Monday, March 29, 2010

Looking Back: Jordan and Israel

Last year, I was fortunate enough to travel to the Middle East twice—once to Jordan and once to Israel. It was my first time traveling to both countries—and to the region—and I honestly didn’t know what to expect from either trip.

In preparing for both journeys, however, I inevitably encountered the same questions from concerned friends and family: Will you be safe there? Will you have to cover yourself up? Again, are you sure you’re going to be safe?

I’ll admit that those same questions crossed my mind, too. The Middle East is a region that, as Americans, we tend to not know very much about except for the fact that words “Middle East” are almost always followed by the word “conflict.”

Well, both of my trips to Jordan and to Israel proved to be utterly unforgettable and for all the right reasons. In Jordan, I saw Petra by day (and by night); I camped out in the desert with Bedouins and survived an overnight sandstorm; and I floated for the first time in the Dead Sea (which actually felt more like soaking in baby oil, surprisingly). In Israel, I fell into the Mediterranean during an “Amazing Race” competition; I explored centuries-old Crusader tunnels in Akko; I felt completely moved by my visit to the Wailing Wall and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem; and I discovered that Tel Aviv was kind of like L.A. with its beachy, laid-back vibe (well, almost).

That’s not to say that weren’t any mishaps, however (when is there ever a trip without at least one or two?). But those had to do with bad hotel management and some cranky individuals—both of which will remain unnamed. Oh, and a particularly ignorant tourist family who made me take a photo with them at holy Christian site because they’d never seen an Asian person before in their life. Ugh—I hated that.

But you know what? Not once did I feel unsafe—ever. Just be prepared for very thorough luggage screenings and super-tight airport security (especially if you’re flying with El Al). Oh, and yes, when visiting some holy sites, it’s best to cover up your arms and legs but otherwise, it’s not a problem at all. Just be sure to leave the ultra-mini and tube tops at home.

Nowadays, I don’t hesitate at all to encourage my friends to travel to Jordan or to Israel. And while I could go on and on with all of the reasons why, I think it might just be easier to show them to you like this:

Diners at Hashem Restaurant in Amman, Jordan //(c) Deanna Ting 2010

My first glimpse of the Treasury at Petra. //(c) Deanna Ting 2010

Bedouins in Wadi Rum, Jordan //(c) Deanna Ting 2010

The tracks we left in the Wadi Rum desert //(c) Deanna Ting 2010

Sunset on the Dead Sea in Jordan //(c) Deanna Ting 2010

Kids at a kibbutz in Israel //(c) Deanna Ting 2010

A Nazarene dancer //(c) Deanna Ting 2010

A snapshot from the underground Crusader tunnels in Akko, Israel //(c) Deanna Ting 2010

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem //(c) Deanna Ting 2010

Beachgoers in Tel Aviv //(c) Deanna Ting 2010


  1. There's no one else I'd rather survive a sandstorm with than you! (Ew, I just got a flashback of those desert bathrooms - you should write about THAT)

  2. Ugh, I know--those bathrooms are definitely near the top of my list for worst bathrooms EVER. But I think I may have experienced worse elsewhere...I'll have to think about that one. I still can't believe I slept through the sandstorm that night!