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I’ve been looking back at my photos from when I visited Petra in October 2015 (a selection of these photos are at the bottom of this post) and my first thought has been ‘Wow that’s really incredible..’
Now I know that often I tend to appreciate a place more after I have left and everything has sunk in and I would say this is the case with Petra too because at the time of visiting I actually left pretty annoyed and I intended to write a blog post about why this was so here it is…
First up, I had read a few blogs on the realities of Petra and how to visit Petra so I didn’t arrive there thinking it was going to be all rainbows and rock carvings but I was doing fine for time and had just checked into the lovely Saba’s Hotel which is a guesthouse/hotel run by an English Women and her Jordanian Husband in the town of Wadi Musa, just up the road from the entrance to Petra, so on the day I visited Petra I decided to buy a 2 day pass as the 1 day and 2 day passes were only £5.00 difference so I thought if i ended up wanting to go back for a second day I can but if I don’t then its not much money wasted!
After visiting Petra I really can see why its a Wonder of the World. Similar to Machu Picchu its a lost town full of an incredible amount of history but also a lot of mystery as people still aren’t sure what exactly it was used for and when it was built. When you look at the carvings in the rocks and think how they wouldn’t of had any machinery to help them then it really is astounding.
However Petra now, of course is a tourist spot, a tourist trap and this is what I didn’t like.
I made an effort to get there early and I was so happy that i did, I walked though the famous and incredible Siq and barely saw anyone else. When I arrived at the Treasury which the Siq opens out to there were just a few camels and one other tourist, the vendors were yet to open their stalls and it did feel very special and even quite magical.. Fast forward a few hours though and this area is packed with people!
Of course I expected there to be a lot of tourists, groups of people following a flag and constant selfie sticks but what actually got to me were the locals.
I was there on my own, a girl, a blonde girl and a fairly young blonde girl so naturally, this being the Middle East (unfortunately) attracted a lot of male attention. I was constantly shouted at, to buy things from the stalls, to hire a guide, to go into a restaurant, for a camel ride, for a donkey ride, for a horse and carriage ride and it made me feel quite uncomfortable.
And it wasn’t just the men that were trying to get you to buy things, there were a lot of children around too, of course this wasn’t intimidating but it’s hard to see. Unfortunately I’m used to seeing children selling things from travelling around Asia and although its hard to say no I know that you have to, you shouldn’t be creating demand, they should be in school and while they’re earning money out of school in these tourists spots they’re parents won’t encourage them to go to school.
The other main reason I didn’t like Petra was the use of the animals. Donkey rides are predominantly used to help tourists reach the Monastery because with an 800 step uphill climb it really isn’t easy but after seeing an incredibly large man sat on a tiny donkey which was definitely struggling i came to the conclusion that if you can’t walk up there yourself you just shouldn’t go!
Why should an animal have to suffer because of your laziness and unfitness. You don’t go to Petra thinking it is just a walk in the park, after a quick bit of research you’ll realise that Petra is a big site, getting to the Treasury via the Siq from the Main entrance is a kilometre walk in itself and thats literally just the start. I think I walked the equivalent of half a marathon that day!
Then there were the horse and carriages, on my way out whilst being shouted out to get in a carriage by one of the guys he then went on to whip his horse multiple times and this wasn’t the only occasion i saw this. I admit, I have a soft heart for animals and particularly horses and I have strong opinions that animals should not be used for and in tourist attractions and here were these men just beating their horses in front of us all.. at a Wonder of the World!!
Once I had arrived back at the main entrance and had decided that I wouldn’t be returning tomorrow, I did think that maybe I was being a bit silly and I also understand that the lively hood of the people that live around here depends on their children selling trinkets, they’re horses, donkeys and camels being riden but then I saw this poster and it cleared up that actually everything that annoyed me about Petra were reasonable issues and issues that they were trying to stop.. although in my opinion they weren’t trying quite hard enough.
All those things aside Petra is an incredible place, and of course not all the locals are annoying, I had a lovely conversation with a local women whilst I stopped and had a tea with her at her stall and she told me about her family, a guide who had just finished with a couple he was showing round stopped and gave me some tips on how to get to the high view point of the Treasury which I wouldn’t of found on my own and I do believe that the majority of people look after their animals well therefore I would recommend going, its a Wonder of the World of course but just be conscious of the men, the children and the animals!
For more information on Petra, how to get there, what time I got there, costs, what i’d recommend seeing ect see my blog post here.
And here are a selection of photos that i took which now make me look back and think ‘wow’!