So we raced to the airport, arrived at 3 pm! We wouldnt make it , we wouldnt make it, despair washing over me. So close!
M dropped me and the kids off at the Departures drop off point and zoomed away to the parking lot. I looked at the watch, 3:04 pm. Huffing and puffing, 1 kid with 2 bags on the trolley and another in his stroller. How I managed to push the two in lightning speed, I’m not sure. The guys at the counter were not too happy but fortunately, they were distracted and there was another family awaiting to come. “They’re coming, they’re at the roundabout!” a relation of some sort called out. They also weren’t happy with M not being there. “He already checked in online!” and they relented. They still wanted to see his face before we were let off to the departure gates. Sprinting at 3:12 pm, he arrived and we were immediately told to go to the gates as it was ’30 minutes away’ – and we have to be there latest 3:45 pm. “If not, they will not let you in!” I tell you, it must be the fastest journey I have made (with 2 kids!) through security and departure area. We even stopped by to get Ayman’s milk and some snacks at Boots (blame my ‘we’ll make it DONT WORRY!’ attitude, stressing M out).
And that was how we started our holiday to Jordan.
Thankfully, the rest of the trip didnt carry on to be so stressful and Ayman was perfectly fine afterwards, Alhamdulillah.
We arrived at Jordan aroun 10 pm. There was no problem going through, all tourists have to go through the customs and pay for a visa. We waited awhile for the stroller and eventually went out of the airport at 11 pm and onto our hotel, Corp Amman hotel, at midnight.
As we only spent two hours in Amman, I’m going to count the day after (Thursday) as Day 1.
Everyone was zonked out that night and in the morning, I felt more alive and less zombie-fied, having gone through 24 hours of no sleep (nights and post nights). We discovered the typical Jordanian hotel breakfast: cold salad type food (hummus, cucumber, tomatoes, yoghurt). There were also chefs at hand to cook you your preferred egg type and make pancakes in the hotel. Not too bad. The day after, I came across an Arabic girl who looks no more than 4 years old eating the healthiest breakfast and putting me to shame. Her plate consisted of hummus, cucumber, yoghurt, olives and tomatoes. Like seriously kid, is that your breakfast? *hangs head in shame* I even spied on her to see if there are any ensuing tantrums. There were none! She ate it with no problemo.
Before this, we havent yet decided on what mode of transport to take to go around Jordan. Our itinerary was as follows:
Wednesday night – Arrive at Amman and check in at Corp Amman hotel
Thursday morning – Go around Amman
Thursday afternoon – Go around Madaba and then check in at Ma’in Spa Resort
Friday midday – Leave for Wadi Musa/Petra and stay at Sharah Mountain hotel
Saturday – Go around Petra. Leave late afternoon for Wadi Rum Luxury Night camp
Sunday – Check out of camp and leave for Amman
Monday morning – fly to LHR
Now, these places are far from each other, at least 2-3 hour car ride. It was only from Amman to Madaba that was less than an hour away.
I wanted to opt for taxi +/- guide for each trip, I approximated it to be around 200 JD – having googled Lonely planet’s travel forum and various travel websites. We didnt have to stress over finding places on a map and navigating through a different country and the craziness of Jordan’s traffic. M was more keen on driving and wanted to rent a car. I’m glad he convinced me to do the latter. Having a car proved to be a great decision: more flexibility in terms of time and change of itinerary, we can relax entirely in the car, stop wherever and whenever we wanted. How was the traffic and roads? Outside Amman, it was fine, they have good roads and occasionally it was like driving around potholes back in the day to Junjungan. The only ‘trouble’ we had was en route to Wadi Musa, but I’ll talk about that later on. In Amman, the roads were fine but the attitude of driving was mental (same rule applied outside Amman but there were more car traffic, accentuating the problem inside Amman). There was no lane markings, so people were swerving in and out of ‘lanes’. They didnt stop at roundabouts. Drivers rarely used their indicators. I think I was better off not looking at the road, what with the craziness we had to go through. Kudos to M though for being cool as cucumber driving through Jordan. My top tip would be: avoid driving in Amman but definitely drive outside Amman.
We went back to the airport to rent the car, we figured it was on the way to Madaba anyway and it would save us from driving in Amman. Due to being last minute, we had to pay 55jd a day for an SUV/4WD. It worked out slightly higher than we intended but I’m pretty happy with our decision.
Amman: I’m afraid there isnt much for me to rave about. Granted we only stayed there until 2 pm before heading out. We were warned by fellow Arabic friends that Amman was nothing spectacular. We went to the Citadel, home to old Roman Ruins. Met a taxi driver, who then drove us to a ‘bazaar’ which is actually just a shop selling Jordanian Handicrafts and then recommended lunch at Jordanian restaurant nearby. I tried the mansaf – lamb cooked with yoghurt. I actually am not a fan of yoghurt but I figured I would be adventurous. It was a bit sour, though the lamb was really tender. He also then drove us back to hotel to pick up bags and then to the airport. Top tip: There are official taxis and private taxis in Jordan. The official taxis are way cheaper and usually the ones that hotels would book for you. It cost us 1.2 JD – something like £1.50 to go across town from our hotel (7-10 minute ride). The dude was from a private taxi and being rookies, we didn’t ask for a price straight up from the beginning. We assumed that it wouldnt be no more than 40 JD for all of the trips. Boy, were we wrong. 70 JD! He argued that he has been taxiing us from 11 am to 3 pm, waited for us, panjang traffic, jauh perjalanan, bla bla. Ok, ok, bayar tia.
By the time we got the car, it was 4 pm and we decided to forego Madaba and go straight to the resort. It took 2 hours and en route we had the view of Dead Sea. The best thing with driving in Jordan is that the landscape changes so much, from the city to greenery to Dead Sea on your one side and the mountains on the other and later on, the desert. I noticed a lot of people just picnicking on the roadside. Like seriously view nya inda jua lawa where they’re picnicking, but there they are, with their family on a mat, picnicking or even having BBQ.
Ma’in Spa Resort didnt show an address on the website or even on their email. It says ‘Sowayma’ and when we typed Sowayma on the GPRS, it drove us to some residential area. Somehow then M could get the GPRS to find the spa resort and we finally found it. Going through the mountain roads (good conditioned roads) and then finally we entered nestled deep inside the curvy roads, we got to Ma’in Spa Resort. Let me state here, Ma’in Hot Spa is like Heaven On Earth (HOE – LOL). The spa basically has thermal pool from which the water is heated by the hot springs around it. It was so far away and isolated from civilisation, and even though there were plenty of tourists, the hotel felt very serene and quiet. No craziness of tourists bustling around, hitting my personal space. Perhaps we were lucky and didnt hit peak season yet.
I was so sakai there, atau nya urang malaysia jakun. I dont think I hid my ‘cool’ very well (M is very good though at looking cool). I was all ‘look at the swing seats! look, A LIBRARY! waaah waterfall! KIDS KIDS!!! TAKE PICTUREEEEE! SMILEEEEE!’. Seriously, I’m surprised the kids have not been annoyed on how papparazzi I was. Top tip: Give angry face or bribe with food to get smiles from kids.
After relieving our bags and ourselves (in the toilet), we went to the thermal pool even though it was now 7 pm. Being near the waterfall and swimming (playing with water for me) at night was a surreal experience. It’s a bit like an outdoor sauna, the cool air but your body in the water immersed in gentle heat. Then we just got tired and hungry and went off to eat some dinner.
I read the reviews raving on the food there and I 100% agree. I can’t remember what I had, they were all good! Oh yeah some chicken mandi, grilled lamb and chicken, some fish with sauce… ahh so many choices, I think i ate them all. We went to look around the library after that. Zayan discovered chess and liked the idea of checkmating bishops and the likes. Ayman discovered some books and tried to rip them apart. I found a book called Travelogue by Burton Holmes, an American traveller in the 1890s who seemed like he had the best job ever. Wandering around the world with his camera and giving lectures about it. It was acutally quite interesting and wished I could go through it longer. Actually, that night I thought – why dont we just stay here another night and leave on Saturday early morning! Of course, M was the more sensible one – firstly it was expensive and secondly, it takes 3 hours to get to Petra and we wanted to go around Petra early in the morning. Sigh, why must he be so sensible. Top tip: stay there for 2 nights at least! There isnt much around Ma’in Spa, so maybe no more than 2 nights and if longer, arrange to go to and from Ma’in.
Ok, I have to go and work. Till the next part ‘Day 2’.