Jordan and A Travel Resolution Fulfilled

50 comments
Asia, Jordan, West

A view of downtown Amman, Jordan’s vibrant capital

People make resolutions on the first day of January every year hoping to achieve them by the end of December. Losing some weight, doing more exercise, eating more fruits and vegetables, having a better work-life balance, and spending more time with family are among the most common ones – some successfully get what they want, many falter and try to achieve the same goal next year. On January 1, 2011, just a few months after I started this blog and began traveling in earnest, I created my own resolution, with a twist. Instead of a 365-day timespan, I intended to fulfill it within ten years for the resolution was to travel to 30 countries/territories by 2020, something I knew I couldn’t do in just one year.

The reason for creating this resolution was simple; I wanted to keep the wanderlust within me alive for a long time because I believed that seeing places far from home would be among the most rewarding experiences I could ever possibly give to myself. I still hold that same belief, and overseas travel is still as rewarding as it was then. However, since the day I made that resolution until mid-2012, I was more keen on whirlwind trips just for the sake of ‘having been there’ and achieving 302020 (what I call my travel resolution) faster. The reality that it wasn’t such a sustainable option eventually hit. When I was in Myanmar for the first time in early 2012 I wanted to go to Bagan, home to hundreds of impressive ancient Buddhist temples. But when I talked to a staff member in the Yangon hotel where I stayed to arrange transport, she simply replied, “you don’t have enough time.”

Laos was the first country where I began to embrace a slower pace of travel, thanks to James’ suggestion to stay in the country longer than what I had planned – it was our first trip together after our initial meet up in Hong Kong a few months earlier. I had booked a return flight to and from Vientiane, the capital of Laos. But my newly-found travel buddy told me about Luang Prabang and convinced me to budget a few extra days in the country so we would have enough time to visit its ancient royal capital. I decided to agree with him and despite the oppressing heat and humidity, our time in Luang Prabang turned out to be one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating travel experiences I’ve ever had to date.

Fast forward to the second half of 2016. After my unforgettable first trip to Japan, I was thinking of going to a place I had always dreamed of visiting: Jordan. Thanks to an incredibly cheap promo for a return trip via Muscat, I booked the flights to this Middle Eastern country for April 2017. Three months before the date of departure, however, James instinctively checked the flights for Jordan and what he found out shocked us: the flight departing Jakarta to Muscat was for some reason cancelled. I called the online booking company (whose customer service officers were extremely helpful, fortunately) where I bought the tickets to clarify this and in the end they offered to reroute my departing flight through Kuala Lumpur with Royal Jordanian. However, because the transit time was too tight, I decided to opt for a refund altogether and chose central Vietnam to replace Jordan – my second time to Vietnam was a blessing in disguise as this replacement trip ended up being one that was filled with visits to beautiful ancient temples and tombs, a stay in a charming old town, and heaps of mouth-watering Vietnamese dishes.

A Roman theater in Amman, built in the second century AD when the city was still called Philadelphia

The Raghadan Flagpole that towers above Amman

Mansaf, considered the national dish of Jordan

The Roman-era Arch of Hadrian in Jerash

The colonnaded street of Gerasa (modern-day Jerash)

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until our trip to Lebanon in April this year that my interest in going to Jordan reignited. A food writer in Beirut who guided a group of six people, including us, through the streets and alleys of the Lebanese capital to savor the diverse flavors of its cuisine told us that even though the za’atar (herb and spice mixture used in Levantine dishes) we had in Beirut was really good, the best kind actually comes from Jordan. Then there was the magnificent ruins of Baalbek which made me think of another ancient architectural wonder in this part of the world: the famous rock-carved city of Petra. Lebanon was country number 29, so heeding all these implicit suggestions during our stay in Lebanon, I decided that Jordan would be the country that would complete my travel resolution.

Finally, after canceling our original trip in 2017, I found myself setting foot on Jordanian soil two weeks ago, visiting the Middle East for the second time in a year. As opposed to the lush, well-watered landscape of Lebanon, that of Jordan’s is dominated by desert and barren hills, only occasionally interspersed with rare patches of greenery. Amman was bustling with life and felt very safe with a strangely stark contrast between its west and east sides. The ruins in Jerash were impressive, all scattered across a vast area which made me imagine how this place must have looked like when the Romans still lived here. The mosaics of Madaba were astonishing, a testament to this land’s richly layered history. The monumental structures of Petra were spectacular, each and every single one of them meticulously carved into the sandstone hills and mountains of the arid landscape. Wadi Rum was both magical (in the morning and at night) and unforgiving (at midday). And the food! I enjoyed Lebanese food so much, but most of the world already knows how good their food is thanks to the huge Lebanese diaspora. But Jordanian food… It’s seriously underrated.

In the upcoming weeks and months I will elaborate further on my travel experiences in this kingdom. But probably the question some of you might ask is this: what’s after 302020? Nothing, really. At this point I’m already convinced that I won’t need another travel resolution to keep me exploring the world because I know that’s one of the things I enjoy most in life. I will most likely return to countries where I only spent a little time visiting in the past (Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea) as well as satiating my curiosity of places I’ve never been to.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank Robin who encouraged me to start this blog almost ten years ago, Reza who opened my eyes and made me realize that it’s actually possible for an Indonesian to travel solo abroad, James whose eloquently-written blog posts inspired me to write better, and you, my dear readers who have been reading my posts and sharing your thoughts along the way. Without you all, this blog wouldn’t have gotten this far. Cheers to all of us and happy travels!

St George’s Greek Orthodox Church in Madaba

The spectacular mosaic of Hippolytus Hall, later the Virgin Mary Church, in Madaba

Ad-Deir (the Monastery) in Petra

Walking down the ancient Colonnaded Street of Petra

Al-Khazneh (the Treasury) at night, Petra

Mars on Earth: Wadi Rum

Gentle camels outside our tent in Wadi Rum

Posted by

Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

50 thoughts on “Jordan and A Travel Resolution Fulfilled”

  1. How good is Jordan right? I visited in August, my first Middle East experience. The people, the culture and the food! Jordanian food was so good! I look forward to more of your posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Anna. Jordan in August must have been really hot! It was still hot when I was there, especially in Wadi Rum. As for the food, throughout my stay in the country, I never had a bad meal. I tried a lot of Jordanian as well as Palestinian dishes, and they’re all delicious. Some places do certain dishes better than others, though.

      Like

    • I was told that October is one of the high seasons for tourism in Jordan (peak season is between March-April), yet there are so many places to see in Jordan to choose from. Even in Petra, arguably the country’s prime tourism site, most tourists only go to the Treasury while in fact there are so many other places there to explore. Hope you’ll get there soon!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jordan has so many amazing places to explore. Hope you’ll get the chance to travel to Jordan sooner than later!

      Like

  2. Beautiful post Bama. Glad you made it to Jordan finally. I’ve been twice and yet it is one of the few destinations I feel I’ve not done justice to. The first time was an add on to Egypt and the second a FAM trip the kind I have sworn never to accept again:) Here’s wishing you more such fulfilling travel experiences!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Madhu. It truly was a dream come true. When we were in Petra, we spent a good amount of time marveling at the Treasury — in the end I took more than 5,000 photos on this trip! You should go back, Madhu, with a more relaxing pace.

      Like

  3. Exactly — there’s no need for a resolution. The travel bug never leaves us. Look at me — still doing it. I’m in South Korea for the next three weeks at this very moment!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I guess my younger self needed it because I was easily distracted by so many things. But since then traveling has become one of my priorities in life, especially after realizing that what you see on the news does not tell the whole picture of a place.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You brought me back to the good memories I had in Jordan in 2014. Jordan is one of my top favourite country, so rich in history, culture and amazing landscape! I spent 11 days there and totally loved it! Oh yeah the food is good! Thank you for sharing your travels and I could not agree more with you that seeing the world is one of life’s most enjoyable things to do.. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • 11 days sounds just about the right amount of time to do Jordan justice. We were there for nine days — had we had more time, we would probably have gone to Aqaba as well. I will dedicate a post just talking about the food — the world really needs to know how delicious Jordanian food is.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is, and with that time I didn’t get enough time to visit Aqaba. Especially love Dana Biosphere Reserve and Wadi Rum. 9 days is pretty good too as Jordan is not too big. Looking forward your post about Jordanian food!! It is yummy!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I actually remembered some of your posts on Jordan when I was there, including what you said about how provincial Amman felt. I found it rather true, especially since earlier this year I went to Beirut, a much more cosmopolitan city in the region.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post Bama….and fascinating pics … curious about the food..their diet predominantly consists of ?? I’ve just spent 2 months in India and Nepal with a short sojourn in Bali on the way home to Oz.. the parts of India and Nepal I spent time in blew me away… the people the food the history.. thanks for sharing. Most of mine has been on instagram/fb. I’m planning on blogging my journey when I get home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Trees. For carbs, they eat either pita bread or rice — one of the most celebrated Jordanian dishes is actually rice which is cooked with spices (but not as strong as in India) and served with very tender lamb which itself is cooked in a type of dried yogurt. And yes, Jordanians eat a lot of meat. I will eventually dedicate a post just for the food.

      Ahh, Bali. It’s so close from Jakarta but believe me or not it’s been four years since I went there the last time! I miss that island so much.

      Like

  6. Cheers to many more wonderful travel destinations, Bama. It is such a blessing to discover that travelling slower is much more rewarding than just ticking boxes. I’m looking forward to your posts of this trip. Jordan has been a very memorable country for me, and it will be lovely to revisit through your eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jordan was magical, indeed. It’s one of those places that make you want to travel further and explore the world. I can’t wait to share my stories from Jordan — I wonder how much has or has not changed since your visit.

      Like

  7. It’s crazy how many of my travel blogging friends have been in Jordan at virtually the same time! Nicole from thirdeyemom, and Sue and Dave from Traveltales were there at what seems to be the same time as you! And Anna from Australia was recently there. It really is a dream destination, and I felt similarly when we finally got there a few summers ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, right! We were just one or two days ahead of Sue and Dave — when they were in Amman, we were leaving the city for Petra. When they were in Petra we were in Wadi Rum. When they were in Wadi Rum we were already back in Jakarta. And I think Nicole was in Wadi Rum one or two days after Sue and Dave. It would have been awesome if we bumped into one another in one of those places.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Len. Yes, I’m a tad early. 🙂 But that means now I have the liberty to go anywhere I want to without having to think of that resolution.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, Bama, and I hear you on the wonderful experiences of traveling ‘slow’ can offer ~ the ability to sit and enjoy the culture and take in things more subtle than the great sites and landscapes. You’ve been to so many incredible places, and open eyes of your readers with your posts; for me it is my desire to see Lebanon which before I would not have considered. Jordan has long been on my list, and after reading your post I realize I need to make it happen 🙂 Cheers to many more happy and insightful travels.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s often those subtle things that make a journey even more memorable — the smell of fresh air, the genuine smiles of the locals, the sound of toads and crickets, etc. You should go to Lebanon one day, Randall. Despite its problems, it’s truly an incredible place. Happy travels to you too!

      Like

      • Absolutely, and when any traveller has that first taste of the genuine local feel, there is no more travel at a frantic pace 🙂 Very much look forward to Lebanon, and one day Jordan (and my dream, Iran). Thank you, Bama ~ continue to enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. After getting totally blown away by our experiences in Lebanon and Bhutan, I was a bit concerned about whether the final country of 302020 could hold its own. But Jordan did not disappoint – exploring Petra was a childhood dream come true – and it was perfect for the amount of time we had. Plus I was not at all expecting the food to be so good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew Jordan wouldn’t disappoint because it has Petra. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out how delicious the food was! I miss the tender lamb in mansaf, the complex flavors of musakhan, and the sweetness of the tomatoes in galayet bandora, among other things.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Bama, it’s such a treat to read your backstory on getting to Jordan. Based on the travel passion you share in your posts, I agree that you’ll not be needing another resolution. It’s interesting to read about how your travel has evolved from “collecting” places, to embracing a slower pace or returning to places to see them in more detail. The slower pace is certainly a luxury that I cherish. I’m glad your 30th country was a nice finale to your resolution. I look forward to reading more on Jordan. Petra looks incredible.
    It’s a pleasure reading your posts. Happy travels to you too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have absolutely been enjoying traveling without having to rush around. I do usually have a rough itinerary, but that can change depending on the weather and other things, and that’s fine. For my next trip I’m actually thinking of going somewhere in Indonesia — the country is so big there are still so many places to explore even though I was born and raised here. However, I also hope that sometime in the future I’ll get the chance to visit your part of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good point about exploring your own massive country. I want to see more of my country too, but the issue is that there are very limited good weather months in most parts of Canada. I “get stuck” close to home during those months as there are so many fun things to do here during that time. Having said that, I really want to visit the Yukon and go back to Atlantic Canada.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, Canada is even bigger than Indonesia — albeit with a much smaller population. James once told me about the Canadian winter, and how cold it can be. So I think when I get the chance to go one day, I’ll choose spring or autumn.

        Like

  11. Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, and Iraq are a gold mine when it comes to riches of the past. It is unfortunate that in some places the traces of the past have been reduced to a small size and the current culture has no connection. In some places, the existing society and culture have erased it completely, like Palmyra. In other places, Sumerian civilization exists only in the museum. It is a big question whether these ancient sites will survive or not?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Levant and its surrounding regions have indeed been witnessing the rise and fall of countless dynasties, monarchs and rulers throughout its history. When one civilization perished, another thrived upon its ashes, which explains layers upon layers of history unearthed here. This part of the world has definitely seen its glorious days in the past, although sadly today most people associate it with violence and instability. I always feel frustrated when an ancient site is damaged, yet the spirit of many local people to rebuild such site deemed a part of their cultural identity is very encouraging. I certainly hope that peace and stability will soon return to this land, for it really is the cradle of civilization.

      Like

  12. Bama I feel like we were in each other’s footsteps just days apart! Gorgeous photos of beautiful Jordan. Congratulations on 10 years of blogging and all of your amazing travels, both what you have accomplished and what is to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If only we were in Jordan exactly at the same time, we would have bumped into each other in Amman, Petra and Wadi Rum, although I can assure you I wouldn’t have biked all the way to the desert like you and Dave did. 😀 Thanks Sue. I hope to finally see you in person one day!

      Like

  13. I fell in love with Jordan! I was waiting to read your post until I had my first one written. What was your favorite part? I loved Wadi Rum but for me my two days at Petra were the best. The second day there I walked alone for over 7 hours and went way off piste where there was hardly anyone. It was extraordinary. I loved it so much and now I’m really wanting to explore Egypt. Looking forward to more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard not to fall in love with that country. My favorite place in Jordan is also Petra. James and I spent three days there so we had ample time to explore many parts of it, as well as returning to the same spots to see how they looked like in different lighting condition. I knew Petra would be spectacular, but seeing the Treasury, the Monastery and those magnificent tombs with my own eyes was truly mind-blowing. I think I saw one of your photos on Instagram that you took from the High Place of Sacrifice. We didn’t go there, though. After visiting Lebanon and Jordan, now I want to go to Egypt more than ever! Maybe next time our paths will cross there. 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.