In my three years of travel wrap up post, I talked about the fact that I wasn’t planning on monetizing Legal Nomads, but I never talked about press trips. My first ever press trip was to the Dominican Republic last summer, an adventure-filled jaunt through the lush northern coast of Hispanola. As I said then, the trip’s itinerary was one I could have built myself, and while accommodation was well above my budget, the experiences were a thrill and right up my alley. My position then and now is that if a destination is one I’m excited to visit and activities match my interests (and those of my readers), then a press trip is a terrific opportunity to see a new place in a whole different light. Which is why I’m thrilled to be heading to Jordan today, invited by the the Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) for a 10-day trip.
Fellow Montrealer Ken Kaminesky was recently a guest of the JTB & took this gorgeous photo from the Dead Sea.
The JTB has made a strong push of late to get bloggers involved in press trips to Jordan, something that isn’t an industry norm just yet. Moreover, the board has made a tremendous effort to personalize its trips to the bloggers it invites, tailoring Jordan’s many sights to match the personality and style of the invitee. It’s been great fun for me to follow friends and fellow bloggers during their trips to Jordan, and I’m looking forward to sharing my own experiences during my trip. I’ll be joined by my current roommate Shannon from A Little Adrift and as she said in her post announcing the trip, we’re both solo travelers so it will be a fun to change to have a constant sounding board as we move around. Starting early on the 4th, we’ll be flying out of Bangkok to Amman on Royal Jordanian Airlines and beginning the trip with a tour of Jordan’s capital city.
When I think of Jordan, I think of food. This is something I do often anyhow, but the Middle East is a culinary destination I have yet to explore via travel. Instead, I grew up with friends from Lebanon and Jordan and Egypt, eating family-style meals at tables overflowing with different mezze and light, fluffy bread to soak up every last drop. From them, I learned all about za’atar spice mix and creamy labneh yoghurt and garlic-seeped moutabel, a spicy roasted eggplant dip. Though I’m clearly enjoying foods from Asia, I’m itching to get my hands on these dishes and many more, especially those involving lamb. There is almost no lamb in Thailand and it’s one of my favourite meats, especially when grilled to perfection as is often the case in the Middle East. One of Jordan’s national dishes is mansaf, seasoned lamb cooked in dried yoghurt (called jameed) and topped with roasted pine nuts or almonds and served with rice. Recipes vary based on family and history but either way I’ve been gearing up for a mansaf-y feast in the coming days. The itinerary not only includes a cooking class in Jordanian food, but also sharing meals with local families. I’m especially looking forward to a meal with a Druze family, having done so many years ago and not tried the food since.
Of course, food isn’t everything (though talking to me you might think it is), especially in a place as rich in history as Jordan. We’ll be heading to world-famous Petra and to spend a night at Wadi Rum, as well as visiting the ruins of Jerash. A planned hike to the Siq Trail is off the itinerary because I got into a motorbike accident in Chiang Mai (nothing broken, and more about that later this month but let’s just say I’m not as mobile as I’d like to be!), so instead we will be visiting Feynan for bread and coffee making. Plans also include visits to local projects along the Ajlun train. And of course, there is ample time built in for a visit to the Dead Sea and surrounding area.
So, I’m saying goodbye to Chiang Mai after four great months here and flying to the Middle East, for the first time on this trip. My initial itinerary way back in 2008 included Egypt, Jordan and Israel but I ended up getting sick, going home to recuperate and having to miss out on this part of the journey. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to set that right and explore a part of the world whose history, culture and food has long fascinated me. As with the prior press trip, posts will include a disclaimer and tweets from the road will include a hashtag (in this case, #JO – fitting as it’s also my name!).
More to come from Jordan, interspersed with a Thrillable Hours post later this week.
34 thoughts on “Goodbye Chiang Mai, Hello Jordan”
This is going to be so fun reading both of your udpates over the next 10 days. Enjoy!
Thanks James! Just posted a sunrise pic from 40,000 ft – I’ve taken one on every early morning flight. Are you going to make me start a website of sunrises from above? :) Hope you’re doing well in Kuala Lumpur!
You are full of great ideas, Jodi! the name is now registered and that is your new project once you return ;)
Wow – I love the fact that the tourism board is realizing the value of bloggers, but I wish they would have spread some of this out a bit! You’ll have a great time there. Let me know if you need any tips! I had an amazing time living there volunteering in January! Enjoy!
It’s true that we’re all thus far going within days of each other, but each of the bloggers and photographers has their own voice, and it’s been fun to see the very personal take on similar places. Thank you for emailing me those great tips (love the sound of the sandwich shoppe!) and see you in June :)
Jodi– Have a wonderful time! I was in Jordan back in 2007 and can’t wait until I can find my way back. I’m looking forward to your posts :)
Thank you Shanna! I’ve just arrived and after a breakfast of moutabel and delicious yoghurt and fruit, I’m pretty happy to be here. I’ll be posted more on the Facebook Fan page (one off photos) but will do a round up here. Looking forward to your feedback and seeing if it compares with what you remember.
This sounds amazing! I agree with you that Middle Eastern food is absolutely amazing, and it is one thing I miss living in New Zealand right now. Druze food and culture is wonderful and amazing. But beyond food, the Dead Sea is one of the highlight days of my life. It was such a unique experience, and one I hope to have again. I have never been to Jordan, but I spent ten days in Israel, and I loved it. I wanted to go to Jordan, but I had to get back to the States for school. Oh well – just an excuse to go back (and live vicariously through you until I can).
It’s true, the more you read the more you want to see. I suffer from the same affliction ;) I’ve been to the Dead Sea (also on the Israeli side) and am curious to see how they compare. It was years ago, but I’ll never forget floating above the water, amazed at how something like this could exist on earth. You’ll get to Jordan someday, and until then enjoy your time in New Zealand!
There are some fabulous sights and foods to see in Jordan. I have yet to experience the culture but have actually had friends from there. It’s a shame so much of the Middle East gets a bad reputation but I am thankful and that travel and people, one person at a time, break down those walls and build through human relationships.
In reading about the Middle East protests, Jordan has not figured prominently and only had a small pocket of protests prior. From bloggy and non-blogger friends who have been here recently, the sentiment is overwhelmingly peaceful. It’s definitely been lumped in with the more aggressive protests in the area, but is a different history and background. Either way, happy to be here and letting the pictures, stories and food speak for itself :) Thanks for reading!
Dear Jordan Tourism Board (and Jodi),
I want to go too! Please personalize my trip so it includes cookies, okay?
P.S. (to Jodi) Have fun, lady! It’s going to be awesome!
Read about this on Shannon’s blog but I’m still just so excited for you guys (and a wee bit jealous). Jordan seems like an amazing place, can’t wait to read more about it.
Thanks Steph! Looking forward to seeing you in June!
Have a great and safe time in Jordan – looking forward to your updates, especially the food photos!
– Lily (Explore for a Year)
Hey Lily – so glad we got to have dinner before we both left Chiang Mai. Hope you have safe, continued travels and thanks for the comment!
How exciting! I’ve heard so many great things about Jordan from other travelers. I’m sure it will be fascinating. Can’t wait to read more about your adventure:)
You’re going to have an amazing time :) My experiences in Jordan were some of the most memorable from my trip – it’s stunningly beautiful, the food is great and the people are incredibly friendly. Can’t wait to hear what you make of it.
Awesome Jodi! Hope you have as wonderful a time as I did in Jordan, looking forward to swapping stories soon :)
So excited for you!! Jordan was high on my wish list too, but like you in ’08, we had to make some decisions and voted for Kenya/Uganda instead… which we’re flying to in 2 days! I wish you and Shannon a delicious journey :)
I saw Justin’s post about decisions and travel, and understand how hard it is to whittle down the world to one ‘next visit’ place. I’m very much looking forward to hearing about how your impressions of Africa contrast to these last few weeks in India. Safe travels and enjoy!
Jodi, I truly cannot wait for your trip. You will have a magnificent time. A book I would recommend is the newly released “Day of Honey” (available on Kindle as well). It is about food, culture, family, religion and conflict in the Middle East — with food being the primary lens through which the narrator tells stories. I think you would love it.
Happy travels to you!
Thank you Roxanne. I read a great review of that book recently, by Naomi Duguid: . Between you and Naomi, that book is now most definitely on my ‘must read list’. Appreciate the recommendation!
You seem to be awfully excited about Jordan’s bread for somebody who can’t eat it. :)
I’ve been training with Thai roti for the last few weeks and plan on eating it regardless of whether I ought to be doing so. Flatbreads and pitas from this area of the world can’t be missed!
Mmmmm. Can’t wait to read about (and see) the food!
How exciting. I would love to go to Jordan. I am excited just by this post alone. Can’t wait to find out more when you are over there.
Mike Hodson of “Go, See, Write” is in Jordan. Maybe you to can find time to connect. Have a great time. Hope you get to Petra and have a chance to snorkel or scuba in the Red Sea. The beach at Aqaba is very nice.
Mary Ann, I thought Michael was in Lebanon? I haven’t checked out his most recent updates in the last day or so but do we really need two lawyers gathered together in the Middle East (sorry Jodi – couldn’t resist!)?! :)
Former lawyers, Jeremy, former lawyers. It’s not the same when you’re not currently practicing.
MaryAnn, Hodson’s in Egypt now, diving to his heart’s content, but will be seeing him in June at the TBEX conference. Thanks for the tips and suggestions!
The Middle East is fascinating indeed, and Jordan must be really fantastic, you’ll love the region.
Have fun! Jordan is amazing. I just returned from a visit to Egypt and Jordan last week. You’ll love the food, hospitality and sights. I look forward to your posts!
Looking forward to what you will be getting up to over the next 10 days. i would love to be sent on a trip like this one :)
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