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28 March 2013

Chasing Railways

When we moved to Jordan, I thought that I wouldn't visit Wadi Rum more than a couple of times more than I already had (previous adventures found here). But then a friend, a British friend, mentioned that he was thinking of renting a car and driving across the desert to see some train stations that had been blown up in WW1 by Lawrence of Arabia. These stations used to exist on a train line during the Ottoman Empire that extended from Medina to Damascus and is known as the Hejaz Railway.

After my diva worthy questions on the expected standard of the toilet facilities, I decided to get over my unfounded fears of falling into quicksand and accompany Louis and our friends on the trip.

The plan was to drive down the Kings Highway, spend the morning at the Dana (pronounced "Dhana") nature preserve and then head over to spend a night in Wadi Rum before heading off towards the Saudi border in the morning. The term "highway" was, in my opinion of road classification, completely misrepresenting of what was the windiest, scariest, narrowest road I had been on in Jordan. Remember me showing off about my experiences with windy roads? Well, let's just say this was a little scarier...maybe because I haven't been on these types of roads for a while, but, that's besides the point. 

Anyway, we arrived to Dana late and only had time to see the village and have some lunch there. We then headed off to Wadi Rum to catch the last rays of sunshine. After dinner in the camp we were staying in we were figuring out the logistics of our desert trip. We had asked the owners of the camp to enquire/arrange for a guide to drive us down to Mudawwarah near the Saudi border where we'd find one of the train stations. From that point we would be able to head back to Amman alone, on a highway that runs parallel to the Hejaz Railway.

The bedouins in the camp were convinced that we were wasting our time because the train tracks had been removed by the government years ago and we wouldn't see anything interesting. They kept telling us that the roads were dangerous (and the sand soft) and that driving to Mudawwarah would take approximately 4 hours! Luckily, the friend planning the trip was unfazed, and kept repeating that we were here for the adventure and we weren't going back to Amman so easily. 

I'm so glad that we stuck to the plan. It took us less than 3 hours to get to Mudawwarah, a series of tents and a couple of brick buildings in the middle of nowhere. What was so wonderful though was that the train station there was completely in tact! In fact, there was a family living there, a group of girls and women who had taken it upon themselves to paint the inside walls in a shade of marshmallow pink(!). They welcomed me and my girlfriend (the gents were not allowed inside because it was a family home) into the station to have a look around. 

I was really happy to hear that one of the girls was studying for her high school finals this year and taking it seriously. When I asked whether she'd get married after high school, her and her mom told me that she was in fact going to university first :) It's so inspiring to see bedouin girls intent on education, since so many small villages still don't value educating the female population (I'm sure a topic for another time). 

I don't have many pictures of the trip as I didn't take my phone but here are some photos courtesy of J Halpin (thank you!). 

Have a great weekend (and Easter weekend if you're in the UK) everyone!


PS My mom is visiting for a week which I am so excited about! Guess where we're taking her?! Yes, Wadi Rum is on the agenda ;) Also hoping to do Petra and the Dead Sea so I'll post some pictures of our adventures when I get a chance!

That's the train station in the background and we believe these concrete slabs are track foundations.

Train station, completely standing! This looks like it would have been the station entrance. Love the blue and green paint :)

The tracks would have run on top of this stone path.

Definitely blown up station! Work of Mr. Lawrence!

Another blown up station. I was admiring the other side of the building where you could see more than one level.


  1. btw u look great in ur lumberjack shirt...did u guys should go treasure hunting loool...

    1. Thanks Ray! I know how to dress the part of an adventurer. Need me an Indiana Jones hat ;)


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