Behind the scenes of Yahoo TV’s latest travel video at Feynan

In the next in their series featuring Jordan, Yahoo Travel’s “A Broad Abroad” team visit Feynan Ecolodge and meet our guide Suleiman who introduces them to famous Bedouin hospitality. You can watch the full video here.

It’s always great when we have press visiting Feynan as we are really excited to share our project with more people.

But filming in Bedouin tent is not straightforward.

Firstly, you have to consider the space. Even for a small production like the Yahoo Travel TV filming, there is a small team of 4 trying to fit in a relatively small space and trying to keep out of shot.

Then there is the light – it has to be natural as there is no electricity in a Bedouin home, so you have to rely on the tent being positioned just right, although that’s something the Bedouin are very good at.

Thirdly, the fire – it’s the heart of a Bedouin home and central to social activities because it provides tea, coffee, food and warmth. But on a hot day with many people in the tent, it’s defintely not warmth you need!

Finally you have the normal comings and goings of Bedouin life – someone stops by to say hi in the middle of filming, someone else wants to help or make sure you are comfy and moves things around. But at the same time, that’s what makes the setting so authentic and real – these families are taking some time out of their normal lives to share their traditions with you and everyone just wants to make sure you are comfortable. That’s the hospitality that the Bedouin are so famous for and our guests and press have come to experience.

Here are some behind the scenes snaps from the A Broad Abroad team’s visit to Feynan!

You can see the full series on Jordan here: Yahoo TV A Broad Abroad

Taboon. Remember that word. It’s Jordan’s best kept bakery secret

On the Dead Sea Highway, between Ghor Saafi police station and the 181km Aqaba milestone, lies Jordan’s best kept bakery secret: taboon.

On our journey to Feynan Ecolodge the other day, me and my colleagues had wound past the Dead Sea and were on the flatter, straighter road that passes lots of tomato farms well on our way to the lodge from our office in Amman.

“Why are we stopping?” I asked as we pulled over seemingly in the middle of nowhere and Mohammad Ali, our lodge duty manager jumped out and dashed across the road.

“Every time we drive past here, Mohammad tells me there is a woman who makes the best bread in Jordan” explains our operations manager Bisher. “I call him a liar! There is no such thing here! Just a stall with a few tomatoes and eggplants! He says he will prove me wrong”

Mohammad reappears from a small hut by the stall and beckons for Bisher to follow him. They disappear behind a low breeze block wall where the lady minding the stall appears with a bucket with bread in it.

Back in the car, Mohammad passes me a bag with four round loaves, steaming fresh in the plastic bag.

“What’s this?”

“Taboon” comes the reply.

Taboon is the name of this bread. It’s flat and round, fresh from the oven and nearly too hot to hold. But the smell is too enticing so we tear it and pass it round: golden and crispy on the outside, flaky as you tear it, soft on the inside and tasting of all the wonderful smells of a bakery.

Tarboon bread fresh from the oven

Taboon bread fresh from the oven

Taboon is also the name of the oval, domed oven that the bread is cooked in. The flat, round loaves of bread are laid inside the oven on top of hot stones, over a fire that is sunk into the ground. The whole thing is covered in sand whilst the bread bakes in its underground oven with the hot stones creating the unique dimpled appearance of the bread.

This is simple bread, eaten by people all over Jordan and my colleagues discuss the taboon they have at home or in Amman. I’ve just not come across it before, or at least not like this.

Simple though it might be, this is simplicity at its best. It would be great accompanied by some of those tomatoes the lady is also selling, or just with local olive oil and Jordan’s famous zaatar herb mix. From the silence in the car, it’s safe to assume that we were happy just to eat it on its own, fresh from the oven, pure baked bliss. Even Bisher concedes Mohammad was right on this one – it’s the best he’s tasted.

Our stop at this bakery was a complete surprise so I didn’t get a chance to take much notice, let alone a photo of the location, the stall, or the talented baker who runs it. But perhaps that’s a good thing – I can leave you to discover Jordan’s best kept bakery secret for yourself.

Back on the road, as we munch on the delicious bread, a sly smile from Mohammad says he knows he was right; there is a baker on the side of the road where a woman makes the best bread in Jordan. And I think I’m going to go ahead and agree with him.

Digital detoxing: Could you? Will you?

We all know that we have become slaves to a new master: the internet. Emails, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat… We are connected 24/7. Even our Bedouin community in Wadi Feynan are as likely to pick a spot for their goat-hair tented home based on mobile phone signal as much as any other factor.

But what happens when we can’t be connected? Is it a good thing?

Being in a remote location means life in Feynan is a little less connected – one of those few places you can switch off and feel the silence seep into your soul. And that’s what a holiday is for, right? Relaxing, unwinding, feeling your normal stresses melting away…

So should literally switching off be part of your holiday? Here are some of the benefits we have found at Feynan from committing to a digital detox once in a while:

  1. Time to think

With less connectivity, there is less distraction. That might make some people shudder – the fear of missing out. But it’s interesting how quickly this gives way to a sense of calm and peacefulness. There is the initial panic when the little bar of signal finally fades, but after a while you are distracted by the scenery and that thing you were worried about seems to lose its importance.

Life is a little slower, a little more rustic, and maybe a little less demanding somewhere like Feynan compared to what you are used to. But the plus side is time to stop, think and re-evaluate. It’s the perfect place to think about that novel you want to write or what your priorities should be for the coming year. But best of all it’s a great feeling to breathe in the fresh desert air and just let your mind wander.

A sense of calm and quiet greets Wadi Feynan in the morning

A sense of calm and quiet greets Wadi Feynan in the morning

  1. Looking… really looking

Not glancing, or looking through the screen. Whether it’s soaking up vast landscapes, the quick flash of blue movement that alerts you to a lizard, the palm trees growing half way up a sheer sided canyon, or the way the Bedouin man flicks his wrist to make music while crushing coffee beans; there are lots of interesting things to catch the eye that are worth a second, harder look.

Of course you can always take a picture and share it later. But whilst you don’t have signal, you can take the time to remember the sounds and smells that went along with the view.

Date palms grow half way up the side of Wadi Ghwayr canyon

Date palms growing half way up the side of Wadi Ghwayr canyon

  1. Concentrating and learning

Do you notice that it makes a difference when you are talking when someone actually listens? Really listens. Looks you in the eyes and considers what you are saying to them. Whether they agree or disagree with you, it doesn’t matter – you made them think. Without distractions it’s easier to do this. People listen to you and, more importantly, you can listen to them and learn!

Learn facts, a skill, or something about yourself. There are plenty of things to learn out there and it’s more fulfilling when we give it our complete attention. Like learning about another culture; really understanding what your Bedouin guide means when he says he feels he is part of the landscape or questioning why that goat pen has fences higher on one side than the other. From the trivial to the interesting to the absolutely mind-blowing: we should never stop learning.

In Bedouin culture, coffee is for when the serious conversations happen

In Bedouin culture, coffee is for when the serious conversations happen

  1. Dedicating time.

Without the constant distraction of checking your notifications, you can dedicate your time to doing other things and focus on really experiencing them: from the awe of a slot canyon, to the smell of the coffee, to football with some local children, to the sparkle of the stars. There are lots of experiences to be had in the world and we get more out of them by focusing on the moment.

Deciding to turn off your phones and iPad doesn’t even have to translate to a complete ban. For example there is wifi at Feynan, but it’s only available in the lobby meaning when you do go to find the internet – that’s your intention. You can sit and dedicate time to checking your email or sharing your photos. Ironically you might even get more done because you focus your time on it rather than constantly dabbling. And once it’s done, you can walk out of signal range, switch off again, focus on doing something else with your full attention.

So could you do it?

Or more importantly, will you?