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Posts from the ‘Middle East’ Category


Bullet Proof Glass

In some parts of the world you must be much more concerned about safety than in others.  Generally it’s not a good idea to go into places where there’s conflict or danger unless you have a very good reason that can’t wait until after the smoke has cleared.

Bullet proof glass is a little extreme in most places - but don't hesitate to consider safety for the journey.

Bullet proof glass is a little extreme in most places – but sometimes it’s prudent to be prepared (this photo was taken in Baghdad at the height of 2007 internal conflict).

Security companies can be found in virtually every part of the world, and they usually will have various levels of protection (and associated cost).  These firms are likely to have several ‘hardened’ vehicles available if you need a high level of certainty that you can safely get from point A to point B.  That said, you probably want to be safe at point A and point B as well, so static security is also an important consideration in dangerous parts of the world (usually provided by higher end hotels – at various levels of rigor). I’m not going to write more about this today, but be assured that there are many more things that could be said.

One thing most people don’t realise about hardened car doors with bullet proof glass … is that they are very, very heavy to open and close.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Plan ahead – and consider safety before you journey.  Bullet proof glass really does work, but isn’t a substitute for good planning.  Safety is a sensible thing to consider, no matter where you travel.


Petra, Jordan – An ancient marvel

Indiana Jones helped make Petra famous in the movie The Last Crusade, although several other Hollywood movies have also brought us glimpses of this incredible archeological site.  I’ve visited 2-3 times, and would gladly go back again.

Petra - The Treasury; A view which unfolds from the Siq

While few early adventurers (such as Lawrence of Arabia) were able to investigate the ruins from the Nabataean capital city, present day tourists are cordially welcome to make the trip into this ancient town (~2000 years old).  Visitors and local Bedouins can freely wander through the marbled red homes, hewn with artistic flare from this community of rocks surrounding the narrow valley.  The Romans came and went, leaving their mark with roads, amphitheatres, temples, a  nymphaeum, and other architecture to endure unaided against the millennia.  Admired for its ingenious complex of dams and water channels, Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and another of the so-called new 7 Wonders of the World that awes visitors from around the globe

What struck me is the magnitude of the place, with over 800 different ‘monuments’.  It’s not just the Al Khazneh (treasury) building carved into the rock face, it’s dozens and dozens of doorways which are clearly visible, each leading to a room which housed generations of families in times long past.  While the Treasury is iconic from the first glimpse through the 1 km Siq (shaft) which was cleft through the otherwise impenetrable rock, these lesser famed homes are resolutely keeping their secrets from the adventurous few who venture from the path to explore beyond the beckoning thresholds.

Petra - An expansive marvel from ancient times

Most people make a day trip to Petra from Amman, Jordan – and often do a loop to include the Desert Road one way and the Dead Sea the other.  While this allows for the most amount of sightseeing, it can also become a tiring blur by the end of the day.  I hope to write more about the Dead Sea in the future.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Take a camel ride along the Roman Road on the valley floor, although wait until you turn around to go back since you’ll likely be hot and tired … and you’ll appreciate the ride much more than backtracking up the hill.  I’ve never taken the cart ride back up through the Siq, but have been somewhat envious of those who decided to take the easy way back.  Take ample water with you as it can get very hot.

Rather than do a day trip from Amman, consider staying a night or two in Aqaba on the coast of the Red Sea.  From this seaside town you can see Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt … and the snorkeling is a great way to cool off after a long hot day.  You can also stay at Petra itself, making it possible to visit the rose coloured city in the early morning and late afternoon when the colours reportedly are the most striking. is one of the best websites I’ve found with additional information and details.