24.11.2011 - 24.11.2011 17 °C
Nice leisurely start this morning (which was good because I had a sleep in!) before I met up with our tour guide and my roomie Lisa! Apparently our tour was joining up with another group who were catching the boat from Nuweiba to Aqaba, which meant the three of us had to catch the public bus from Amman down to the Gulf of Aqaba and to the town of Aqaba.
The local bus is an interesting experience (although not as interesting as some I’ve had on this trip!!). It was a double decker coach that was chocker block full.. We had three of four seats (the four seats were facing each other) which was good but meant we had a tight fit with our hand luggage (this bus doesn’t have over head racks so all hand luggage had to go on the floor). I spent most of the five hour bus ride trying to sleep as I had a raging headache (thanks to a few too many the night before) and was seriously lacking in sleep. This meant poor old Lisa had to just sit miserably looking out the window with her iPod!
Inside our carriage we had mainly all ladies with small children which was fun because once I had woken up we were able to play with the kids.. Kids are such universal things.. no matter what language you speak, a smile and pull a funny face always gets them laughing which makes the mum happy and smiley! I probably shouldn’t have been surprised but all of the women sitting near me spoke English (the education system here is really good) so we were able to have a chat.
About half an hour before we arrived in Aqaba we had to stop at this border check point.. It was a pretty funny experience… We all had to get our passports checked (even though we are still in Jordan) and had to get all of our bags off the bus and put them thru a metal detector…. Now this was funny for two reasons… 1 we had to get our bags off the bus.. this isn’t funny but it is when you realise that the bags were stored in the back part of the bus, probably about 2m off the ground…. To get the bags out of the luggage compartment one of the male passengers had to crawl inside and hand out the bags to everyone.. the bus driver just stood there and watched!!! 2nd reason is that when we finally got them to the metal detector the dude who was supposed to be watching the screen wasn’t, so it was a total waste of time anyhow!!!!! To be honest I’m struggling with the whole point of the exercise.. apparently it is because Aqaba is near the disputed border of Israel and Egypt (which is UN controlled) so they take extra precautions in this part of the world…. Either way pretty amusing!
We finally made it into Aqaba late in the afternoon. Just enough time for us to dump our stuff and go find some lunch before the sun went down for the day! Lunch was a brief (and pretty ordinary) affair of Schawarma and Chips—probably the poorest I’ve had so far here in the Mid East before we both decided to explore the town a bit and take a look at the sites and sounds of Aqaba. Lonely Planet had given us fair warning that there wasn’t much to see in the town and I would say this is a gross understatement…. It took us less than half an hour to walk most of the town, dawdling along the ocean front to watch the sun set over Egypt! The highlight of our wander was to see THE Aqaba landmark, the second highest flag pole in the world…. Hmmm, this should give you an idea of what we thought of the rest of the town…….. After our brief tour we thought that it would be nice to stop in one of the ritzy hotels to have a cocktail by the pool so we stopped into the Movenpick to see what we could rustle up….. Not much, is the answer! The cocktail bar was a fairly sorry looking affair that reminded me of a 1920’s male cigar bar, so we thought it would be cheaper and far more pleasant to find a take away shop and have a drink in our hotel room. Therefore we spent the remainder of our night waiting for the rest of the tour group, having a party in our room! Eventually, we gave up on the rest of the group and just headed to bed…. What an exciting end to an exciting day!!! (Can’t you just hear the sarcasm… )---- In fairness, Aqaba was never going to be the reason for why I came to Jordan… tomorrow is Wadi Rum so here’s hoping it kills my expectations!!!!