This weekend, I visited Jordan. I went to Wadi Ram, Petra and Amman. People in Jordan are super friendly and despite some visa trouble I had at the border while entering (often happens when you hold an Indian passport) people were really nice right from the beginning, including the officials who were causing the visa trouble.
Wadi Ram is a place in the Jordanian desserts that's well known for camping and star gazing. The skies at night are extremely clear and we could see the stars really clearly. We also took a jeep tour in the dessert, which was basically riding around the dessert in a jeep. While I've been in desserts before (in India), it was nice seeing the Jordanian dessert. The color of the sand was different and I learnt a lot about the Bedouin culture (bedouins is the word used to refer to people who live in the dessert). We spent the night camping in Wadi Ram in the dessert (I went with 3 friends).
We spent our second day in Petra. It's a wonder of the world, and it was really amazing. Petra is an old city which was along the silk route. It was inhabited by traders. Their cultures and traditions showed through the structures that remained of the old city (tombs, treasuries, etc). Going to Petra and learning about the history of it was really amazing. Also, it was really beautiful.
On the third day, we visited my and Linus' friend Ronald in Amman, which is the capital city of Jordan. Ronald was doing a study abroad in Jordan to learn Arabic, and he's generally very well informed about cultures, so I was really glad to be able to meet him in Jordan. It was on this day that I felt like I was learning about present day Jordan. Wadi Ram and Petra had been quite touristy, and much of the people we interacted with on our first two days were people used to receiving tourists. So Amman was great in forcing us to see reality. People were dressed in burqas, they were quite anti-Israel and the social norms were different (for example, I couldn't sit next to a man on the bus unless I knew him). Not to say these are good or bad, they're just different. And I think these kind of things are what really make you understand cultures better. Ronald told us a lot about Jordan too, so learnt a lot from him!
During this trip, I also realised that I'm beginning to develop strong preferences for things I like and don't like. For example, I think I could have enjoyed the trip as much without Wadi Ram. I don't love camping, I've seen desserts, I've ridden camels before. But because people insisted seeing Wadi Ram, I decided to go there. Since the trip, I've gotten much more conscious about making personal decisions like these keeping in mind my preferences and past experiences.