03 September 2009

Wadi Rum

Yesterday we left the "delights" of the Aqaba coast behind and headed for Petra, stopping en-route for a 3 hour detour around the desert at Wadi Rum.

Wadi Rum sprung to prominence for being the setting of T E Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, later filmed by David Lean as Lawrence of Arabia. It was here that Laurence fought with the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks during the First World War.

For the tour around the desert we left the comfort of our air conditioned taxi and jumped into what is probably the worlds most dilapidated Toyota Landcruiser. All of the interior, with the exception of the seats and steering wheel, had fallen off, most of the exterior was in a similar state and at random intervals the bonnet would open itself. The vehicle resembled one of those exploded views of a car that you get in a Haynes Manual. Best of all though was that every time we stopped (or the engine cut out) it could only be restarted by removing the gear lever from inside the car and using it to poke/batter something in the engine.

The desert scenery around Wadi Rum is just stunning.
The wind, sand and water (when it does occasionally rain) have sculpted the cliffs, mountains and canyons into some striking shapes.
As part of our tour we got to see the ruins of a 2000 year old Nabataean Temple, had a hike to a desert spring and got to climb some huge sand dunes.

The sand on the dunes was unbelievably hot, so hot that it melted the adhesive holding my shoes together. I think the heat had quite a strange effect on Liz too. Here, captured for the first time on camera, is the incredibly rare sight of Liz running!

Once Liz regained her senses we also got to explore Khazali Siq, a narrow fissure worn into the side of a mountain, and then headed for a clamber over one of the many naturally formed rock bridges.

Despite the cruddy nature of our 4x4 the tour had gone really well, that was until we got to the end. We then discovered why all of the interior had fallen off as our driver became possessed by an idiot and decided to head back through the desert flat out. We spent more time in the air than on the sand. It may have been an exciting experience if the driver had of looked remotely in control. As we hurtled our way back through the sand he decided to do a dangerous high speed swerve in order to try and deliberately run over a dog. This resulted in Liz flinging a volley of abuse at him and the loss of his tip.

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