Friday, 4 April 2008

Egypt, Day 5 (part 1)

One day trip to Jordan

We set off early in the morning again and headed for the "customs" - a tiny building by a little jetty and a couple of boats. After another session of giving your passport to one man, him passing it over to another, third one flicking through it, fourth man actually stamping it and fifth man checking that the stamp is really there, we proceeded to the little boat that was to take us across the Red Sea to Jordan.

So this is the holiday resort Taba Heights seen from the sea. Five hotels by the sea, surrounded by mountains on land - completely separate from the town of Taba, which is a few miles further along the coast towards Israel. A little higher near the mountains you can see "the village" of Taba Heights. It's not an old village or anything, it's just a congregation of a few restaurants, shops, small hotels, etc. No local inhabitants apart from the staff that work in these businesses. (I wish I'd been able to get hold of all this information before I chose my trip!)

Taba itself is very near the border with Israel. The big hotel on the left is in Taba, Egypt, and the big hotel on the right is in Israel, near(ish) Eilat.

When we got closer to Jordan, we could see this huge Arab Revolt flag towering over the city of Aqaba. Apparently it is the tallest free standing flagpole in the world. (Don't get it confused with the flag of Jordan, which is very similar).

Don't know why this Chinese ship was smokin'. Makes an interesting picture, though.

Aqaba locals enjoying seaside town life. Actually, it was Friday, which explains why there were so many people on the beach! In most Islamic countries the week starts on Saturday and ends on Friday, so Friday is the equivalent of the Christian "day of rest". "Day of play" more like, by the looks of it (there will be another photo from the seafront of Aqaba later on).

We met our Jordanian guide, hopped on a coach and started heading NE towards Petra.

I loved the shape of the sandstone mountains by the road.

The road kept climbing up gradually. Didn't see much on either side for a while - just fairly dull "nothingness". Then, at one point, our guide asked us to close our eyes until he says it is OK to open them (he told me off for keeping my eyes open - hey, I'm a photographer, I can't shut my eyes!) and when he did, we were in front of this view:

The view was very impressive. Naturally, the photo doesn't do it justice, even in the bigger size. (click on the photo to see the bigger picture)

This is some town near Petra... Have to see if I can find out its name! It may be Wadi Musa, which is the nearest to Petra. But then again it may be Ash Shawbak.

Coca-Cola make wheelchairs?

At the entrance to Petra there was trouble with the men at the gate; some misunderstanding about how many people and how many tickets in our group... This man wasn't very nice, but he looked great!

The descent to Petra is about a mile long trek through a ravine in the mountain.

...and some people make the journey in a horse carriage.

Luckily, we walked the whole distance - it was simply beautiful. Regardless of scores and scores of tourists everywhere.

This is the view you have in front of you when you come out of the ravine into the main square:

...and looking back from the other side of the square, this is the ravine we just came out of:

The tourist police is keeping an eye on some seriously suspicious looking tourists.

Camel ride galore. I like the interaction between the riders in this photo.

The Three Musketeers of Jordan?

I know, I know.... I'm in the magnificent ancient city of Petra and all I shoot is camels and donkeys... disgraceful, isn't it. I told you I can't help it.

I have to admit that I took about 500 photos on this day - some of which not too terrible-, so there are many more to show you. But I'm going to cut this day in half and continue in the next instalment. And I promise to post a few photos of the buildings and caves, too.

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