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PETRA, JORDAN

The ancient Red Rose city of Petra!

sunny 35 °C

All who travel to Jordan end up in Petra. And it is for good reason ... its incredible! To be fully honest, I didn't even realize Petra was a real place until 3yrs ago. I had been planning a trip to Egypt and had googled 'day trips near Sinai', and Petra came up (you can take a ferry across the Red Sea to Jordan from Egypt, and then a bus to Petra). I had never heard of Petra, so I clicked on the link. What I saw made my jaw drop! This is where Indiana Jones was filmed! I recognized it immediately!! But all these years I had thought it was fake; a movie set. But it dawned on me then that this was a real place ... and now I just HAD to go! Unfortunately that trip to Egypt was canceled, as that was the same year of the Revolution. Fast forward 3yrs later, and now I'm there!!

If you read my previous post on Jordan, you will know that I was on a week-long tour. Entrance to Petra was included in this tour. Petra is hidden in the sandstone mountains. From the viewpoint over the town of Wadi Musa (below) you would never guess what lay hidden ...
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After you pass the entrance gates, follow the path. If you have a guide, he/she will point out various tombs and carvings along the way, as well as troughs that were part of the irrigation system that brought water into the city.
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A natural shape in the sandstone that looks like an elephant.
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You will eventually come to, and walk through, the Siq, which is a long, narrow gorge that links the outside world to the hidden city of Petra. It is 1.2km long.
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At its narrowest it is 2m, at its widest 6m, and the walls tower up to 200m overhead!
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The Siq seems to go on forever, and at every bend my heart started to beat a little faster in hopes the Treasury would be around the corner! And finally, BAM, there it was in all its glory!!
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Just look at it!!!
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So many intricate details all carved by hand!!
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Those little 'holes' along the side are ancient scaffolding for the Nabataeans who carved Petra into the sandstone 1000s of years ago.
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This is the Treasury guard ... he doesn't seem to be taking his job too seriously, lol!
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Camels were everywhere awaiting riders.
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Cheeeeese!
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The morning was spent with the tour group getting a history lesson, and then we were given the afternoon free to explore on our own.

The entire group chose to make the long hike up to the monastery and back which took them the whole day ... except me. No thanks. In photos the Treasury & Monastery look the same. I wanted to see other things, like the Royal Tombs, and climb up to some viewpoints.

Tombs carved into the sandstone. These are not the Royal Tombs, these are the tombs of middle class people.
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Look at the incredible natural patterns in the rock!! Suhaib (our guide) told us that the pink is iron, yellow is sulphur, and blue is copper. But the colors mix together creating new colors, my favorite being purple.
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Check out the purple sand!
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The amphitheater was cut into the rock, and could hold 3000 spectators.
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And now for the Royal Tombs ...
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Guards
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Hadrian's Arch - where I had a little picnic
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One thing I really wanted to do was figure out how to get to a lookout point over the Treasury. I had seen on a blog a photo of a girl sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Treasury down below, and I wanted the same photo of myself. I asked my guide if he knew where the trail was. He pointed off to the south, but then said it takes 3hrs each way ... which I wouldn't have enough time for. But I could've sworn the blog I read had said it was only a 30min hike. So as I wandered through the ancient city I asked a few Bedouins if they knew of a shortcut. Their had to be one! This guy came to my rescue! He knew exactly where I was talking about, and that there was a shortcut north of the Royal Tombs (the opposite direction my guide had pointed me)! Woohoo!
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He was one of the Bedouins who live within Petra. He said he and his donkey, Shakira, were headed that way and I could follow him. So off we went.
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Stairs, stairs and more stairs!
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Some lookout points over the ancient city as I climbed higher.
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View over the amphitheater.
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Many Bedouins live within Petra, and work selling cold drinks and souvenirs to tourists. They live in caves and small huts, and herd goats & camels. We passed some of their homes along the way.
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It took about 30-40min to reach the viewpoint, and it was worth the climb!
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My Johnny-Depp-from-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-look-alike Bedouin friend had a hut built atop the cliff overlooking the Treasury. He offered me mint tea and to sit in the shade and listen to stories of life in Petra.
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After about 20min hanging with 'Johnny' I sadly had to leave. I had to meet the rest of the group and catch the bus to our hotel in Wadi Musa. On the walk back down towards the Siq I stopped and checked a few of the souvenirs stands the Bedouins had set up.
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Sand art
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Included in the admission to Petra is a 'free' ride on a horse & carriage either from the entrance, down the Siq, and to the Treasury, or in the reverse direction. I advise you to save it for the end of the day when you are exhausted and don't want to walk 1.2km down the Siq again. I say 'free' cuz theres a $5USD mandatory tip required.
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The Bedouins will ask if you want an air conditioned Ferrari ride ... and then escort you to one of these, lol! I loved listening to the galloping hooves of on-coming 'Ferraris' echoing throughout the Siq :)
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It was a long day, but WOW was it a good one! If you are traveling on your own without a group/tour, I recommend 2 days here. There were so many hikes/trails to go on, and caves/tombs to explore. And also there was no way I would've had time to hike to the Monastery if I had wanted too. You can also visit Petra at night when the Siq and area around the Treasury are lit by candles. I wanted to return at night for this but my feet did not agree, I was completely exhausted! If ever I find myself in Jordan again I will definitely visit Petra by night!

Have I convinced you to visit the Middle East yet? I sure hope I have ;)

Posted by ChantelleS 10:37 Archived in Jordan Tagged desert ruins city red rose asia ancient petra jordam Comments (0)

JAKARTA - INDONESIA

Stuck in filthy, raining Jakarta for 4 days because a volcano was erupting in the area I was originally planning on visiting. Luckily I found a zoo to visit on the one sunny day I was here.

rain 35 °C

After my 5 days in Borneo, I flew to Jakarta, Indonesia. Jakarta was just supposed to be a one night thing before heading to Yogyakarta to see Borobudur (one of the top things I came to Indonesia to see), but as it turns out, Mt Kelut was erupting in that area!! No flights were being allowed to land or take off, over 100,000 people had been evacuated, and everything was covered in 2 inches of ash! So I canceled my flight and was stuck in filthy Jakarta for 4 days days rather than just one!!

I found a hotel in Jakarta on Expedia, but decided to not book it, but rather to just show up without a reservation and hopefully get an even better rate. My plan failed. The Expedia rate was $32 ... the rate I was quoted by just arriving was $98!!!! How can Expedia be less than half the price?! So I stood there in front of the desk clerk, whipped out my phone, and proceeded to book a room on Expedia at the cheaper rate. Then we stood there staring at eachother while he waited for my reservation to come through in his system, lol! Awkward.

The hotel was called NEO Tendean, and was awesome! Super modern, everything wonderfully clean, great staff, etc. My only complaint is that the one & only restaurant had a very limited menu of only spicy food. But other than that it was a great place to be stuck for 4 days. And again, I forgot to take photos of it. The views from my room on the other hand ... well, have a look and see.
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That river looked like the kind of river you'd see a dead body floating by in. But it was nice to be able to see into local life and take photos through my window without walking through the neighborhood like a tourist with my camera.
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Of the 4 days I was stuck here, 3 of them rained :( On my one sunny day, I headed to Ragunan Zoo. I thought that cab ride there was going to cost a fortune because it took at least 30min. But it was only $5 CAD :) And admission to the zoo was only 4500 Rupiah ($0.40!!!) I have no idea how they manage to pay the employees and feed all the animals with only 40 cents admission!! The zoo was HUGE! SO many animals, each with their own keepers / handlers.

The first thing I saw upon entering the gates, was a pond area full of massive pelicans! We have pelicans in Canada, but they're only about 1/3 of the size of these ones!! And I just loved the colors on their faces!
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At the gate you get a map, which is not in English, so good luck to you. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was there from 9am until closing time and only saw half of it!! So be sure to wear good shoes. I made the mistake of wearing flip flops, and my feet were killing me by the end of the day. There are few signs, which are also not in English (but that is to be expected, as I'm not at home any more, I dont expect the whole world to have everything in English just for me). But the signs usually had a photo as well, so a sign with a photo of a tiger should mean "tigers this way!" I made a bee-line to the tigers, cuz they are my favorite of the large cats, and I'd never seen one before!
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They're so cute, and orange, and stripey :)
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Yawning tiger
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He just wants a belly rub like all kitties :)
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Pooping tiger, lol!
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Grooming himself
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He looks like he's scheming on how to eat me for lunch!
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The bigger animals, like the tigers, lions, elephants, komodos, etc, were NOT in cages. They were in a 'pit' with a 'moat' around it. So people can be eye level with the animals, and dont have to worry about stupid cage bars obscuring their view, but are still safe because of the moat (which was about 15-20ft deep, and 10-15ft across). Here is a photo of an elephant in his enclosure so you can see what I mean. (Its alot deeper than it looks, but the foliage is filling it up).
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Asian Elephants look very different from their African cousins. I think they are actually quite homely looking compared to African Elephants. They have small droopy ears, rather than the huge open ears of their cousins. They also have hollow faces, 2 big bumps on tops of their heads, and are alot smaller. Here's a photo of an Asian elephant, followed by an African elephant I photographed in South Africa last year so you can see the difference.

Asian Elephant
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African Elephant - much more beautiful in my opinion. Those big ears make all the difference :)
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Elephant tail. The 'hair' is very wiry, and there were places selling bracelets made of elephant tail hair!
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Elephant foot
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And my favorite ... elephant trunk.
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Next up were the Malayan Sun Bears. My first time seeing a bear! I live in Canada, and apparently theres bears here, but I've never seen one.
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There were alot of orangutan enclosures throughout the park. I got to see a male orang which had the massive (and ugly) cheek pads. I'm very thankful I got to see orangutans in the wild in Borneo before seeing them here, because they are SO FAT in the zoo! Morbidly obese actually! Poor thing is so fat it cant even close its legs!!
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Male with its cheek pads. They should not be flopping over like that ... thats extra fat as well. And that 'bag' of fat hanging from his neck ... also not supposed to be there, all fat!!!
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It looks like he's giving me the finger, but he's really just holding up his fat face, lol!
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I came across another orangutan enclosure with another alpha male. His cheek pads were more normal sized, but look at those dreadlocks!!
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There are signs everywhere indicating not to feed the animals, but stupid tourists still throw cheezies to them. No wonder they are fat!
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Look at this thing! Doesnt it look like a man in a Sasquatch costume, lol?!
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Strange looking creatures thats for sure!
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So flexible!
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There were a few deer (not sure what kind) that were wandering around freely. But when they spotted me, they froze,and watched my every move.
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This racoon looks like he had a rough night, LOL!
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I walked around, and when I came back to the racoon he had switched to this position, hahaha!
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Black Tonkean Macaque
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Silver Leaf Monkey
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Gibbon
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Bintorang, aka Asian Bear Cat
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I'm not sure what kind of little antelope this was, cuz the sign was in Indonesian. But it was so tiny I could have held it in one hand!
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Within the zoo, there is a separate Primate Enclosure housing gorillas, more orangutans, chimps, and a variety of smaller monkeys. It has its own admission price of 6000 Rupiah (only $0.55). I walked around in that enclosure for at least an hour searching for the chimps & gorillas, but I just couldnt find them! Oh, I found their enclosures alright, but it was so big, with so many trees, that I probably walked right past them without seeing them. Theres even a skywalk / boardwalk thing up high so you can look down at them. Finally when I was about to give up I found 2 massive gorillas!!!
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They are seriously huge! Much, much bigger than a human! Taller, and twice as broad as a football player!!
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'Zoolander' gorilla giving me his best 'blue steal' pose
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I never realized how flat their faces were!
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Look how big his head is!!
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And last, but not least ... Komodo Dragons! These guys were another of my top reasons I chose to visit Indonesia. But now for my predicament ... I wanted my first Komodo sighting to be of wild dragons, not in a zoo! In a few days time I would be flying to Flores to go houseboating in Komodo National Park and hopefully see some Komodos in the wild ... but what if I didnt see any in the wild, and had passed on seeing them in the zoo?! I'd go home not seeing any! I've had such bad luck with wildlife in the past (going cage diving with Great Whites ... but not seeing any sharks; going whale watching ... and not seeing any whales), that in the end I decided to see them in the zoo.
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THEY WERE SO BIG!!! 9ft long! Like a massive black iguana, that walks like a crocodile, with a tongue like a snake!
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One good thing about deciding to see them in the zoo, is that I happened to arrive at feeding time!
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Their handler whistled and they came lumbering over like little dinosaurs. Just like dogs looking for a treat!
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Bird? What bird? I dont know what your talking about.
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I always thought Komodo Dragons were venomous, but all that slobber you see is not venom. Komodos actually have so much bacteria in their salivia, that one bite from a Komodo can kill by infection!
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Look how thick that tail is!!! It was as thick as my thigh!
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The handler and his pet dragon :)
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Thats all for Jakarta. I had one more day here, but it rained again. So in 4 days, all I got to do was visit the zoo.

Posted by ChantelleS 15:35 Archived in Malaysia Tagged wildlife indonesia elephant zoo city animal dragon tiger asia bear orangutan komodo Comments (0)

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