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Middle East

Egypt

What do you say about a place that defies all words? If you go, be warned you will face sites unlike anything you've ever seen, or will ever see again. You will be overwhelmed by the magnificence of it all and begin to feel insignificant about you're place in the space time continuum. There are two sides to this wonderful place, if you go alone (which I would not recommend for a first timer) be warned its not a holiday, it's very hard work especially for a woman travelling solo. If you take the easier road and go on a tour you will be trapped in a rose tinted bubble from which you will never want to leave. Especially, if your trip includes something as wonderful and relaxing as a Nile cruise. There's nothing like sitting on deck by the pool and watching as the scenery drifts by. However you decide to travel, there is an adventure in Egypt waiting for you, one which you will never forget as long as you live.

Israel

Talk bout feeling like an ant in the entire scope of history. This place is the king of making people feel like their place in the universe is really insignificant. The history that's here just in Jerusalem alone is staggering, and the different types of history Jewish, Catholic, Muslim it's all here. This is one of the only places in the world where you will hear the call to prayer and church bells going off at the same time as well as seeing rabbi's walking around the streets. Even if you're not religious, its an amazing place to visit, it also shares a border with the Dea Sea which is the lowest point on earth and also you'll notice when you go for a swim, you don't sink. A word of caution, if you intend on going to other middle eastern or majority Muslim countries for that matter, ask the nice guards at customs to stamp a peice of paper and not your passport as many of these countries don't recognise Israel's existance.

Jordan

Jordan can be somewhat of a shock for those visiting from the much cheaper surrounding countries such as Egypt, a good thing to remember before entering is that the Jordanian Dihram is about on par with the Euro. It's a different country in comparison to it's neighbors, and if you have been in Egypt for a longer period of time it is a great break from the hassle factor which is virtually non existent here. Jordan has some amazing sites to see, such as the famed site of Petra and "Canyon of the Crescent Moon" of Indiana Jones fame, and also the Wadi Rum where the likes of Lawrence of Arabia was filmed. There are also a few sites of religious significance such as the spring of Moses and it also shares a border with the Dead Sea where can float in the sulferous waters or check into on of the famous Dead Sea Spa's along the coast.

Libya

Funny to be in a country with absolutely no freedom of speech. Asking a question of your guide and getting the answer "because that's the way it is." That being said it is a fascinating country, with friendly people and it is was thoroughly worth the hassle to visit. It must be the only place in North Africa where motorists actually stop to allow you to cross the street. There are some great ancient sites to see both Greek like Ptolemos and Roman like the mighty Leptis Magna...an ancient city more in tact that the likes of Rome itself. I can't speak for what Libya is like these days, I know its not the same place I visited, my only hope is that the people I met are ok, and the ancient sites are not taking too much of a beating at the hands of the barbarians who currently control it. I'm glad I went in 2010, because now in 2016 the place is a virtual no go zone. Who would have thought that Ghadafi was the lesser of two evils?

Oman

Another Middle Eastern country that's slightly on the expensive side, scratch that, it IS expensive. One Omani Dinar is worth 3 US Dollars. It is a great place to visit and if you are flying via either Dubai or Abu Dhabi with either Emirates or Etihad I highly recommend a side trip to Muscat rather than a stop over in Dubai, just remember to pack your wallet. Oman is a very traditional, yet very forward thinking country. Buildings must be built in the traditional Omani style and must not reach over a certain height. It's mosques are beautiful tiled structures, which I found quite different to mosques in other countries. I highly recommend a traditional dhow cruise along the coast and a still through the souq at Mutrah, again remember to pack your wallet.

Turkey

A land of extremes and a land of attractions so different from each other you won't believe they're all in the same country. These are attractions too that you would never find anywhere else, like the calcium terraces of Pamukkale and the rock formations of Cappadocia. Turkey's biggest attraction through is it's people, who are some of the warmest and friendliest I've ever met. Only in Turkey would I accept a ride from complete strangers when running late for my own tour, or jump behind the bar and do a nights work for free drinks because, I'm an "Aussie girl who makes the drinks better". If you areAustralian you will instantly notice that the Turk's will show you a sense of camaraderie, this is ensconced from the Galipoli battle and WWII, enemies then and now friends forever. Turkey was a place I originally went to because I wanted to see the ruins of Troy, I never imagined this place would have such an impact on me or that I would constantly yearn to go back.

United Arab Emirates

I imagine this country may have once been quite interesting, but I feel like the government has bulldozed all of that to make way for the ultra modern wave of the future. The UAE is currently trying to bill their country as more than a stop over destination, but unless they stop tearing down all their heritage in lieu of shopping centres I doubt that will ever happen. Dubai is all about shopping and big buildings and anything to do with the culture is in the Dubai museum, far more interesting is the capital Abu Dhabi where you can at least have something of a genuine experience, instead of a load of contrived rubbish just put on for tourists. The main mosque is really a sight to behold and dune bashing in the arabian deserted was definetly one of the more fun experiences I've ever had driving through sand. As all the major airlines in the area fly through either Dubai of Abu Dhabi, it does make a good base for exploring the area, and heading on to more interesting destinations such as Oman.

All Photos & Content by Kristina Wilson ©