Tag Archives: Dead Sea

Day 13 – Dead, in the water

Friday May 27 2022 – Our last full day; we leave for home early tomorrow. With luck, by the time I get to the UK, my health will be back to normal; at the moment it’s slightly embarrassing seeing the various medications I have had to use over the last days all lined up by a thoughtful hotel room cleaner.

Given the forecast for today and onwards

and my propensity for enjoying myself in the heat then (a) getting home may not be such a bad thing and (b) our planned activity today would best be done as early in the day as possible.

Accordingly, the alarm went off at 0630 and we donned swimmers and hotel bathrobes and headed down to the beach to tick the tourist box marked “swim in the Dead Sea”. The hotel’s beach officially opens at 0700, and we were very prompt.

There are instruction as to what to do

but we weren’t really interested in the mud bit, just to experience the buoyance from the extra salinity.

One useful tip we got from the Audley materials was that the entry to the water might be stony, and thus water shoes were advised. This is very sound advice.

Jane went in first

and I went in afterwards. I was expecting the water to be lovely and warm.  It wasn’t particularly, and so there was still that awkward moment when testicles hit cool water, but once I was floating I could feel some currents of warm water around me.

The buoyancy thing is quite remarkable; there’s something of a gap between understanding a principle and experiencing it. I tried making myself vertical in the water, which would result in me sinking in your average UK swimming pool; but this wasn’t a likelihood here.

We were the only ones at the beach, which is, I think, a first for me (under normal circumstances, my being the only person on a beach would indicate that Something Was Seriously Wrong).

And that was our experience of being 400m below sea level.  We showered the brine off and walked back to the hotel

before partaking of breakfast.  I discovered that eating had just about become possible, although occasionally still excruciating.  After breakfast, we pottered out to the front of the hotel to take some pictures of the Flamboyant Trees which are in profusion around the site.

We don’t know if we were lucky in being here in their flowering season, or whether they’re always flamboyant, but they really are a lovely sight.

Come 3pm, we thought that some lunch would be a good idea,

preferably in an air-conditioned restaurant rather than on a terrace.  So we headed back to Ashur, the Italian joint, and had a very pleasant meal there, which underlined yet again the potency of Afta Med + paracetamol + gin as an effective anaesthetic.  Afterwards we tottered back to our room for a siesta and some light packing, before deciding that a final glass of something cold would be Just the Thing.

There was a wedding going on at the hotel, in a section a long way from our bedroom (we had been warned at check in). That the temperature was 34°C didn’t seem to affect the enthusiasm of the crowd or the DJ.  Since I assume it was a Jordanian wedding, they didn’t even have excessive consumption of alcohol as a reason for their madness.



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So we resigned ourselves to a couple of hours of listening to a mix of Arab and Western dance music and got our heads down for the night.

Tomorrow, we travel home after an intense but extremely enjoyable holiday (despite one of the abiding memories I shall take with me).

Assuming no dramas between here and getting home, I’ll try to post a few final thoughts on these pages tomorrow.  So, please check back in then….

Day 11 – Dead (Sea) Ahead

Wednesday 25 May 2022 – With the dawning of the day (always welcome at Feynan, as it means you can see where you’re going for a change) came the dawning of two realisations: 1) my digestive system, although less disruptive than 24 hours earlier, was still mutinous; 2) I was now developing a more ubiquitous crop of mouth ulcers than ever I had experienced in a youth dogged by the buggers.  The obvious suspect was the suspect herbs from the avuncular Arab yesterday.  They say don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but when the horse is an Arab, perhaps I should exercise more caution.

I was at least feeling well enough to wander round Feynan Ecolodge and take some photos, because it’s a striking place.

It’s part (the jewel in the crown, I think) of the Ecohotels portfolio. “EcoHotels is a privately owned Jordanian company that provides escapes embedded in beautiful natural areas, with a rich local culture, and offering unique memorable experiences” goes their website. Well, it was being fucking memorable as far as I was concerned, that’s for sure.

Cheap shots aside, it’s a remarkable place and a good example of something that eco-tourists will find a rewarding place to visit, as it’s a great base for hiking as well as learning to knit your own yoghurt and other sustainable pursuits.  It’s undeniably photogenic in the morning sunlight.

they take their sustainability seriously

and there appears to be scope for activities which betray a tenuous grip on sanity.

Access to the roof gives a nice view over the restaurant terrace

and there are quirky touches, both planned

and not so much.

There’s also scope for some arty photos, which, of course, I couldn’t resist.

Breakfast and packing done, it was time to bumpety-bump our way, despite a desert traffic jam,

to reception to meet Saeed to take us on our way to our next and, airport excepted, final destination; the Kempinski Ishtar hotel by the Dead Sea.  En route, he found us a pharmacy which was able to supply us with some Imodium, as I had, erm, run through our original stock.

We passed a few scenes of note, such as this crop of mulukhiyah, or jute’s mallow.

(whose name originates from mulukia, meaning food for royalty) which apparently cooks up well in a not dissimilar fashion (I’m told) to okra. Saeed obviously esteems (!) it – he bought 10 kilos of the freshly cut vegetable to take home to his family and neighbours…

Lot’s cave was visible in the distance above a zigzag path –

yes, there;

(see later) and we got various intimations of the scale of exploitation of the minerals that fringe the Dead Sea.

It’s not just salt, apparently; various minerals, such as potash, manganese and magnesium can be separated and shipped out; we saw a couple of potash lorries (which have replaced the trains which used to carry this freight) and they were big buggers.

Saeed found us a viewpoint where we could clearly see the salt fringing the shore.

this viewpoint being in front of the pillar which is reportedly Lot’s wife

ah, you remember the story now, the one who was turned into a pillar of salt when she turned back to look at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  After this happened, Lot went off to that cave, which is now a cultural exhibit, “Prophet Lot’s Cave”. I suppose “the Prophet Lot was not a nappy one”. Thank you.  Thank you for reading my joke.

We had one more thing to look at before we got to the hotel area of the Dead Sea, which was Wadi Mujib, a place where one can go canyoning (after, presumably, some kind of unfortunate mental episode).  Saeed engineered an opportunity to go in to the adventure centre there and take some photos.  It’s a nicely set up place

and we crept along towards where people can, despite their better judgement, plunge through water as they walk along a canyon.

I’m a sucker for scenery, but I have reservations about going this far to see things. Jane, however, is firmly up for having a go at it at some point, which makes me feel very insecure.

Then we reached the hotel, which seems to take security quite seriously and was the first place that bothered to run a mirror underneath the car. Obviously it was clean enough so we were let in, and allowed to walk unmonitored through a security scanning arch.

At this point, the utter perfection in the execution of the arrangements made by Audley in the UK and UTA in Jordan showed just a tiny crack.  The UTA agent, Amer, had insisted that we go direct to the hotel, thus not leaving time to visit the Dead Sea Panorama Complex which had been our original plan.  But when we got to check in, we found that our room was not going to be ready for another hour, so we could have made that visit.  OK, it was an excuse for a gin in the lobby, but it means that we were inconvenienced to suit the schedule of the UTA agent, who was clearly in a hurry to get on to the next thing, but that’s not how things should work.

Anyway, we eventually made it to our room, which is lovely.  It has a balcony with a view

(not that you’ll find me sitting out there during the day – it’s 38°C out there as I type, and this trip is enabling me to gather further evidence that my cut off for being able to function is a good 10° cooler than that) and the view is of a very posh, but still resortish, resort.

Having reacquainted ourselves with air conditioning and internet, we strolled out to explore the place a bit and to find a bite to eat, settling on a restaurant offering “Mediterranean” – mainly Italian – cuisine just in time to order before the end of their lunch time service.

Afterwards we went back to the room and brought the blog up to only a day behind as the sun set.

People who understand cricket and message training for press relations will understand the term “dead bat”, meaning to take the sting out of a delivery safely.  Whilst sitting on the balcony, Jane found out about another interpretation when she was disturbed by a small thump:

A bat had, for some reason, flown into the enclosed balcony and hit the glass doors, which is very unusual.  Anyway, as it turned out, everything was OK and no bats were harmed in the rather tortured production of this paragraph – it upped and flew away about its batty business, unaffected as far as Jane could tell.

In the evening darkness we could see the lights of Jerusalem over the palm trees

and so it seemed a good idea to get our heads down in readiness for the next day’s excursion – to Bethany, the site of Christ’s baptism. So please come back to read about how that went, won’t you?