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Friday, September 9, 2011

LEAVE TURKEY, ARRIVE JORDAN

LEAVING ISTANBUL

For the fairly nominal fee of 10 TRY, a shuttle bus to the airport was arranged for me by the hotel staff. The shuttle buses go to ten or more different hotels/hostels and pick up people. You need to schedule them in advance. My plane leaves at 14:30 hrs, hence I scheduled myself to get on the 10:30 hrs bus. I figured that would give me a good four and a half hours. Some other stupid and whiny tourists had apparently not thought to schedule that far ahead. They were vigorously complaining about anything from the numerous tops to be made to critiquing the driving. There is no wonder that people get fed up with tourists. Eventually, the drivers assistant (the guy whose job it is to yell at the driver) told the tourist "This is a shuttle, not private!" I noticed that despite the passenger making noises about getting out and getting a taxi, they never did.

I don't think they made their plane. It took me over four hours to work my way through two different sets of security checks, border checkpoints, baggage and such. A lot of standing in lines. My actual waiting time for the plane, excluding a small meal, was about thirty seconds. I can't stress enough the need to give yourself a lot more time than you think you're going to need.

For those interested in such things, my main bag weighs in at 15.7 KG. I think that the weight is down from 20 KG when it got robbed last.

I like the way foreign airlines do their boarding and such a lot better than the way American ones do. There is none of that fake pomp and circumstance of American airports. "We'd like to invite all of our platinum members to board at this time." And they don't have people who need extra time to board before others. The door just opens and people get on in their own speed. It is faster and with less bullshit.

The aircraft was old enough that it had been built with ashtrays in the armrests. They played light, slow and (to me) annoying music. People who decided to really push the bounds of what they could get on with 'carry on' attempted to fill the overhead bins with shit. Out of apathy, I'd not bothered to check out the duty free shop. Although I've got nothing against taking a 'puddle jumper' in the future I would like to avoid any more use of large aircraft.

On airplanes in America, the 'snack' you get on a two and a half hour flight like this one is a choice of peanuts or pretzels on the nicer airlines. The worse ones just throw a bag of peanuts at you. On Jordan airlines, I had the best meal I'd ever had on a plane. With wine.

As a side note, when I was a kid, I never heard about anyone with an allergy to peanuts. Actually, no food allergies at all. I'm wondering if the species is weakening? With the advances in medical science, loads of people are alive today who wouldn't have been years ago. "And very proud we are of all of them." - The Big Lebowski.



ARRIVAL IN AMMAN

Anyway, we eventually landed in Jordan. Due to my research, I had 20 JOD ready for the visa when the guard asked. He smiled at that. I had read that a taxi from the airport into town is a fixed rate of 20 JOD to get into town. The taxi driver seemed very disappointed that I knew that. He even tried to rip me off for more once we got to town but smiling and being extremely firm got the rate to just 20 JOD. I did have to raise my voice to do it though.

I made my way to the hotel. For common areas, there are several different room and a roof but the bedroom is noisy, hot and stuffy with three beds. Not a great place but it is the top rated one in this city. I'm glad that didn't go with a lower one, I suppose. As an example, you are not suppose to throw toilet paper into the toilet. This wasn't really an issue for me because what hey, there was no toilet paper. A careful examination of a sign on the door showed that they wanted two cups of water poured into the toilet. That made sense because the toilet (unlike the previous day) simply would not flush. So, I poured in not two but many cups of water. A wet and angry big turd mocked me in it's resistance. I fled the bathroom leaving it to be someone else's problem. I hope it didn't escape and kill anyone.

Another example is that the noise on the street sounds like the New York Stock Exchange with the addition of annoying music and blaring car horns. Before this, the nosiest city I had been in was Batumi, Georgia. This place makes it look like a ghost town.

Though I've heard other parts of the city are pristine, the part I am in is lacking quite a lot of the garbage cans and street cleaners it should have. There is more street trash lying around but less graffiti than in Prague.

After getting settled in I ended up hanging out with a guy named Dominique and we went to a coffee shop. We ended up talking to a tour guide (who had no interest in taking us for a tour - he specializes in Israeli tourists) for 45 minutes. It was very nice. Afterward, we ended up chatting with Misbah, an Indian here for work on the roof until one or two in the morning.

Some very good news here however. The people here are not as grasping as those I'd come across in Turkey. Here, they seem happy to give me a business card in case I need them. One taxi driver cruising by said "Do you need a taxi?" When I responded in the negative, he replied "Welcome to Jordan sir!" and drove away.

I am getting to use my little Arabic again after years of disuse. There are a lot of foreigners who are here to learn Arabic I've noticed.

If I keep my wits about me and don't start thinking 1 JOD = 1 USD (1 USD = .7 JOD) the part of the city I am in looks very affordable to me. [Yes, it is odd to be in a country whose money is more valuable than the US.] I might stick around here for a couple days to stomp around, till I get bored. Everyone is wanting to get me on tours but the staff of the hotel/hostel isn't really pushing it hard.

I've heard that it should cost between 5-10 JOD to mail off my two books to Jana. I'm hoping that I can get those mailed off tomorrow (Saturday). Friday, it turns out, is the holy day. This means that some of the businesses - including the post office - are closed for the day.

I did manage to go visit the local Colosseum.



The tourism police - very friendly and helpful. I got the opportunity to sit around and chat with them. They also help guard the monuments.



TRAVELERS LORE

Egypt - have a lot of very small notes/change for baksheesh (expected bribe or tip) as it will be asked for literally anything and everything. You need to have money to give them. For the tip, you can give literally the smallest note/coin you have.



COSTS

Shesha, 2 JOD (remember how it was triple that price or more in Georgia? I knew it would be cheaper later).

Coffee, 1 JOD

Tea, 1 JOD

Water - 250 ML, .5 JOD

Entry to Roman Colosseum, 1 JOD

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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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