Saturday, January 25, 2014

22nd January – Petra

Today is a Petra day. We decided we wanted to see the whole site and not just the famed Treasury building. There is so much to see … we walked abuot 15klms and then went back for the night show. Its been a slow season for tourists even in Petra. Riad tells us that we are particularly lucky to get unseasonably warm weather (19deg max) and no rain in the middle of winter. Riad tells of a sad event when one of his fellow guides, a friend, was killed in a flash flood of the valley with 15 French tourists in the 1990s, so it can be very dangerous if it does rain here.

ok...the most photographed structure on the planet...but how's this for a selfie!

These carved structures are all over Petra ... we tend to only see pictures of the Treasury
The hawkers are desperate with some finely tuned pitches, apparently in multiple languages. Just some examples…

“Just 1 Dinar ….. make my day”
“You’re back, I’ve been waiting for you ….”  (was only one way in and out)
“Half way stop, half price….” (on way up to the Monastery…900 steps)
“A nice present for your wife?”….”no thanks” ; “A nice present for your mistress then?”
“We have happy hour now for you … special prices” (apparently doubled)
“Hello, Money” (a youngster obviously still learning the trade)
“Taxi…its air conditioned…” (Donkey ride spruiker)

We meet the son of Marguerite van Geldermalsen--a New Zealand-born nurse- who became the wife of Mohammad Abdallah Othman, a Bedouin souvenir-seller of the Manaja tribe, and lived with him and their children in a community of 100 families in the ancient caves here. She wrote a book called “Married to a Bedouin”. 
Following in his father's footsteps
He was educated in Sydney but came back to Jordan and this Petra market stall. He and his mother are living in the Bedouin village developed for them by the government when the government wanted them moved out of the Petra caves in the 1980s. He tells us the new apartments have all the mod cons, including wireless Internet. They are very close to the caves. His stall sells crafts and jewellery hand made from a factory they run with 16 girls working there. He differentiated himself with “up market” offerings “No Happy Hour”; prices are fixed. We can tell that the girls are impressed and we promise to come back after lunch. Riad shows us the cave that Marguerite and Mohammad occupied.
I think Marguerite's cave is the penthouse on the left
It was in  a prime position … that is if you like living in a cave … but we’ll have to read the book to find out about that.

After a nice picnic style lunch (no buffet…yeah…), Gary, Geoff and myself decide to tackle the 900 steps to the Monastery. The others don’t feel up to it, and we know they are heading back to the stall to peruse the jewellery in earnest. We get offered for the 3rd time a donkey ride to the top for 10 Dinahs. We decline, preferring  “shanks pony” we tell them. The walk is not too bad and the scenery on the way up is spectacular. Of course there are souvenir stalls all the way up on each bend. The donkey ride price drops to 5 Dinars (we later find that is exclusive of the expected tip). The Monastery is likewise stunning, only slightly less so than the better known Treasury. I decide to walk the extra 10 minutes to see the spectacular view of the adjoining valley when I see a sign pointing upward with “Best views here”. Once I start up I see two more signs pointing to different locations. I go for the site which has the sign “Better than Best views here…” . The views are of course stunning….but also of course there is a stall at the top, obviously owned by the inventive sign makers, but empty today

On the way to the Monastery

The Monastery

I had to follow this....

This is what I found....
I also saw this ... decided not to test the safety rail!
The girls predictably return to the Jewellery stall with Riad, Larry and Yolie.  We forgot to pass on our “Waiting time predictor” to Riad and Larry. Larry tells us later that in the end Yolie wasn’t as interested so they split off themselves and took a carriage ride back to the bus (about 2.5 klms). The Girls say that Riad was ‘Very Patient”…. I think I’m going to have to upgrade the formula to put a loading for Jewellery stores!”.

We somehow miss a rendezvous with the girls and Riad at the Treasury and walk back to the bus. The girls take the “free” horse ride with the 3 Dinah tip … but well worth while. Back to the hotel … the girls go for the Turkish massage … we settle for the pool and spa. We return to the Treasury for the “night show” of Bedouin music and sweet tea. It’s a big walk in and out again, guided by 1500 candles…which did a pretty poor job of lighting the path. I’m glad I brought the torch. The music was pleasant but it would have been a better experience if the Treasury could have been lit up just a little…to justify the walk in and out.

Can you see the treasury building in the background?

Side Bar 1 – Selling Networks

The stall holders, donkey and horse taxi riders we saw are typical of what you see in any country or areas where people are struggling to earn a decent living. We see this in a lot of Asian, Middle Eastern and South American countries and even in the suburbs of well-developed cities. Beyond the clever pitches I am always stunned by how effective the “hidden network” is when you express just the slightest interest in something. It happened to me first in Bali over 30 years ago. I expressed an interest in a carved fisherman… which was not that common. However everywhere I went the vendors would see me coming and rustle around in their stock to pull out the ‘Fisherman”…their intelligence network was absolutely stunning. I also recall visiting a computer market many years ago, intent on building my own PC from parts. I had my list of “best of breed” parts, which no single stall holder had. However one entrepreneurial stall holder quickly ran around to the other stalls and picked up my parts (no formal transactions…they would settle up after) and then built my custom PC on the spot for me!

When I think about how “big business” goes about its work with expensive customer relationship management systems (CRMs); formal partnerships and agencies; sophisticated analytics; expensive advertising campaigns; you would have to think that there is something to be learnt from these small business networks, built on trust; but highly effective. I would love to map one of these networks but I suspect that their power is in the invisibility of it all. Our guide Riad comes from a large family and seems to be greeted by people everywhere he goes. I joke that he has many cousins. Marguerite’s Son told us that he himself has over 80 cousins just on the Jordanian side … what a start great start to a network!

Side Bar 2 – Shopping wait time predictor update

Wt = S*(N*T1/F)*ST

Where Wt = Predicted Wait Time
N = number of women in group
T = mean time for a single one woman visit
F = Fudge Factor for Group Trust
S = 1, if shop open; S = 0.5, if shop closed
ST = Shop Type Weighting; Jewellery/Clothes = 1.5; else 1.

Social Network Update

Today's new connections

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