24/25 October 2012
1600km! Long way but a journey we’ve been longing for the past two years. With some research and planning, we started our journey at around 4.45pm, hoping to reach the border by morning in order to avoid crowds…just to be safe. Getting through immigration's is always one of our fears of the ‘unexpected’.
We will be entering Jordan through Al-Durra entry point via Tabuk. This border is farther compare to two other borders entry but it is free from entry visa as Aqaba is declared as free trade zone area. From Internet, the cost for Visa is JD13 (about SAR70) per person. This could save a lot for a big family like us. But we still need to pay for car insurance and exit visa later on.
As we are entering trough Aqaba, our itinerary will start from Aqaba and going further up to Petra, Karak, Amman and Jerash. Extra time will be reserved for Wadi Rum and Irbid.
It was midnight when we reached the long desert lonely highway to Tabuk. The kids were already asleep when the long dark single lane of a few hundred kilometres started. It sure is a challenging task for the driver to keep his eyes open…hoping for the co-pilot to be doing her role .
Alhamdulillah, after a few stops for stretches and refuelling, we reached Al-Durra at around 10am. As we entering AL-Durra, from afar we can see the blueness of the Red Sea. It was so tempting that we ‘forced’ to stop and smells the freshness of the blue Red Sea.
Then we proceed to the border at around 11.30 am, after one final full tank refuelling before paying JD0.70 (about SAR3.70) for a litre of Octane 90 as compared to SAR0.45 for RON91 in Saudi.. 8.5 times more expensive for slightly lower grade of petrol!
It was surprisingly quiet at the border. We were expecting crowds since this is the long vacation season, but it turns out to be not the case. Well, good for us, our border procedure will be faster, or so we hope.
It was as usually simple at Saudi border…about 15 minutes of queuing and stamping our exit visa and passports, we were just few metres away to be in Jordan side of the border. While queuing one thing that caught our attention.., surprisingly we saw this car in front of us with his son inside threw a milk box he just finished drink in front of the immigration booth! Wow…something we think not any Malaysian have the guts to do . It was becoming our family topic of discussion and laughing stock for 3 minutes..
View of red sea at Saudi side before entering border..very peaceful n quiet…
How i wish i can jump in the water this instantly. A great stop after 16 hours drive!
After a short 15 minutes stop at the Red Sea,and one last full tank refuelling we proceeds to the border.
At 11.45 we were entering Jordan immigration. There were about 6 or 7 cars in front of us and only one lane opened at that time. We just follow the queue not knowing what the procedure will be. We hope there is a board or notice put at a visible place for us to find rather than guessing of the steps.
As we saw other car stop when reaching the counter, we follow the same step. Well, the step isn’t as simple as it looks. We really hope they tell us in advance on what we should do till complete. Well, it took us about 2 hours to complete the whole procedures though only about 6 or 7 car in front of us.
Not to mention the part where I have to drive the car myself for inspection while hubby were trying to get our passport chopped inside their office! I was hesitated at first but the immigration guy keep on asking for my hubby in Arabic. Other car couldn’t pass through us as there were three lorries parked at the right side. In between whether trying to locate my husband or drive our car forward, I asked the immigration guy who asked for my husband whether I could drive to the inspection point? When he nodded at me… I quickly jump to the driver seat though I can see the Saudi cars at the back are watching. The kids were panicking as they knew it is wrong for women to drive in Saudi (and also they were scared to see their mom driving big cars ). Panic with the situation, I even forgot to change the gear.. haha. I hope the Saudi guys at the back waiting in their car were not irritated with me for driving after a few minutes out of their country .
Aqaba flagpole claim to be the highest in the world in its pamphlet but according to Wikipedia its the fifth at 430 ft high weight 172 tons.
Finally, after we were out of the immigration at around 2.50 pm, we going along the Red Sea and into the heart of Aqaba. We decided to check-in into the hotel in Aqaba as soon as possible. Hubby is really exhausted from the long drive. As we do not have any reservations, we just called a couple of hotels that we found in GPS directory, and decided to stay at Golden Tulips Hotel.
As we parked our car near the hotel, there were two kids coming to our car asking for sadakah. A little bit surprise with the unexpected welcoming ‘gesture’, we told the kids we are sorry. We didn’t have any change at that time as we just entering Jordan. Then they keep asking for money and insist on having it. They said they want to buy food. I told them that we do not have dinar yet and gave them some biscuits and snacks that we have with us. They took the biscuit but still blocking me from getting out of the car. They said they want to buy chicken! They still want the money. Only after hubby shouted at them to go…they left. Wow…so high determination asking for sadakah.
We took a rest for the evening and only went out for dinner that night. What we can say…the price of food is more expensive compare to Saudi. Maybe because of the exchange rate, JD1=SR5.4. We went to an average restaurant (based on our observation) and it cost us JD21 for a mix grills and a fish which cost JD13 per kg. That’s the cheapest we found when we stroll along the sidewalk of a few streets.
Anyway…it was a wonderful meal..the fish were great and the service were wonderful as well. We gave some tips to the waiter who was from Egypt and actually a lawyer for the friendly and efficient service. As from what we read, tips is part of the culture here.
Tomorrow is Eid ‘Adha. Let see what we will experience tomorrow. Ma ‘assalamah. –tw & eth