I quite liked Amman. It is a beautiful city in the hills which wasn’t very green. Our first stop was the Amman Citadel situated on top of a hill that provided us with a fantastic view of the city. It was a complex of many ruins including a palace which looked exactly like a mosque where the dome was entirely rebuilt and where many of the columns inside it were in such a way where they had the original old ones next to the restored new ones for comparison. There was the Byzantine church and some other ruins around the area as well.
Next stop was the amphitheater and what I think is called the odeon which is just a smaller version. We then walked for a bit to get to some mosque and along the way stopped to get papa’s sandals to be repaired for 25 cents.
After that we got back into the car and headed for our first stop outside Amman which was the cave of the seven sleepers, Ashabul Khafi which was about 20km outside the capital. For some reason which I think must be because papa immediately gave the salam to the two guards guarding the mosque above the cave, we were invited to join them for bread with hummus and more sweet Chai.
Papa was wearing his mosque’s t-shirt which had the words Masjid Al-Mukminun in both Roman letters and Arabic which caught their attention. I wish I knew some Arabic. It’s frustrating having people try to communicate with you but because of my inability to speak the local language, conversation sort of stops after the salam. Nevertheless, the generosity and warmth of the two guards were clearly felt by papa and myself. The guy taking care of the cave spoke perfect Malay as he explained and showed us the 7 tombs, where the sunrise and sunset would be seen from the cave; it took us a few seconds to register that he was actually speaking to us in Malay after finding out that we were from Malaysia. We were both really impressed.
Next stop was al-Azraq, said to be the sandcastles in the desert. The first castle was exactly that. It was really hot outside because it is the desert but the inside of the castle was very cooling and a particular design of the architecture we were both impressed with were the holes in the walls which weren’t just shaped like a window but were diagonal, probably so that sand wouldn’t come in which I thought it was just brilliant.
After exploring the castle in and out, we drove to the next one and I was surprised to see the UNESCO sign at the entrance. I was really happy. It was one of the other 2 UNESCO places I didn’t have a clue where and what they were.
We later went to the second castle called Quseir Amra where the guard who owned one of the fattest cats I’ve ever seen spoke really good English. We saw some men outside taking lots of pictures and measurements of the area around the 25m deep well and knew they had to be researchers.
We walked around the inside of the building a bit and were impressed by the paintings on the walls. Suddenly the guard started telling us about the paintings, showing us every single one which wasn’t the clearest and explaining their significance. There were paintings depicting men hunting and the BBQ at the end of the hunt, women dancing with men playing musical instruments, women in the sauna in the bath area, a king on a throne and lots more.
We thanked Ahmad the guard and then headed back to the car and found Mohammed sitting in the Bedouin tent having tea outside the entrance. We were invited inside for free tea and gladly accepted the offer. We met Hakeem whose English was perfect and asked his help to help us translate some questions we had for Mohammed. We then headed for the third castle, castle al-Azraq which was once inhabited by Lawrence Prince of Arabia.
The castle like the other 2 wasn’t very big but what this one had that the 2 others didn’t was very heavy stone doors which we could open and close by just pushing it. The doors at the entrance were both a ton each while another one we saw later on was supposedly 3tons. Papa tried pushing the 3tons one and it moved probably 1mm. Our combined effort produced impressive results as we saw it move quite a bit but we weren’t bothered to push it anymore because we didn’t want to have to pull it open again. There was one part where we walked on stones jutting out of the base of one of the windows on the second floor to get to the other side and that was really scary especially if you’re afraid of heights.
We headed back for Amman and arrived at a restaurant for mansaf and kebab around 4pm. I thought mansaf was an elaborate salad from the quick skimming I did on wikitravel whilst in Petra but I was wrong. Mansaf was actually a massive plate of rice with the tenderest lamb with some cashew nuts and some kind of salad sprinkled on the top, served with a bowl of this sour and milky soup each.
Then of course we were served bread and their pickled vegetables and the green chili which Mohammed warned me was hot but papa and I chewed them away like they were nothing because they weren’t hot at all and even asked for more. When we were entering the restaurant, I saw a man turning a massive eggplant on the same grill where our kebabs were being grilled on. I asked if I could have the eggplant and Mohammed said yes and suddenly I found what looked like hummus in front of me but it had eggplant in it. Clearly not what I asked for because I wanted the eggplant I saw outside. Then I asked for hummus because the ones I had earlier at the mosque compound with the guards just before visiting the Kahf cave was really good. It was a fantastic meal and the kebabs were really good too. I can’t wait to have camel kebab in Damascus. Our extremely filling meal which we couldn’t finish cost only 22JD.
After dinner, Mohammed drove us to Mecca Mall. We bought ice cream which we hauled back with us to the hotel.