THING #1: Jordan is a conservative country.
Before I came to Jordan, I was expecting a very open, modern society not much different from Turkey. However, I forgot that the main thing about Turkey is that it is mainly secularised.
While Jordan is modernised, I soon came to realise that people here are quite conservative. You will seldom see people revealing legs, or couples showing PDA.
Men and women, generally cover their hair, and wear loose clothing. Seldom you will see a lady wearing short jackets – as there is a preference for longer, knee length jackets.
In the Hammam (Turkish Bath) here, women generally wear bikinis or swimsuits, very unlike the one in Istanbul, where it is considered normal and expected to do hammam in the nude.
Jordan has a long rich history steeped in Judaism, Christianity and Islam and some people consider Jordan as a place of pilgrimage. Plenty of tourists come to see Mount Nebo where Moses (Nabi Musa SAW) looked at the Promised Land, and there’s the Bethany Site, where Christians believe to be the Baptism Site of Jesus.
In Islam, Moses is mentioned more in the Quran than any other individual, and his life is narrated and recounted more than that of any other prophet. Red Sea, on one side of Jordan, is also the body of water that Moses parted to let Muslims escape from the tyrannical Egyptian pharaoh.
With this kind of history, it’s no wonder that Jordan has maintained its conservatism, in the midst of it’s awesome modernity.
THING #2: Bedouins are so chill.
It’s true. If you want to experience true Arab hospitality, hang out with a bunch of bedouins. They will invite you for tea, and you can talk, do shisha 10 times over, chill till the sun goes down and comes back up again!
Jordanians are very family oriented and extremely generous. They stay together, work together, share their earnings, share their food, help each other, and will welcome you into the fold just like that. I’ve read that extending good hospitality is not just something admirable to do but a sacred duty and honor.
Arabs may look super serious sometimes, but know that most are good people. I really am inclined to believe that.
Don’t believe everything you see or hear in the media. We had the best time and people are super friendly!
See their generousity and kindness from your own eyes.
THING #3: Jordanians eat a LOT but they don’t eat fish!
I loveeeee everything I ate in Jordan. Food is not expensive, but I wouldn’t say it’s cheap. The whole time I was in Jordan, I didn’t even touch a piece of fish.
Aside from the expected shawarmas, which Jordanians prefer to eat with soury sides like pickles, and salads.
I still see no fish.
It’s no wonder since Jordanian food mostly consists of nuts, and vegetables and meat. Lots and lots of meat – especially lamb. This is not a problem. I LOVE MY MEAT!
A bedouin specialty in Wadi Rum, this was a dish cooked inside the ground called zarb.
“A mix of meat like lamb and chicken, rice, onions and carrots, are placed in a square hole in the ground, which is filled with flaming hot coals. The hole is then covered with a few layers of blankets to hold in the heat and finally sand is covered over the oven.”
Yummy or not??? We had it at the Wadi Rum Luxury Night Camp we stayed in and it was served on a communal platter, sort of like a mandy. We all helped ourselves to seconds (and thirds!)
So many fresh produce available. Jordan is blessed by an abundant land.
I love baba ghanoush!
I love the hummus here! It was suuuuuper yummy! Lifelong fan of hummus, I never thought I’d finally have it in the Middle East. Haha.
Does it matter that there’s no fish? Hehe.
THING #4: The landscape can change dramatically as you drive from one end to the other.
It really is worth it to rent a car and just drive yourself.
From cityscape, to desert as far as your eyes can see, to suddenly seeing amazing rock formations, the landscape dazzles and takes your breath away.
Pine trees dot the journey to the Dead Sea.
Beautiful mountains at the very entrance of Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum as TE Lawrence described it:
“Vast, echoing and god-like”
I was in awe as we drive off road into the Wadi Rum protected area.
THING#5: You can swim in winter.
During winter, the temperature in Jordan can range from 5 to 10 degrees celcius. But don’t let that stop you from packing swimwear.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth and generally very pleasant at about 20-25 degrees celsius when we were there. The water is cool, but still very swimmable (dip-able rather cause it’s super hard to swim due to the saltiness haha).
Salt mixed with sand from the beach. The Dead Sea has the highest salt content in the world and no bacteria or living thing can exist in there. In fact, even us humans cannot stand dipping for more than 5 minutes!
Some facts about the Dead Sea from well, Wikipedia (don’t judge!):
The Dead Sea is bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and Palestine to the west. Its surface and shores are 430.5 metres (1,412 ft) below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land. The Dead Sea is 304 m (997 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With 34.2% salinity (in 2011), it is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean, and one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water.
Being in the Dead Sea was definitely of of the highlights of my trip. We went to the Amman Tourist Beach, and entrance costs JD20 (BND40) and you can rent a towel and locker for JD5 (BND10). There are public showers that are quite clean.
If I ever come back I would actually go to a hotel and really take my time. I’m definitely a beach bum!