OK, keeping with the recent theme, here’s another entry in my travel blog 🙂 Very soon I will get back to technical posts, I have some pent-up ones waiting to be written, some about BizTalk and some about Oslo, so stay tuned!

We recently completed the design/planning stage for the Jordanian government ESB project. It has been an honor to work with such a talented team, and as part of the planning process we did a non-trivial amount of development, solving some very tough problems along the way. I made several trips to Amman over the past year, and took full advantage of being there by seeing as much as I could of the country in the time I had. I have been saying that I have seen more of Jordan than most Jordanians have. A Jordanian challenged me on that, and I started listing off some of the things I’d done, and…. well…. it sounded like a blog post, particularly when he agreed that he had not seen many of these places 🙂 It’s was quite difficult for me to pick “high points”, as I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see the country and region. However, I did it, and here is my list (photos below) of “do this if you go” for Jordan:

Petra Voted in last year as one of the new seven wonders of the world, the “rose red city carved out of the mountains”. I went there twice, once alone and once with my wife. Truly an amazing place, and well deserving of the title. However, with the new recognition comes more tourists, there were definitely more people there this year than last year.
Wadi Mujib preserve I did something like this in Utah a few years back, and it was called canyoneering. Basically, an all-day hike through the desert, much of it in a river (sometimes deep) the high point of which was rappelling down a 75 foot (25 meter) waterfall. An incredible experience.
Aqaba, and how I got there Aqaba is at the south end of Jordan, and is a major economic zone/shipping port on the Red Sea. I heard there was a locals bus that went down there, so I did the 5 hour trip that way. I was the only North American (and non-Arab) on the bus, it was a unique experience, one that I suspect would have made many North Americans feel uncomfortable, but as I enjoy “going local” and being outside my comfort zone, and this experience certainly did both.

The reason I went to Aqaba was to see it, and to also do my first scuba diving in the Red Sea.

Irbid, Um Quais and Jerrash This was a tour of northern Jordan, and some amazing Roman ruins (Jerrash was a major/important Roman city, and is one of the largest and most well preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside Italy)
Dead Sea I actually got there three times, once to see it, another time it was my “base camp” for the Wadi Mujib hike, and then I stopped there with my wife so she could experience floating ON the water. If you go, be really careful not to swallow any of the water or get it in your eyes. It’s about as pleasant as swallowing an acid.

On my first trip, I did a side trip to see the Christ baptism site, with is about a half-hour away from the hotel area. While there, I could have literally jumped across the Jordan river and been in Israel, but the proliferation of guys with machine guns made me think that could be a Bad Idea.

Wadi Rum This is the desert where Lawrence of Arabia was filmed. I hired a private guide and we 4-wheeled throughout the desert, rode a camel, spent the night in a Bedouin encampment, etc. I learned a lot about their lifestyles and history, and, being a desert person, felt right at home.
Amman Citadel More impressive ruins, and a great antiquities museum. I spent a ton of time in the museum, as they had some impressive artifacts/explanations.

I was there the day before Barack Obama came, and it actually went into security lockdown while I was there. People inside could stay, but nobody else was allowed in. Security (army I think) was posted every 30 feet.

The Jordanian people themselves were awesome. I had heard before going there that most Jordanians speak English, and those that don’t will still invite you into their homes for tea. I found them to be very kind, generous and helpful. The only possible exception to this is the taxi drivers who always seem ready to play “shaft the tourist”, however, once I got the hang of how to deal and they saw I was a pseudo-local who knew how to play the game, they got more pleasant. Also, as I just recently found out, the Jordanian taxi drivers are really laid back and friendly compared to what I saw in Egypt!

I have a bazillion pictures of everything I did, here are some of the highpoints:

From Wadi Rum:

From the Amman Citadel

From Jerrash:

From Umm Qays, the middle photo shows the Golan Heights behind me, with Syria just to my left:

I had to work on my TechEd presentation one weekend, which sucked, but hey, if you HAVE to work a weekend, then why not do it at a really nice hotel on the Dead Sea? The first picture is that weekend, the others are from another visit to the area.

Pictures from Petra:

From Wadi Mujib:

Lastly, in case you were wondering about American cultural exports, you can find things like the Colbert Report, the Daily Show and Family Guy in Jordan. Here’s Jon Stewart, with Arabic subtitles:

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