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.

Congratulations! + a Happy Video

March 29, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Great work deserves recognition, so step forward Sammy K, Craig and Linda Martin, SoulTravelers3 and Sheila Beal! Congrats on your winning the Lonely Planet Travel Blog Awards 2009. Great job guys! Looking forward to participating next year and hopefully having a shot at the awards 😉

I also want to share about Far West China, a blog created by Josh Summers showcasing Xinjiang, the province located at far west China. Josh has kindly contributed an article showcasing the eerie Ghost City in Xinjiang, do check it out! And if you’re as intrigued as I am as to what other creepiness you can find in Xinjiang, go visit his blog!

Once again, we’re accepting submissions! Email me at nik(at)unearthingasia(dot)com.

From the Blog
For PhotoFriday goodness we go to Seoul, South Korea, and showcases the world’s longest and steepest wooden roller coaster, the T-Express.

Josh Summers from Far West China explored the eerie Ghost City at northern Xinjiang, a place that’s more than meets the eye!

Michelle continues her exploration of Saigon, this time towards the Mekong Delta, where she enjoyed the colorful floating market and a local specialty, the elephant ears fish!

From the Web
In comparison to these Mega and Giga Monster Coasters, the T-Express ride in Seoul pales in comparison.

Remember The Best Job in the World? It’s coming to a close soon. Congrats Clare Wang on winning the Wild-Card vote!

And finally, Matt goes around the world and does his funny little dance with people from all over the world! Such a happy video, and I absolutely LOVE the music!

You Really Should

March 7, 2009 by  
Filed under News

The word in Travel this week is that “you really should!“. Go Travel that is. Traveling is cheaper now! Really, more than ever before, even in this tough economic times. There are more and more discounted prices on hotels and cheap airline fares than ever before.

RyanAir continues to confound the public with its image fiasco. After calling one of its potential customer a “lunatic” and “an idiot”, they went on to decide that, hey your really shouldn’t be given a free pass at the loo. Watch out everybody, the man is serious.

A recent happening close to home touched a raw personal nerve. The newly opened Tsunami Museum has drawn its fair share of supporters and detractors. Count me in the latter part.

More points for consideration from a local Indonesian, albeit one based in Jakarta:
1. More than 700 victim families are still living in barracks in Banda Aceh.
2. The bill is already at $4.6 million. What’s the actual cost? Knowing how things work in Indonesia there’s bound to be a substantial amount of the fund filtered into the pockets of powerful people.
3. By the end of it, the museum would have cost $6.7 million. A point of comparison: a cheap street-side meal here costs about $0.50, it costs about $3,000 for a 40 square metre house (that’s in Jakarta, the cost in Aceh should be cheaper). Do your own math!

What do you feel about the Tsunami Museum? Leave a comment and let us know!

From the Blog
There is more to do in Hong Kong than the frenzied shopping of Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui. Here are Ten Suggestions for your consideration!

On our trip to Mount Cook, New Zealand this past January we had to settle for ice instead of snow. We booked ourselves a tour exploring the Tazman Glacier Lake, the largest glacier lake in the Mount Cook vicinity. Different, but still very much as fun!

From the Web
This one link is worth a lot more than that. To be exact, it’s worth 50 Links! Enjoy!

NaTraWriMo: The National Travel Writing Month: The twice yearly event that challenge travel writers to send out 30 pitches in 30 days. The challenge begins 1st April 2009 (No, it’s not an April’s Fool prank, honest!) Are you up to it?

Love is in the Air

February 11, 2009 by  
Filed under News

The smell of romance fills the warm spring air like no other. Tis’ the time of year where couples delight in displaying their affections in celebration of love. Mahigita. Je t’aime. Cinta. Seni seviyorum. A few of the many sweet nothings that will be whispered all over the world come Saturday. How will you be spending your Valentine, and where? (Yes, this is a cue for you to comment. Share with us your V-Day’s plan~!)

Here at Unearthing Asia, we are very proud to be ushering in the festival of love for the first time ever in our very young web-life. In the coming weeks, we’ll be focusing on publishing contents with a theme of love. Come back often to find out more, but in the mean time, do enjoy the following travel-related content we have scoured for your perusal:

Gennaro and Bella has got a great looking site as well at Enduring Wanderlust. Its a little late for us to only bring this up now, but they’ve got some great tips to usher in a prosperous Chinese New Year.

The Best Job in the World is taking applications, and its closing soon! Apply for this once in a lifetime chance to be the Caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef Island and pocket a cool AUD$150,000 in the process!

Craig and Linda has got a great podcast site going at Indie Travel Podcast, check out their Kuala Lumpur podcast for a great overview of how tourists would find Kuala Lumpur.

Tweaks and Twitter-rific @UnearthingAsia

February 4, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Hello again! First off, a very big thank you for the people to the right of this screen. Yes, you! Thank you so much for having joined us! As you can see, there has been tweaks and changes in the site layout. The recent week has been a steep learning curve in the art of social media and web promotion, and I’m trying my best to make this site better, so every comment countsdo comment!

This week, my personal highlights to share with you starts with this tale of Riverland Relaxation – which reminds me a lot of my past New Zealand trip. There is a certain charm to traveling in a campervan, you’re free to tweak as much of your itinerary as possible! There is also this list of savory delights you’ll find in India, and the fashionistas’ guide to shopping in Seminyak, Bali’s little cousin.

Outside UnearthingAsia, I’m delighted to have found some like-minded travel-cum-tech geek, Jeff, who hosted his own travel blog on Have Pack. Jeff shares with you tips and tricks for the independent traveler, and I’m hoping to do some guest-posting and vice-versa on his site. We’ll see how that goes.

Whale of a Time

January 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Culture, Enchanting Oceania

Every year up to 3000 humpback whales use Hervey Bay as a stopover during their migratory return from Antarctica. Sheltered from the currents and winds by Fraser Island, the bay’s waters are calm and mild. After the tempestuous Southern Ocean, the location provides a place for whales to rest and develop layers of blubber for the next migration south.

Tourists flock to Hervey Bay between August and November, when sightings are virtually guaranteed to occur. Several operators provide whale-watching tours from the town’s Urangan Harbour to Platypus Bay, but MV Spirit of Hervey Bay is the only vessel with underwater viewing windows. This ensures passengers can witness the antics of these 15-metre, 40-tonne creatures both above and below the waterline.

On the day I went in search of whales, I learned that the whales are apparently relaxed by the warm temperatures and untroubled by the tourist activity on the water.

To see these magnificent mammals dive and surface was memorable, to see displays of tail and fin-slapping or breaching was spectacular – a real privilege. When surfacing took place right beside the boat it was a heart-stopping encounter of mutual curiosity. There was constant communication between whales in each pod, which could be heard if the tour operator submerged a microphone in the water. Mesmerized, there wasn’t a sound from anyone on-board the boat.

About the Author. Char Magalong. Char Magalong, freelance web designer and programmer, spent two years living, working and traveling in Singapore. Another two years stint right after that in Malaysia led to homesickness, after which she promptly returned to the Philippines. With her myriad of treasured experiences for apt comparison, she comments regularly on the beauty of Philippines and its surrounding country side.

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.