Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 16:47
Written by Doug
I'm not a religious person, but I had a somewhat of a half-donkeyed religious upbringing. Honestly, we're about as Catholic as an Irishman before sunrise. In one of the very few times I was forced to go to Sunday school (I think someone had guilted us into it), I remembered learning about how Moses lead the Jews though 40 years mandatory exfoliating spa treatments and beach getaways. Being stuck in a small town near the tree line at the time, it really didn't sound that bad. Heck, it beats 40 years of -40 winters right?
The excessive "40 year" element to the story always irked me. Yes, they're walking, they had to watch out for Egyptians and they had to make sure that everyone was fed and whatnot, but anything more than 18 months of constant wandering is a bit of a stretch. Since being to Jordan however, I'm now convinced that 40 years is reasonably accurate, and slightly faster than the length of time it takes to travel through the country by bus. Considering the amount of tourist traffic Jordan sees a year (Petra received almost a million visitors in 2010 according to petranationaltrust.org), I guess I just expected something more...comprehensive.
Okay, okay. This is the part where I talk about how much I actually liked the country, this one point aside. Without a drop of sarcasm I can say that the food was excellent, the people were decent, there was good English signage, and the sights were amazing. Continuing on.
A few links short of a chain.
There are three major roads that run south from Amman, the capital. Out of these, there is only one that matters, the King's Highway, which runs between the two and pretty much hits all of the major sights of the country. Learning from our experiences in Tunisia
, where most buses stop running from the capital early in the morning, we left Amman down the King's Highway at around seven in the morning. At around eleven, we were ready to head down the road to Karak, to find that there were no buses or taxis heading south. We were told to go to Amman and try to catch another bus down the same highway, back through Madaba to Karak.
Jordanian public transport operates on a hub and spoke system, the hub being Amman, and all the spokes being of differing lengths and pointed in the same direction. So back up we went, managing to get one of the last buses down to Karak. We ended up getting stuck there for the night, because, you guessed it, the only bus out of town was to Amman. An unpleasant and overpriced meal and a half-decent night's sleep didn't help the situation. The only bus at the station had four people on it, and was not going anywhere soon, and even if it did get rolling, we would have to overshoot Wadi Musa (Petra) and transfer. We ended up hiring a taxi by ourselves and paying the whole fare to Aqaba (about 70USD) and the driver dropped us off in Ma'an, the closest transport hub to Wadi Musa. He wouldn't even take us the extra 10 km to Petra without charging us almost double.
The hotels in Wadi Musa, understanding the inefficiency of the system, organize minivans/taxis between Petra and Aqaba for cheap. Out of the entire time we spent in Jordan, this was the easiest part. They even dropped us off right at the Israeli border. It made up for the fact that everything else in and around Petra was three times the price of the guide book. Kinda.
Going to Jordan on your own? Get some friends and shell out for taxis when available, or be prepared to head back and forth to Amman a lot. It could be worse, they got some good hummus.
Editors Note: 2kob.com's Preferred Methods of Travel in Jordan
(preference by size, from least to most) shared van, armed personnel carrier, rental car, foot, ass, carried by giant eagle, djinn