Monday, 25 February 2013

jordan day 3: greek orthodox church of st. george in madaba

first stop for our 3rd day was madaba, about 1.5 hour south of amman. it's known as the "city of mosaics" in jordan, due to the the 6th century byzantine mosaic map of israel that was unearthed on the floor of the greek orthodox church of st. george.

at the entrance of the church. need to buy a ticket to enter this archaeological site, even though it's a functioning church. 

those people with their heads bowed were not praying, but were actually looking down at the mosaic map on the floor. 

parts of the map that they managed to preserve, with detailed information of the ancient cities and important landmarks, including the earliest representation of byzantine jerusalem, marked as "holy city".

 this was how the full map looked like...

after visiting the church, our driver said he has a surprise for us and will show us something that is not part of our itinerary but something amazing that we should see, at no extra charge. he said this is the latest archaeological site that was just unearthed recently and not known by a lot of people. but as the land belonged to his friend, he is able to show it to us. however, it would be good to give his friend a small tip after seeing it. not knowing what it was, we agreed.

we arrived at the top of a hill, with some abandoned bedouin settlements dotted here and there.

our driver's friend brought us to an shed and threw open the doors. inside, we saw a big mosaic picture on the floor, with a burnt mark in the middle. according to our driver, before the mosaic was unearthed, some bedouins were having a bonfire out of doors and it was directly on top of the mosaic, hence the black burnt mark on the mosaic.

anyway, we were not really impressed with the mosaic picture, as the whole thing seemed dubious. so we just stayed for a few minutes (didn't even bother to take photos) and then moved out.

then we saw this adorable baby donkey, just 4 days old! we were more interested in taking his pictures than that of the "archaeological site". 

upon leaving, we didn't even bother to give a tip to the owner, but our driver gave him JD 5 (≈ RM22!) and then "reminded" us that we've forgotten to give the tip and said he's paid on our behalf. so we had no choice but to pay him back! yeah, we felt kinda cheated there!

anyway, on the way to our next destination, our driver made a stop at one of those roadside tourist traps and said we can spend a bit of time looking and shopping around for souvenirs there.

 first they gave us some introduction to mosaic making... most of the people who worked in mosaic making are disabled and is a government-supported industry.

very detailed work and some masterpieces can take up to 3 months or more to complete...

we spent about 30 min there, where i bought a small square mosaic (like coaster size) for a blardy cut-throat price of JD 10 (≈ RM45). even that also i was conned coz i think it's only JD 7 (≈ RM 31) and they overcharged me! whatever...

day 3 to be continued...

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