I wake up in the Bedouin tent still irritated. I sulk more for the fact that I could not sleep under the open sky last night than for someone having had rubbed his manhood on me.
As I open up the thick camel skin covering the entrance of the tent, light floods in to reveal the brilliant colours and patterns of the carpets surrounding me. It’s a simple place, furnished only with a bed, a lamp, and a piece of string hanging across the ceiling which I used to hang my clothes – and I suddenly feel grateful for having had a moment in this beautiful place, which I would not have had had I slept outside.
After a simple breakfast of yoghurt, bread and fruits, I am taken back to the Wadi Rum village at the entrance of the desert, where I wait with Mahdi and a couple of other Bedouins for my guide to arrive. Today I will be doing a jeep tour to see the key sites of Wadi Rum, finishing it with a Bivouac camping where I will be sleeping in the middle of the desert in a real ‘Bedouin style’ (i.e. no showers, no toilets).
Last night’s all too fresh memory still bothering me, I only answer Mahdi’s polite questions enquiring about my day yesterday with monosyllabic replies….until this conversation happens:
“Where are you from?” A Bedouin on my right enquires.
“Korea” I give him an already well practiced answer.
“Ah! You know the Buffalo Face?” “A what?” “The Buffalo Face! The Buffalo Face!”
It takes a good few puzzled questions from me to finally understand.
“Buffalo Face! Crazy guy! In North! The Buffalo Face!” It suddenly clicks that he’s referring to Kim Jong Un in DPRK.
I’m quite glad to be back in the familiar company of Id, and can’t help but to be a little disappointed when he drops me off at the first stop of Lawrence Spring and tells me I can go and explore the area by myself. Albeit being alone most of times, the jeep tour turns out to be a great way to see what Wadi Rum has to offer.
Lawrence Spring – It requires a small climb of around 10 minutes to reach a small area of natural spring water surrounded by wild ferns and trees. I spend some time trying to get a good close up photos of blue and red dragonflies, pick a lavender looking flower and press it between pages of my diary (it shall be a birthday gift to my friend back in the UK), and attempt to have a quiet, introspective time. But I soon got bored and climb back down.
Khazali Canyon – This canyon was once used by the local Bedouin to rest in the shades. Many ancient inscriptions in old Arabic and drawing of animals can be found on its walls.
Red Sand Dune – One of the few sand dunes I came across in the desert. Trying to climb to the top in the blazing heat is not an easy task. My walking sandals dig deep into the sand making each step heavy and tiresome, and the soles of my feet burn when I try walking with barefeet. I’ve heard some tourists use a board to slide down the dune or even roll down it, both of which I would have loved to have a go at. But I feel too silly to do it by myself so I resort to running down the dune and try glide down as if surfing – a compromise between trying to have fun and trying to look cool. It didn’t work.
Lawrence House – A house with the legend that Lawrence of Arabia had stayed here during the Arab Revolt. The legend is not true (Lawrence did not cross this area) and there isn’t much to look at but shabby ruins.
Then comes the time for lunch. It has been very windy whole day, and it takes some time for Id to find a suitable corner where we will be sheltered from sand blowing everywhere. Even with the blue jeep strategically parked to block our corner from the wind, simple activities continue to be a struggle. First we struggle to lay a mat on the ground, and then we cannot start the fire. Sand keeps blowing into our eyes and mouths making any sort of conversation impossible. As the last resort, Id makes some space at the back of the jeep and brings in the food inside. I grew up in Korea with the “floor culture”, so sitting and sleeping on the floor without any elevated furniture is a second nature to me. Id notices me sitting comfortably with my legs crossed and exclaims, “You are sitting like a Bedouin!” I feel smug, even if the pride I feel is something very childish.
After lunch, we find a spot for a nap. Id disappears somewhere without telling me anything, but I have already grown familiar with the Bedouin ways of not offering much explanation so it doesn’t really bother me.
In the distance the wind and the sand has turned the sky cloudy, and it gets a little chilly in the shades. Id comes back having put on an extra garment that covers him from neck to foot, lies on the hard uneven floor of the rock, wraps his entire face with his red headscarf and falls asleep. He reminds me of an Egyptian mummy, Bedouin style.
I also use a raised plane of a rock as my pillow, find the most comfortable position and close my eyes. I hear the gusty wind, eagles calling, and occasionally, Id snoring.
DAY 6: 23 September 2013, Jeep Tour at Wadi Rum