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JORDAN - The Land of Ambience

Looking at my savings, I said to myself, "One last trip.". After seeing a pop-up for a travel site, I clicked on it assuming it was a sign, probably tired after all the architectural competitions and my attempt to repair my leaky software skills. A quick glance through a few destinations made me wonder why I travel to begin with. It was on this trip that I discovered the answer. Before the trip, did I know I would get the answer? Certainly not, but here I am typing away about my trip at 3 a.m. during a pandemic that has slain my travel bug.

I chose Jordan because I was confident I could get my visa processed quickly after hours of research and looking at my budget. One of the perks of being an Indian with a Kuwaiti residence visa since birth. I had no trouble getting hotels, getting travel insurances, and picking tours as my dad was an expert at this from frequent travels.


December 28th, 2020

Any trip I take, air travel is my least favorite part. It was the usual airport check-in fiasco to board the flights from Kuwait to Jordan. Since I love to travel light, I didn't have much to worry about. A plane nap was all it took to reach the Amman airport. Just after a smooth ride I was all content and satisfied. Little did I know that I had a long journey ahead of me. This immigration process was extremely tedious and entailed a lot of questioning and filling out forms. Jordan, however, was definitely worth it all.

Upon exiting the airport, we were greeted by a gust of cold wind. Standing in front of us was a guide holding placards with the name of our family. With our seats all tucked in, we were ready for our 4 hour long journey to Aqaba.

December 29th, 2020

At 3 am that morning, we reached Aqaba. Once I checked in, I freshened up a little bit and then had breakfast. Aqaba has that small-town atmosphere. Right after, we started our journey towards the red sea. A voyage between the Palestinians, Israel, and Egypt is actually interrupted by the red sea. Our boat was huge and had glass panels on the bottom so we could observe the sea life below. What I saw was beyond belief, and I decided to try snorkeling since it was a rare opportunity. This was an experience that can't be described in words but can be experienced personally. Next, we went to the Aqaba Palace, which was a 10-minute drive away. A story is to be found around every corner of the palace. The fort was built to have the appearance of symmetry, the two towers seem alike in size, and a gate sits in the middle of a wall connecting them both. The gate, however, sits slightly west of the larger tower. Standing strong through the centuries, the structure has many secret passages and effortlessly captures a view of the red sea.

one of the secret passages through which i made halfway in, ©author.

By noon, we had finished eating at a local restaurant and started the journey to Petra; the city of secrets. By 7 pm, we had reached Petra and checked into the hotel. Following dinner, we all went to bed immediately since the following day would be long.

December 30th, 2020

The idea of visiting Petra had me on my toes. I couldn't sleep from all the excitement. Upon arriving at the entrance of the heritage site, I began walking towards what I assumed would be a collection of monuments. Even though I had been warned that I would have to walk a lot, I still found it extremely taxing. A rough road with steep hills on either side led us to the trailhead. In the hills were carved squared tombs with carved and painted omens and signs. In contrast to the carvings, the paintings are left with only a faint impression. People were transported to the siq in colorful tongas. 'Petra' means rock in Greek. They couldn't have named the rose tinted city any more appropriately.

The entryway before the siq, Img ©author

The grand canyon is actually split in the middle to allow access for visitors. This natural partition has actually occurred as a result of a massive earthquake. Close observation reveals that the Siq fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

The siq, Img. © author

Known as a natural corridor, it is the coolest part of the heritage city. A must-see is the water channels that hug both sides of the walls of the Siq. There is also one that uses terracotta as a natural filter for drinking water. Petra is an ancient city so meticulously planned. There were tons of tribal artifacts and artists on the way giving us an authentic experience of the city.

The Treasury monument is the face of the city. The first site you catch sight of on the other side of the Siq. One can see the rose-colored pillars through the narrow corridor. It felt like a dream come true. It is said that there are treasures hidden there even today. To capture a remarkable view and beautiful picture, I spontaneously climbed a cliff next to the siq. There was even a bedouin tea stand there, to my surprise.

Stunning view from the cliffs, Img.© author

Five different civilizations left their mark on the Treasury monument, which is the best preserved facade in the entire Site. Afterwards, we explored the caves, the royal tombs, the temple at Petra, and finished our journey at Little Petra. As I had little to no energy left, I opted for a tonga ride back to the entrance. The first thing we saw when we arrived at the entrance was the Petra Museum, which houses remains and artifacts from the site. Displays included various construction techniques, statues, utensils, jewelry, and artifacts.

The museum has this part of a column, Img.© author

By the time the tour ended, I was too tired to realize that new year eve was fast approaching.

December 31st, 2021

The next day, we left Wadi Rum as early as 7 am after breakfast in order to beat the heat. The first stop was mount nebo, where we went up to take a few pictures, got a cup of karak chai, and then moved towards wadi rum. Hejaz Railways was the next stop along the way. It was built little more than a century ago by the Ottomans with an intention to connect Istanbul to Mecca. I was a little surprised to see a train literally in the middle of nowhere.

Railway, ©author

At the transfer depot in Wadi Rum, we climbed into pick-up trucks to reach the desert camp we had been eagerly anticipating. We transferred the luggage and headed to our desert camp. We had to listen to our guide explain and point out every single cliff, which to me looked pretty much the same. But I would be lying if I say I have seen a more beautiful desert. Growing up in the middle east desert was an unavoidable part of my life so I did know a thing or two about surviving in one.

After checking into the camps, we spent the afternoon drifting on the sand dunes, enjoying karak chai in a bedouin tent, and watching the beautiful sunset. We returned to the camp as it got colder, built a bonfire, played some arabic music, and danced the night away.

This was the campsite we stayed at

A hearty zarb dinner was served to us by our camp hosts for dinner. The Bedouin barbeque is a mixture of meat, rice, and vegetables, slow roasted for 24 hours underground over wood coals. The Zarb was magnificent. The tender, juicy meat melted in my mouth, making me happy as a clam. The party continued through the night with music, dance wine, and tales of the desert.

After cooking for 24 hours, this 3 layered meal of chicken, lamb, camel, and rice was dug up from the ground. Traditionally, this was used to protect the meal from dacoits and bandits.

January 1st, 2021

We left early the next morning to go to the dead sea. I have never been to a place so cool, and the Dead Sea was absolutely awesome. Dead Sea, which is technically a huge salt lake, lived up to its expectations. As someone who does not enjoy swimming, I was effortlessly floating and having the time of my life. In the end, I even bought a dead sea mud mask along with tons of skincare to satisfy my beauty geek obsession.

Dead Sea, ©author

Following the shopping spree, we went back to the city stopping at a few churches en route, admiring the ceramic works and landscaping around the churches. Upon reaching the city of Amman I checked into my hotel for the next 2 days. Choosing a hotel near the city center was a good choice for me because I love exploring the nightlife and it was the New Year so there was no way in the world that the city would sleep that night. Amman is a fusion of various Arabic cultures and cuisines. Analogously, it preserves the best of the past and the present. The city still has age-old restaurants that date back over 53 years.

Hashem's falafel restaurant in the heart of the city is one such hidden gem. The tiny restaurant is located at the dead end of a street, where people wait in line for 2 hours just to get Jordanian mint tea and fresh falafel. I travel as much for my stomach as I do for my heart. It was that day when I got my falafels that I have never been happier than at that moment when I bit into them. Having grown up in the Middle East, I can confirm that those were the best falafels I've ever had.

Hashmi Falafel, ©author

Knafeh, ©author

My next stop makes me nostalgic even today. The habibah sweetshop that sells the most delicious knafeh around. I grew up eating kanafeh nightly as one of my favorite sweets. In fact, I can't even remember how long I had to wait in line for that little piece of heaven. What I enjoy the most about standing in line is observing people and wondering what their stories are.

My little piece of heaven

Just like every other time, something made me smile that day. Take a look at the picture, it is my little cousin to the left and a Jordanian girl to the right. Despite the fact that they could not communicate in a language they both knew, they just needed a hug and a bindi to get along. Jordanian girl wanted a bindi. Once she got it, she hugged and kissed my cousin immediately. It is the little things in life, like this, that remind you to smile every day, even if they seem insignificant. Visiting new places is fun, but the food and the people of The place can actually reveal its culture and warmth to you.

Little moments, ©author

January 2nd, 2021

I was pretty excited to end the trip on a high note. Amman Citadel is a vast complex built on seven hills that form the city. Today what looks like an open-air museum was once an inhibited closed structure both on the inside and outside historically known as the Rabath and Philadelphia. The tall pillars of the temple of Hercules stand prominent and gigantic in the middle of the site.

There is also a byzantine church which again has lost its way in time. The only almost complete structure with a roof over it is the gateway of the Umayyad palace. The palace although lost in time proves its presence though the good as new gateway.

Entrance, ©author

It is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and has withstood the test of time beautifully. I also enjoyed a birds-eye view of my next destination, the Roman Theater.

Roaman Theater, ©author

One of Jordan's most architecturally rich heritage sites is the roman theater. It is a beautiful piece of architecture carved along the contours of the mountain, and the acoustics are so thoughtfully designed that your voice will echo when you stand at the center. A little temple was also built to honor goddess Athena. The roman theater has characteristics that are more Greek than roman, leading us to believe that beneath this structure was once a Greek theater. As I stood there, lost in thought, I clicked another mental image of the place before I had to leave. On the way out of the theater, there was a little tea stall. As a tea lover, I naturally went for a cup. There was something about the tea or the moment that made me a little emotional. Jordan officially had conquered my heart once and for all.

Jordanian Tea, ©author

Last but not least, we visited the rainbow street filled with graffiti, colors, and unique bistros. A sight to behold for anyone. Having driven down rainbow street in the end, I was glad to be in a country that made me cherry-eyed rather than teary-eyed.

Having taken a few pictures, we returned to our hotel and checked out, preparing to catch our flight in a few hours. The next few hours were filled with goodbyes, board ins, and immigration.

Being my first trip as an architecture student made me realize that I had definitely changed my perception of a place and its surroundings. As for the question of the day, I simply travel for the joy of discovering new cultures, foods, and architecture. Witnessing a beautiful architectural work is like seeing someone living the work and experiencing it is like witnessing a living thing. Thus, I vow to be a wanderlust until the end of time.




● Snorkeling

● Visiting aqaba castle

● Trying local cuisine

● Resting up

● Aqaba palace visit



● An excursion to Petra

● An evening of local dining

● A nighttime tour of Petra



● A trip to Mount Nebo

● An afternoon safari in the desert

● Lunch with the Bedouins

● Sand drifts on the desert

● Rides on camels

● Rock climbing



● Dead sea tour

● Local church visits

● Skincare shopping

● Mosaic museum visit



● Amman citadel

● Amman roman theater

● Street food tour

● Souvenir shopping

● Rainbow street visit

FOOD: all breakfast provided by hotels, lunches and dinners on the go or in local restaurants

TRANSPORTATION: luxury taxi services when booked as a package tend to be pretty affordable and comfortable too. Rented pick up vans in wadi rum.


Jordan definitely is a country where the list of souvenirs you want to buy is never ending.

Where are some of my absolute favourite souvenirs from the trip:

● Jordanian keffiyeh (traditional plaid scarves)

● Dead sea mud face packs

● Dead sea salt soaps with natural loofahs

● Belly dance belts

● Hand Painted ceramic bangles

● Moorish and tribal jewelry

● Arabian lamps

● Desert sand art bottles

● Traditional coffee sets

● Metal wall hangings




Vishali is a student of the school of planning and architecture in Bhopal. She was born in Kuwait and raised there. She enjoys architecture, travel, writing, and photographing sunsets and long walks. Her current interest is architectural writing, and someday she hopes to be a journalist for an architectural journal.


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