It was 2010. I could see it through the tiny gap between the valley walls. It was getting closer and closer, even as the walls got more and more narrow. The tourists riding the horses and the donkeys had gone ahead of us, leaving my travel buddy Ding and I trailing behind in the sand.  The sweat was pouring from my brow and down my neck to my chest, but there was a sudden spring in my step. And all because I could hear the theme music in my head: dum-der-dum-dum, dum-der-dum, dum-der-dum-dum, dum-der-dum-dum-dum.

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

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That scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), where Indy (Harrison Ford) and his dad Henry Jones (Sean Connery) enter the Valley of the Crescent Moon, kept playing in my head. This was our very own Holy Grail, right in the heart of Petra, Jordan – to reach Al Khazneh, better known as The Treasury. We had crossed the border from Eilat, Israel and driven five hours, then walked several kilometres in the baking heat to reach this point.

Suddenly, as we emerged from the Siq, or the main entrance to Petra, there it was before us. Hewn into the sandstone cliffs in the first century AD, it literally has to be seen to be believed.

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

The Treasury! ©incoherentboy.com

There is nothing quite like traveling to a place you’ve only ever seen in a movie, especially a movie that you’ve known and loved for more than half your life. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Petra is the place where the lead up to the climactic showdown in The Last Crusade was shot. Inevitably, the touts and travel agents and shopkeepers are more than aware of this. Consequently, replicas of Indy’s famous fedora, leather jacket and bullwhip can be found everywher in Petra.

Indian Jones, Petra, Jordan

Indiana Jones gift shop ©incoherentboy.com

Located in the governorate of Ma’an and more than 2,000 years old, Petra was the capital city of the Nabateans, or the ancient Arabs of North Arabia. It’s also the place where, according to Arab tradition, Aaron, or Haroun, the brother of the prophet Moses, was buried on Mount Hor. The Treasury is just one of many intricate facades carved into the sandstone cliffs there, along with other structures and monuments. Here’s a map of the entire trail, courtesy of the free booklet given out when you buy admission tickets.

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

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Petra itself has been inhabited by humans for more than 10,000 years. Much of the city is remarkably well preserved, and ‘majestic’ and ‘breathtaking’ do not begin to describe the sights on offer there. So as ever, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Fun fact: Petra also featured in that other cinematic masterpiece, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997).

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

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Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

©incoherentboy.com

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

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Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

©incoherentboy.com

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

©incoherentboy.com

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

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Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

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I must confess: Ding and I didn’t venture all the way to the end of Petra, which I reckon is about seven kilometres from the main gates near the visitor centre. This was mainly because a) we hadn’t eaten lunch that day and b) the temperature was somewhere in the 40s. This meant that we missed out on sights such as The Monastery, a temple dedicated to the Greek god Obodas and Petra’s largest monument.

I was terribly disappointed in one respect: Ding informed me that the scenes where Indy passes through the traps set around the Grail weren’t actually filmed inside The Treasury, but on a film set. We weren’t even allowed to venture inside, with the entrance guarded by two bored looking guards.

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

Petra, Jordan

But as I walked away from Petra, covered in sand and dust, I had fulfilled a decades-long dream. And I could hear it in my head: dum-der-dum-dum dum-der-dum….

Petra, Jordan, Indiana Jones

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Travel tips for Petra, Jordan
Admission to Petra starts from 50 dinars (S$88), depending on how long you stay, and you can find out more here. You can get to Jordan via the land crossing from Eilat, Israel or fly to Amman from Singapore via airlines such as Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways. Amman is several hours drive from Petra.