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News + Location

3 February, 2009 Leave a comment

I meant to add that it was good to hear some news from people in the uk yesterday morning – news that wasn’t about frosty precipitation – even though i was quite blown away by the array.

Am now sitting in the 10z II internet cafe – in the upstairs smoking bit – and noticing that, for the first time i’ve ever seen, ALL of the terminals face away from each other. difficult to describe, but the end result is that almost no-one can see over the other person’s shoulder. It’s very odd and I’m wondering if it’s intended to give privacy at the point where Jordanian media access becomes truly global and unfettered.

Next few days: diving off Aqaba, then aiming to hop over to Eilat and then get the bus up to Jerusalem. After that back into Jordan to the Dead Sea and possibly some weaving (!) before heading home.

Radical City

3 February, 2009 1 comment

Aqaba is not the most inspiring town. In the league table of inspiring-ness, it will be languishing near the bottom looking forward to an end of season relegation battle with Scunthorpe and Sharm el Sheikh.

It took me 5 minutes to discover the dirty and innaccessible seafront and to tell 3 guys that no, I did not want to go on a glass bottomed boat.

Five more minutes to get to the museum and fort and decide they looked too dull to go into. In that five mins I also turned down three more gbb experiences, and walked into a chinese-looking massage place to find out the price of a massage.

At 10JD (£10) for an hour’s full body massage I thought it was too good to be true. I inquired whether that was shiatsu, swedish…? “Fuw Bawty” said the asiatic lady, “You wah naw?”. There was a smallish asiatic young man at her side looking even less inviting than the peroxided bangkok vision in front of me. I suspected he might be about to say “Pina. Dirty”, but he stayed a silent menacing munchkin. She might as well have said “me love you long time”. I remembered dutch traveller Marinus told me he’d been in exactly such a place on his way through Aqaba and 5 mins into his hour’s fuw bawty on refusing the scope creep of the project, he had to argue vociferously with said munchkin to get his money back. I left without making a booking. In hindsight I should have left with a flourish of disgust… but actually I said, innocently, “I can’t come now. Maybe tomorrow.”. I promise I’m not doing this on purpose – it never happens at home.

But on my way back to the Crystal Hotel I did find some life in the market area. A mixture of tourist tat, spice piles, illegal dvds, artistically butchered meat, fruit, veg and a series of old guys snoozing like they were in the house of lords beside their wheelbarrows of home grown radishes. I’m not sure if there is one, but I think the collective noun for radish sellers in this case should be a “slumber”. Of Radishers? no. Radicals, I think. But someone please come up with something better. feel free to comment below.

The city is divided into two. On one side the slightly run down but lively old-town of the locals and backpackers. On the other, the phallanx of beach-swallowing hotel chains. The first thing you hit as you walk along the front and enter the new world is a McDonalds. Of course it is. With wifi, though, so may have dinner there. None of the old-town hotels offer this service. If you’re lucky they have a compaq with 256mb of ram and a 15″ monitor in the foyer for 2JD/hr. Also, there is no cinema in Aqaba. But there is a video show in the Gateway centre about the culture of the region. I think you’re getting the picture of what a lone traveller is to do. He is to return to his room and read, sleep, write. And watch CNN reporting 20 minutes of every hour on how badly london is coping with a little snow. Is there nothing else going on in the world?!?! Or does their vision only extend out the window and onto Gt Marlborough Street?

My first wreck dive tomorrow. Excited. Am sure it’s better under the water than it is above.

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