Tag Archives: travel photography

On your bike!

DSC_5951 - 2647

Travelling with kids in their age right now was great. We could do so much more than just walking around pushing the pram in a flurry of feeding and changing diapers in exotic places. They could ride bikes now. On their own, and actually enjoying it. So that’s what we did. We drove to a little town called Weert, which was close to my in-law’s place in Bornem. We rented bikes, joined by my in-laws, and spent the day just riding bicycle around the area. It was Spring of 2015 in Belgium, and the weather was just perfect.

I’m pretty clueless with directions and reading maps, but here is the area where we cycled. We did a 17 km loop, where we had to cross the water twice. It was quite fun to do, and it gave the kids (and me) much needed rest along the way. If we weren’t crossing the water, we were spoiled by the view we passed as we cycled through the countryside. We learned soon enough that using a church as a landmark was useless because they are everywhere. They were literally a stone’s-throw away wherever you were. Don’t believe me? Just look at the map!

bike routes - cycling in Weert




We took many beer/ice cream stops as well, to even out the calories burnt that day.


For more PHOTOS in Weert, please click here.

More on Belgium will come, just watch this space.

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Jerash, Jordan

After Ajlun Castle, we headed to Jerash, which was another impressive ruins we got to visit that day. Located 48 km north from Amman, Jerash is the largest and most well preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside Italy.

We could see the big arch gate from the road as we arrived, and I thought, wow, even from a distance it looked so impressive. It’s not your usual sight to see as you drive around a city these days.


Jerash is the second most popular tourist sight to see in Jordan after Petra, and I could totally see why. The place was incredible. It was believed that during the ‘Golden Age’, which was at the beginning of the 3rd century, Jerash may have a population of 20,000 people. The ancient city preserved today was the administrative, civic, commercial and cultural center of this community.


The Colonnade of the Roman Oval, Jerash, JordanIf you are interested to visit Jerash it may be best to be there during Jerash Festival (check here for event in 2014, it’s in Arabic so be sure to get your Google translator working), when the ancient city becomes alive and filled with amazing cultural and arts festival. Visitors can come and enjoy some dance performances, music, acrobat, theatrical troupes, amongst other things. At normal days, you could also see Roman army and Chariot Races performance at the Hippodrome. See here for details. We were unfortunate that we missed the show of the day when we were there

I still couldn’t believe how big everything was; there were the tall arches, gigantic theatres, tall pillars and more. It’s  a typical Roman ruins, that each individual stone that you saw was huge. Such great details were given to everything you need the whole day to discover them all.

It must have been a beautiful city to live in back in the day.

jerash 11


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Ajlun Castle, Jordan

Walking amongst the ruins was scheduled (heavily) for the day. Ajlun (Ajloun) Castle was our first destination. Located 50 km from Amman, Ajloun was standing proudly up on the hill. Through an uphill winding road we passed villages, some olive orchards and other interesting landscapes. Going further up we could still see patches of snow that blanketed the ground.

We stopped half way there, to stretch our legs and to have some fresh pomegranate we bought from the side of the highway (it was a real thrill to buy fruit on the road side full of high speed vehicles). The air was crisp, the snack was refreshing and the view of tiny buildings and tiny roads spread out in front of us was just amazing.

Ajlun castle, locally known as Qalat er-Rabad, was a magnificent castle that was built to defend the land held by the Arabs from the Crusaders and other enemies. The castle was the best example of  Islamic military architecture from the era.

Ajlun Castle, Jordan

the welcome drink wagon, Ajlun Castle - Jordan

These two men were standing ready at their ‘welcome station’, in the cold (notice the pile of snow behind them), with steamy hot drinks, ready to serve visitors. They were stationed right outside the gate going up the hill towards the castle.

Once we reached the castle we could see that the moat was still there, though the drawbridge was not there anymore. A modern foot bridge was built there instead to go straight to the main entrance. The castle severely damaged by an earthquake back in 18th century and restoration only has started at the beginning of 20th century.

The interior of the castle was also fascinating. You couldn’t help but to imagine that people did live there, even when the place was more a military fort than a luxurious residence. There were corridors with stunning ceilings, stairways to various chambers, and more. Some of the chambers now were dedicated to display some artefacts, old tools and odd coins. One chamber was dedicated just for museum like display area.

As a military fort, the castle was built for defence and ready for battle. Constructions for defence purposes were embedded throughout the castle. There were things like murder hole, arrow slits, even moat that were built there to help make the castle impenetrable. I did not actually see the murder hole from the tower; it’s where they poured hot oil or hot water down to burn intruders. I did see some arrow slits, slits where archers sat to target and shoot their arrows at enemies, even though I found it hard to imagine someone actually sat on that spot. It was not a spacious area, or maybe it was just enough leg space for smaller people from back in the days.

Thanks to its high location, from atop Ajlun Castle’s towers we could see far and long over   the land around it. It must have given them a huge advantage back then, because they could notice earlier on when enemies were coming.

Now left with no enemies’ threats in the horizon, it was very nice to be standing up there and take a moment to really enjoy the view spread out beneath us.

Next stop, Jerash.

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  • ohdearria01/03/2014 - 8:58 pm

    I thought it was pile of sand behind those two men! Oh My!ReplyCancel

    • [ayu]02/03/2014 - 4:57 pm

      It was the winter month, and some part of Jordan was cold and snowy. Where we stayed, down at the Dead Sea stayed warm even in December. It’s quite a different indeed, only after an hour or so driving.ReplyCancel

In Petra

Petra is amazing. No words, nor pictures can describe how amazing this place is. We went to visit Petra back in December. As one of the world’s 7 Wonders and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Petra surely didn’t disappoint.

You need more than just one day to visit Petra. To thoroughly see Petra. And preferably without kids with short legs 😉 . The area is massive. You will do a lot of walk, a lot of climbs mixed while standing with your mouth open looking up every two rocks or so. We were lucky to be there in winter, because the temperature was very nice. I heard it could be scorching hot in summer. I couldn’t imagine having to walk/climb/crawl in a 40 degrees heat weather.

Being there I had to juggle between taking pictures, exploring the place, while carefully walking the sandy paths that were  -in some part more than others- mined with animal droppings. We only had less than a day in Petra. We got there a little after midday and left just before it got dark. I think we only just ‘brushed’ the surface, though what a magnificent ‘surface’ it was.

Here are some images that were taken from the entrance to the Siq. It’s a sandy path about less than a kilometre long that divided in two; one for the animal (horses, carriages etc) and one path for visitors to walk. Even here we could already start to see some unusual rocks.

the way to the siqObelisk Tomb

The Siq.

The Siq is the main road leading to the city of Petra. It’s a 3-12m wide narrow path with 80m rocky walls along side of it. It’s the most interesting walk I’ve ever had. The rock walls around us was truly magnificent; not only in size but also in colours. Many Nabatean carvings were made along the walls, which are interesting and apparently quite functional, back in the days. Animals, including horse carriage, and people walk through here to reach the Treasury.

The Magnificent Siq



After the walk through the Siq came the Treasury. The square in front of the Treasury when we finally got there was full of people; tourist and locals alike, and also animals as transportation for hire. It’s challenging to get a decent clear shot of the Treasury since it’s so high (39.1m), and always full of people.

The Treasury, Petra - Jordan


The urn you can see at the top was believed, long time ago, to contain great treasure, that’s why it is called the Treasury until now.


From here we continued towards the Monastery. The way there is long, and to reach it we had to go up 800 steps or so . With two kids and their sets of tiny legs we decided to hire a donkey and some mules. From here on, the photo taking became somewhat limited, because I was concentrating hard to not fall off my ride. We passed the wall of façades, many great tombs and temples along the way. We did not have time to get off our rides and see every one of them. Our destination was the Monastery, and the way was up up and up. At a certain point near the top we had to get off our animals because they were not allowed to pass anymore. We walked the remainder of the steps slowly but surely. Again, I was grateful for the cool weather we had that day.

The Monastery, Petra - Jordan


For more detailed information of Petra you can visit here. IMHO, Petra should be in everyone’s bucket list!

The sun was setting, so we had to start to head back. Going down the 800 steps and the long walk was still ahead of us. We got the kids back on their donkey until we reached the Siq, because otherwise I didn’t think they would survive the long way back.


It’s been a long and tiring day and our muscles were sore for days after. But it’s oh so worth the pain.

Towards the Exit, Petra - Jordan

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  • Bijit Dutta04/02/2014 - 3:09 am

    incredible photographyReplyCancel

  • ohdearria07/02/2014 - 5:25 pm

    Wow! Amazing pictures Ayu, you’re so talented. Make me want to go to Petra/Jordan, one day! Keep sharing your beautiful shotsReplyCancel

  • [ayu]07/02/2014 - 11:47 pm

    makasih yaaa. semoga jangan bosen. there are other beautiful places in Jordan that I visited. I’m sorting through all the photos I took during the holiday, keep watching this space…xReplyCancel

  • […] her head was a piece  from our past holiday that had successfully flown me back to Petra, even when it was only in my head. First on her head, then in my […]ReplyCancel

52 Portrait Project – 4/52

Faces of Petra is the theme of this week’s portrait project. Even with the stunning view surrounding us when we were in Petra, the locals had their way to make their presence truly felt. I’m talking about the trading locals who filled the area in front of the Treasury, who were there in throngs, with their various items to sell and animals for hire. We’ve got a wide selection of items to buy from them; silver bracelets, necklaces, (claimed to be) authentic old/antic coins, scarfs and postcards. The four-legged variety mode of transportation was also available there. You can choose between camels, donkeys, mules, horses, or, if riding on layers of blankets on top of moving animals is not for you, you can opt to sit like a true tourist princess in one of horse carriages.

Most of the sellers were the local Bedouin from Petra. Back in the 70s and early 80s some of people from the Bedouin tribe actually lived in the caves and resided amongst the rocky ruins around. Not anymore though, as these days no one is allowed to live inside Petra for better preservation of the area, so now the Bedouins are there only during opening hours to conduct their business.

Back to the portraits now. Here’s Salomon. He’s a young teenage boy with kind eyes, high energy and very little English. We started our ‘relationship’ with a misunderstanding over a price of silver bracelets (he wanted to sell by the grams, while I bargained based on the number of items). We ended up spending most of our day there with him (and his borrowed donkeys), because he turned out being very helpful, though not so informative as a guide. Kind eyes can go a long way, I guess.

the donkey charmer, petra - jordan


These were the postcard selling girls. These girls were very friendly, playful and giggly. I gave them a Polaroid as a souvenir. They looked so happy.

postcard sellers, petra - jordan


These old men were working together in front of Treasury. They dressed as period soldiers/guards, and then went to approach tourists who wanted to take photographs together for some small tips. These two looked tired and a bit sad. After receiving some tips and lots of thanks from us they went off, back to work. On to the next group.

old soldier 1, petra - jordan

old soldier 2, petra - jordan

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