Wadi Rum, a Magical Arabian Desert

April 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Crossroad of Asia, Feature Highlights

Like how one would imagine the magical Arabic deserts to be, Wadi Rum gives you that spine-tingling sense of Middle Eastern beauty you’d least expect. A pride of Jordan, this wild desert is a playground for anyone seeking adventure and a tinge of Arabian culture.

This unique desert is situated in the southern tip of the wealthy Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Famous for its ancient monument of Petra and the Dead Sea, Jordan boasts of many natural wonders among which, the desert of Wadi Rum was the most mystical and alluring.

But few people know that it also offers one of the best ways to immerse in Jordan’s Bedouin culture. With its red-rose rocky formations and smooth grainy sand, Wadi Rum is a perfect setting for Bedouins to live and set up their homes. These Arabic nomads are known for their hospitality, and undoubtedly, exploring the Wadi Rum allows you to interact with them and understand their culture better.

Arab Policeman. Photo credit - DennisSylvesterHurd.

Arab Policeman. Photo credit - DennisSylvesterHurd.

It is not difficult to come across friendly Bedouin families along the way. Arrange a desert tour with a guide, and you are sure to chat with some Bedouins while crossing the desert. Most would be more than happy to offer a cup of sweet Arabic tea, and even shelter in their tents. Be warned, with the desert heat, you can dehydrate easily, and thus the tea and shelter are really useful.

Dressing in their traditional robe, with a kufiyya (white-and-red scarf) over their heads fixed with an agal rope, the Bedouins epitomize hospitality. These gritty nomads regard playing host as an important part of their culture, and thus do their very best to make visitors feel at home.

Doesn't seem safe now doesn't it! Rock bridges. Photo credit - MsAnthea.

Doesn't seem safe now doesn't it! Rock bridges. Photo credit - MsAnthea.

In the heart of Wadi Rum, you can find huge and majestic rock formations that look right out of a mountain. Be sure to hike up to the Burdah Rock Bridge, which extends from one end of the mountain to the other. Being the highest in Wadi Rum, it can be adventurous, a little nerve-wrecking, but also offers a great view of the desertscape. Continue exploring the formations, and you’ll be awestruck by the natural architecture of the sandstone cliffs.

The most impressive rock formation would have to be ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ which can be seen from afar. With the dusty breeze creating a blurry image, these seven pillars give an enigmatic sensation. Many sports enthusiasts come from all over the world to these seven pillars, for a memorable rock-climbing and trekking.

Seven Pillars of Wisdon. Photo credit - icyjumbo.

Seven Pillars of Wisdon. Photo credit - icyjumbo.

Another spot to explore is the Lawrence Spring, where fresh water somehow flows in the middle of the desert, cascading down a steep cliff onto a pothole.

Sand dunes are a common sight in the Wadi Rum. You can frolick in the fine sand, slide down or perhaps, bring your own sandboard. Our guide really enjoyed gliding us along the sand dunes, making us laugh on all fours.

To end the amazing tour in the Wadi Rum, there’s no better way than to stay overnight in one of the Bedouin camps. Most of them offer traditional Jordanian dinner, along with Bedouin dance performances and of course, a whole sky of glittering stars. If you’re lucky, you can even hike up to one of the cliffs nearby to catch sunrise.

We had the best time at Captain’s Desert Camp, where we met fellow travellers, danced the night away with the Bedouins, and slept under the stars. Through the valleys and cliffs of Wadi Rum, you can truly experience Jordan, where the magic truly comes alive.

About the Author. Nellie Huang is an atypical Asian who surprises herself with a crazy passion for travelling – from dipping in the Caribbean sea to venturing on Wildlife safaris in Africa. With an insatiable thirst for changes, she loves Life with a vengance and is always ready to take the plunge. Check out her site at WildJunket, the birthchild of all her adventures (and misadventures) around the world.

Consider cheap florida holidays and visit the world of Disney and dolphins. The beaches, the malls and even the nature reserves are of the best in the world. The sunshine state offers more excitement and attractions than you can imagine.

The Cool Docks, Shanghai

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Culture, Uniquely Far East

Despite the fact that most of the world is tightening its financial belt, young expat Shanghai, feeling insulated from the crisis “back home”, continues the hunt for new hangouts where the cocktails are sweet and pricey and the music hot and loud. Eager to join the fray, I headed to where I hoped the trendy throngs would be gathered – The Cool Docks.

Ladies, if you are waiting for the perfect occasion to unveil your little black dress and killer heels: a visit to The Cool Docks might just be it. With its sleek bars and haute cuisine restaurants, it is easy to mistake this chic sliver of eastern China with the Upper East Side of New York or the West End of London.

A view of the Cool Docks. Photo credit - dixsonlv

A view of the Cool Docks. Photo credit - dixsonlv

Exploring The Cool Docks, Shanghai
We went on a Thursday night and, while the place was surprisingly empty, we were grateful for the opportunity to do that very rare thing in Shanghai: stroll. Without the usual heaving mass of jostling crowds around to dictate our pace, my companion and I were able to amble around the docks (they aren’t really docks, that’s just the name) and take in the crisp, wintry air at a leisurely pace.

Stylish new constructions throughout the Cool Docks. Photo credit - Dennis Deng

Stylish new constructions throughout the Cool Docks. Photo credit - Dennis Deng

The Cool Docks, just a few months old, are gorgeous, sparkly, cool, spacious, classy, elegant – just a few choice words my companion came up with as I prodded for details of her first impression.

Continental Influences
As you walk around the red brick courtyard, taking in the brightly lit fountains, the opera music blaring out of invisible speakers and the glittering shop fronts with fanciful names like Pure (Wine Bar), Spring Sunrise (Sports Bar), Banni (desserts), Mythos (Mediterranean restaurant) and Caffein (café), you are struck by how very un-Chinese it all seems.

We started off in Spring Sunrise, a sports-themed bar where you can catch live action from the various wide-screens as you enjoy a hearty western meal and a jug of beer. As we made our way out to move on to the next establishment, the smiling waitress came and thrust a few fliers into our hands. Open bar for ladies on Christmas day. As we found out throughout the evening, friendly staff and mouthwatering promotions are par for the course at The Cool Docks as it tries to lure revelers from the more established entertainment hubs of Xintiandi and the Bund.

The view of river Bund, Shanghai. Photo credit - china guccio

The view of river Bund, Shanghai. Photo credit - china guccio

Our next stop was Pure, my newly crowned “Favorite Wine Bar”. The prices are as fantastic as is the décor. Plush leather sofas, polished antique furniture, an authentic-looking gramophone and gleaming crystal cases packed with 500RMB Cigars. Pure’s host, Jackson, was keen to assure me that, in six months, The Cool Docks would be the thriving entertainment hub that their location deserved.

The Cool Docks can be found at 505 Zhongshan Nan Lu, a stone throw from Shanghai’s world-renowned Bund with its idyllic views of the moonlit Huangpu River and sleepily drifting boats. It may be quiet around these parts now but that won’t remain the case for long. Make this your very first stop for a luxuriant taste of Shanghai’s soft, romantic side.

Another spot to check out is Shanghai’s “new heaven and earth”, hip modern Xintiandi, a hotspot of entertainment, shopping and nightlife that really lives up to it’s name.

Iris Jumbe. A roving writer, devoted blogger and ardent cake lover, Iris lives in China and splits her work time between feeding her blog and working as a freelance copywriter/editor. In Shanghai for just over 3 years, her playtime is spent exploring the schizophrenic city. She has a tempestuous love-hate relationship with China but usually only writes about it when they’re firmly in love. Which is often. Phew.

Discovering Gems of Asia

January 19, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Hello, and welcome to the inaugural issue of Unearthing Asia. What are we all about, you may wonder? Simply put, a travel blog or zine focusing on traveling all over this amazing region filled with an unbelievable diversity of cultures, lifestyles, history and natural wonders. Our sole aim is to share with you these wonderful tales about Asia, in the hope of influencing, inspiring and motivating you to pack those bags and head here yourself!

We want to tell you about the beautiful star-studded night sky at Redang Island, and its famed crystal clear water and white sandy beaches. All those stories you’ve heard about how magical they were? All true and some my friends. We want to tell you about the magical capital city of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, a place that would have history buffs trembling with pure joy. And we want you to know as well about Taikang Lu, that quaint little street that blends the old and new in the midst of the cacophony that is urban Shanghai.

Take a look around, and let us know how and where we have succeeded or failed. We sincerely hope you enjoy your stay here, and do subscribe! And wherever you may be and will be heading, may your travels be well and safe, and filled with unforgettable moments.