Wadi Rum and the Falling Bread of Petra, Jordan
Petra and Wadi Rum! I don’t need to sell anyone on it, right? There’s already a well-established reason people go there. It’s a world class combo destination. Throw in a dip in the Dead Sea, maybe the Roman ruins of Jerash if you can’t make it out to Palmyra, Syria, then a day in Aqaba by the Red Sea, and that’s a nice trip right there, that is! Just don’t rest your head at this dive below:
I went into a bakery in Petra and this transfixed me until I looked closer to see what was going on. The bread is coming off a conveyor belt above the guy’s head. Efficient!
Did you know Petra was named one of the new seven wonders of the world? Any tourist spot worth their salt wanted to win the voting contest, but for travelers it’s always a losing proposition. Petra used to cost 20 Jordanian dinars ($38) to enter. Now? 50JD (US$70). Locals and Arabs pay 1JD. (Some travelers dedicate themselves to getting into Petra without paying since there are no fences around it. I was sent this link.) That is the price only if you have stayed in Jordan for at least a night. If you are a day tripper from Israel or a cruise ship, you pay 90JD (US$125), if I am not mistaken. A good half million people per year visit, so where does the money go?
It’s a complicated question that no one cares about, so the very short answer is that since the king gets much of his support from the southern tribes, he has a very soft hand when it comes to dealing with them, and he allows Petra as their cash cow. You could say his diplomacy is soft and fine like shifting sands. See what I did there? Sands, cause I’m in the desert? Get it? And I blog for free! I really need to put up a paywall.
A kid sidled up to me with seven euros in coins in his hand (equal to 5.60 dinars) and tried to sell them to me for seven dinars. First they beg for coins, then they beg to sell you them for more than they are worth. Excuse my Yiddish, kid, but that’s chutzpah.
$70 is a lot to enter Petra, but I might pay $100 if there was an animal-free day. The horses, donkeys, camels and horse carts, not to mention all the selling, ruin the experience. Well, “ruin” is a strong word, but in the afternoon when you are walking back from a great day, you have to hop around the dung and cover your nose from the smell. Is that the lasting experience Petra wants you to have?
PRACTICAL INFORMATION (1 Jordanian dinar = US$1.40)
I stayed at Saba’a Hotel in Wadi Musa, the town next to Petra. I think it was 8JD for a dorm and 14JD for a single room including heat. A cheaper place up the road, Valentine Inn, is 10JD for a room but charges 3JD for the heat. Since it is off-season and low heat, I didn’t wake up early to go into Petra. I left just in time to stop and get some falafel and hummus sandwiches to take with me inside. A normal bus from Wadi Musa to Amman is 7JD. A government-run JETT bus costs 10JD, I believe.
The Jordan Flower Hotel in Aqaba is 10JD. I should have bargained, but I did get the whole top floor. The girls in the tourist office were squeamish about recommending it. This woman thought it was great.
If you find yourself with some free time or it’s late at night and you can’t quite go to sleep, you can read what I wrote on my first visit to Jordan a century ago. I surprised myself rereading the last paragraph where I unload on Israeli travelers.
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