Little Miss Drama

My Trip to Jordan: Planning a 3-Day Trip in Jordan with My Friends

on July 28, 2013

During my first (or second?) week in Amman, it was a long weekend in the Middle East so two of my friends from Dubai decided to pay me a visit over the holidays. Their names are Marian and Nina. Both have not been to Jordan yet so they also wanted to visit some of the wonderful places that the country offers, especially the Biblical sites.

I have asked my colleagues’ help in planning the entire trip so we could get the best deals there were. Most of those tours being offered online were quite expensive and I wanted to go to as many places as we could in 3 days in the cheapest possible way.

It was only a day before my friends came when I started calling companies to book for a tour/ deal. Dana, one of my colleagues, gave me a number of a company that provides a tour to the Biblical sites such as Mt. Nebo, twhere Moses was believed to have died; Bethany Beyond Jordan or what’s also known as the Baptism Site, where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River; and places like Madaba, which is known for their mosaics; and the Dead Sea. Initially, Dana informed me that the tour would only cost JOD150 or US$212.37 for a car for the three of us already to go to all of these places in one whole day and already includes a driver. I thought it was not that bad anymore. So before the day ended, I asked another colleague, Walid, to talk to the guy and ask about this particular tour. I did that so that they could easily understand each other since I don’t speak Arabic. While on the phone, Walid was informed that the cost of the trip would be JOD150 each instead! The guy on the other end insisted that that was the price he told Dana and not JOD150 for three persons. I was bummed. I had to think fast because my friends were arriving the next day and if I do not book anything, we would end up not going anywhere at all.

Walid hung up and informed me that there are also “special” taxis which my friends and I can hire and ask the driver to take us to these places instead. I was not sure how much that would cost us or whether that would be a cheaper alternative than that of the JOD150/pax. I asked first if all those four places we were planning to go to were far and Walid informed me that some were a bit far from Amman.

I decided to take the JOD150/pax instead because I wouldn’t know how much it would cost us to go to all of these four places in one whole day and whether the driver would patiently wait for us for free if we happen to take a long time in one place. I just informed my friends about it to make sure they were okay with the price. I was also informed that the driver is already as good as a tour guide so we were already okay with it.

Walid called back the same company that Dana provided and informed the guy on the other end that we are taking the tour. I was told that the driver will just give me a call and we would just give the payment to the driver after the tour.

A few minutes after, one guy already called me and introduced himself that he would be the one to drive us to these places. I honestly did not get his name because I was surprised that the guy on the other end of the line speaks English very well. In fact, he sounded like a native American! I was expecting someone who can speak English but still has that unmistakable Arabic accent. After the call, I even mentioned it to my colleagues and they informed me that most of those working in such companies really have people who can speak English really well. Wow.

It was Wednesday and I was expecting my friends to arrive early in the morning around 12am, Amman Time but their flight got delayed and they only arrived in Amman around 4am of Thursday already. Prior to their flight, I asked another colleague, Tamara, to help me book a taxi driver who speaks English really well and could pick up my friends from the airport. He gave me the number of Moath, the same taxi driver that my boss recommended. Moath used to pick up my boss from his hotel to the office and back during his short stay in Amman.

Moath, according to my friends, was really nice. He also speaks English really well so there was no problem at all in communicating with him. And he also made the necessary adjustments to my friends’ schedule of arrival since their flight got delayed for several hours.

I will provide all of the necessary contact numbers of these wonderful people at the end of this blog for those of you who might be planning a trip in Jordan and had no idea who to contact.

Back to my story…

We were to start our trip at exactly 8am. My friends had no time to sleep anymore. Marian had to finish something at work and send the report before we left for the trip while Nina unpacked her things and gave me the food that could last for my entire stay in Amman. LOL. And we started catching up, preparing the things that we needed to bring, cooked breakfast, took a bath, etc. until Mo, the driver, had already started calling.

The driver’s name is Mo. During the trip, Mo was just quiet while all three of us kept chatting since it has been a long time since I last saw them. From time to time, Mo would comment on something or answer our questions about a place. Eventually, when we had the time to talk to him while waiting for a tour to start at the Baptism Site, he asked us if we were speaking Spanish the whole time because he said he kept hearing the word “pero” which means “but” in both Spanish and Filipino. We told him that we have a lot of Spanish words incorporated in our language due to the 300 years colonization of Spain in the country. I also got to ask him why he speaks like a native American and he told us that he was born and raised in the US. He only had to come home when his father died and had to settle some family stuff before he goes back there again. That explained his accent.

Mo is a good driver. I normally don’t sleep in a car when I don’t trust how the driver drives especially if it was the first time to experience riding with him/her but with Mo’s driving, I was able to sleep without any fear of getting into an accident during our ride home.

For our second day trip, I planned to go to both Petra and Wadi Rum. I have read online how far Petra is from Amman and how difficult it is to commute especially when going back. Fortunately, Walid informed me about these bus tours that some locals and Arab nationals usually take. The bus tour only costs JOD14 or just around US$20 to go to Petra and Wadi Rum. The catch is that the bus leaves at 5:30 in the morning and comes back around 1am of the next day. My friends and I had no problem with that. This was the cheapest deal we ever had, thanks to Walid.

The last day trip I planned was Jerash and a tour of Amman. Walid just called a “special” taxi for me and told the company we would hire the taxi (along with the driver, of course) for 4 hours since my friends also had to pack for their flight. The 4 hours of hiring the special taxi cost us JOD70 or US$99.11 for the three of us already. The driver even extended a few minutes over 4 hours just so he could bring all of us to our planned destination.

A tip is necessary when traveling in Jordan (it’s not common for Filipinos to give tips) but I would say we were not big tippers since we were all on a budget.

I would provide every detail of each site we went to during our 3-day trip on another blog.

And as promised earlier, below are the numbers you can contact just in case you would need a driver who speaks English in Amman:

Moath: 00962-798943901

Mo (short for Mohannad): 00962-785180888/00962-797637287 or you can also send him an email at eliasvip1980@yahoo.com. He also provides tours in Jerusalem, Lebanon and Syria.

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