Jordan: Madaba, Mount Nebo, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Dead Sea

By Cubie - March 05, 2020

The Promised Land
The day where transportation was easiest but also most expensive. The 4 places above are popular circuit for day trip from Amman. Despite their popularity, it still wasn't easy to get to these places by public transport.

The guesthouse where I stayed didn't have the option of joining other people for a cheaper alternative. So I engaged a driver via the guesthouse to get to Madaba, Mount Nebo, Bethany and Dead Sea, in that order because I treated myself to a night's stay at the Dead Sea, JOD 55.

My stop in Madaba was to visit the famous Mosaic Map at St George's Church. Entrance fee JOD 1 (not included in Jordan Pass)

Housed in this 19th-century Greek Orthodox church is this mosaic map, crafted in AD 560, represents the oldest map of Palestin in existence and has 157 captions (in Greek) depicting all the major biblical sites of the Middle East.

Part of the mosaic map

Inside the church

Mount Nebo
Entrance fee JOD 2 (not included in Jordan Pass)

Mount Nebo, where Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land, a land he was forbidden to enter. It is believed that when Moses died at age 120, he was buried in the area.

Inside the area, one can also enter the Moses Memorial Church which also house magnificent mosaics.

Moses' view of the Promised Land towards ancient Gilead, Judah, Jericho and the Negev is marked by an Italian-designed bronze memorial next to the church. The ironwork is said to symbolise the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross and the serpent that 'Moses lifted up' in the desert.

Just as Moses Lifted up the Serpent in The Desert, the Son of Man Must be Lifted up, So that Everyone Who Believes in Him May Have Eternal Life. (John 3:14-15)

Souvenir workshop
I didn't sign up to visit a souvenir shop but it included a demonstration on mosaic which was interesting enough so I'm not complaining.

Aside from mosaic making, also on offer was ostrich egg. I have no idea why I didn't take a photo. The ostrich egg was made by using crushed mosaic so it had a coarse texture. I was told that first the mosaics were crushed, then water was added to make it into liquid. Then some talcum powder was added make it less watery. Lastly a needle like apparatus was used to poke the egg to form the art required.

I almost bought this but walked away with a mosaic magnet. The word 'Jordan' was written with glue, then she added the said using a small funnel. After adding topping with sand, it was made compact by tapping the sand and make circular movements on a rough stone surface. Lastly glue was added and let dry.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan / Al-Maghtas
AD 26 - Jesus Christ is said to be baptised in Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan by John the Baptist. The first church is built soon after at Rihab, reputedly proteccting Jesus' disciples from persecution in Jerusalem.

I thought of visiting but wasn't sure if the trip would happened, so I didn't add Bethany Beyond the Jordan in to my Jordan Pass on purchase. I ended up paying JOD 12 at the ticketing office. If I added this option to my Jordan Pass, I would get a small discount and paid additional JOD 8 instead.

Visiting this Baptism site is a little different, the ticket comes with a sort of guided tour that goes for an hour. I said sort of, because I am unsure if the guide was for the whole group or just few people. Haha. After getting the tickets, we waited for a shuttle bus that leaves about every 30 minutes.

After a couple of viewing points, we reached the Baptismal Pool. This is no longer on the Jordan River as the river path has moved over the course of time.

From here, we continued walking towards Jordan River. Just before arriving at the Jordan River, the walking trail passes a golden-roofed Greek Orthodox church dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

Onwards to the Jordan River.

According to the LP travel guide, it is said that you can be baptised if the Jordan if accommpanied by a priest. No baptism happened when I was there, not at the Jordan side but yes, at the Israel side. At the time, I didn't realised that bapstim was in progress and tried to ask one of the soldiers. He misunderstood me and told me I should not go into the water. Haha. I didn't proceed asking but have since realised what happened at the other side of the bank.

Dead Sea
One of the world's saltiest bodies of water needs no further introduction.

This was my last stop of the day. After checking in, I walked to the beach area and slathered myself with mud, waited for it to dry and walked into the water. It was so buoyancy that it is tricky to navigate in the water. I tasted a drop of water to confirm that it was indeed very salty.

The container that was filled with mud goodness
Salt crystals sedimentation and Israel in faraway
Not much of a sunset when I was there but pretty nonetheless
I stayed in Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea for the night. The hotel was designed to look like Arabic Village setting.

I arranged for Raed, the driver to pick me up from the hotel and send me to the airport the next day, JOD 35. He told me in advance that if he didn't come, he would send his brother and texted me to confirm that his brother would come the same night.

Side note: Please have good weather in Darwin!

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