13. Jordanian’s National Pride
Jordan is such a welcoming country. Everyone has wide smiles and like to welcome you from the moment you get on the plane. Whilst boarding we met a Jordanian man who told us about how great Jordan is compared to everywhere else in the Middle East. He spoke about acceptance of difference religions, stability and wealth. When we met with our expat friend she was talking about the instability of the country as a result of conflict in the surrounding regions and many peoples dissatisfaction with the government. I told her that was the opposite to what the man on the plane said! She laughed and said that Jordanians love their country and are strong nationalists. They often ask ‘Do you love Jordan?’ And the only acceptable answer is a resounding ‘yes!’
Udders is a traditional dish in Vietnam. It’s a delicacy. We thought maybe we had misread. Maybe the word ‘udders’ meant something very different in Vietnamese. It does not.
11. The very sick man in Laos
In Vang Vieng, Laos, we stayed in a hostel that had bamboo (hollow) walls. The man staying next to us was very, very sick. He threw up like I’ve never heard anyone threw up. He threw up for DAYS. Seriously, he needed a hospital. And while he was recovering, he watched every episode of the X-Files. Forever more, when I think of Vang Vieng, I will hear the X-Files theme song.
10. Girl Posing at the Grand Mosque
The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is an incredible, beautiful religious site. As a female when you enter you have to cover your head, your wrists, your ankles – everything. But when you’re outside you don’t need to cover anything. There was a girl posing outside the mosque. In her pose she was intentionally straining to stick her butt out – Kim Kardashian style. It was so weird, why would you pose like that with a mosque?
9. Getting off the bus in Petra
After the three hour journey from Amman, we arrived at the bus station in Petra with the other 20 or so tourists. The bus driver said nothing. He just opened the doors and the taxi drivers flocked to the door and stood in a group staring in at us. We weren’t even sure if we had arrived and a doorway blocked by eager men (many of them making suggestive glances and winking at the females) had us too frightened to move. So we sat silently. All 20 of us, on the bus, in silence, for agessssss. Eventually, they started taking the luggage off the bus so panicked tourists ran though the doors to rescue their packs.
8. English is the Devil
My friend was teaching English in the UAE and one of the children said to him that his grandma had told him that English is the Devil. He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t say “your grandma is wrong” and he couldn’t say “yes, English is the Devil”. So he said “we’ll talk about that after class” and they never spoke about it again.
7. The talented language skills of the Bedouin children in Petra
Children selling on site in Petra do not go to school and therefore have no capacity to read and write. Through interactions with the tourists however they learn up to seven languages! They can switch from English to Spanish to Italian in seconds. And they must have an incredible capacity to pick people’s language based on their appearance, because they usually guess correctly (though one lady thought I was Spanish, which was the HIGHEST compliment. I let that feed my ego for a week).
6. People asking for milk in Cambodia
Our experience with the locals in Cambodia was always positive. They were friendly, helpful and generous. Except for one aggressive kid who was demanding we buy him milk. It wasn’t what he was asking for that was the concern it was his approach. It was aggressive and direct. It was practiced. We said no. And then a second person asked for milk. When we got back to the hotel I Goggled “milk shortage in Cambodia”. There’s not. It’s a scam. People ask you to buy milk from a specific venue, the owner sells it to you at an inflated price, and after you’ve left the person gives the milk back to the store and splits the profit.
5. Monks with Smart Phones
The monks. They’re religious. They wear one cloth. You can give alms to them in the mornings in exchange for blessing. They live simple, peaceful, piteous lives. They also have smart phones and take selfies. Go figure.
4. A Fighter Pilot King
Recently ISIS burned a Jordanian man alive. It was reported that in response, the Jordanian King got in his fighter jet and flew straight to Syria to bomb ISIS.
3. The Gun Ranges
If anything, this one is seriously disturbing. After visiting historic sites that remember war, such as the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam and the Killing Fields in Cambodia, many tourists then choose to visit the gun range. I don’t understand how you can learn about an atrocious genocide and then decide it’s a fun idea to fire a gun.
2. The Vietnamese Waiter
If you read my A-Z of Vietnamese Cities, you might have picked up on this crazy story.
A huge Russian man was causing commotion over who knows what in the restaurant where we were eating dinner. Eventually after lots of verbal arguments, he took a swing at the tiny Vietnamese waiter. It was barbaric that such a huge man would try to assault someone half his size and strength. The waiter however sprang to action and launched himself in the kitchen area, in an attempt to grab a huge knife. His waiter colleagues restrained him as he tried to hurl himself back at the Russian. Five minutes later, the waiter and the Russian were shaking hands before bidding each other farewell. It was awesome and now I understand how the Vietnamese won the Vietnam War.
1. Snowing in the Middle East
I don’t know if you’ve already heard me say it about 100 times but it snows in the Middle East. IT SNOWS IN THE MIDDLE EAST. As we walked through Petra it was sleeting. As we slept it was snowing. Even the Jordanians were shocked. Honestly, winter does not provide my favourite temperatures in Brisbane. I didn’t expect to cope through a 6 hour day of walking through Petra at four degrees (that included rain. and ice rain). The Bedouins were laughing at us as we shivered through. “Why did you come here!?” one asked us. We didn’t know what to say, so after a hesitation we could only response with the truth… “We’re idiots!”. As much as the weather was unexpected and we were unprepared for freezing temperatures, it was still a fantastic experience and really contributed to the magic and surprise of the setting. I love Petra.