Thursday, 1 November 2012

jordan day 1: arrival in amman

as many of you know, i went to jordan last weekend during the eid holidays. we get 3 official days off for this islamic celebration, and since it's over the weekends, it totaled up to 5 days. so yeah, my colleagues and i planned this jordan trip to coincide with this public holiday.

it was a lil risky actually, for us to plan anything on islamic holidays, coz the actual day is only determined after some moon sighting. but as our company made us finish up our leave days in summer, we have no more leave days hence no other choice. we went ahead to book our flights and tour, and kept our fingers crossed that the public holiday would fall on those chosen dates. this time, we were lucky! :)

anyway, there were 4 of us this time round, with colleagues lovely lily and sweet sheila, and my friend lanky leila who flew into amman from germany to join us.

breakfast before boarding...

the 3 of us from sandland arrived at around 2pm and were greeted by our tour representative, who assisted us through immigration and introduced us to our driver, issam. he would be our driver for the duration of our visit in jordan.

there were no activities on our arrival day and we were planning to go to town to do some exploring on our own. another colleague who've been there said we should visit a "fort" up on a hill in the town centre, where we can catch some stunning sunset over the whole city. but while on the way from the airport to our hotel, i asked issam about the fort in town. he was puzzled for a while, when it dawned on him that i was talking about the amman citadel! so he said he would make a detour to bring us there, as a special gift for us! how very nice!

unfortunately, by the time we arrived at the citadel, visiting hours were up (they close at 4pm) and they were closing the gates! so sad... so we could only take photos from outside the gate. i'm not gonna bore you with the story and history of this roman ruins, so if you wanna know more about this place, click here. it was rather cold and our jackets were in our luggage, so we didn't stay for long.

the remains of the temple of hercules taken from outside the gates...

view of the old section of amman city, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

view on the other side of the hill, all golden and shining in the sunset... amman is a rather hilly place. all the buildings were not organised and the streets between the buildings were narrow and winding...

then we piled into the van again and issam drove down a series of narrow and winding streets to a gazebo-ed spot to show us this view below...

...a roman amphitheater right smack in the middle of the city. this is the most impressive legacy of roman philadelphia (previous name of amman) built under emperor antoninus pius (138-161 ad). *click on photo to enlarge*

at the lookout point, with our driver...

street of amman. not very clean and quite chaotic, due it being the eid celebration, hence it was a lil crowded...

...but they have quite a lot of policemen around making sure everything was in order.

then issam very generously treated us to dinner! this side-street stall is quite famous, as even the king and queen of jordan came here to eat before! so down to earth right, the royalties sitting at the plastic table and chairs in a side-street, among the commoners?

mint leaves, tomatoes and onions, and a chili dip for our fries...

authentic arabic meal of hummus and moutabal, eaten with arabic bread... the  meatball-like stuff are falafel.

happy faces...

then sweet sheila wanted to get the local sim card so that she could go on the internet, as she would die if not connected to the internet for even one day. but it turned out, she was still not able to connect to the internet even with the local sim card, so it was a total waste of money (jd 5 for card + jd 12 for top up; 1 jordanian dinar ≈ RM 5). oh, and she didn't die also from being disconnected for 5 days in jordan :P

flags of middle eastern countries on the rooftop.

finally we arrived at geneva hotel, a 4 star family-owned establishment in the heart of amman. you can read my review for the hotel here in tripadvisor (but it'll only appear in a few days' time, as i just submitted the review and tripadvisor needs a few days to approve and publish it).

i shared the room with lanky leila who arrived quite late, after i've fallen asleep at about 9pm jordanian time. i think she arrived at the hotel after 10pm, as issam also brought her on a short tour of amman city after he'd picked her up from the airport.

to note: our timing in jordan were a bit confusing, as it was supposed to be one hour behind dubai time, but they also have daylight saving time, which was supposed to happen on the day after our arrival. BUT, their government decided at the last minute not to change the timing, so it's still one hour ahead of dubai. however, when i changed the location setting in my phone, it still showed the daylight saving timing, which is 2 hours ahead of dubai. couple that with our watches still in dubai time, and sweet sheila's phone timing which went haywire completely (probably reverted back to china time), which made us a very confused bunch indeed!

*more photos on facebook, for those who are my facebook friends.