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Petra: Stepping back in time in the Rose City

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Scubaverse blogger Sean Chinn continues his travels in Jordan with a trip to iconic Petra.

It’s no great secret that Petra is Jordan’s most famous and most visited tourist attraction. Classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, it is the perfect addition to any dive trip. Take a day off from diving and step back in time to around 300 B.C. visiting the ancient carvings in the pink sandstone cliffs. Be blown away by the intricate details in the architecture and the sheer size of the cliffs that tower above.

It takes around two hours to drive from Aqaba to Petra, but after an early rise to make the most of a full days tour, it’s enough time to rest your eyes and re-energise. As you get closer to Petra, the journey through the desert becomes more scenic and there is a chance to stop for refreshments at a roadside tourist shop with panoramic views over the canyon – Wadi Araba View. It was a breathtaking sight, reminiscent of when I stood and looked over the Grand Canyon five years ago. From there it was a short journey down the mountain to the entrance to Petra.

Unfortunately, I have to admit we hit a big crowd on our trip due to a cruise ship mooring that morning and a number of guests opting to visit Petra on their stay. I was a little worried that this could put a dampener on the day but luckily it’s quite a long walk through Al-Siq (a narrow canyon carved through the sandstone cliffs) of around 1.2km. This meant that the crowds had chance to spread out the more you ventured inside. We took our time to allow more chance to really get a feel for the beauty that surrounded us on our walk. The Siq is a natural geological fault split apart by tectonic forces. It was only later that it was worn smooth by water that flowed into Wadi Musa. The textures created in the sandstone gorge from this are an absolute marvel to behold.

Al-Siq serves as the gateway to Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), one of the most elaborate temples carved out of a sandstone rock face in Petra. No words can truly describe the feeling that you get when your eyes first witness the carvings through the narrow canyon walls. The phrase ‘it takes your breath away’ is used far too easily but in this instance I did take a little gasp as I composed myself to take a photo.

It’s a lot bigger than you imagine and towers high in the cliff face. The craftsmanship that went into building it beggars belief, especially in a time without the modern technology we take for granted today. You can tell it’s the site in Petra that most go to see and the crowds that seemed to disperse as we walked through Al-Siq had now gathered under this amazing sight.

I’d love to visit again at a quieter time and plan my trip to see Petra by night lit up with thousands of candles. I also didn’t get the chance to take the longer walk to The Monastery, which is around an hour’s climb north of Petra’s city centre. Certainly something I would have liked to have done given more time on my trip.

Petra truly is an amazing wonder of the world and well worth a visit as part of your dive holiday. If historical, cultural attractions and sheer, beautiful landscapes are of major interest to you, then I would even recommend staying overnight in Petra and taking your time over a two day tour. That way, you really get chance to explore everything and immerse yourself in the magic. Something I may consider on my next visit to Jordan.

Sean Chinn’s scuba diving adventure started in a freezing cold quarry back in January 2011. Maybe the reason he wasn't instantly hooked! However, after an amazing trip to Indonesia in 2013, he realised he needed to see more of the underwater world. With no photography background, he enlisted some help in developing both his diving and photo skills. This kickstarted his diving and underwater photography adventure which has become something of an addiction. Seeing and photographing wildlife is Sean’s real passion in diving but he is always keen to try new ideas.

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Book Review: Erebus – The story of a ship (2019)

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In a title of six words, Erebus: The story of a ship, Michael Palin tells us precisely what his book is all about. Through a comprehensive analysis of the Ship’s Logs and crew reports, personal letters, private and naval journals, books, papers and newspaper articles he documents the life of the ship and its crews. He traces their histories from the launch of the ship at Pembroke dock in 1826, via unremarkable Mediterranean patrols, lengthy voyages to Australia to bone chilling Antarctic and Arctic expeditions. They culminate in the last crew abandoning the ship, trapped in Arctic pack ice, in 1848.

However, Erebus: The story of a ship is more than a mere chronology of dates, actions and events. Michael Palin tells us a complex story. It’s an evolving story of the interpersonal relationships of those men serving on the ship; relationships that blossom and those that deteriorate. It includes accounts of influential men and women who shaped the voyages and crew selection. It also notes the impact of sponsors and suppliers who may have contributed to the final tragedy. It’s a story illustrated by Victorian photographs, other colour photographs and paintings, sonar images, maps and sketches. They all serve to provide a picture of the life and death of those on board HMS Erebus.

In 1846, during the heroic but ill-fated Franklin Expedition, HMS Erebus, her companion ship HMS Terror, captained by Francis Crozier, and a total of 129 men, “vanished off the face of the earth whilst trying to find a way through the Northwest Passage” (ppxii – xiii). This was the prized northern route to China and India via Arctic waters. HMS Erebus wasn’t seen again until one hundred and sixty-nine years later under thirty-six feet of Arctic water. Divers found the wreck remarkably intact as their description and photographs reveal.

Palin describes how the search for Erebus and her crew extended over decades – often suggesting missed opportunities as well as shocking findings. His summary account of the last desperate months and weeks of their survival, as the expedition disintegrated, is poignant in the extreme.

It’s tempting to describe the book as a slow burn that builds into an inferno – but words like ‘burn’ and ‘inferno’ are at odds with Palin’s descriptive account of the mind numbing cold of Arctic winters and a ship entombed in pack ice for years. Certainly, the pace of the early chapters appear relatively slow when compared to the final crescendo – but they provide an invaluable background to an understanding of the unfolding drama.

You don’t have to be a historian or a marine archaeologist, a sailor or traveller to marvel at the story of HMS Erebus and her crews. You don’t have to be a sentimentalist to read: ‘The one comfort from the whole unmitigated disaster was the news that bodies had been discovered far enough south to prove that Crozier had led his doomed men to the last link in the chain of marine connections that made up to Northwest Passage’ (p. 261).


Erebus: The story of a ship (2019)

  • By Michael Palin
  • London: Arrow Books        
  • ISBN 9781 784 758578     
  • 334 pp

Michael Palin has written and starred in numerous TV programmes; perhaps Monty Python is one of the most famous. He has made several acclaimed travel documentaries to the North and South Pole as well as the Sahara desert and the Himalayas. His books include Hemingway’s Chair (1998) and The Truth (2013). Between 2009 and 2012 he was President of the Royal Geographical Society. Michael Palin was knighted in 2019 and lives in London.


Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

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SSI introduces new SSI Decompression Diving Specialty Program

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SSI has announced the latest addition to their Recreational Diving program, the SSI Decompression Diving Specialty.

SSI developed this innovative new specialty to bridge the gap between recreational diving and their Extended Range (XR) programs. The SSI Decompression Diving Specialty is the perfect opportunity for recreational divers to get a small taste of what more advanced diving is like without having to commit to going entirely technical right off the bat.

Often, the difference between recreational equipment and a more technical set-up seems intimidating and overwhelming to the standard dive customer. However, if you are looking to market your technical diving program, the new Decompression Diving Specialty is the perfect way to slowly introduce your dive customers to the excitement and adventure offered by the Extended Range (XR) programs.

The Decompression Diving Specialty provides SSI divers the training necessary to independently plan and conduct decompression dives using either traditional recreational equipment or introducing them to using a sidemount system. This program will take divers to a maximum depth of 40 meters with a maximum accumulated decompression time of 15 minutes.

If you are a current SSI Extended Range Nitrox, SSI CCR Extended Range, or SSI SCR Extended Range Instructor or higher and interested in teaching this exciting new program, simply sign-up online for a FREE online upgrade. If you are currently an SSI Instructor in any other discipline, contact your affiliated Training Center for more information on becoming an SSI Decompression Diving Instructor and learn how to start introducing divers to the world of decompression diving today!

Find out more at www.divessi.com.


Source: www.divenewswire.com

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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