the magnificent .... vast echoing and Godlike ... a
processional way greater than imagination ... the crimson
sunset burned on its stupendous cliffs and slanted ladders
of hazy fire down its walled avenue..."
Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Ouch! Up at 5.30am to get ready for the bus which arrived
eventually at 6.30am. Picking up passengers from other
hotels, we re-encountered Roger and Sondrine,
the French couple we had met briefly in Petra, walking
to the Snake Monument. They too were staying overnight
at Wadi Rum.
one and a half hour trip (JD3) was uneventful
for the first half but the latter half was full of colour
as many Bedu climbed onto the bus. The women were not
veiled until they noticed a foreign man on the bus,
at which stage they covered their faces. The men were
delighted to see themselves in photos taken by Guy's
digital camera. What a photogenic lot they are!
arrived at the Bedouin village of Wadi Rum at
8am to be met by Madallah, a small man in pristine
white dishdasha and red and white khefiya. He welcomed
us and we drove to his house in the village for the
customary cup of tea.
too "the wife" was not in evidence and the
"sister" was looking after the children. It
seems that if you are an unmarried sister, you end up
as some sort of servant in your brother's house, looking
after the children, cooking and making tea for the infidel
tourists, who are not permitted to see the fair face
of the wife. Poor things! Talk about an ugly sister
our tea, we joined Roger and Sondrine and a Japanese
student named Seiki who was studying international
law in Birmingham.
And for the next five or six hours we drove through the
desert of Wadi Rum in Madallah's 4WD with
his brother as driver. At first we wondered why he was
constantly using a mobile phone - then we realised it
was a GPS - even Bedu can get lost.
wonder T.E. Lawrence was so entranced by Wadi
Rum! This is the landscape seen in the film "Lawrence
of Arabia" and how beautiful it is. Towering
craggy mountains surround us as we drive first to Lawrence's
Spring or Ain ash-Shallaleh as it is more commonly
known. High on a mountain side, Roger was the only
one who clambered up to see it. Sondrine told us
he was a mountaineer of some note, who had climbed many
of the Himalayan peaks. They were planning on staying
in Wadi Rum for several days in order that Roger could
do some climbing.
next stop was to see Lawrence's House, now in ruins.
There are amazing views from this point across the red
sands to Jebel Rum, some 1754m above sea level.
We drove through the sand dunes on the slopes of Jebel
Umm Ulaydiyya and to the Umm Fruth Rock Bridge.
Guy clambered to the top of this spectacular lookout but
I kept my feet firmly on the ground.
Eventually we were taken to a spot in the desert where
some bedouin tents had been erected and we settled in
for the afternoon. Madallah and his brother left us to
enjoy our picnic lunch. We sat inside the black tent made
of knitted camelhair, with carpets on the floor and cushions
to sit on. Huge mattresses and quilts made of of camel
hair lined the walls of the tent.
lunch, we spent hours walking on the sand dunes and small
hills surrounding our camp site. We noticed that Spring
was already in evidence with the fresh green leaves of
the Aisolan flower poking up through the soil from
their onion-shaped bulbs. These plants, according to Madallah,
have stems of white flowers in Spring.
the late afternoon, Madallah returned to cok our
evening meal in the traditional Bedouin manner - rather
like a Maori hungi.
First he dug a pit and started a fire. Then he placed
a covered dish full of chicken pieces, potatoes, tomatoes
and onions on top of the coals and covered the dish with
sand for several hours.
was decidedly cold by now, as we watched the sun set
over the shadowy mountains to the west. We retired into
our cozy tent, where Madallah had started another
fire. Warm and comfortable, we enjoyed a delightful
dinner followed by a cup or two of Bedouin tea - flavoured
After dinner, we went outside to see the starscape.
It was such an intense experience that Guy and I decided
we had to sleep outside despite the freezing temperature.
Placing a thick mattress on the sand, we lay down fully
clothed and covered ourselves with two camel hair quilts.
They were so heavy I could barely move but it was an
amazing experience lying on the ground looking up at
the stars all night. We barely slept, exclaiming at
each meteor shower and the slow movement of the stars
as the earth turned. To us from Australia, of course,
it was a very different night sky for we were in the
photo on the right shows Guy asleep on the mattress
outside our tent early in the morning. We were awakened
at dawn by Madallah and we hurriedly pulled on
our boots and had a cup of hot tea before he took us
into Wadi Rum village to meet the Aqaba
Sondrine and Seiki were staying a little
longer. How we envied them!
thoroughly recommend Madallah, should you wish
to tour Wadi Rum. His contact details are: