Hannah and Je together

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Sixth Day – Eilat and Red Sea

Not like the other day, I got up at five (one more hour sleep!).  And reported to the excavation office so that they know I will not be here any more and also they called a cab.

Double Deck Israel Railway Train

Double Deck Israel Railway Train

I went to the Pades-Hannah railway station.  And on the way while in the cab, I saw two girls sitting on the bench of a bus stop.  One girl is a Muslim because she was wearing and covering top to toe except small part of her face.  The other girl was in IDF (Israel army) uniform.  They were talking and laughing together.  I do not know whether they just met at the bus stop or have been friends for long.  But the scene was very emotional to me, especially at this time of war between Israel and Gaza, killing each other.  I saw hope, and I saw a bright future from them.

This is my first time to get on the Israel train.  And to my surprise, it is double-deck!  My train trip was from Hannah to Tel Aviv.

Are these founders of Tel Aviv?

Are these founders of Tel Aviv?

And I came to Tel Aviv, the economic capital of Israel.  One thing I do not like about Israel is that they do not announce in English at all, not in a bus nor in a railway trains.  Korean buses and subways always announce in English.

I had some problem finding where to get on the bus number 25 so that I can go to Egyptian Embassy.  I asked a girl on the street, and she was with a lady.  The lady called bus company and asked how to go to Egyptian embassy.  She spoke in Hebrew but I understood one word – Mitzraim, which is Egypt.

Again, the bus driver does not speak English, but also again, I got help from a passenger.  When I went to the Egyptian embassy, it was closed without any notice.  There was no notice in their website too.  The guard their just said, “tomorrow” whatever I asked.  So I asked:

Je: Is “tomorrow” the only word you know?
He: Yes, yes. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

I guess it is some kind of Egyptian holiday.  So I went to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, and bought the ticket to Eilat.  I bought the ticket at 9:33 and was told that the bus left three minutes ago.  Next bus is 11am.  Well, what can I do?

Highway Stop before Beersheva

Highway Stop before Beersheba

McCormick Group, do you remember here?  We stopped here last January when we were going to Beersheba.  Today we also stopped here before we hit Beersheba.  This was the first Aroma that I tasted, and was good.

Negev Desert

Negev Desert

The bus ride was almost five hours.  And the scene of the Negev desert was just wow.

Fish on  the Road

Fish on the Road

When I got to Eilat, the heat from the ground was great.  And there were many fish marks on the road.

Fish Statue in Eilat

Fish Statue in Eilat

And also many fish statues.  Eilat is the southmost city of Israel, and just before Eilat, we passed the checkpoint.  And McCormick group already experienced, two soldiers with semi-auto rifle came on board.  Maybe because of war, almost half of the bus passengers were in IDF uniform, and half of them were with semi-auto rifles.

Eilat Youth Hostel and Guest House

Eilat Youth Hostel and Guest House

I walked to the hostel and it was just 10 minutes but I was sweating like Niagara Falls.  The Eilat Youth Hostel and Guest House has very nice view.  You can see the Red Sea from the picture above.  This room is shared by five people and breakfast is served.  I booked via Booking.com and paid $30, and I got to know if you book directly, the cost is 120 NIS which is $40.

Red Sea is blue

Red Sea is blue

There is a sea and who can endure the temptation of the sea in this piping hot weather?  This is the Red Sea which Moses cut in half (but of course not at this spot).  I do not understand why the name is Red Sea.  It looks like Blue Sea to my eyes.

Because I could not go to the Egyptian Embassy or Consulate General, I will go to the border early in the morning.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifteenth Day – Back to Jerusalem

In the morning, we got on the mini-bus from the Kedma Village to Jerusalem.  I got off at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

People were talking about the cloud, which is very weird to have the sky covered with clouds in this dry season.  I had a brunch with Dr. Choi at Aroma.

Gloria Hotel's View

Gloria Hotel’s View

Finally I came back to Gloria Hotel in the Old City Jerusalem near Jaffa Gate.  This is the view from my new room 151.  I stayed at 178 last week.  Then I turned on the TV set to update myself with the news of Israel-Gaza conflict because I spent a week without TV and with very limited internet.  But the more terrible and shocking news welcomed me – the airplane crash in Ukraine.  They did not really say almost anything about Israel-Gaza war.

After taking some rest, I went to the Tour Information to ask about the transportation to Tel Aviv tomorrow which is Shabbat.  But the information booth was closed at 1:30 because Shabbat begins this evening.

Empty Western Wall

Empty Western Wall

I wanted to the church of ascension, and went by the Western Wall.  While I was approaching the Western Wall, there were series of gun shooting sounds, and almost every was backed up.  And there were so many police cars and vans there.  You can notice that almost no body was at the wall praying, in comparison how it is packed with people especially Friday.  I asked someone what was happening, and was told that the muslims in the mosque are praying with shooting the guns with blank bullets.  But I’ve been in Western Wall a few Fridays, and heard nothing so far.  The orthodox Jew told me that they do not usually but when there is high tension, they do.

While the war is going on, and there are gun shooting noises, I found an airship in the sky.  And the city was as usual.

Pater Noster

Pater Noster

Before I went to the church of ascension, I went to the Pater Noster where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer.  There are Lord’s Prayer in a few different languages.  This one looks like Hebrew, but it is Chaldean.  There was small admission fee of 8 NIS.

Church of Ascension

Church of Ascension

Then I went to the church of ascension, and was very disappointed.  Not like the title on the map, it was not a church but a mosque, very small mosque.  You have to pay 5 NIS, but almost nothing to see.  It is said that the foot print of Jesus when he ascended into heaven.

Tomb of the Prophets

Tomb of the Prophets

Then I went to the Tomb of the prophets, but was not able to enter because it was locked.  According to the Jewish tradition, it is the tomb of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Church of Mary Magdalene from Dominus Flevit

Church of Mary Magdalene from Dominus Flevit

Then I went to the Dominus Flevit.  It is Latin means “The Lord wept.”  And they found Second Temple Period and Byzantine tombs.  The above picture is the church of Mary Magdalene viewed from the Dominus Flevit.

When I came out of the Dominus Flevit, I saw a Palestinian old man begging.  He said, “I am poor.  Give me some shekels.”  So I gave him 14 NIS which was all the money I had then.  Then he said, “Give me more, give me more!”  And I told him that I do not have more.  Then he angrily said, “20 dollar more! I am poor! 20 dollar!”  I lost my words, and just walked down the hill.

Focaccia Salad

Focaccia Salad

I got some more rest, and went to Kikkar Zion (Zion Plaza) on Jaffa Street and Ben Yehudah Street to meet some people dug together at Tel Lachish.  I was worried because the Shabbat already begun and I see the whole city is stopped without any visible restaurants open.  They brought me to Focaccia Bar in the back street, and wow! The whole city is like divided into two, either synagogue or here.  We met Professor Yossi there too!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Eighth Day – Valleys of Jerusalem

Western Wall

Western Wall

Early in the morning (7am) I went to the Western Wall, the only remained part of the second temple where all the faithful Jews pray.  So many people were praying there.  Suddenly I was curious what all these people are praying for?  Are they praying for the death of their enemies?  Are they praying for the peace and reconciliation?

Kidron Valley

Kidron Valley

Then I went down to the Kidron Valley, which is also called as King’s valley.  Because there are many famous tombs.

Absalom's tomb

Absalom’s tomb

This is Absalom’s tomb, but the explanation says it has nothing to do with Absalom.  It was built 1,000 years after Absalom.  But when I read his name in Hebrew, it looks like “Father of Peace.”

Zechariah's tomb

Zechariah’s tomb

The Zechariah’s tomb was near the Absalom’s tomb, but I did not know this is the one.  So I was keep looking for it, using Google Maps and the GPS on my cell phone.

Gethsemane Church

Gethsemane Church

Gethsemane Church was just above the Kidron valley, the other side of Jerusalem Old City wall.  This is also the Mount of Olives.  If you know the geography there, you would know that the Mount of Olives is in the between the Temple and the Judean wilderness.  If Jesus wanted, He could have run away into the wilderness, which is unsearchable.  This means that Jesus willingly gave His life up.

Mary's Tomb Church

Mary’s Tomb Church

Mary’s tomb church is next to the Gethsemane church.  I do not know if this is genuine or not.  The church goes underground a lot.

Torah books in Jewish Cemetery

Torah books in Jewish Cemetery

As I wrote above, I was still looking for the Zechariah’s tomb using the GPS, and the GPS and Google Maps led me into the Jewish cemetery.  I did not doubt anything because Zechariah is a Jew.  One weird thing is that there are a lot of books of Torah in one entrance of the Jewish cemetery.

Women in Cemetery

Women in Cemetery

One of the entrances of the Jewish cemetery has this sign, meaning “Women.”  I do not know whether it is the Women’s entrance or the women’s burial section.  Why Orthodox Judaism and Islam discriminates women that much?  Well, Christian was the same and some Christian denominations are still the same, so what can I say against them?

Tomb of the sons of Hezir

Tomb of the sons of Hezir

The Google Maps led me into the middle of the cemetery, but there was nothing around but hundreds of normal modern tombs.  Then I gave up searching, and just decided to explore the Kidron valley more.  While I was walking, I saw a sign with the name of Zechariah’s tomb and its picture.  That was the one I saw in the beginning.  And the location is very different from Google Maps.  Near the Zechariah’s tomb, there was Tomb of the sons of Hezir.  I do not know who is Hezir, but it looks like his sons died before him.

Jehoshaphat's cave

Jehoshaphat’s cave

Then Next to the Absalom’s tomb, there was Jehoshaphat’s cave.  I wanted to explore in there, but it was blocked.  So I finished exploring the Kidron Valley

Old City streets on Palestinian shops

Old City streets on Palestinian shops

Then I walked back to hotel through the Jewish quarter (Jewish shops) and also Christian quarter (Palestinian shops).  As I wrote the other day, even when there is not many people, the two streets look different even the amount of sunlight too.  There are many reasons, but one of them is that Palestinians put the tents above their shop so that they put out their merchants on the streets which makes the street narrower while Jews keep their merchants only inside their shops consequently they do not need the tents and the road is wider.

Hinnom Valley

Hinnom Valley

I rested a little in the hotel, and went out to the other direction for the Hinnom Valley which comes out many times in the Bible.  Kidron Valley is east of the Temple (and city of David), while the Hinnom Valley is south side of the City of David.  This is where the ancient Israelites burnt their sons as the sacrifice to the other gods.  Hinnom Valley is very steep.

Hinnom and Kidron Valley Together

Hinnom and Kidron Valley Together

This is where the two famous valleys meet, south-eastern side of the Old City.

Music Centre on Hinnom Valley

Music Centre on Hinnom Valley

Unlike the bad fame of the Hinnom Valley, this is renovated as cultural centres and parks these days.

National Park on Hinnom Valley

National Park on Hinnom Valley

This is national park at the place of Hinnom Valley, and some people and kids were playing a game, which we have the same game in Korea.  It is nice to see that people are playing with the kids instead of burning them for gods.

National Park on Hinnom Valley

National Park on Hinnom Valley

The object in the centre of the picture, I thought we have similar thing in Chicago millennium park – the bean.  But when I went there, it was actually a metal globe.

Music in Mamilla

Music in Mamilla

Mamilla is next to the park, so I went there and found these young kids playing music.  And I went to a pharmacy to buy sunscreen.  My wife gave me SPF 70 sunscreen, so I wanted to buy the same one. But on the shelves, there were only SPF 30 and 50.  I asked a girl working at the sunscreen corner, she told me to ask the pharmacist.  So I asked the pharmacist, and she said that 50 is the highest.  So I took one, and on the way to the counter, I found SPF 70 sunscreen on the other aisle.

Mamilla Street

Mamilla Street

Walking on Mamilla street, I felt like I am in Chicago or other cities in America.  Then I thought king Herod built Caesarea and other romanised cities so that the romans feel like they are in Rome (or somewhere in Italy) to ease their home sick.  I do not have a home sick because I am here for tour, but the ancient Romans would have had bad one.

Kosher McDonald's

Kosher McDonald’s

Then I walked to the New City of Jerusalem through Jaffa street, King George street, Ben Yehuda street and so on.  And I found Kosher McDonald’s.  There are lots of Coffiz where you can get many kinds of drinks in 5 shekels, which is very cheap!

Bikes in City Hall

Bikes in City Hall

I also went to the City Hall of Jerusalem, and found these funny bikes.  These bikes do not move but operate something.  First one would operate the fan, the second one shows the speed, and the other one makes sounds.

Multi Effect Cinema

Multi Effect Cinema

I spent quite a time in the New City, then I went back all the way to the Jewish quarter.  There was a small cinema named “Multi Effect Cinema” playing “The story of Jerusalem.”  As the conclusion, it was waste of money, but I think it is worth trying once, not twice, because I found what this actually is.  They have wind, smoke, and 3D glasses.  But the chair moves too much unnecessarily which cause a little bit of sickness.

Empty Mamilla

Empty Mamilla

I had an appointment with George Filmon, the local tour guide for McCormick January tour.  We were supposed to meet at the Aroma in Mamilla.  When I went there, there was no one because it is Friday evening when the Shabbat begins, and all the stores are owned and operated by Jews.  It feels weird that the street is empty.  I could have lied with the picture above that all the people fled by the siren. 🙂

George and the Bible

George and the Bible, and me

George and I used to correspond through facebook, but before I left Chicago, I found that his facebook account was deactivated.  There was no way for me to contact him.  So when I came to Jerusalem, I called the tour company which the McCormick group used and asked his phone number.  And he answered.  So we made an appointment.  George and I went to Beit Sahour where Mara stays and studies, near Bethlehem.  Mara is doing well.  And I handed the CEB bible which Ted and Paula wanted me to deliver.

Moon over Jaffa Wall

Moon over Jaffa Wall

George gave me ride back to Jerusalem, and the temperature in Jerusalem at night is so nice.  This is actually nicest time of the day in Jerusalem.  And the moon was so bright and beautiful.

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