Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

I am now a year wiser - but since my morning was UBER-stressful, I feel a few years wiser.

Here's a recap of what's been going on since my last post. I don't have pictures yet - since this cafe has hidden its USB ports, but they are coming! The journey has been relatively smooth and I feel I can finally trust in my boyfriend's optimistic attitude of "everything always works out."


The last couple of days in Egypt were not at all bad. We caught a comfortable air-conditioned bus in Cairo that travelled 8 hours across the Sinai desert and dropped us off in a sleepy coastal town called Tarabin Village. Being dropped off at the side of the road in a desert was a new experience for Mike and Simon - Mike had that "I am going to kill Meg" look on his face.

Of course, once we walked a few minutes in the direction of the Red Sea we found the Petra Camp and got our own little hut by the beach. I picked this place because it was cheap... but Tarabin Village is a hidden gem! It was completely devoid of tourists and run by young Egyptian beach bums - we had a blast. We woke up early in the morning, swam in the warm blue waters of the sea and played frisbee on a quiet beach. Truly our own private paradise.


I didn't think I would be enamoured with any country as much as I was with Lebanon, but it all changed with Jordan. Granted the journey into Aqaba was not exactly efficient (the 1-hour "fast" ferry took about 7 hours from ticket purchase in Nuweiba, Egypt to leaving the Jordanian Immigration office) but we had researched the journey and knew exactly what to expect. Because Jordan shows preferential treatment to tourists, we were first to get on the ferry, first to leave, waived quickly through passport control, and skipped every queue.

As we left the Aqaba port we were amazed once more that from our spot we could see the glittering lights of Eilat, Israel and Taba, Egypt along the coast.

We settled into our hostel, the Bedouin Moon Village camp outside of Aqaba (about 10 clicks from the Saudi border... no worries, I didn't go there, haha!) and are pleased to confirm what we had already heard from so many backpackers: the Jordanians and Syrians are sincerely warm, friendly and welcoming, asking nothing in return for their kindness and hospitality.

We slept very well at the hostel (Simon was especially pleased with his Spiderman blanket) and woke up early for a dip in the pool and a yummy breakfast. We had found ourselves a driver to take us to Petra and back for 50 dinars.

PETRA! What can I possibly say about Petra?! It was AMAZING! Everything from the 2-hour drive up to Wadi Musa, to my first glimpse of the carved gates of the ancient city, the arduous hikes in the blistering heat up the rocky slopes to the sacrificial heights and the monastery left me speechless. Unofficially, the 8th Wonder of the World, Petra is not to be missed. We arrived at about 10:30 AM and left at 5 PM feeling very much like happy campers. It was the highlight of my trip.

I was quite sad to be leaving Jordan so soon but when I determined that I wouldn't have enough time to complete my PADI certification in Aqaba, we packed up and left the hostel to face what I was dreading the most on this trip: crossing the border into Israel. We had heard many things about how difficult it would be, particularly from an Australian woman in Beirut who had been turned away from the land crossing near Amman who had to explain the stamps on her passport (I imagined that I'd have to do the same).

All things considered, it wasn't that bad at the Arava border crossing at Eilat. It was organized and efficient: all we had to do was follow the arrows. Security didn't let me pass until I confirmed that I was of Indian origin. While Mike and Simon breezed through passport control, I was held back until I explained the Lebanese stamps on my passport, confirmed that I was of Indian origin, and provided proof that I had hostel reservations and a flight out of Israel. If Mike hadn't stepped in to vouch for me, I would have been there longer. We passed through in about 10 minutes. "Everything always works out."

Now I am in Eilat waiting to catch a bus to Jerusalem with that whole stressful experience behind me :)


  1. Happy belated birthday Megs!!! I can't believe 10-11 passed already. Where has the time gone? Sounds like you're having a blast though. Keep up the posts :)


  2. Thanks Meghna :-)
    The kids loved their postcard. I'll sit them down and walk them through some of your adventures this weekend. Keep the great stories coming,