Jordan

Video: Mark Walking The World

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So following on from Ali's walking video, Here is my 10 months of travel condensed into a few minutes. We recorded little moments of walking, trekking or hiking (they're all the same thing right?) from across the globe that took us all across these countries: Slovenia, Slovakia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Jordan, Armenia and Georgia.

Music is Lemon Jelly's 'Ramblin Man', Enjoy...

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Video: Ali Walking The World

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Here is 10 months of travel condensed into just a few minutes. We recorded little moments of walking, trekking or hiking (they're all the same thing right?) from across the globe that took us to the following countries: Slovenia, Slovakia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Jordan, Armenia and Georgia.

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Jordan: A Bedouin Camp In The Wadi Rum Desert

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As I'm sure you well know, we are avid fans of travelling on a budget.  With only £25 between us per day, we usually opt for the cheapest accommodation possible, eat with the locals, and pick and choose our activities carefully.  We started doing this out of necessity, we had saved up enough money for 10 months and needed to stick to the budget carefully or risk going home early!  But after a few months of doing this, we decided that it was our preferred way to travel.  You meet so many more people when you are trying to save money, whether that be through hitchhiking or eating in cafes with the local folk.

 

But when our friends Dom and Elly came to join us in Jordan on a 4 day holiday, it seemed like a great excuse to take a holiday ourselves away from the paired-back travel life we had grown so accustom to.  We booked a cool-looking Bedouin camp in the Wadi Rum desert on Elly's suggestion, and crossed our fingers that it was going to be worth the splash out.  For 25JD (£26) per night, this is what a Bedouin camp in the Wadi Rum desert looks like......

 

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The journey in......

Our host picks us up from the visitor centre in an open-air truck and we bump along the sandy desert floor, marvelling at our first glimpse of Wadi Rum.  There are a few other 4X4's speeding around, trying to find the best spot for sundown.

 

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The camp

We arrive at our camp just before sundown, the shadows are long and the sands are a stunning shade of orange in the low lighting.  We had booked the cheapest double possible with a shared bathroom, but on arrival we were told that we had been upgraded for free into one of their luxury tents with a panoramic desert view.  It really was our lucky day!

 

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Geometric dreams

No curtains.... just this view for the next 14 hours.  We feel as though we've hit the jackpot.  I don't know about you but I've never stayed anywhere quite as epic as this.  The oversized window makes you feel as though there is nothing between you and nature, that the desert sand almost continues onto your bedroom floor.  

 

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A sunset to remember

Before feasting on a Bedouin dinner, we climb up onto the rocks nearby and silently watch the sun go down.  What's better than nature, the sunsetting, and our friends to share it all with.

 

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Morning meditation

The sun comes up and we are keen to make the most of our time in this incredible place.  We head out for a walk to the mountains ahead, and on our return spend the next 15 minutes meditating in front of this stunning view.  No one's around, it's just us and the landscape.

 

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Bedouin hang out

The central focus in the camp is the fire, and everything else works around it.  There is always 3 pots of tea brewing on the flame; lightly sweetened mint tea, sweetened mint tea, and crazily sweetened mint tea.  I opt for the least sweet option, thinking that it's going to be bearable, but it's so disgustingly sweet that my teeth are furry after only a few sips.... I think I'll pass and avoid any future decay!

 

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The happy traveller

Mark's enjoying the comfort of the open-air camp after 9 months worth of slumming it! Goodbye damp dingy rooms, and welcome tribal fun camp.

 

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Quiet time

On the other side of the camp behind a huge rock, is more seating for those looking for a quiet spot to read in.  In the afternoon this will be flooded with sunshine.

 

 
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ethnic textiles

The Bedouin people make up over a third of the population of Jordan, and are known as animal breeders and herders.  Some even adopt a nomadic way of life, moving at various times of the year for the benefit of their livestock.  It is common to see ethnic textiles like this in hotels and camps around Jordan, and these days it is mostly mass-produced.  Traditionally women would have hand-woven textiles in designs similar to this, and they would have been used to make shelter for their families.  Bedouin camps used to be called 'Beit Al-Sha’ar' which means 'house of hair', for the fact that it was all woven from goats hair.  

 

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Eggs and zataar

For those of you that don't know, zataar is a delicious spice mix popular in Jordan and the middle east.  The locals love to eat it on everything, and after visiting Jordan we shared the same love for it.  For our breakfast we got to eat it with eggs, flatbreads and cheese, lucky us!

 

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A quick tour

We book in for a quick tour of the surrounding area, and try to squeeze in as much as possible before getting back to Amman.  2 hours in the 4X4 sets us back 35JD (£35) between the 4 of us and we get taken to some sand dunes, a viewpoint, to see some ancient rock inscriptions and a carving of Lawrence Of Arabia.  It isn't the best tour we've ever been on, but it's pretty fun riding round the desert at high speeds.  

 

What we say....

A trip to the Wadi Rum desert definitely isn't the cheapest thing to do in Jordan, but actually we think it's worth the splash out for spending at least a night there.  The scenery is just unworldly, the camps are very relaxing, and it's one of those experiences that will stick in your mind for a long time afterwards.  This is where they filmed the 60s classic blockbuster 'Lawrence Of Arabia' and the less classic 'The Martian'.  We were half expecting Matt Damon to pop out from behind a rock and shout..... "Matt Damon".

 

costs involved and how to get there

If you are trying to visit on a budget then just bear in mind that there are a few hidden costs involved; dinner is around 10JD (£10) per person at the camp, but you can bring your own if you want to.  A taxi back to Aqaba costs around 35JD (£35) where you can catch a local bus to Amman.  There is no direct bus to Wadi Rum from either Amman or Aqaba, but you may be able to jump out on the main road if your bus is passing.  On leaving Wadi Rum, you could potentially get to the Desert Highway and try to hitchhike to Aqaba or Amman from there.  Tours cost around 35JD (£35) for a 2 hour ride in a 4X4 and that's to see 4 tourist sights.  Breakfast is free at the camp.  

We stayed at one called 'Wadi Rum Dream Camp' but there are many more around that you can find on booking.com.  We had a free upgrade to stay in their luxury double room tent with a bathroom, and it cost us only 25JD (£26) for the night.  We heard about a couple that booked somewhere to stay online and sadly the camp didn't exist, just make sure there are plenty of reviews and ratings before you book somewhere.

If money isn't an issue for you then we would recommend staying for a few nights unless you are one of those people that gets easily bored.  There are plenty of walks to do around there for free, 4X4 tours, camel riding and just generally chilling out at the camp.  We would love to go back and spend some more time in Wadi Rum.  There is something very special about being in the desert and at the mercy of mother nature.  All in all, it's a very invigorating experience.

If you have any questions then just hit us up in the comment box below!

 

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Jordan - A Bedouin Camp In The Wadi Rum Desert, by Studio Mali
 

 

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Jordan: Patterns And Colours Of Petra's Sands

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When you invisage Petra, you will undoubtedly think of the enormous sandstone carvings of the Treasury and the Monastery, those huge structures that we have seen so many times in photographs as one of The World's 7 Wonders.  

Well for those of you that haven't been, Petra isn't just these two monuments.  It's a site the size of a city and is situated on one of the most fascinating geological sites I have ever been to.  It is expected that 20,000 - 30,000 people used to live there 2500 years ago, and the creators of the site had carefully selected this location based on the beautiful layered sandstone that makes up the rock.

Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern
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Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern

Incredibly, this rock was formed up to 540 million years ago by ancient river beds that transported the sand into these layers and patterns.  The colours vary so much due to the chemical break up of minerals in the sand, the reds containing iron and the others with manganese oxides and hydroxide minerals.  I was amazed to see the sands so colourful, the pictures I have seen previously of Petra are really just of tan coloured sand and not much else, so it was such a surprise to see these unique rock formations.  It was honestly like looking at a work of art; an abstract painting with expressive brushstrokes, marbled patterns and layered colours.  I was in my element, exploring the hundreds of caves that make up the site and discovering the natural artworks on nearly every wall.  I probably took about a zillion photos for 'inspiration' which I'm sure Mark wasn't too happy about!

Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern
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Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern

Some of the cave tombs use this patterned rock almost like a mural inside, a display of the richness of the land, it's natural beauty and an important marker for the dead.  These intricate wallpapers are something that have stood the test of time and have remained unchanged for the last 540 million years, or so.

Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern
Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern
Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern
Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern

I am looking at these sandscapes, to me they look like classic asian ink paintings, similar to the wave paintings that we see so much on Japanese scrolls.  The colours however are fierce, beautiful hues of blood red, apricot, mustard, aubergine, nude and then subtly contrasted with grey/blue.  It look so considered, and yet so organic in its form.

Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern
Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern

I can't help thinking this would be the perfect inspiration for our next design project.  Perhaps we can incorporate these beautiful patterns and shapes into our furniture somehow, maybe dying wood into these colours, trying to capture some of the organic shapes that make up these naturally-occurring patterns.  

Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern
Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern
Jordan, Petra - layered coloured sand pattern

If you do ever get to visit Petra, make sure you allocate enough time to explore the vast geological site and monuments within it.  The locals say that you could spend a week there and see something new every time.  We spent 3 days there in total, and trekked in from Little Petra Siq across the valleys and around the edge of the mountains which was a clear highlight.  The path between Little Petra Siq and Petra is actually part of the Jordan Trail, a trekking route that runs from one length of the country to the other, taking 40 days in total to walk it.  The hike from Little Petra Siq to Petra takes around 3-4 hours and is relatively straight forward, just make sure you take enough water and avoid walking if rain is forecast due to flash flooding.  

 

If you have any questions or need any help on your trip then just let us know and we would be happy to get back to you.

 

Friends...

All of the articles on our website are free but if you can support us by viewing, sharing or even purchasing from our travel-inspired shop, you'd make our day! Every share, like or sale gets us closer to our dream.....you guys rock.

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Jordan - Patterns And Colour In Petra's Sands, by Studio Mali
 

 

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Travel: 30 Bizarre Photos From Our Year On The Road

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Sometimes we have to think long and hard about a post but truth be told this one found me, the best ones always do! It came to me sitting in a Georgian hostel mere days before our final flight back to London. I started to look back through the photos on my phone and found some real treasure buried in the chest. This selection is just a scratch at the surface.

Most of the photos we use for the website are taken on the DSLR, so I kind of forgot that I had been taking the odd photo of day-to-day life on the road with my phone. Here I’ve edited them down and stuck them altogether, which will give you some great behind the scenes access to some of the forgotten or smaller moments of our trip... No surprises, of all the places with the wackiest things to see it had to be China, classic mental China! 

 In no particular order:

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Georgia

1. Here’s some ‘interesting’ advertising from a Georgian bar toilet. A piece that carefully crosses the lines between drink-driving and Soviet politics, not an obvious unison. Here is a drunk driver hitting Joesph Stalin! Somehow this was designed to stop people from drink driving? Not sure if it met that aim, it's a far better piece of anti-Soviet propaganda.


 
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Slovenia 

2. 'Sola!' What could this sign be communicating? Break out of the system? Always run from tall people? The colour yellow can never be contained by red? Can anyone solve this mystery?  


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Nepal

3. We met this kind boy on the way up to a village in the Nepalese mountains. We’d been soaked-through in a hail and thunderstorm and then had to walk up a mountain for 2 hours, we were broken. Thankfully he showed us a shortcut and then invited us into his home to drink tea and the actual bizarre bit was that we ate a minced goat, sugar and sultana dish with his family - imagine a sweet gristly meaty pudding! Ali subsequently got the worst food poisoning she's ever had the next day.


 
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China

4. Who the f**k is Lonyo? And why is he painted above our bed? It looks like a 5 year old child's bedroom!  After 3 nights in this room I even dreamt about Lonyo... he’ll always be the mystery cartoon character from Asia we'd never heard of....


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 Dubai

5. Why do airports always put armrests on the chairs? If they put them in to make their customers tired and grouchy then they have met their aim. Apart from we (well Ali actually) can snake underneath them and defy the strict airport systems! Mali 1 vs Dubai airport 0


 
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Sri Lanka

6. Truly, this excellent promotion gave us a lot of giggles far beyond our time in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately we never got to try Trincomalee's 'Jambo Prowns' but we suspect they'd be pretty awesome. 


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China

7. Outside the major cities of China the standard of the toilets drops dramatically. Imagine the setting, if you will, you've been on a bus for 6 hours and the driver stops at a suspect hut on the side of the road. There's 4 other buses worth of people here and everyone needs the toilet so you start queuing and prepare 1 yuan to pass to a 'cleaning' lady. You finally enter the toilet and find this, a shit covered hole in the ground. This was a nice one, often these poo pits don't have walls! sharing is caring.


 
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China

8. Quasi-English signage can be found everywhere in China and very often you get treated to little gems like this one. For the record, I always take care of my treasures.


 
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Thailand

9. 'Hellow My Friend', this wasn't the first thing we noticed on the advert. The important observation is that the child is the spitting image of Ali when she was a child. Weird.


 
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Jordan

10. We met Amjad pretty randomly, he was helping to build a wall for his friend Mo's mum's house. He kept his mask on for the few hours while we were chatting so I joined him in becoming a ninja too by popping the snood on #jordanninja. 


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China

11. This didn't seem bizarre at the time but looking back at the spicy Taiwanese pancake that Shanghai locals munch on for breakfast was odd. Spicy, sweet and eggy, with long queues at every stall.


 
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Nepal

12. 'We Have Sausages', this was a strange message to be taped across a door of a Nepalese tea house on the Annapurna circuit. It's true that over the 3 weeks of trekking not a single tea house sold sausages but then is demand for sausage big enough that it will differentiate your tea house from the others? This host obviously thought so. Unfortunately said the tea house was shut, we can report nothing more about the sausages other than they might sell them... 


 
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Georgia

13. Ali couldn't wait to become this dear, although she might have been a bit more in character if she'd taken the glasses off. Special one. 


 
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Sri Lanka

14. I love that some Sri Lankan restaurants serve dosa on a plate but then cover the plate in a plastic bag. Would it not make more sense to pop the food into the bag or onto the plate? senseless waste. For every 5p bag or recycled PET bottle there's a restaurant some place giving out as many plastic bags as possible. It's saddening actually, the developing world is so far behind the most western countries.


 
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Jordan

15. Ali never thought she was going to get to wear full Arabic dress, although I suspect she secretly wanted too.  She would get her chance when entering the King Abdullah Mosque in Amman, Jordan. Here is Ali, truly living like a local.


 
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Laos

16. Sometimes we all fall on hard times #bananabap


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China

17. I fear we may never taste anything quite as delicious as the bowl of creamy fragrant eggy custard like this one in Xi'an. This was one of the tastiest things we have ever eaten. A speciality of the amazing Muslim quarter of the city. Not that bizarre in hindsight, apart from the eggy gloopy texture.


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Nepal

18. "Happy Holi" the kids screamed in English as they assaulted us with every colour of powdered paint under the sun. They were very careful to cover every cm of Ali's face, these children were well drilled in administering precision attacks on the street, the tourists didn't stand a chance.  The only problem was that we were on our way to get passport photos taken for our trekking permits!


 
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Nepal

19. This isn't bizarre at all, mostly sad. We admired the father and son team that climbed the circuit sticking pictures of their sadly deceased son and brother, Sam, you can see the photo bottom left of the post. We were so shocked to hear about such a harsh loss to such a nice family. In our little way, we wanted to share this photo to show support, so they know our thoughts are with them.


 
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China

20. Nothing makes you feel more like a proper explorer than knowing you've stayed in the same hostel as the Monty Python member come traveller, come documentary maker, come proper legend, Micheal Palin. Still haven't got around to watching his 'Himalaya' episode though. 


 
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Thailand

21. Most people won't know our friend Dulce but this Thai girl in the advert is her doppelgänger. Every time we saw the advert we thought it was her.


 
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China

22. Any mathematicians out there who can work this one out?


China

23. My secret filming doesn't do the volume of his snore justice, this guy rocked a serious nasal growl for most of the 13 hour train journey to Shanghai. The Chinese people in the carriage put up with everything, no one complained about it, they endured. Even with ear plugs this was the worst snoring i've ever heard.


 
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China

24. So, we were in a bit of a rush and needed to pay. In China, it's custom to do so at the till but when we went up we were greeted by this huge husky. We actually had to wait with the dog for 5 minutes before any staff came and i'll tell you what... this is one content dog.  She just sat there staring our the window.


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Russia

25. Russian art has come a long way since the 70 years of social-realist painting and sculpture of the Soviet empire. Whereas once it was happy peasants working the fields for the good of all, now we get naked boys riding red horses. How times have changed, apart from the colour red. What would Stalin think of Russia's modern art I wonder? 


 
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Georgia 

26. Well I am a lanky one, so of course my spirit animal is a giraffe.


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China

27. You need to look closely to spot the bizarre items on the sticks we are all about to consume.  This was a round of deep fried grubs and crickets. They weren't too bad but they actually cost more than bbq'ed beef and chicken.


 
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China

28. There''s only one thing more dangerous than a Chinese moped driver... and that's one who knocks you down with a minion fronted moped! This moped perfectly signifies the tacky commercialisation of China, would any other country seriously buy this crap?


 
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Austria

29. This is not a joke, plumbers in eastern Europe actually dress like Super Mario! This guy was the third plumber we spotted in the Vienna train station. I'd definitely support a standardised Nintendo plumber dress code!


 
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Sri Lanka

30. The childish teenager in me couldn't help but chuckle at Sri Lanka's premium travel company, R.K. Rugshita Travels, in the most bombastic typography going. Big up my man R.K. Rugshita... lets hope he doesn't sell actual rugs!


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Video: Jordan - Amman, Mujib, Dead Sea, Dana, Petra & Wadi Rum

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Jordan has been one of the most surprising places of our trip. Forget what you might think, this place is jam-packed full of incredible sites, history, food and is totally safe. Not to mention, it has some of the friendliest people anywhere, it's hard to recount exactly how many cups of tea we had with local families!

We enjoyed some adventurous hiking in the desert in Mujib, some bobbing in the Dead Sea and were blown away by Petra and Wadi Rum, those sites are world class yet quiet and serene. We hope our Jordan travel video inspires you to come visit some day. Just 5 hours from Europe, it couldn't feel more different.

Friends...

All of the articles on our website are free but if you can support us by viewing, sharing or even purchasing from our travel-inspired shop, you'd make our day! Every share, like or sale gets us closer to our dream.....you guys rock.

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