It wasn’t a short journey to visit Petra travelling all the way from Australia. Ever since I saw a picture of the Treasury at Petra, my desire of seeing it in person started to grow stronger and stronger. That dream trip of mine finally came to fruition this year after years of fantasising and a lot research + planning. Was it worth the effort? Absolutely.

Going to Petra from Israel

I entered the the Kingdom of Jordan through Israel/Jourdan boarder after an overnight stay in Elate Israel. Security check to go in Jordan was very fast and straight forward compared to those stringent processes in Israel. A driver and tour guide met me on the other side of boarder and my trip to Petra started officially.

A stop over at the breathtaking Wadi Rum dessert on the way from Aquba to Petra is highly recommended though a lot visitors to Petra are here for the Treasury. It’s only a little over 100 kilo meters from Wadi Rum to the city of Petra so it’ll take less than a couple of hours travelling by car.

The Dead Sea stretches across Israel and all the way to the Jordanian border. I’ve ticked off my bucket list item floating in the Dead Sea while in Israel. However I wonder if it could have been a better experience if it was done in Jordan. My tour guide proudly told me that the first hotel on Dead Sea was actually built in Jordan. So if any of you have floated in the Dead Sea in Jordan, please do share your experience!

The City of Petra

Whenever Petra is mentioned, most people would immediately think of the movie Indiana Jones. For some reason, I can’t remember that particular Indiana Jones movie. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen it? Now that I’ve visited Petra, perhaps it’s the time to find that movie and watch it haha!

The city of Petra is nested in a dirt covered, secluded valley. There were a row of restaurants on the street leading to Petra visitor centre. Someone asked me if there were any KFC or Macca’s in Petra when I got back to Sydney. Well, I don’t record seeing any. The thing is, you won’t want to have fast food from KFC or McDanald’s in Petra any way. I had some amazing middle eastern feast there. So when you go, make sure to take time to enjoy the local cuisine.

What you need to know about visiting the ancient city of Petra

You don’t really need the local currency.

As long as you have sufficient US dollars on you, you don’t really to go through money exchange to get the local currency because US dollar is widely accepted in Petra.

You don need a lot of small bills on you though

The biggest inconvenience for me at the time was that I had quite a few $100 US dollar notes on me when I entered Petra and  I was having a VERY hard time to break it into smaller notes. You won’t be able to go far without smaller bills. You need them for tipping, buying drinking water and taxi fares etc. People won’t help you without being tipped and you can’t tip them with $100 notes.

Do you need a tour guide?

I booked a private tour guide before my Middle Eastern trip because I was travelling alone. But in reality, Petra is so straight forward to explore and the chance of getting lost there is really slim. Without a tour guide you’ll be able to stop whenever you wanted and take as much time to absorb everything. Many times I wished my guide could stop talking and singing like a crazy person but hey, that was just part of the experience. I was extremely glad that I had a full day all to myself without a guide so that I could really take my time to appreciate those sights without being interrupted or taken to a souvenir shop. So you’d better off without a tour guide, even if you are travelling solo.

Don’t get the single day ticket

It’s certainly not enough time to explore the best of Petra and enjoy it in just one day, so allow yourself at least a couple of days in the area. In stead of getting the single day tickets, buy a two day pass to save money and hassle.

Have plenty of water

You’ll hike a lot and weather is try. In order to keep yourself hydrated through out the day, make sure to drink plenty of water.

The horse riding

Though it’s said the horse ride is included in the entry ticket, I didn’t take the horse ride because I wanted to explore the ancient city by foot. If you opt to take a horse ride, make sure you have a US$5 note to tip the owner. If you hand over a $10 or $20 notes and expect your change back, you’ll be disappointed. Hence the importance to have plenty of small bills on you all the time.

Be aware of the hawkers

There will be a lot people trying to sell something to the tourists. Just be careful not to be the easy target. Don’t believe it that you’d buy authentic silver jewellery for $5. Don’t follow those little boys who promise to take you to places with the most amazing view. Don’t ride the horse, the camel or the donkey if you don’t want to…The best way is to stay firm and say “No” straight away without eye contact. People normally go away. That was a lot easier to deal with than what I’ve experienced in Egypt (where people would chase you all the way and force their service on you, then grab you for money).

The dress code?

Sure, 90% of the population in Jordan is Muslims. But Petra is occupied by tourists from all over the world. As long as you don’t dress offensively and overly expose yourself, people don’t really care what you wear.

The Siq

The Siq is a gorge, a 80 meter split in the rock. It’s the ancient entrance to the rose city. Walking through it wasn’t as long or boring as some people might have experienced. It was nice and cool under the gorge even in a hot Summer day. Not to mention, it’s so amazingly beautiful.

Watch out for the roaming horse carriages though while going through the narrow gorge though. Horses don’t really care about sharing the roads with the pedestrians, either do their owners. The smell of horse droppings through Siq could also be a little overwhelming.

Check out this blog post to see more photos of the beautiful Siq:

Jordan Photo Dairy – From Wadi Rum Jordan To The Siq, To The Treasury Petra

The Treasury:

The best time to see Treasury is in the afternoon, while the sun is shinning on that majestic ancient stone structure. The breathtaking moment to see the Treasury appearing at the end of Siq to me is simply unforgettable. There it was – all mighty, rose coloured and grand, just as beautiful and magnificent as I have imagined, even more stunning in real life.

visit Petravisit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petra

visit Petravisit PetraPetra at night

Petra at night happens 3 times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night when candle lights will be lit in front of the Treasury. You might have seen some magical photos of Petra at night on the internet. The true is, Photoshop could have something to do with the beauty of those photos. A lot people got quite disappointed seeing the whole event in person. But the main thing is to just enjoy the moment and manage our expectations:).

Petra during the day however, doesn’t require any Photoshop’s help. Every single snap would turn out to be a post card worthy photo.
visit Petra visit Petravisit Petra

The hike to Monastery

Local people said if you haven’t been to Monastery, you haven’t really been to Petra. But the hike to Petra Monastery is no easy task. It takes at least 6 hours going up and down, from midway, you need to climb nearly 900 steps all the way uphill. But no matter, when it comes to travel, I’ve never been lazy! After days of hiking and touring, my body was feeling the pain, I kept pushing and made it all the way to the top, in 40C + degrees heat. 🙂 Oh mine. How grand is Monastery! The hike to the Monastery took the my trip to Petra to a whole new level. It looks similar to the Treasury but much bigger. See that lady in green top behind me? That’s how small a person looks next to the Monastery.

The Monastery

An the view on top? Mind – blowing. I’ll leave it to another post for more photos from the hike to Petra Monastery.

My last stop in Israel is Elate, a resort town located in south Israel on the red sea. From there, I went across the Israel and Jordan boarder to start my journey in Jordan.

It all went very fast, so I didn’t even have the chance to feel excited about seeing Petra in just a couple of days!

Wish I had more time to explore Elate and really enjoy my hotel room which has a big balcony looking right towards the Red Sea. Looking back, I’ve ticked off so many travel bucket list items in such a short period of time and it still feels unreal!

I caught a domestic flight from Jerusalem to Elate and experienced the most stringent security check at the airport. Arriving at the Jerusalem airport quite early alone, with a huge luggage, I quickly became a target in the eyes of airport security staff.

Firstly I was taken to a security officer and asked many many questions. The most asked questions were, “are you carrying any weapon?” “Do you have a gun?” Coming from Australia, where guns are illegal to possess, I don’t even know why to buy a gun if I want. So the answer was always a quick “No.” The second most popular question was, “Who are you travelling with?” I was travelling alone. I guess having a surname nobody could pronounce properly was another problem. I was taken to a second security office. Again they asked me if I carried any weapon. Then they proceeded to open my luggage to scan every single item using an electronic device.

By every single item, I mean literally every. single. item. From my flip flop to my dental floss. While I was waiting, a female passenger was asked to layout all her coins to be checked. She got really upset and offended. I wasn’t upset about being checked so throughly at all. I just worried about missing my flight and delaying the rest of my journey. And I felt a little embarrassed by a male officer going through all my personally stuff in my luggage. But hey, at least you know they take the airport security very seriously and the chance of a plane explosion is minimised.

It only took them two hours to finish scanning all my things in the my suitcase. I was the first to arrive at the airport and last to get onto that plane. But I got on just in time. And landed in Elate safely. How I enjoyed the view over looking the Red Sea from my hotel room:

I even started to take some bokeh shots because why not.

Views in the morning is refreshing. I did go in that big shopping centre and went through the most stringent security check entering a shopping centre lol. I wanted to be able to spend more time in Elate but in a way, it was ok to just do a quick stop over because it was just a little too difficult to go anywhere.

Here’s the boarder of Israel and Jordan! Once again, I answered the question of “Are you carrying any weapon?” departing Israel before heading to the Jordan side a couple of hundreds meters aways.

Entering Jordan! Guess what, it only took a couple of minutes to go through Jordan boarder. The security officer even smiled at me. I was shocked.

It was a sunny and warm day touring around the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River Baptism site.

I didn’t mind 30+ degree heat at all. And it’s always good to see the sun shine everyday. Sun makes people happy. It surely makes me happy. What I love the most about travelling in the warm countries is walking around in the sun all day and sleeping like a baby at night. Who needs artificial light all day anyway?

Oh look, isn’t this red roofed church the prettiest on the lake site? I first saw it while touring Capernaum.

Truth is, there are so many pretty things in Israel. Like those radom stones with chalk drawings on them, and the cute decorations in the restaurant. This must be the ONLY restaurant in the neighborhood. There were hundreds of people waiting to be fed during lunch hours! Despite the huge crowd, we didn’t wait for long to be served. I had the famous fried whole fish fresh from the Sea of Galilee, lamb kabab, a variety of salad. Then finished it off with large dates and black coffee. That was delicious and I could barely move after the meal.

After lunch and short break waking on the the beach, we went off to baptism site on the Jordan River. Plenty of people get baptised here everyday. If you are not religious and just here for sight seeing, you can still soak your feet in the cool and clean Jordan river. I did just that and it was super refreshing!

Want to see more photos? Here more photo posts from my trip to Middle East.

Capernaum used to be  a fishing village located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

A house turned into a church by the Byzantines is said to be the home of Saint Peter. This is a modern Memorial built over the house of St Peter.

The foundations of octagonal 5th-century church, runs of the house of Saint Perter underneath the memorial. It’s also visible through a glass floor of the memorial:

Ruins of the Roman-period town:
Those squares of black stones were windows of ancient people’s houses. Above those black ruins are ruins of of the 4th-century synagogue. Remember I said I love ancient ruins? Capernum is ruins heaven!

Capernaum synagogue:

Look at that – how beautiful is Capernaum?

During the tour to the Sea of Galilee region, we visited the church of the Multiplication in Tabgha. Here are some photos this Roman catholic church. Of course there are lots of fish related objects because this is where 5000 people were fed:)

Wish I had read the Bible thoroughly so I’d be more knowledgeable about all the churches and Bible stories. But thanks to the tour, I picked up a lot along the way.

We travelled to Nazareth in northern Israel where the Church of Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph are located.

“The Church of Annunciation was established over the site where the Catholic tradition holds to be the house of Virgin Mary and where angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced that she would conceive and bear the Son of God, Jesus – an event know as the Annunciation.” – wikipedia

 Photos of the Church of Annunciation:

Different versions of Virgin Mary and the Son of God from different countries are displayed along the way to the church as well as inside the church. It was so fascinating to see how countries styled the mother and son in their own tradition.
This door to the Church of Annunciation dissipated Jesus’ whole life:

Inside the church: This the Australia version – without the sign next to it, I couldn’t figure out this is typical Australian. Maybe I’m still not Australian enough after 21 years?

Photos of the church of St. Joseph:

St. Joseph looked a bit sad here, do you reckon? The statues shinning knees reminded me the foot of John Harvard statue at Harvard University. I know why EVERYONE touched Johns’s feet so much at Harvard University but I’m not sure why people touched St. Joseph’s knees so much. Can someone tell me why?

Jericho is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It’s located near the Jordan River in the West Bank in the Palestinian Territories.

The day I went to Jericho, it was 43 degrees but I deal heat way better than cold. So I didn’t feel suffering as much as some fellow travellers did.

Still, it wasn’t pleasant to stay in the little shopping complex for nearly 2 hours lunch break without air conditioning.

We saw mount Temptation, where Jesus fasted for forty days and nights above Jericho and walked among many ruins from Bronze age.

Once again, I wouldn’t dare to walk on the streets of Jericho alone without joining a tour. This is a snap shot of the streets from my tour bus:

The Russian Museum in Jericho on the other hand, looks stunning and much civilised. Looking by photos, I can’t even believe those places belong to the same city.


I travelled with a tour to the Church of the Nativity, also Basilica of the Nativity  located in Bethlehem (Palestine) in the West Bank. It is richly decorated inside nowadays and welcomes thousands of visitors a day.

Inside the Basilica, it contains the original mosaic floor from the 4th century.

The holy site known as the Nativity Grotto underneath the Basilica is thought to be the cave in which Jesus of Nazareth was born. The grotto is the oldest site continuously worshipped in Christianity. And the basilica is the oldest major church in the Holy Land.

The birth place of Jesus.

More photos of my middle East trip will be posted gradually.

I’ve been to so many churches and chapels during my Middle East trip and it’s easy to forget which is which, especially for  non religious person like me.

I remember the significance of this Chapel in Bethlehem, Palestine because it’s where the angles first announced the birth of Christ according to Catholic tradition. I just couldn’t remember it’s name.

After checking my note, it’s all coming back. The name is Chapel of the Shepherd’s Field, located southeast of Bethlehem in the West Bank in Palestine.

Without a tour, I’d never dare to go to Palestine by myself. I’m glad finally made it to Middle East and learned so many historical stories and culture background in this region.

Here are some photos of this beautiful chapel and its surroundings:

This is the cave under the church. An image depicting the birth of Jesus can be seen in the place.

On the way back to Haifa, I had the chance to explore the Ruins of Caesarea, an ancient Roman city on the Coast of Israel.

King Herod built Caesarea as a luxury city carefully planned 2000 years ago, with streets and monuments such as temples, a palace, roman bath and entertainment sites.

Roman statues out side the theatre:

The Roman Amphitheatre:

Caesarea Maritima-Columns and stones:

The stone of the columns were brought from all over the Mediterranean and Eastern coast, especially from famous quarries of Greece, minor Asia (Turkey) and Egypt.

A stone Coffin

Caesarea Hippodrome:

These are just outside of the entrance to Hippodrome. Guess what were these for originally?

Ready for the answer? Ok, these functioned as toilet back then, 2000 years ago. People went to release themselves in the open air and have a chat with each other before going into the hippodrome to watch a show. Ocean water was the natural flush… Way to socialise!

A fellow tourist offered take a photo of me sitting on these ancient toilet but I quickly picked a spot just in front of it and stood like a lady:)

People were fascinated by that ancient open air toilet

There are many places in Israel that I wouldn’t mind visiting again and spending more time to explore. Mediterranean coastal city Akko (Acre) is one of them.

Steeped in medieval crusader history, The Old City of Akko is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest ports in the world.

Wish I had more time to wander through these wonderfully decorated little alleyways, admire the well preserved stone architecture, try all the colourful deserts in the market, enjoy the sea breeze by the harbour and take more pictures of EVERYTHING.

As we rushed through the sites with our tour guides, I quickly took a snap of the map of Akko old city for future reference.

Here are some photos of major sites:

The harbour

The Citadel – Built on ruins of the Crusaders fortress

The Crusader City – inside and underneath Citadel

Map of The Crusader City

The court yard

From the court yard going underground

Underground Knight Halls

The Hall of Pillars

In the 17th century, a traveller who visited Acre (Akko) wrtoe on a staircase located on the western facade of the Pillared Hall:

“We descend a broad and magnificent staircase all made of stone, wide enough to allow eight persons to walk side by side. Below there are spacious and beautiful halls, supported by large, strong columns…”

I guess this is the said staircase, obviously tourists are no longer allowed to walk on them for preservation purposes.

The stone staircase

Khan al-Umdan

View to clock town out side Khan al-Umdan

Ahmed Al-Jazzar

Walls and fortifications!

Shame I didn’t have time to go along the coast and enjoy the full view of the walls that wrap around the old city from outside. But hey, I made it to Akko all the way from Australia!

The Suk (Market)

The narrow and decorative alleyways

They reminded me those wonderful and good looking alleyways in Tel AvivHow pretty is Israel? Unreal.


floating in the dead seaFloating in the Dead Sea was on my bucket list. Now I’ve ticked it off the list. Was I ecstatic about the experience? Hardly.

I know I could be too critical at times. There’s also a saying: the more you expect, the more disappointed you’ll get. Probably both true.

My floating in the Dead Sea Experience:

The Dead Sea looked deadly gorgeous high above from Masada fortress. It looked wonderful when we drove around it many times too. But the Dead Sea beach we went? Didn’t look inviting at all – sorry for not saying something more positive. I’m not sure if you could go floating anywhere in Dead Sea on your own. Somewhere less touristy, less crowded would definitely make the trip more pleasant.

In any case, this is just the account of my experience going with a tour company. The beach was obviously a destination that all tour buses would go to. It has a large souvenir shop that sells Dead Sea skin products as well as hats, tea towers, pouches etc with “Dead Sea” written all over them. There are a couple of bars on upper level and a changing place with bathrooms, shower rooms and a locker room. It costs 15 shekels to hire a locker. Everywhere was packed with people. People from all over the world.

It was around 42 Celsius degrees when we went to the beach. Normally in a hot day like that, I’d be dying to go to cool water. I didn’t have much desire to go down all the way to the beach that day. Instead, I felt hot and bothered. But hey, who couldn’t miss this maybe once in a life time opportunity to go floating in the Dead Sea! I travelled all the way from Australia to do this. “Don’t be discouraged so easily Yvonne!” telling myself off, I slowly worked out how to utilise the free time we were given.

Taking everything with me,  I went around and down to the beach to explore the whole area before going into the water. Someone yelled out: “Hey, where are you coming from?” Hmmm. I squeezed a very weak smile and walked faster, not in the mood to be friendly just with anyone.

floating in the dead sea

Trying to find the best angle to photograph this crowded, touristy beach. It looked decent from this quiet spot.

floating in the dead sea

After a quick orientation, I went up again, changed to swimming suits and hired a locker to put everything in it including my camera and phone. Feeling much lighter with only a towel and a bottle of water in my hand, I headed to the beach, this time, for a real dip and float.

floating in the dead sea

The beach was burning hot – you could grill your feet without wearing shoes. A fellow tourist kindly made room for me under an beach umbrella. I put my towel down on a chair, sat down and gazed at the water a little bit more. A couple of women fell on  the way back to the beach. It must be very slippery.

I walked towards the water sweating from the heat, took my shoes off right before the edge and went into the Dead Sea slowly. People have warned me to be careful not to get the Dead Sea salty water in my eyes. But sweat streamed down heavily on my face and flew into my eyes. I wasn’t sure which one is saltier, my sweat or the Dead Sea Water. It felt good to cool down in the water finally. Soon my exposed skin was burning like crazy because I didn’t put sunscreen on properly. I grabbed the slippery mud and put it all over my body. The best sun blocker ever! I lied on my back for a little float. It was super easy. You could totally relax on your back, stretch/twist your arms and legs without sinking.

After a while, I walked back to the shore, put more mud on my body and slowly made my way back. There were cold shower facilities along the way back up. I queued a little to have a quick one. The water was much cooler than the Dead Sea water. How refreshing was the cold shower! And my skin, how smooth it was after the mud! Back to the locker and bathroom on top. After a quick shower and changing to my normal clothes, I walked back into the heat. It didn’t feel that hot any more. The bar next to the tourist centre looked my inviting now. So I went in and chilled a little more before it was time to catch the tour bus back. My mood improved dramatically.

floating in the dead sea

Looking back at the trip of floating in the Dead Sea, it was still worthwhile though not overwhelmingly enjoyable. But I did what I’ve always wanted to do and understand the beach was packed because floating in the Dead Sea is OBVIOUSLY on so many people’s bucket list, therefore we’ve got to share the pleasure! 🙂

floating in the dead sea

floating in the dead sea

Israel the country as a whole is beyond amazing. Israeli people are so creative and artistic! Look at those abandoned workers’ houses near the Dead Sea Beach. Aren’t they adorable?

Want to see more photos? Here are many more posts about my Israel trip: