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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BIT OF BADO

TRAVELOGUE

In Amman, I managed to get my shorts and sneakers repaired by the same guy - on different dates. He tried to refuse money for the shorts but I pressed it on him.

For my trip to Akaba, Jordan I managed to get a seat in the top, front of a double decker bus. My philosophy is that 'until you ask, you don't know'. Believe me, this was not my assigned seat.

Although I had caught a bus bound for Akaba (from Amman), my plan was to get off near the turn off to Wadi Rum. It is confusing to me that a major tourist area like Wadi Rum doesn't have it's own bus going there - or a station there to take people onto it but I've learned that travel in this part of the world is tricky at best. My plan was just to hitchhike or something. But, if you've been reading this blog for long you will know that Logan's plans don't always (well, rarely) work out as he thought they would. It turns out that the bus would not stop. Hence, I had to drive past Wadi Rum and go an hour more to reach Akaba - which meant I'd have to backtrack the same distance. Joy. On the way to Akaba, they had a 'military checkpoint'. They checked other people's ID's and my passport. We had to run all of our bags through an xray machine. The laptop and kindle gave their x-ray machine some difficulty. Rather than making me open my bag, they just asked what was in it. I said "Two lap tops and dirty clothing!" It was close enough for them. "You are welcome." they said. Within 5-10 minutes total, we were off. Note, they didn't xray my satchel. After we had left the checkpoint, I discretely asked another passenger why they had it. Apparently, Akaba is 'strategic'. Brings back memories of Lawrence of Arabia.

When I got off what I thought was a very long bus ride in Akaba, I was literally surrounded by six taxi cab drivers trying to get me into their cab. Someone else had told me it was only 1 KM to the bus station. As I set off walking there, I was literally followed by all of the cab drivers. When people do this, it makes me very upset. I must have said "Please stop following me." ten times or more. Sometimes, the only thing to get rid of them is asking other people how you can get police aid. Note, this is not always a good move because you may just need these people later. Use it as a last resort only.

Tourism in Jordan without your own big "Adam truck", a pain in the ass. It is debatable whether it is really worth it.

The cab drivers also spoke to the bus guys. I suspect they were trying to tell the bus drivers not to take me anywhere as I was 'their fare'. Eventually, I discovered that one of the buses that had said it wasn't the right one to take was indeed one that went by - but not to - Wadi Rum. I said 'fuck it' and got on that bus.

I got dropped off literally at a deserted crossroads in the middle of the desert.

You know the phrase "I'd rather be lucky than good"? It applies to me. Literally, less than twenty seconds after I got dropped off, a car full of Germans pulled up. They asked where I was headed and after I responded, they kindly offered me a lift. I got my gear in the trunk and squeezed in. There was Daniel (he is thin and tall), Thomas (who we called "David Hasselhoff" - or maybe it was just me), Diena (lady who didn't talk much) and their leader and tour guide Jonas. In addition to a few other languages, Jonas also spoke fluent Arabic.

I couldn't have planned or asked for better companions.

So I went to Wadi Rum. Our hosts were the Al Zalabeh tribe of Bedouin (in Arabic, Bado).

We hung out at Wadi Rum. Although I wasn't able to play backgammon with the Bedouin It was neat. I made some videos that the slow and shitty internet in Egypt may or may not let me upload - I will try.

We slept in the desert for one night. I literally got to spend 9/11 this year in a Bedouin camp.

The next day, we toured around in the truck with our driver Moohmmd (his spelling). I did get to see a lot of different rocks and walk through a lot of sand. Each place we stopped at that had something special, our guide wanted to hang out for a long time. Fortunately, my traveling companions had some place they needed to be. After the first "I can't believe we're still here" times went by, they just started setting out to the truck earlier than Moohmmd was expecting to go. After he discovered they weren't holding with any shenanigans, the journey went a lot faster. The total trip time was say five hours. I didn't think that any of the stops at the 'look what I have for sale, please have some tea' Bedouin tents were really necessary - or at least not for more than a couple minutes. I think you could do the place in 3-4 hours if you knew where you were going.

I think the only thing that really could have been improved was the midday meal. We got taken to a fairly horrible grocery store and told to buy food for our meal. They really didn't have any good picnic food and certainly no picnic baskets. Personally, I'd have had that as one (bad) option or for an additional charge, you can have Bedouin cooking at one of the tents. I inquired about this and was told flatly "There are not enough women." I asked if Bedouin men cooked and was told they do. It was a confusing answer. At Jonas' urging I let the question drop. I suspect it is some sort of cultural thing that is getting in the way of them making a good profit and outsiders to get to experience more of the culture through food.

The Bedouin were extremely polite, courteous and good hosts. Unfortunately, the silence of the desert was nice but a bit too boring with no internet. Adam, please stop rolling your eyes. I did enjoy it but I couldn't have taken too much of it. The Bedouin did have some crazy (literally, I believe) English 'perma traveling' lady in her fifties or so. She had joined the Bedouin camp somehow (possibly without their permission) and was working there to get a free place to live, much like I did in Georgia. When I first met her, she literally had a bit of froth on one side of her mouth. It set the tone for all of my dealings with her. My host, Eghab said "Perhaps I will kill her in five days." I replied "Five days is too long." One of us was joking.

When I discovered that my new traveling companions were going back to Akaba - and that I'd had enough rocks and sand to last me I jumped at the chance to go with them.

They dropped me at the border to Israel then drove off to return their rented car. I took the long walk across the deserted border outpost by myself - little knowing the pain that awaited me.



JORDAN

Bottled water is available everywhere and is fairly cheap.

Jordans are very educated - many of them speak English.

According to a nice lady I met named Kathrin, women traveling alone in Jorden have no problems.

The Jordan dinar is at a fixed rate with the USD. $1.4 USD = 1 JOD. Because the rate is fixed, it tells me that it would be worth less than a rat meat taco outside of Jordan - get it changed earlier rather than later.



AMMAN JORDAN

Amman's old town is one of those that would take a day or two for getting the layout of as well as seeing everything they've got. They have a fortress on top of a hill as well as a Roman theater. I went to see the theater because that was not made on top of a fucking tall hill.



TRAVELERS TIPS

Always take a business card for whatever restaurant you are offered. You can always throw them out later. Not taking a business card may mean you are unable to easily find that restaurant again.

Lie to customs inspectors habitually, especially if you can use the disclaimer "I misunderstood your (horrible) English. The customs inspectors are wanting a neat, pat answer to their questions, not the truth. Always make it sound as though you have a set - somewhat tight - schedule and rare interested in sticking to it. This is what the majority of people have and it's what they're expecting. Give them what they expect.

Although it has been stated numerous times in different places, it bears repeating again - if yo are wanting to visit a lot of the middle east, do NOT get an Israel stamp on your passport. In fact, if you are crossing that border, Egypt will also offer to stamp other pieces of paper. Yes, you get to fill out at least part of another form but it is that or spend a bunch of money and time to get a new passport. Always remember to ask for this!

Long shirts and pants are not just for modesty. Unless you enjoy feeling hordes of very persistent flies walking around on your arms and legs, wear long sleeves and long pants. Really.



TRAVELER'S LORE

Jonas (the multi-lingual German guy) had done a lot of traveling in various ways recently. He assured me that traveling through Israel would be very preferable to taking the ship from Akaba to Newava I had originally envisioned. Fortunately, I listened to him. What happened later (see narrative) made this information very useful. By much shorter, I am meaning over half of a day with various inexplicable delays and such. The one to two hour times given on the schedule are what we call a 'lie'.



PHILOSOPHY

When did we move from a culture of people who spoke to each other into that of slaves for the television?

What the hell are people thinking with cell phones? When ever they have a loud ring tone that goes off seemingly forever? This is because they need to look at the phone prior to answering it - as if they are not going to answer it. We all know they're going to. They're stalling. They are hoping that somehow everyone else will break into spontaneous dance at their sucky song and make the person with the cell phone the new king or queen of the moment. That is what they hope will happen. Everyone else forced to listen to their music thinks they are an inconsiderate dick with shitty taste in music.



BEDOUIN CUSTOMS

When you are in a Bedouin camp enjoying their hospitality, if you put down your coffee it means that you want something from them and they will give it to you. This is usually used as a means for the right young man to ask for a daughter's hand in marriage. I'm not sure what else it could be used for but I'm betting they don't serve coffee lightly. Lots and lots of tea seems more common.

Family is the most important thing to the bado. A large family is considered to be a 'strong family'.

Before modern times, goats and camels were the wealth of the tribe.

The best thing about being a bado is respect and honesty.

I had asked our bado host Eghab 'What is the one thing I should tell others about the bado?' After some careful thought he replied "In fifty years, there will be no bado living in tents. The culture is disappearing." I believe this is a sad thing. Most of the bado encampments you can go to today are just for tourists. If the bado way of life interests you, see it while you can.

In the village of 1000 Bedouin near Wadi Rum, about 90 of them make their living through tourism.



OTHER TID BITS OF INFORMATION PICKED UP

Mohammed the Prophet is from Saudi Arabia.



GERMANY

According to Jonas, if you'd like to get a strong impression of Germany, visit Berlin. Lots of people have immigrated to and become part of the community.



COSTS

Taxi from Akaba to Wadi Rum direct, 40-50 JOD

The sandals I'd had the guys buy me in Georgia had really started to tear up my feet. I've decided to put them into semi retirement as 'shower sandals' because many of the showers I've gone to are just that fucking scary. I purchased new sandals in Amman - they started at 17 JOD, I bargained down to 12 JOD.

Lunch - hummus, irba (I forgot what that is), falafel and water, 3.5 JOD

Mailing two of my note books to Jana (yes, Jana you should expect a package from Jordan) - 14.3 JOD. Registered is 15.3 JOD but they couldn't explain to me what that was and I needed a return address in Jordan which I didn't have.

Tea on Jordanian bus (which they forgot to collect and I forgot to pay), .4 JOD.

Taxi from Akaba to Israel: 4 JD

Taxi from Israel border crossing at Jordan to the border crossing into Egypt, 50 sheckles (ILS).

Keefta (head wrap), 8 JOD

At Bedouin camp, three 1.5 liter bottles of water, 1 JOD. Good price indeed. Drink lots.

Israel: 50 ILS to drive across Israel between Jordan and Egypt in a cab. 101 ILS to leave the country. I've often wondered - if you can't come up with the money to leave the country, do they force you to become a citizen?

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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