shop just because you are a tourist. Every shopping in Jordan was a struggle and fight for a price as close as it’s possible to a fair one. Never let them fuck you up!!! Initially they will try to give you 3 times higher price than it should be!! We don’t know how much locals pay, so we can’t give you real prices. We can write only how much they wanted (amount in brackets) and how much we paid after bargaining.
 
Water 1.5 l – 0.25 JOD (they ask in touristic places from 0.5 - 1.5 JOD)
Bananas 1 kg – 1 - 1.25 JOD (bargained from 1.5 JOD)
Pita bread 10 pieces –  0.5 JOD (in Petra they wanted 1 JOD)
Processed yellow cheese – 1 JOD
White salted cheese 1 kg – 2 JOD  
Date molasses 1 l – 1.25 JOD (initially 2 JOD),
Date paste – 1.5 JOD (initially 2 JOD),
Jam 600 gr – 1.2 JOD
Foul beans in tin – 0.35 JOD (0.5 they asked)
Hummus in tin – 0.35 JOD
Rice 1 kg – 0.8 – 1 JOD
Bulgur 1kg – 0.8 – 1 JOD
Tomatoes 1 kg – 0.65 – 0.8 JOD
Cucumbers 1 kg – 0.5 JOD
Cauliflower 1 kg – 0.5 JOD (initially 0.75 JOD)
Eggs 10 – 1.2 JOD (In Petra),
Falafel – 0.25 JOD in Aquaba (in some shit hole village they asked 0.5 JOD)
Traditional tea – 0.25 JOD (initially 1 JOD)
English breakfast tea in Aquaba – 2 JOD
Latte coffee in Auaba – 2,5 JOD
Coca cola can – 0.3 JOD (in Petra they wanted 1 JOD),
Cookies – from 0.1 to 0.5 JOD (in Petra they ask 1.5 JOD initially)
Internet in Petra 0.5 h – 1.5 JOD or 5 JOD in the hotel for unlimited access. In Aquaba we found a restaurant with free wi-fi but with European prices for tea and coffee.
Jerash ruins entrance fee – 8 JOD
Ajloun castle entrance fee – 1 JOD
Petra entrance fee – 50 JOD - 1 day, 55 JOD – 2 days and 60 JOD 3 days ticket.
Taxi from hotel to Petra – 1.5 JOD for 4 people together (initially 4 and after 2 JOD)
Post stamp to Europe – 0.8 JOD (in stoles and shops with souvenirs the ask from 1 to 1.5 JOD for a stamp).
Post cards – 10 for 1 JOD or 1 JOD for a postcard together with a stamp.
Petrol 1 l  - 1 JOD.
Fast ferry from Aquaba to Nwebe (Egypt) – 70 USD
Slow ferry from Aquaba to Nwebe (Egypt) – 60 USD

Shopping in Jordan is a nightmare. Prices are usually not displayed so it's useful to know Arabic numbers to get a chance to bargain.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE
We exchanged money at the border. You can also exchange money in every touristic place either in money exchange office or in hotels. Rates are worse than at the border.

BANKS / CARDS / CASH MACHINES

We’ve never used banks or cash machines in Jordan. We paid used visa card in Amman, Petra and Aquaba but the way of paying with card is strange because you put a card to a card reader  and take it off without entering a pin code.  Fortunately it worked well. Anyway we would recommend not to rely too much on cards and to have some cash with you.

INTERNET
In touristic places like Petra internet is very expensive – 1.5 JOD/ 0.5h. It is difficult to catch wi-fi for free. In restaurants they ask you to buy full meal before they’ll give you codes. In hotels they ask 5 JOD for unlimited access, no matter if you are a guest or not. In some coffees it's enough if you buy just a coffee and then you get codes.

BIKE SHOPS
We saw one in Aquaba but you can find there only very simple and low quality parts. Nothing for a touring bike.


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Czytaj blog Adeli  |  Czytaj blog Krisa z kraju JORDAN