Crossing Jordan

I arrived in Amman, Jordan, officially named the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a few days ago from Qatar.

Jordan is very centrally placed amongst a number of nations that are hotbeds of issues, including Iraq to its East, Syria to its North, the West Bank and Israel to its West and Saudi Arabia to its South, with Lebanon nearby as well.

Upon arriving here I had a few friends send me messages questioning why I would go to Jordan, assuming it is a dangerous place to be. But that is simply not the case.

Given its location, I could see why people feel that way. At the airport, one of the destination options on the taxi sheet is the Iraq border and there are numerous signs leading from the airport stating, “turn left, Iraqi Border�.

But just because Saddam Hussein created a massive disaster in Iraq, and the American government decided to immerse itself into it and make it even worse, does not mean that Jordan has to be involved.

Actually, the story of Iraq and Jordan is one of two Husseins. Two very different Husseins!

Saddam was a horrible dictator who retained power through fear and terror. In Jordan, however, King Hussein helped guide his country to becoming an oasis of peace, stability and moderation in the middle East throughout much of the latter half of the 20th century.

It is truly amazing what a difference one person can make, especially when they have access to a great amount of power (power means money and guns).

I only spent a few days in Amman, but can report that it was a very beautiful city full of very nice, friendly, intelligent people.

Jordan doesn’t have the oil wealth of the rest of the gulf to its South but the city has a vibrance and life to it that you just can’t get in places like Dubai and Qatar, where the only time you ever see any locals is as they whisk by in their Indian chauffer driven Mercedes and Lexus’.

The history and culture of Jordan is as deep as anywhere in the world and the city of Amman reflects that, with a very ancient feel to it, combined with a nice amount of modernity.

I really only went out one night in Jordan, as I was only there on a Monday and Tuesday night, which were, as expected, very quiet.

I stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Amman and it was excellent. Nearby are many other luxury hotels, including Le Royale.

I heard there was a good lounge at Le Royale called Cube, but it was closed on a Monday night. The nightclub at the Hyatt, called JJ’s, was also very quiet, which left me to consider just packing it in.

However, as I was walking back to my hotel a taxi driver lured me in with, “girls? Lebanese, Syrian girls!�. Wanting to at least experience something in Amman, I hopped in his cab and he took me to some shady looking place.

As I walked in, it was apparent I was the only one there… the place was as gawdy as could be, with really crappy looking cafeteria style table and chairs. On stage was a live Arabic band (who actually weren’t that bad). Also on stage, flanking the band, were two sets of 6 girls, just standing there on each side of the band, almost like they were at attention in a military parade, except smoking and somewhat just milling about.

Feeling very awkward I sat down and ordered a drink. They brought over 4 plates for me: apples, carrots, cucumbers and oranges. Mmmm mmmm, cucumbers!

After a while one girl came and approached me. She told me not many girls there speak English because every single one of them was from Morocco.

I said ok… I ordered another drink… the band kept playing, the girls kept standing there. Finally I ordered one more drink, but thought I better ask how much they are first because places like this can sometimes be huge rip-offs. The waiter didn’t know. The bartender didn’t know. I just looked at them like, “you don’t know how much the drinks you serve cost?�. They all looked flustered and called the owner over. He informed me the drinks were nearly $30 each! I informed him that I would soon be leaving then.

Before I left I kinda talked to one of the girls who was one of the cuter ones there. She didn’t speak much English though (note: everyone in Jordan seems to speak very good English). I asked her if she wanted to come with me and go somewhere else. Her English speaking friend told me she cannot do that.

I just looked confused. What is the deal with these girls?

The girl told me I should get her # and call her tomorrow. I did… then she said, “don’t you want to tip her for giving you her #?�… I was just plain confused and said, “Why?�… they looked confused as well.

So, I guess, that place specializes in expensive drinks and has a bunch of girls who you can give some money to if they give you their phone #?

Anyway, I left after that and called it a night!

I hear that on the weekends, Amman nightlife is pretty good… but don’t bother going out on Monday nights!

I am currently at the Amman airport waiting to get on a flight to Tel Aviv for a few days. It will be very interesting to visit that place.

As for Jordan, it is very nice here… I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again and recommend it for anyone in the area… but if you want to go out to any clubs in the evenings, just wait until the weekend! (btw, weekend nights in the middle east are Thursday and Friday evenings as they generally work on Sunday)