Saturday, January 22, 2011


After a short bus trip from our hotel, we arrived at the entrance to the ancient city of Petra, founded more than 2000 years ago. The entrance was through the narrow ‘siq’ or narrow gorge which goes on for about one and half kilometres.  80m high cliffs. Just walking through the Siq is an experience in itself. The colours and formations of the rocks are dazzling. Just as we came near the end, a turn in path and suddenly the Treasury Building came into sight.

After taking in this view for a few minutes and avoiding the postcard sellers, we walked on further to see hundreds of rock-cut tombs with carvings, temples and public buildings - as well as the impressive rock-hewn amphitheatre which could seat 3000 people.  There are obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars and colonnaded streets.

Our guide had told everyone about the Ad-Deir Monastery which required us to climb 800 rock cut steps to get there.  Having covered a lot of ground and not having much time left before the end of the day, we were convinced to take a donkey ride.  This was not quite what I expected - especially as I was given a young inexperienced donkey who seemed to have a mind of his own - leaving the track and heading off in the wrong direction and stepping close to the edge of very steep drops...  The owner called out to me to direct the donkey in the right way but I had no clue what to do and in fact, seemed to make matters worse!  Finally, I lost my balance and ended up sliding off - fortunately, I was tall and the donkey short....  When we did reach the monastery, it was worth the trip.

Me on a donkey

Ad-Deir Monastery

A sign indicate that if we climbed up a very steep and high cliff in the distance, we would have the "Best View in Petra".  I was finally convinced....

We had been instructed that the gates to Petra closed at 4.30 pm and if we did not get out in time, we would be spending the night there.  We had to rush back down the 800 rock cut steps and walk back to the entrance in about 45 minutes.  Time was running out and everyone else seemed to be disappearing including the bedouin sellers.  Rushing along, we made it to the Treasury Building with about 15 minutes left and decided to take the option of a horse carriage ride back to the entrance.  This was somewhat (very) bumpy over the rock paved roadway and we arrived at the entrance without a minute to spare.  Rushing to the bus stop, we thought that we had missed the bus but our driver was waiting for us.  The rest of the Australians had taken off to the Petra bar to see the Australia vs Iraq soccer game....

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