Landing on Mars My fantasies in Wadi Rum, Jordan

I’ve heard of the movie, Lawrence of Arabia, but never watched it. Thus I didn’t know about Wadi Rum until I booked flights to Amman and researched on what to see. It’s true that seeing is believing: this famed red desert breathtakingly impressed this sci-fi nerd. I’ve never been to Mars but I’ve seen scenes of the red planet, Vulcan, in Star Trek—it’s as if I just got beamed down to meet Spock.

Heading into Wadi Rum
The train station in Lawrence of Arabia
Our private jeep was piloted by a local Bedouin guide
Off-roading like a cowboy
Charging into the valley of gigantic rock mountains

My friend Billy and I were dropped off at a gift shop by our regular private tour guide outside of this national park. A local Bedouin man in a white 4x4 jeep picked us up to embark on the journey into his territory. We drove by the train station used in the movie. That’s a real working station with rail tracks. Then we left the paved highway to go off-roading over the sand. Before arriving at the first vista point, our driver performed a few horse riding tricks using the vehicle. He even yelled out “yee-haw” for his American audience. That brought out the cowboy in me. I yearned to tame this uncharted land.

Camels for tourists to ride

The second pit stop was a camel farm where tourists could pay to ride. I wanted to try but there’s not enough time. The front and hind legs of the camels were all loosely tied together so they could only walk, not run away.

"There are no wild camels in Jordan anymore," said our Bedouin guide.

The third stop was a camp site flanked by gigantic rock formation. I wish I had more days during this trip to stay overnight inside Wadi Rum. The stars would’ve been amazing to gaze, though January nights would be too cold to spend in the desert. The camps were tented rooms with beds and there were bathrooms as well.

Across from the camp was a sandy slope. Other tourists all climbed up, so we did too. Standing on the hill, Billy and I executed a bit of a fashion shoot. The lighting and the angle were just right. In my mind, I transformed from a Starfleet officer into a fake prince of the royal kingdom of Arabia.

Me & Jesus light

On top of the golden ridge, I was awed by the majesty of nature. No matter what roles I pretended to be, I was only a speck in the grand scheme of the universe, much like the sand grains in my shoes. The footprints I left in the soft sand, like figments of my imagination, would eventually blow away.

Created By
Benjamin Chiang


Benjamin Chiang

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