Episode 241 – Fun at Wadi Rum

April 4, 2022. Temperature

#myvikingstory

There was so much to tell yesterday that I held off on including pictures of the Port of Aqaba until today’s post.

The lighthouse/observation tower, the beautiful Shaikh Zayed Mosque on the hill, and the massive flagpole.

Today we chose to do something completely different: a reenactment of the 1916 Arab Revolt at Wadi Rum. Honestly, the big draw for me was a chance to ride on the Al Hejaz Railway. Saudi Arabia’s Abandoned Hejaz Railway | Amusing Planet

The flag of the 1916 Arab Rebellion.

It turns out, the entire experience was both a lot of fun, and educational. I really didn’t know all that much about the Jordanians’ war for independence from the Ottoman Turks, or about the pivotal role that T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) played in it, but our guide had tons of information about not only that, but also Jordan’s history from finally attaining independence in 1921 through to their present day relationships with Israel and the rest of the Middle Eastern countries (generally peaceful for the last 20 years).

Wadi is the Arabic word for valley, and Rum refers to the Jabal Ram mountain, known as “Rum” in English, which along with Jabal Umm ad Dami are Jordan’s two highest peaks and border the valley.

We approached our waiting train across undulating red sands like something out of a movie. In fact, in addition to David Lean’s iconic Lawrence of Arabia, lots of other movies have been shot here. Most recently, Matt Damon’s The Martian, and Disney’s 2019 live action remake of Aladdin.

It seems we were way too complacent about being on the Ottoman railway, chatting with the soldiers and enjoying the scenery.

Everything seemed fine.

Until it wasn’t.

Our first hints were the shots from a sand-coloured “hill”, followed by more gunfire and the sight of charging troops. Camels can really move!

We didn’t stand a chance against Bedouins on horseback and camel, British vehicles and firepower, and Lawrence of Arabia.

While the Arabs whooped it up flying the colours of their rebellion, “our” Turkish soldiers were taken away to the French Fortress.

We ourselves headed to the reconstructed Fortress, which is now a luxury desert camp called SINAM, where we enjoyed baked delicacies (including yummy thyme breadsticks) and tea.

Before returning to the ship we drove past the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, named in honour of T.E.Lawrence’s book of the same name, published in 1926. Sadly, an earthquake crumbled two of the pillars, leaving only five.

After a short rest and a cool drink, it was time for a lecture on the history of Luxor, and a port talk on Cairo, two of our imminent destinations.

I enjoyed the new Indian theme in the Chef’s Table tonight with floor-mates Sherry and Connie. Tomorrow we’ll try the brand new Sri Lankan menu with all 3 of our guys, but before that it’s a quick evening music set in Torshavn with the Viking Band.

Egypt tomorrow.

5 comments

  1. Rose, your blog is great! Been following it since Day 1. Small correction: TE Lawrence took the name of his narrative on the uprising from Proverbs 9:1. Not sure when they decided to name the hill in your picture Seven Pillars, but I’m quite sure TEL had nothing to do with its name. I have read Seven Pillars multiple times and have a whole bookcase of books written by him and written about him. Happy travels!

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  2. That seems so exciting. If you don’t mind could you state how much the excursion was. I am on a future world cruise and would love to be able to try to judge costs.

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