Aqaba and Karak Castle

                                                                                                  Aqaba

Aqaba is a port city (mostly a resort town) on the Red Sea’s Gulf.  It is the most southern point of Jordan and is bordered by Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt.   Inhabited since 4000 B.C., it’s home to the Islamic-era Aqaba Fortress and the adjacent Aqaba Archaeological Museum.  Since these antiquities truly pale in comparison to some of the other treasures that Jordan has to offer, most come to Aqaba for the  beach resorts.   The sand is very fine and golden, the water is warm (even at the end of November) and windsurfing and other water sports abound.  Aqaba is considered a top destination for scuba divers, with notable dive sites including the Yamanieh coral reef in the Aqaba Marine Park, south of the city.

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Mars on Earth – Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum

Entering Wadi Rum was a slow motion experience of leaving earth and entering a totally different world.  The sand slowly starts to turn a deeper and darker hue of red and the surrounding dramatic sandstone and basalt mountains jut out of its sandy floor.  Camels walk about the desert with or without accompanying owners under the bluest of skies as they have for thousands and thousands of years….

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Petra, magnificent Petra!

Treasury  – Sunrise

We decided to get up at 5 am and make it down to the Petra visitor center for 6 am when it opens.  There is a small but very informative museum there (free) which we visited the night before.  We wanted to stake everything out to be fully ready for our big Petra day – something that we have been looking forward to for a really long time.  We had pre-purchased the basic Jordan Pass (prior to entering Jordan) which covers most tourist attractions and the Jordan entry visa +1 day in Petra.  There is an option to add to your 1 day in Petra and purchase an extra day for $5/day up to 2 extra days.

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Abu Simbel

Ramses II Temple at Abu Simbel

From Aswan we arranged for a car to take us the 3.5 hours to Abu Simbel and back the following day (unfortunately the train doesn’t go past Aswan).  Our driver was a young Nubian who introduced us to Nubian music (which is great) and dazzled us with his uncanny ability to drive 170 km an hour on turns while eating sunflower seeds.  We watched mirages in the desert unfold before us until we swiftly arrived in Abu Simbel.   Continue reading “Abu Simbel”

A cruise on the Nile – Luxor to Aswan

Aswan – Felucca sail on the Nile

After reading many blogs and itineraries for Egypt it was clear that our trip would not be complete without a cruise on the Nile.  The most recommended re-seller of these types of cruises is viator.com  – the 5 day/4 night one from Luxor to Aswan.  In reality it is 4 days/4 nights.  Naively I thought of a small felluca boat taking us from Luxor to Aswan – was I ever wrong!   Continue reading “A cruise on the Nile – Luxor to Aswan”

10 days in Cairo and Alexandria

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Flying over Cairo was a vision of sand – mazes of uniform brown buildings creating domino like displays wherever you looked.  Driving into Cairo was an assault on our senses – the smell of diesel and burning plastic, the loud sound of never ending horns, the heat through the haze of pollution…45 minutes later we were in the serenity of our hotel at the Holiday Inn Express MaadiContinue reading “10 days in Cairo and Alexandria”

Penang, Malaysia

Our flight from Singapore to Penang was slightly delayed but the pilot made up the time in the air and we arrived to hot and sunny Penang on time.  Our Uber driver ended up being a food and beverage manager of one of the large hotels in Penang and was incredibly helpful.  I usually try to get a vibe from the locals about how they view their government and surroundings.  Certainly not something that I do in countries where I would be putting the person in jeopardy to state their honest opinion – but in Malaysia I thought it was a safe question.  Rainey was very open and helpful with information about the island…we arrived at our hotel – the Four Points by Sheraton Penang and thanked him for the great conversation. Continue reading “Penang, Malaysia”

Singapore

We flew on Cathay Pacific business from Hong Kong to Singapore – it was a really pleasant 4 hour flight.  Singapore felt even muggier than Hong Kong and the air conditioning of our uber ride was very much appreciated.  Our hotel was the Wanderlust design hotel which is an SPG partner located in the middle of Little India.   As a platinum member we got a  late checkout, SPG points and a room upgrade (a loft on the top floor with a big tub in the middle of the first floor of the loft and many large windows looking onto Little India).  They also offered us free breakfast as first time guests to their hotel (which was awesome). Continue reading “Singapore”