When I missed my flight from Saigon back to Shanghai in August 2010, there was no turning back: my round-the-world journey had begun. As I made my way up the coast of Vietnam with my travel companions Amber and Kale, I devoted the majority of my free time and energy to devising a suitable itinerary from that point forward.
I’ve always wanted to visit the Middle East, but the fact that it came up when I was making a list of potential destinations had more to due with its location precisely between where I was (Southeast Asia) and where I wanted to end up (back in Austin) than by any intentional design. When I loaded a map of the region on my computer, however, I remembered that my college classmate Najwa had invited me to come stay with her in Jordan just before we graduated.
Although I said yes at the time, I never in my wildest dreams imagine I’d have the funds or wherewithal to accept my friend’s offer of hospitality. When I found myself sitting beside her at the lowest point on Earth more than four years later, the salty Dead Sea glistening in front of me wasn’t all that was reflecting.