Hannah and Je together

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Sixth Day – Golan Heights

For the first time in this trip, I used tour service.  Until now, I just walked around by myself in Jerusalem, but today, I went to Golan Heights Day Trip.

Jerusalem trip this time was a little bit different because I did not use any modern transportation except to the Museums.  Through the last January McCormick trip, I realised that the Old City Jerusalem is very small, along with other friends in the travel group.  But this time, I am surprised that Old City Jerusalem is way smaller than that I realised before.  Last time, we walked in part here and there, but we used bus to travel between the sites, for example, we were on the bus from Gethsemane to the City of David.  So the parts of walking experience, which is Jerusalem geographical knowledge, were not connected each other but scattered in my brain.  But this time, I walked any and everywhere.  I now have complete Jerusalem knowledge in my brain.  I walked and circled Jerusalem a few time on the wall, along the wall.  I walked inside the Old City, I walked outside the Old City.  Circling the Old City took less than four hours including stopping and resting and everything, but if the people in the past (or even I now) hurried and ran in an emergency, circling Old City Jerusalem, I bet, would take less than two hours.

And the city which David built, and it not included current Old City Jerusalem, is very small and possibly one tenth or one eighth of Jerusalem size.  Now I realised that when we think and talk about the city in the old day, we should not think about modern-day cities such as Seoul or Chicago.  In the ancient days, even a modern block or two could make a city.

I am sorry to say that but it was possible because I was alone.  I am not talking about my wife but any one.  If I had any company, even a strong guy, I could have not walk this much.  I used to walk two hours everyday for six years to and from school for Middle and High school.  I think during this trip I walked the most except the military marching training.  Until now, I walked from 7am until 6pm except for lunch.

Baptismal Site

Baptismal Site

So I went to Golan Height by Bein Harim Tourism Services.  They picked me up at David Citadel Hotel which is around 8 minutes walking.  They were supposed to pick me up at 5:50 but they came 20 minutes later, which is typical here.

Then the bus went to Tel Aviv where the people from everywhere were reorganised by their trip destination.

My group was small of six, or seven including the guide/driver.  The guide is Jewish guy, but the strange thing is all other tourists are Jewish except me.  Some are Jews from America (New Jersey), some are Jews from Iran (but good English-speaking), and some are from other part of the world.

And I realised that most Israelis does not like President Obama.  The guide who claimed himself as centre right told me that he was almost fighting with “his” tour group from Chicago.  But this kind of composition gave me the opportunity to listen to whole new perspective.  The Palestinians tend to think about the relationship between Jews and them, but the Jews (right-wing or centre right Jews) think more about the neighbouring countries, Palestinian problem is not the big thing to them.

Fish in the Baptismal site

Fish in the Baptismal site

Our first destination was the Baptismal site on Jordan river, right south of the Sea of Galilee.  Speaking of Galilee, the Lake Superior is a lake in modern term, but the Sea of Galilee is a sea in ancient term which we can guess about their term of city.  The tradition says that John the Baptist baptised Jesus here, but many scholars do not agree now.  But it is true that somewhere on Jordan river.  It is very beautiful place, and there are lots of small fish.  When I put my feet, they came and kissed and tickled me.  Actually they tried to eat me, but it is just that I am too big and they are too small.

Three countries in one sight

Three countries in one sight

Then we went to some place on the way to the Golan Heights where we can see three countries of Israel, Jordan, and Syria.  On this picture above, we are standing on Israel land, the other side of the valley is Jordan, and the mountain area in the far back is Syria.  Golan Heights are right above the Galilee, and Syrians used to fire rockets to Israeli Galilee from the Golan Heights using the escalated heights when they had this land.  According to the guide, Israel government suggested the peace agreement offering the Golan Heights, but Syria refused.

Scribe in Qazrin

Scribe in Qazrin

Then we went to Qazrin, the Talmudic village which is after the Biblical periods.  Israeli archaeological scholars found and excavated this village after they annexed Golan Heights.  This is the scribe’s room attached to the synagogue.  He is real scribe whose main job is copying the Torah and side job is writing the blessings for the tourists.  But it looks like his main and side job switched.  It was fun watching him writing some Hebrew words.

Olive Oil Lab

Olive Oil Lab

This is the lab of Olea Olive Oil Factory.  They grow their own olive trees, use only their own olives to make their products.  They showed us a short film about them, and I liked the demonstrations.  Their olive oils are so tasty, but I did not buy.  They also make many different skincare products from the residue of olive, and I bought two for my wife.

View from Golan Heights

View from Golan Heights

Then we went a few more places to see the scenery.  This is the place adjacent to Syria.  But the road up there was so steep, and I was worried if the van full of bags and people can climb up that steep hill.  And the bad feelings always come true.  The engine stopped when the guide tried to shift from the second gear to the first (yes, the van is standard shift).  The guide tried to start the van like ten times, but failed because it was too steep.  There was almost no traffic which was good for us, not blocking any traffic.  But almost all cars stopped and ask if we are OK.  Even a car before us came back to see if we are OK.  The Jewish guide became so happy and said, “This is typical Israelis.  We care each other, we love each other.”  Finally the guide reversed the van and went to a less steep runway in the corner, and the van began to move in the first gear.  We stayed in the first gear until we climbed all the way.

It was nice because the Golan Heights was not covered in the last McCormick trip.

1 Comment »

  1. Dear friend,
    Thanks for keeping us updated by what happens to you and informing us what is going there. It is really and interesting for me what you say. Here in states as well as in Egypt, we hear a lot about the current killings that goes between Israelis and Palestinians, do you hear more about this issue, and what people say to you? Peace, Amir.

    Comment by Amir Tawadrous — Wednesday, 9 July 2014 @ 23:30 | Reply

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