Location: Petra and Waddi Rum, Jordan
How can one describe Petra? Bernie did not enjoy his 1st horse riding experience down to the Siq at Petra!! The 1.6 km walk through the Siq (canyon) was stunning with vertical sides, carvings and two water courses cut out from the rock. There were also statues of gods, people and animals carved into the rock. The 1st sight of the treasury was amazing and according to the guide books we picked the perfect time to see it as the sun was diagonally across the facade. We had a local guide walk around with us for 4 hrs pointing out the important features and uses for the caves and carved out buildings. We were shattered by the end of the walk with him as, to get back to the car, we had to walk uphill for another 2 miles in the heat!! Petra is everything we expected and more. It is too spectacular to describe - even the pictures don't do it justice.
Aqaba (the seaside port on the Red Sea) is a building site and the 'beach' is slowly being eaten up by hotels. The sea was relatively cold but it was interesting to see the borders between Jordan, Israel and Egypt. Our driver Abd took us to meet his friends to show us a typical Jordanian house. We had tea, coffee and a delicious snack made from vine leaves stuffed with rice, meat and veg. They were very welcoming and spoke very good English.
How can we describe Wadi Rum? It is not a well known tourist destination but it should be. It is out in the desert where Lawrence of Arabia was based during the Arab Revolt. The scenery is made up of desert and towering wind sculpured rocks with narrow fissures. We stayed in a Bedouin camp and had a wonderful Bedouin meal . The meat was cooked underground (similar to a Maori hangi) and melted in the mouth. Jordanian dancing was also on show.
Jordan is a country with varying landscapes and wonderful places to visit. We would recommend a holiday in Jordan to one and all.
This is our final entry on the blog. The pictures of Jordan will be put on when we arrive back home.
The last 4 months have been truly amazing. We have enjoyed all of our experiences (apart from living out of a suitcase for so long) and there is nothing that we have missed out on from our list of things to do and see. Given the chance we would do it all again (apart from 1 or 2 hotels!). We hope you have enjoyed reading about and seeing highlights of our travels. We look forward to boring the pants off you when we return!!
All the best
Location: Dead Sea, Jordan
Hi everyone - Jordan is a fascinating country with a varied landscape. The cafes see men and women smoking the 'hubble bubbly' pipe filled with all sorts of fruit flavours eg strawberry. I was offered a liquorice 'smoke' by a Jordanian sitting next to us in one cafe but I declined.
We went down to the Dead Sea and Bernie had his 1st experience of 'floating' on water! He said it was bizarre feeling the fatty tissues ie stomach going upwards rather than downwards and his bottom still sagged while trying to float on his back! I had difficulty floating as well. He did start feeling nauseous and put it down to high atmospheric pressure due to being well below sea level. The drive to Mount Nebo was breathtaking. We went through rugged, stoney desert terraine passing bedouin encapments and wild camels. It was a winding and steep ascent to the top and good job we weren't driving. The view was amazing. Unfortunately the church was undergoing restoration and so we could not go in to see the mosaics in situ. Madaba's church of St George has the oldest map of Palestine on the floor done in mosaics. That was interesting seeing it in pictorial form.
The company we chose to take us round Jordan has been very good. Our driver is very informative and helpful and was well worth paying the extra to be driven as a couple and not as a group.
All the best
Location: Amman, Jordan
Greetings from the realm of ancient Philadephia! We have had a fanstastic day for our 29th. - despite the jet lag (we were up & about, well nearly, at 05:00) - marred only by Anita having a bit of an upset tum, soon rectified by Immodium, thank goodness. Jerash knocks Pompeii & Herculaneum into a cocked hat. The area is enormous and the city walls used to enclose a city of 20,000. The Romans developed it in the 1st. century A.D. as a major city, though it had existed form thousands of years before them. It lies near the old trade route from China and straddles the River Jordan. When trade declined in the 4th century it declined until hit by an earthquake in 749, when it was virtually abandoned. The buildings became part covered in soil, like Pompeii. It was re-discovered in the 19th. century, but more or less left alone, apart from stone robbers. The west of the site was bought by a Swiss business man, who is leading the restoration. The carvings on the Corinthian capitals are beautifully intricate, those on the recently excavated pediment and frieze to the gateway to the Temple of Artemis are exquisite and almost perfect having been covered up for 1,200 years. The hippodrome would have housed 15,000 people. The amphitheatre has an almost complete stage and basckstage, which must make it one of the best preserved. The acoustic point in the Orchestra is exact - even a whisper is returned to you. 4 hours passed very quickly. Jordan gave us perfect sight-seeing weather.
Afterwards we went to Ajluna castle, established by Saladin. It must have been a place to send soldiers as a punishment: it is filled with stairways heading off in different directions. It has a large number of levels and half-levels. The views are magnificent in all directions. The Department of Antiquities is doing a good job, albeit slowly and with a passing attention to health & safety!
Tomorrow we are going to the Dead Sea, for a 'swim' in the mud, and then on to Petra.
Best wishes to you all from a very pleasant Jordan.
Location: Amman, Jordan
Hi all - will learn the hello in arabic! Well we got to Bangkok airport with 6 hrs to spare (had enough of the city) to find out that our plane took off 5 hrs previously! They had changed the flight time and nobody informed us. A very helpful lady rang up Royal Jordanian Air and managed to book us on a flight leaving at 00:30 --an hour later than ours should have left therefore we had 7 hrs to kill at the airport. Eventually we took off 1 hr later than scheduled due to the traffic on the runway! The flight was uncomfortable. The plane was far too hot, our seats did not recline and breakfast was very basic. They did serve up a nice dinner at 2.30 am! I kept telling Bernie I had a bad feeling about the trip to Jordan - were we going to find that our booked individual tour was a internet scam? Well when we finally got through immigration quess what.....there was nobody there to greet us. Luckily we were given the contact number of the supervisor and a very nice man at the airport information phoned him for us. There had been a confusion about the flight numbers because of the change but they could not have been more apologetic. So much so that they gave us a free tour of the city with dinner in a local restaurant where we sampled the Jordanian dish of mansaf (lamb and rice cooked in yoghurt).
Although it is hot here it is not humid and there is a pleasant breeze. It cools down quickly at night.
Well as our body clock is telling us it is now midnight (although 8 o'clock Jordanian time) we are off to bed. More about Amman tomorrow as the hotel has free internet service.
All the best
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Hi all from a hot, humid, smelly and dirty Bangkok!! The flight over was barely one third full so we had a choice of where to sit but as it was a no frills airline there was no drink or food on offer! At the airport the tourist information kiosk was very helpful telling us how much the taxi should cost (as they are now all metred there is less opportunity for being ripped off). We also booked a tour of the city for the afternnon. The hotel is 3 star - clean and in the centre of town but our room was right next to the air-con cooling tower so the constant drip, pump noise and motor noise made it difficult for me to sleep (Bernie was off like a shot). Thank goodness for the earplugs that Rachel gave me for the plane flight!! I will be complaining. There is also smoking allowed in the Bangkok hotel rooms so our room smelt of smoke.
The tour of Bangkok was very informative. We had a guide and a driver. The 1st stop was the Royal Palace Temple with an even bigger reclining Buddha painted gold! As we had arrived during the Songkram festival to celebrate Thai New Year the Temple was crowded with people and stalls selling food, flowers and joss sticks. We were doused with water on several occassions which cooled us down a little. They take this festival to the extremes by standing at the side of the road with water pistols, hose pipes, tubs of water etc and woe betide anybody who goes too close (especially in tuc tucs and scooters). It is taken in great fun. I can't see it being allowed to happen in Britain - it screams health and safety!!
Their temples are quite different in building style from those of the Chinese with lovely gable ends and bright coloured glass to depict gems.
After visiting a ruby and a silk factory we went back to the hotel. Later we did a walk around the hotel where the smells coming from the food stall at the side of the roads were appalling. We did find a lovely Thai restaurant and had a lovely meal for the princely sum of 4 pounds for the two of us! Today we have a day to kill as our flight to Amman is at 11pmn so we are hitting the shopping malls as we are templed out!!
Final stop Jordan. Hope those dinner invitations start arriving with us as the guest presenters of 'The Daring Deeds of the Intrepid Lyons Explorers Extraordinaire' (with slide show included!!!). Allow three hours for each section.
All the best
Location: Penang, Malaysia
Hello all from my old holiday island called Penang which is up the west coast north of Kuala Lumpur. The day that was meant to be a relaxing time for us turned out to be a big sight-seeing day instead. We hired a car and driver and visited many temples and went up Penang Hill. The Snake Temple was not how I remember it. It was far more tame with very few poisonous snakes around. We were told this is due to the impact of the jungle clearance for factories (there is a factory right behind the temple) therefore the micro-climate for the snake has changed. There was a snake farm in the temple which we went to see and for once the snakes in the tanks were quite lively (because the torrential rainfall had woken them up!) One snake, the spitting cobra, made me jump in fear as it lunged towards me spitting very poisonous venom but fortunately there was glass in the way so I was safe! Bernie had a big 'hero' moment when he had 2 vipers put around his arms and an enormous Burmese Python on his shoulder. It was more terrifying when one of the vipers started climbing up his face.
The Burmese Buddhist Temple and the Reclining Buddha Temple (they are on opposite sides of the road) were very peaceful. The Reclining Buddha Temple was extremely colourful with cremation urns of devotees displayed in niches under the statue.
The train up Penang Hill took 30 minutes in 2 stages but the view made up for the slow ascent. There was not much to see up at the top but we enjoyed a nice plate of nasi goreng (75p each).
Returning tired to the hotel we took advantage of the pool!
Today and tomorrow we are spending the time recharging our batteries by swimming, reading and going to the night market!
All the best
Location: Penang, Malaysia
It was the shortest plane flight we have taken so far - less than 40 minutes in the air to reach the island of Penang. Our hotel room is fab with a big balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean. As it is only on the 2nd floor we are very close to the beach and can hear the waves lapping on the shore. Went for a dip in the sea and it was like walking into a bathtub - not as clear as the Barrier Reef but who's complaining. We can see very small islands dotted around and ships and fishing boats passing by. How romantic! We need a few days of relaxation because of the tiring time we had in KL. It is nice to have a sea breeze wafting into our sitting-room.
Off to see a snake temple tomorrow - yes they do have LIVE vipers dangling around the temple!!
We can't believe our travels are nearly at an end - 12 days only left and I am definitly not doing a countdown for our return. We are only looking forward to coming home so we can bore all our friends and relatives with the 2000+ photos we have taken.
Hope you are all in good health.
All our love
Location: KL, Malaysia
Well we have walked the pavements of KL in the heat and humidity to find the memories of KL. We have been super sleuths asking taxi drivers and local people the whereabouts of certain streets and locations. It has been hot, thirsty work but well worth the effort!
Jalan Parry had a name change to Jalan P Ramlee which is just around the corner from our hotel. The flats are still standing (just!) in the middle of the night club district, office blocks and high rise appartments. The flats are in a bad state of repair on the outside but are just as they were inside. We were cheeky enough to go into the old flat which is now office space but the layout is exactly the same with bathrooms leading off from the old bedrooms. The people inside were fascinated to hear that I lived there 40 years ago! All the land around there is worth a fortune because it is very near the Petronas Twin Towers.
The old Majestic Hotel closed down a long time ago to become an art gallery. It is in a sad state of neglect but the security man said it is going to be restored in the next few months but could not tell me into what.
The Convent of the Good Shepherd was very hard to track down and no longer exists. Three independent people have told us that the Pavilion Shopping Centre (right opposite our hotel) was the site of the old school.
Batu Caves remain very much the same but the city of KL now reaches them!!
The old Weld Supermarket site is still there (just around the corner from our hotel) but it is a shopping complex with no supermarket inside. One taxi driver told me proudly it was the 1st supermarket to be built in KL. I told him that I knew the 1st manager!
I have gone down memory lane foodwise as well, sampling the delights of yong tau foo and rumbletans!
We took a bus this morning to pass 188 Jalan Ampang for the last time and to try to find the site of 'Chop Hock Choon'. Imagine my delight at finding not only the site where I expected it to be but also there is still a Hock Choon supermarket!
KL abounds with the shopping experience, most of them being malls with expensive shops eg Gucci! I did manage to buy a Gucci watch in Petaling Street in Chinatown for a mere fraction of the cost!
Unfortunately no-one could tell me the location of the old British Army complex with its swimming pool. One person said it would probably now have flats and houses built on that site.
We have enjoyed ourselves in KL but have found it very hot and tiring finding all the old haunts and we are now looking forward to a bit of TLC time in Penang, sunning ourselves on the beach!
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Hello everyone from a hot KL. Well I am reliving my childhood as I sight-see around this bustling city. Things have changed enormously since I was here 40 years ago but there are still pockets of the old KL left. I was very emotional when I found what I think was our old house (ready to be demolished). We had to clamber through tall grass (Bernie got very badly bitten) and through a hole in a fence to reach the site - all the time looking out for snakes! The house has exacatly the same layout with a few minor changes. Unfortunately we disturbed a tramp who is squatting there so we had to beat a hasty retreat!! If it is our old house it seems to have been waiting for me to see it before it got demolished. With the help of mum and my sisters they will verify if it is the house or not.
I also went to St John's Cathedral for Sunday mass. That is the church we used to go to 40 years ago. It is unchanged except that the old pulpit had been removed!! The mass itself was lovely with great singing from the congrgation (and Bernie of course!).
The Petronas Twin Towers are awesome. I think they are one of the loveliest buildings I have seen so far on this trip. Because they are made of polished steel on the outside they shine during the day and look very magical at night with the spotlights on. Our bedroom window looks out onto them. We went up to the skybridge on the 41st floor and had a wonderful view of KL.
Today I am going to track down my old school called The Good Shepherd Convent and see if it is in the same building. We have to catch a taxi to get there but that wouold only cost about 3 pounds!!
Well hope the snow melts before we return!!