Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Spent my final days in Dahab doing some snorkelling….freaking amazing!!!  Just like a National Geographic special and all I had to do was put on my mask and flippers and swim off the front of my hotel.  I couldn’t take any photos because I don’t have an underwater camera but I’ve stolen a few from the internet that look exactly like what I saw.
I actually followed one of these Lion fish for a while, trying to remember if they were poisonous or not.  So fantastic that I might come back to get my diving certificate one day.
Left Dabab and got into Wadi Mousa, Jordan in the late evening after a crazy Christmas Eve ferry ride from Egypt.  When they said it was the slow boat, they weren’t kidding.  Still, it was a nice sunny day to sail along the Sea of Aquaba.
My hotel is very nice and has a Turkish bath which I’ll be partaking in later.  I had a great Christmas day at the ancient city of Petra.   It was a bit cold but that gave me a good excuse to do some of the more strenuous hikes  just to keep warm. 
The layout of Petra is exceptionally dramatic.  After walking a kilometre or so along a dirt path, you enter the Siq, a narrow canyon.
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Here is a picture with a horse and carriage just to show the size of these rock walls.
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The walk through here is incredible, with carvings and beautiful natural rock formations.  What do you see in this picture?
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Then you get a glimpse of the city ahead.
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And you come out into the entry of Petra.  This building is called the Treasury but it’s actually a funerary building.
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I always thought that this was the main part of the city but this is just the beginning.  There are tons of tombs, rock hewn homes, temples and other structures including a Byzantine church and a monastery.
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People have been living here for 10,000 years but the city of Petra was created from about 100bc to 550ad by a group of people called the Nabateans.  The poor Nabateans weren't very lucky people.  They got a good trade thing going on with Arabic frankensense and myrh and the Alexanders' army comes along and attacks.  They survive that only to have Rome try to destroy their trade route and then finally come and attack them too.  Consequently, the city has several different building styles and religious artefacts that reflect all the different traders and conquerers.  Unfortunately, their bad luck continued and after two massive earthquakes, the city was abandoned. 

It's actuallly not completely abandoned because the local Bedouin still live in the cave houses and, apparently they sneak around at night with head lamps to dig up long lost treasures to sell to tourists.  If you want a 2000 year old thingamajig to put on your shelf, you've come to the right place.

The place is huge and I trekked up and down mountains, over temples and through holes in rock walls for about seven hours before heading out.  On my way out I met a very nice woman, got to chatting and we had our Christmas dinner together at the beautiful Movenpick hotel bar just outside the park…nothing like good company, a pint and fish & chips for Christmas dinner. 


christine said...

interesting and sad. Did you buy a kid? very cool snorkeling!!

Nicole said...

I realized that sentence didn't make sense and, in the process of re-writing, changed the whole, no buying of kids.

M said...

Petra must have been amazing!! it looks so cool!! I love the pic of you with all the columns on either side of you, and the snorkeling wow!!