The Street Art of Amman

When I first moved to Jordan, there were a lot of things that I was expecting to see, beautiful mosques, markets on busy streets, and a stark landscape that is hauntingly beautiful. There were a few sights I did not expect to see, but after further thought, it made perfect sense such as the important places that are mentioned in the Bible, old Roman ruins, and buildings all different variants of the color light brown, but that still have their own unique style because of the architecture. What came as a total shock was the government’s partnership with the hip hop community in Amman and the street art that has been left behind all over the city.

About a month ago, I went on a walking tour of downtown Amman to check out some of the street art that can be found all over the place in the city. Ever since arriving, I always knew that it existed. It is hard to walk anywhere and not come across some of the pieces that are found on various walls all over the city. But what I learned from the tour is that these pieces are partially subsidized by the Jordanian government and some of the most famous artists in the city are the ones that leave these wonderful pieces of art behind. The most prominent of these artists is a man that calls himself Sardine. I had seen his pieces here and there in Amman, but I had no idea now much he had contributed to the culture of the city. His art always features a paper boat in it somewhere, and now that I know what to look for, I see his art all over the place.

And like all great art, some artists try to push for certain causes that are dear to their hearts. Yara Hindawi is one of these artists. She will paint her subjects with missing eyes and clouds floating in the background. Her characters are depicted this way to bring the issue of mental health to the spotlight, and to demonstrate the missing piece in a lot of people’s lives who suffer from these problems. I had come across her art a couple of times, but it wasn’t until this tour that I was able to understand the message behind it.

The prestige of the city with its embrace of this culture became so widespread that other prominent street artists were asked to come and contribute during festivals that happened before the Covid years. My favorite one was entitled Blue Boy. The haunting look in his eyes was highlighted by the fact that a couple of years after it was painted, the city came in to repair wall and covered up his mouth. I don’t know what it looked like before the city came in and did this, but I think it is one of those happy mistakes. I believe that this makes the piece say more than whatever the original smile might have been. It is the picture I return to more than any other that I saw on the tour.

There are many other hidden gems throughout the city, and now that I have been on the tour, everywhere I look I see another one. It is a part of what gives the city of Amman its charm. I am sure that many people that travel to Amman would not consider this as part of their trip when there are the Roman ruins, and Rainbow Street that attract so many visitors, but it is one of those tours that are really worth the time. They are run by an organization called Underground Amman and the tours are conducted by a man named Alaeddin Pasha. I would call it a must see if you come to Amman, and it is one of the most surprising experiences I have had since I have moved out here.

The Same Town Second Time Around

It was only a year ago that I was in Chiang Mai and I even find myself at the same hotel we were at last time, the Shangri-la. During my last visit, we stayed here because we wanted to pamper ourselves a little bit, and even though that is part of the goal this time around, it was not the main reason we decided to stay here. Hotels are having great deals right now because they are competing for what little tourist dollars are out there considering the only people who can visit right now are the ones that are already in the country. For a country who has 40% of its economy based on tourism, this means that there are a lot of great places that are empty right now.

It is nice to stay in such a beautiful hotel, but we are not spending every minute here to get the most out of what we are paying per night. We still spent a day at the pool because it is a great pool and it is a wonderful way to unwind after a tough quarter at school. But we did not spend the whole time at the hotel. We have gotten out a couple of times and enjoyed more of what this city has to offer. It is crazy what you notice when you go back to a place you have just recently been to.

Small little things you see make you laugh because you are no longer looking at all of the sights. We saw this advertisement in the airport and at first glance it looks normal, but after a second glance, it is obvious that it was not written by a native speaker. First off, I know that there are a lot of Swiss people who live in Thailand, but I wonder what language that they believe they speak there because they have included it as a language on this poster.

Secondly, I am not quite sure what they mean by “Female Native Speakers”. Does this mean that they should be females, and if that is the case, I would hope that they rethink the picture that they used to accompany this picture. Or they are native speakers that know how to speak the females, in which case the guy in this picture starts to look even creepier.

There is also some really good street art going on in certain parts of Chiang Mai. I didn’t really pay attention to it the first time I was out here, but I have been surprised by the little corner I turn around and find these masterpieces waiting to show themselves to me. This has to be one of my favorites, a Bansky inspired piece that really speaks to the culture and people of Thailand that no other piece could.

I have travelled to a lot of different countries and places all over the world, and it has always been a great experience. Sometimes I enjoy the trip more than other times, but I always learn something new from going to these places. But rarely do I get to make my way back to certain places and really absorb the culture there. Many places I have been to top my list of places I would like to go back to someday because they hold a special place in my memory, but rarely do I make it back there. It is even worse that those select places where I do make my way back to, it takes me many years before I am able to get back there. I guess one of the advantages of the current situation is that I get to make it back to places in Thailand and really absorb the culture here. If it wasn’t for that, Thailand would have ended up being a hub for me, a place that I could jump off to so I could see other places in southeast Asia. I am glad for the chance to really experience the place I am living in now and get to know it better. It was one of the reasons that I decided to go into international teaching in the first place, and even though at the time I first made that decision, Thailand did not top my list of places that I hoped to know more about, I am glad to have landed here during this tumultuous time in world history.

When it gets back to that time to travel the world again, make sure you take advantage of it. Until then, take the time to really get to know the corner of the world you find yourself in. It may surprise you how rich it is in history and culture, and it will help you appreciate it more.