Life was sweet as I cracked the 10 Year Travel Journey Mark. What it was was a decade of my life where I had lived or been away from my hometown – travelling, studying, working, exploring, backpacking. It happened on 26th September 2013, I had been away for 10 years now and was loving the new lifestyle I had created. I had no idea where I would be the night that the 10 years passed by, and it was Wadi Rum desert, Jordan.
As an unexpected treat, and totally without me knowing it was going to be my 10 year anniversary away, I ended up touring Wadi Rum in Jordan. This immense desert is one of the top spots from my recent travels and I loved it. It wasn’t planned to be in Wadi Rum at that time. All we knew was we would be touring Jordan, Palestine and Israel around the time I’d celebrate 10 years away. It was a special night in the end, camping beneath the stars, out in the cold desert, eating with the cool guys from Rum Stars Camp.
These guys at Rum Stars Camp, had no idea it was my 10 year travel anniversary, I wasn’t going to tell them. But they’ll know now from reading this and let me tell you – I couldn’t have possibly picked a better company, better place or better atmosphere to celebrate the 10 year mark. It was simply incredible. Ahmed that runs the Rum Stars company personally organised the tour for us, and even joined us for singing and music at night. A great host.
After a long hike through the desert with my girlfriend Panny Yu and a Canadian couple, we arrived, pre sunset at our base for the night. Read the previous post here: Hiking in Wadi Rum.
The campsite was amazing. Simply incredible. Luxury tents. White and black Bedouin tents, all cosy and comfortable inside!
When we arrived after the long hike, we wanted to chill out and relax and that we could. It was safe. It was cosy. It was warm. It was a happy place. When you travel you know you are passing through these places fast and you must must must savour the moments.
We dumped our bags in the tent, we chilled out for a bit, we took some photos, we even had a shower!! Amazing – showers in the desert. They’re cold of course and please go easy on the water – it takes them a while to import the water over here and fill up the tank above the custom built toilet.
This Bedouin Camp is beside a massive rocky area in Wadi Rum.
I had that kind of defining celebration moment to myself in the desert that night, the pose below is meant to be a representation of me happy to be away from Northern Ireland for a decade.
I also got my laptop out and did some typing in the desert. Odd you might think, and so yes after a short time doing that, I did wise up, put it away for the night and enjoyed the atmosphere.
The camp is excellent. Rum Stars Camp has about 10 tents with more in construction. The camp is beneath a massive rock in the desert for protection and shelter, this also makes a good place to store the water tank.
The tents are constructed of steel posts and strong, thick, warm bedouin canvas to cover. The tents are then forked down into the sand, where they remain. Strong winds try, but the tents stay firm in the camp. Inside there is a cosy warm bed. Once it’s dark, use your torch of course. Don’t be a posh twat and ask if they have lights or electricity. Of course not and nobody would want that!! You’re in the desert. Love it!
We are welcomed by our hosts on arrival after the long hike. Ahmed and his crew have gathered around a fire they are starting. It’s not yet dark. We are first given free tea. This is the desert. There are no cashiers, visa machines or any of that shot. Life as it should be.
The tea goes down a treat and we drink a few cups. It’s time to watch the sun sink and have a shower before the big event. Dinner time in the desert!
Dinner time in the Wadi Rum desert is special. Really special. The chefs cook everything here for us. They show us an underground hot stove in the sand where they have prepared the meat and vegetables. It actually reminds me of the Hangi Food in New Zealand, back in 2007, when I was just over the half way mark on my journey.
What was for dinner? A massive feast is all I can say. Rice, bread, chicken, potato. So much to eat. A buffet.
Granted we are in a Muslim state here, so there is no booze, but I saw the foresight the previous night and bought myself a can of Petra Beer. I wanted that wee beer to celebrate the 10 years away and when I burst it open in the tranquil desert that night, I got a shiver down my spine and I knew that life was good. I drank the beer with my dinner.
The Travel Blogger – Laura from What About Her
Just before dinner I got talking to the couple next to Panny and I. They were from the Netherlands and they were also travel bloggers!! At least Laura Coolen, the travelling Dutch girl was. She runs an awesome travel blog called What About Her (check it out please!). We chatted for a bit about travelling and blogging, shared trip stories, interests and business cards.
The music we heard in Jordan is still something I hum and sing all the time. The sounds of “Rida ha Rida ha, Yida ha Yida ha” (Song about a girl) I’ve had in my head ever since this trip. My the campfire at night, Ahmed and the boys treat us to some quality Bedouin style campfire music. It’s brilliant. It’s fitting. Everybody loves it and we even join in as proceedings come to a close.
Deserts are cold but we have an awesome campfire to sit around and chat. After the music and some casual chatting, it’s time to watch the stars…
Time has moved fast for me in 10 years, I’ve met Panny Yu. I’ve backpacked through over 80 countries across all 7 continents and it was time to sit back and relax. We sit and watch the stars. There are a few of them. There are a few scores of them. There are a few hundred of them. There are a few thousand of them. There are a few million of them. Yes there are stars everywhere. Panny and I watch some falling stars. Whether it’s a myth or an optical illusion, I believe the stars fell. We saw falling stars in the Wadi Rum desert that night and loved it. It was cold, dark, windy and wondrous. 10 years was up on my travel timeline, but it was time to rest those weary eyes.
Great tents, quiet landscape, peaceful, comfy. All in all probably the best night’s sleep we’d had for a while!! This was a great place to sleep and a cool experience of branded camping, e.g. planetcamping.co.uk/ .
“I like the way your sparkling ear-rings lay, against your skin so brown.
And I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight, with a billion stars all around” – Don Henley/Glenn Frey.
We woke up early to watch sunrise in Wadi Rum and I smiled shyly knowing I’d done a 10 year stint away from little Bangor in Northern Ireland. Ten years is a long time and it was a great time. I really could not have picked a better place on the planet to have had this special moment. Thanks to Ahmed and Rum Stars Camp for everything. We totally loved it!! Please get in touch with Ahmed if you want to book a Wadi Rum tour (tell him you know me and he might even remember this backpacking Northern Irishman and give you a free cup of tea).
A few videos I made of the night camping in the Bedouin tents in the Wadi Rum desert, Jordan: