Category Archives: Asia

A Farewell to the Middle East

The Cardo 2Arch of HadrianThe Legion at the Hippodrome 1The Legion at the Hippodrome 2The Legion at the Hippodrome 3The Legion at the Hippodrome 4The Legion at the Hippodrome 5Gladiators at Jerash 1Gladiators at Jerash 2The Chariot Race at Jerash 1The Chariot Race at Jerash 2Exploring Jerash 1Exploring Jerash 2The Oval ForumThe Cardo 1Entering the Basilica The Basilica at JerashExploring Jerash 3The Water-Powered Stone SawThe NymphaeumExploring Jerash 4Exploring Jerash 5Exploring Jerash 6Exploring Jerash 7Exploring Jerash 8Exploring Jerash 9The Temple of Artemis - JerashExploring Jerash 10Exploring Jerash 11Exploring Jerash 12Exploring Jerash 13Exploring Jerash 14Exploring Jerash 14Exploring Jerash 15Exploring Jerash 16
The blank desert scenery flew past my window as I headed north through Jordan. I knew that just beyond the flat, brown expanses along the road, the fabled crusader fortress of Shobak Castle, rose up in the distant hills, but, despite a strong urge to see it, that wasn’t where I was headed. After five days of wonderfully active exploring in the canyons and mountains of Petra, I was exhausted and I just wanted to rest, so I reluctantly decided to skip the remote, mountaintop citadel. Instead I was on an overcrowded bus bound for Amman, Jordan’s capital. My journey through the Middle East was down to its last week and I no longer had the luxury of an itinerary-less existence on the road. Amman was the end of the road for me, but there were still things I wanted to see. It was my intention to get a group of travelers together at the hotel to split costs on a whirlwind tour of some of the nearby sites, such as the Dead Sea and some of the desert palaces, but even the best intentions sometimes fail… Continue reading »

Across the Desert to the Canyon of the Crescent Moon

The Siq by Candlelight The Amazing TreasuryThe Music of Ancient ArabiaIndian Jones Was HereExploring Petra 1The Obelisk Tomb The Ruined Arch and the SiqExploring the Siq 1Exploring the Siq 2The Most Famous View in PetraThe Treasury 1The Treasury 2The Treasury 3The Treasury 4Exploring Petra 2Street of Façades 1Street of Façades 2Street of Façades 3Street of Façades 4Street of Façades 5Street of Façades 6The Theater and a CamelThe Great Temple and the Colonnaded Street The Elephant CapitalThe Great TempleThe Gate in the Colonnaded StreetLion Triclinium 1Lion Triclinium 2The Monastery 1The Monastery 2Sand Storm!The Monastery 3The Monastery 4What a ViewExploring Petra 3To the Royal TombsThe Palace Tomb The Urn Tomb 1Indian Jones Has Returned to PetraThe Urn Tomb 2A DonkeyThe Urn Tomb 3The Storm-water Tunnel Water Channels in the SiqThe High Place of Sacrifices 1The High Place of Sacrifices 2A View from the High Place of Sacrifices The High Place of Sacrifices 3The Lion MonumentThe Garden Temple 1The Garden Temple 2The Garden Temple 3Exploring Petra 4Exploring Petra 5Exploring Petra 6Exploring Petra 7Exploring Petra 8Exploring Petra 9Exploring Petra 10Tombs Above the TheaterExploring Petra 11The Crusader Castle 1The Crusader Castle 2The Crusader Castle 3Exploring Petra 12The Colonnaded Street and the Royal TombsThe Eagle NicheExploring Petra 13Exploring Petra 14Exploring Petra 15The Snake MonumentExploring Petra 16Farewell Petra
I walked on into the darkness, guided by a series of dimly flickering candle lanterns. The candlelight revealed the sandy ground and about ten feet of the wind-worn walls of the narrow Siq in a mysterious, red glow. It was a cool night, yet the sand felt warm on my sandaled feet. Despite the steady flow of tourists walking in front of me and behind me, all was silent. Every one of us was completely lost in the moment, eagerly waiting and wondering if what we had come to see would appear just around the next corner. Slowly our procession wound its way deeper into the narrow canyon. The star-filled sky was hidden from our view, except for a narrow sliver that flowed like a sparkling river across the shadows of the upper part of the Siq’s freeform walls. I shuffled my feet in the warm sand, partly because it helped cut the night’s chill, but, also, because I was too mesmerized by the atmosphere to consciously raise my foot with each step. The view I had waited so long to see could have been just around the next corner and I didn’t want to miss it. Eventually the lanterns got closer together revealing more details in the Siq’s walls. Mysterious melodies came and went on the wind, slowly at first. With each step the haunting tune lingered a bit longer, filling the Siq with the sounds of ancient Arabia. I came around a corner and the music shed its muffled tones and flowed at me unobstructed. In the shadows in front of me I could see the end of the Siq and, beyond it, the view I had been waiting for – The narrow sliver of the grand façade of the Treasury framed by the mouth of the Siq! I turned to my friend Rebecca, who I had met earlier in the day on the bus from Wadi Rum, and smiled. I paused, set up my tripod and did my best to capture my first look through the mouth of the Siq and then I continued beyond its walls to see the full grandeur of Petra’s most famous building. I wasn’t prepared for what I found on the other side. Continue reading »

Sailing to Jordan

Exploring Wadi Rum 20Sailing to JordanAqaba Castle 1Aqaba Castle 2Aqaba Castle 3Aqaba Castle 4Aqaba Castle 5Aqaba Castle 6Aqaba Castle 7Aqaba Castle 8Aqaba Castle 9Aqaba Castle 10Exploring Wadi Rum 1Exploring Wadi Rum 2Exploring Wadi Rum 3The Beast - Wadi RumRiding in the BeastExploring Wadi Rum 4Exploring Wadi Rum 5Exploring Wadi Rum 6Exploring Wadi Rum 7Exploring Wadi Rum 8Exploring Wadi Rum 9Exploring Wadi Rum 10Exploring Wadi Rum 11Exploring Wadi Rum 12The Lizard - Wadi RumExploring Wadi Rum 13Exploring Wadi Rum 14Exploring Wadi Rum 15Exploring Wadi Rum 16Lawrence's HouseExploring Wadi Rum 17Exploring Wadi Rum 18Exploring Wadi Rum 19Our Bedouin Camp - Wadi RumSunset Over Wadi RumStar Trails Over the Valley of the MoonFarewell Wadi Rum The Elephant of Wadi Rum
The rugged, brown scenery streaked past my window at an alarming rate. Each bend in the road was accompanied by a slight squealing as the tires struggled to keep their tenuous hold on the asphalt. We charged up a slight incline in the road and then, right when we reached the crest, I got a strange sensation like we were flying. It only lasted for a split second before the screech of the tires and a jarring thud confirmed that we had been airborne. I looked up to the driver in the front seat, his gloved hands tightly gripping the steering wheel, and saw a broad smile on his face – He was still in control. My travel companion turned around from the front passenger seat. He had an equally broad smile that I knew mirrored the smile on my face. We had been going strong for nearly half an hour. It seemed that our driver, who had spent his teenage years learning how to drive in America, had never lost his hot rodding spirit. It was like we were in a miniature Cannonball Run, only the challenge was to take two tourists from Dahab to a small port just outside of Taba, a distance of about 120 kilometers, in less than an hour. Continue reading »

Ramazan in Troy

Exploring Troy 29Exploring Troy 1Exploring Troy 2Exploring Troy 3Exploring Troy 4Exploring Troy 5Exploring Troy 6Exploring Troy 7Exploring Troy 8Exploring Troy 9Exploring Troy 10Exploring Troy 11Exploring Troy 12Exploring Troy 13Exploring Troy 14Exploring Troy 15Exploring Troy 16Exploring Troy 17Exploring Troy 18Exploring Troy 19Exploring Troy 20Exploring Troy 21Exploring Troy 22Exploring Troy 23Exploring Troy 24Exploring Troy 25Exploring Troy 26Exploring Troy 27Exploring Troy 28Cruising the Dardanelles 1Cruising the Dardanelles 2Ramazan in Istanbul
When the ferry landed in Marmaris, Turkey I still hadn’t figured out where I was going. I didn’t have a map of Marmaris, so I had no idea where Marmaris’ ottogar was. I was not really in the mood to go into town and get a map, so I picked a main road, hoisted my bag and started walking. It was about an hour later when I spotted a bus pulling into a parking area in front of me. During my walk I had narrowed my possible destinations down to three, but I still wasn’t sure which I wanted to see the most. Luckily, none of the busses in Marmaris were going to any of my three chosen destinations. I settled on one bound for Izmir, on Turkey’s West Coast. From there I would be able to get to any of the three. I grabbed a kebab and a few snacks for the ride and then I boarded the bus. Continue reading »

A Quick Stop in a Tourist Town

Bodrum Castle 12Bodrum Castle 1Bodrum Castle 2Bodrum Castle 3Bodrum Castle 4Bodrum Castle 5Bodrum Castle 6Bodrum Castle 7Bodrum Castle 8Bodrum Castle 9Bodrum Castle 10Bodrum Castle 11Bodrum Castle 13Bodrum Castle 14Bodrum Castle 15Bodrum Castle 16Bodrum Castle 17Bodrum Castle 18Bodrum Castle 19Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 1Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 2Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 3Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 4Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 5Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 6
I stared at the departure schedule in disbelief. There was no way it could be correct, despite being posted on a big sign in huge permanent letters. An uneasy feeling, almost nausea, crept into my stomach when I remembered where I had gotten the schedule information in the first place. It seemed that my guidebook had another big strike against it, nothing new there. I walked into the tiny waterfront shop and asked the man what the schedule for the hydrofoil to Rhodes was. He looked at me with a dumbfounded look on his face and pointed to the large sign that I had seen by the door. I stepped outside and stared out across the water while took a moment to think about what the ‘new’ schedule meant to me. I had initially planned on spending my first day in Bodrum relaxing and my second day exploring the sites. I was expected on the island of Rhodes in two days time and I was not going to change that. The only departure that would get me there was an early morning voyage the next day. There wasn’t really anything to think about. I walked back into the office and I purchased a ticket on the hydrofoil for the following morning. Continue reading »