Sunday, January 16, 2011

More on Jordan

An indispensable Website for anyone considering a trip to Jordan is It is a labour of love by a frequent visitor to Jordan who clearly appreciates the country. She concentrates mainly on Wadi Musa and Wadi Rum, mainly Bedouin towns where she has made many friends over more than 20 years of travel to the country. She also includes a lot of useful information about other cities and regions of the country. In addition, she addresses concerns many people have about dress, customs and so forth in a country that is at once very familiar and very different.
For travellers relatively unfamiliar with the Middle East (and that includes me) Jordan could be a good introduction. Thanks to its history as a British mandate under the League of Nations, Jordan is a country where a lot of people speak English. It is also the location of many Biblical sites--Mt. Nebo, the Dead Sea, the River Jordan etc. and was the home of many early Christians. In Madaba, St. George's Church contains a lovely ancient mosaic floor map of the region, dating from the 6th century, and the ruins of early churches have been discovered in Petra and Jerash.
Still, Jordan is now primarily a Muslim country, and different rules of conduct apply. Modest dress is a requirement--no shorts or very short skirts except in resort complexes, long sleeves, high necks for women. Most Jordanian women wear a hijab, a scarf tied around the head, but visitors need not do so.
Because it is very compact, Jordan's attractions are generally easy to access. The ancient Roman city of Jerash is just a short drive from Amman. The same applies to Madaba, Mt. Nebo and the Dead Sea. Aqaba, the Red Sea resort known for scuba diving and snorkelling, is only about a four hour bus ride from the capital.
If you are adventurous and know a little Arabic, it is possible to visit most of the country's highlights by public transit at very low cost. On a visit to Salt, former capital or Jordan with many beautiful Ottoman-era buildings, I used a shared taxi from Amman that cost only about $1.


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