Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jerash, Part III: Hippodrome

This is the first structure you'll see after entering Gerasa. The Arch of the Hippodrome. The original structure was collapsed, but it was re-erected for tourism purposes. To prove my point, can you see the flagpoles on the arch?

An idle 'Roman' soldier. Actually, he is a performer for The Roman Army and Chariot Experience.

You'll see this after you walk pass the Hadrian's Arch.

There are two shows here everyday. But, at the time we got there, it was already too late for us to catch the final show. To get in, you gotta pay for entrance. But, two of us managed to seduce the women at the counter to let them in for free. They only got to see the few last minutes of the show and took pictures with the performers. They also tried the chariot. Lucky them.

Here's inside the Hippodrome during 'The Roman Army and Chariot Experience.'

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jerash, Part II: Hadrian's Arch

This structure was built around 129/130 BC to commemorate Caesar Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus' visit to Jerash.

It is perhaps the easternmost structure dedicated to Roman Emperor Hadrian. The westernmost structure is, maybe, the Vallum Aelium in England.

We took a shot here before we leave Jerash.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jerash, Part I

"They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes."
-Mark 5:1

On February the 6th, year 2010, at 1.30 pm, we leave from Aiman’s & Farhan’s house and took a bus from Irbid to Jerash. We arrived at Jerash half an hour later.

This is Mujamma' Amman, where we took a bus to go to Jerash.

Jerash is quite mountainous. Irbid isn't.

This picture was taken from inside the bus.

This is when we arrived at the outskirt of Jerash town.

Jerash Town.

This is the road to the entrance of Ancient Jerash. Ancient Jerash, or Gerasa is located at the western part of the town.

You'll arrive at some shops selling souvenirs before reaching at the ticket counter.

The Jordanian Government is trying to attract more tourists these few years, by raising the entry fee for every tourist spots. It seems to be a sucky idea, though. They had the entry fee for Petra up to JD 20 you know!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day of Departure & Arrival

Imam Shafie once said in his poem:
" سافر تجد عوض عمن تفارقه، وٱنصب فإن لذيذ ٱلعيش في ٱلنصب"
Go travel. You'll find replacement for people you have parted.
Work hard; because the pleasure of life is due to hardworking.


We left International Bus Terminal for Nuweiba at 11.11 pm. We stopped for a somewhere near EgyptAir Hospital to pick up more passengers.

At 2.30 am, we stopped at ٱلمعمورة Café for 45 minutes. I couldn’t exactly say where it was but surely it’s in the midst of desert. Cold, of course, and because of that, I chose to stay inside the bus.

Around 4.30 am, we arrived at a security checkpoint near Nuweiba. A policeman came into the bus and looked at everybody’s passport. Then, we headed to Taba and an Israeli women hopped-off from the bus. She sat exactly on the seat in front of mine. After that, we went to Nuweiba and arrived there at 5.50 o’clock in the morning. We joined the people queuing to enter the port and passed the security check before going to the mosque, praying, and having our breakfast sponsored by Romadonazikri.

Inside the mosque.

We started to queue for immigration clearance at 10.00 am. After an hour, we all got EXIT stamp on our passport. Leaving Egypt. Fun. Whatever. I asked one of the policemen inside the waiting hall when would the fast ferry leave. He said, “3 o’clock.” But, the passengers for the slow ferry got called to queue first.

Then, muezzin called for prayer. The immigration counters were closed and everybody ‘enter’ Egypt border once again to the mosque. Haikal and Faiz joined me at first, and the rest stayed. Instead of having Friday prayer, we pray jama’ qasar.

It was a hell long time waiting inside the god forsaken hall without any functioning toilet. All slow ferry passengers had left the hall, leaving only fast ferry passengers. Finally, at 4.38 pm, we embarked Queen Nefertiti and leave Nuweiba at 5.10 pm.

Queen Nefertiti...

...and surprisingly, she is Jordanian.

Inside, we had to queue again and let the Jordanian Immigration to check our passports. Unlike Egyptians, where their passports were returned, our passport were retained and we were given a small piece of paper. In Jordanian Arabic, we were told, “collect your passports at immigration office after you disembark.”

Inside the ferry.

Three of us ordered some meal. LE 20 per set, I think.

We arrived at Aqaba, Jordan at 6.45 pm. After waiting for a while, we were allowed to disembark and from there we were taken by a shuttle service to immigration centre at the AB Maritime Office. There, unexpectedly, we were detained (minus the handcuffing) and brought upstairs to see the immigration high-up. This happened at 7.20 pm. There were five other persons waiting outside that higher officer’s office (I didn’t know what was his rank, though).

At 7.40 pm, when our turn came, that higher officer said he needed only to see one of us. Haikal became the victim after jan-ken-po. He was taken inside and staying there longer than people before us whom just took 5 minutes each. At 8.10 pm, I was called inside because Haikal ‘didn’t have enough acquaintance inside Jordan.’ Haikal gave two, but the officer need another three to make it five. As expected, the question whether you’re an Al-Azhar student come out. Not just that, he jerked me around with other questions. Couldn’t really understand what he was saying as he spoke colloquial Jordanian Arabic. He wrote down our conversation as a statement on a piece of paper with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan emblem. Oh yeah, there’s another high-up inside as well, idling around and watching soccer on TV.

After a while, we were asked to leave the room and waited outside. Several other immigration officials come in and out of the office and every time they did that, they gave reassurance to us. A few minutes later, that immigration boss gave our passports away with entrance visa stamped on it.

We hurriedly leave the centre and went to look for a bus service to Amman. Negative. No bus. To make it worse, we were given wrong info about how to leave the centre and by doing exactly like he said, we were arrested, again. I told to the low-ranking officer whom arrested us that we already got the visa and bla, bla, bla, but to no avail. And, we were brought to the idle higher officer I mentioned before. Surprisingly, he backed us up and scold that low-ranking one about the unnecessity of arresting us. And, that low-ranking officer apologized to us profusely and escorted us out from the centre.

Outside, we haggled for a service to Irbid and got JD 13 fare for each of us. We need to go to Irbid as it was too late already. At first, the driver wanna charged us for unreasonable price, but since it was five against one, he lose. He even admit that all drivers there are ‘cheaters.’

We left Aqaba at 9.15 pm. And, after 13 km of journey, we stopped for luggage check at a custom centre. We were treated special; not needed to open our bags. Other people inside the service van are needed to do as they told.

Around 2 am, we stuck in a blizzard during the journey. The driver panicked and drove his van very, very slowly. We pretended it was nothing and slept instead.

We arrived at Irbid at 4.10 pm next morning.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Buying Tickets

Last year, I was thinking of going to go outside Egypt during this year’s winter break. And, I had decided to visit Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

On January 14th this year, during break before we started ophthalmology round, I went to Cairo to buy ferry and bus tickets.

To buy those tickets, you need to bring money (of course) and your passport.

First, I went to Arab Bridge Maritime representative office at Abdel Khalek Tharwat Street, Cairo; somewhere near Nasser Metro station.

I bought fast ferry tickets (قارب), five of them. I paid US$ 70 plus 50 LE tax for each ticket. For Egyptians, the ticket price is less expensive.

Then, I went to International Bus Terminal (ٱلمحطة ٱلدولية) at Abbassia to buy bus tickets for journey from Cairo to Nuweiba. As for foreigners, different fare is charged: 70 LE for each ticket whilst Egyptians only paid 50 LE for the same lousy bus service. No tax is included.

After that, I caught up with my friends at City Stars and devoured a bowl of ramen at Wagamama.