Hannah and Je together

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Eighth Day – Petra in Jordan

I booked a Petra Day Trip from Eilat.  I thought about to go there by myself, but Henry, an American Jew studying history at UCLA and my roommate at Megiddo excavation, told me not to.  He did his own trip to Petra.  After the border, he had to get a cab to Petra, which is 2 and half hour driving.  And it is painful and also almost impossible to negotiate with the local taxi drivers.  And the Petra entrance fee is very expensive.  But he told me it may be cheaper to use tour service, and obviously much easier and comfortable.

King of Jordan welcomes you!

King of Jordan welcomes you!

Jordan is a kingdom.  I had tour with two other girls from Mexico.  They said they are sisters, but they do not look alike at all.  The older looks like a Mexican with quite dark skin tone, while the other looks like a European.  They said their mother is a Mexican and their father is a Jew.  I still remember how many people were at the Taba border, and how chaotic it was.  But today, we three were all at the Israel-Jordan border.  Going out of Israel was no problem as it was at Taba too.  Jordanian border was easy too.  There was a guy from the tour office, and he took our passports and did all the job while we were drinking coffee.

Bedouin Village

Bedouin Village

This is a Bedouin village.  In Arabic Bedou is traveller, and -in is plural suffix such as -im in Hebrew.  So Bedouin means travellers.  But some of them settled, and they have villages.  If you look carefully, you would see the second floor is under construction.  They do not have actual desire to build the second floor.  They just need the ground floor.  But unless the building is complete, they do not pay any tax.  That is why they just began the second floor construction, and never continue building it.

Aaron Tomb Mosque

Aaron Tomb Mosque

After two and half hours driving, we went to the Petra.  The white dot on the mountain top of the photo above is a mosque commemorate the death place of Aaron, the high priest and brother of Moses.

The entrance fee to the Petra is about $130, which is crazy expensive.  The entrance fees to the archaeological parks in Israel is around or less than $20.

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

Some caves has a decoration above it in the shape of stairs.  That indicates the cave is burial cave.  The stairs are to heaven, the ancient people thought.

Gateway to Petra

Gateway to Petra

This is the siq, the gate to Petra.  This is very long and wound channel.  It is very amazing, and there are two aqueducts on both sides.  Left one is for the animals to drink, and the right side is for people to drink.

Peeping the Petra

Peeping the Petra

After the long walk, you begin to see the greatness in the small crack of the channel.

The carved palace!

The carved palace!

And finally when you come out of the channel, the awe-ness reveals itself.  We see the two stories, but actually it is three stories.  The earthquake in Roman times destroyed most of the cities and three-quarters of Petra was buried.  The tour guide said that the ground now is 20 feet (6 m) higher than the original ground.

The true amazing thing is that almost everything was not built but carved.  They just carved the stone and huge rock.

Tourism Police - To Protect and To Serve who?

Tourism Police – To Protect and To Serve who?

We spent almost four hours in Petra.  This is huge city, even they have a theatre, but still not built but carved.  There were several tourism police but I was told that the tourism police is not to protect the tourist but to protect the merchants.  So you’d better not to engage any argument with the merchants.

View from the Restaurant

View from the Restaurant

Then we went to a local restaurant at around 3:30 or 4pm.  Even though I was crazy hungry, I can tell the food is not the greatest.  But the view of the restaurant was very good. I asked a Jordanian at the restaurant how he and other Jordanians think about Israel-Gaza conflict and Hamas. Then he suddenly bent over me and whispered at my ear, “We have lots of Palestinians around in Jordan. So I cannot say publicly about that. I hope this answers your question.”

Back to Israel

Back to Israel

At 7pm, we came back to Israel border.  And again there was nobody except three of us.  I was a little bit nervous because I know how bad the Israeli border is.  But it was OK, probably there was no other people.  They did not open my bag.  I was asked at Taba border many stupid questions such as why I carry soaps, or what shampoo is for.  But this border, I got only one normal question – “What is t he purpose of your visit to Israel?”

I wonder why there are so many people in Egyptian border while there is no one in Jordanian border.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Ninth Day – Bethlehem and Jericho

I was supposed to go the Negev desert Safari tour.  But when I was picked up from the hotel, I realised that the desert tour was cancelled and they tried to put me in the Dead Sea and Masada tour which I did two days ago.  So I refused and they finally put me to the Bethlehem and Jericho tour.

Church of the Shepherds' field

Church of the Shepherds’ field

We went to Beit Sahour, where I was last night to see Mara with George.  I thought the Shepherds’ field was in Bethlehem last January tour, but I now know that it is in Beit Sahour, the neighbouring town.

Star of Nativity

Star of Nativity

There was not much things to see because I’ve been already there before.  I just took this picture of shining star in one of the caves.  The guide said that it is believe that the three magi stayed in this cave and did not go to king Herod.  And this shepherds’ field is actual the field of Boaz, the grandfather of king David.

Milk Grotto Church

Milk Grotto Church

In Bethlehem, we went to the Milk Grotto Church before we went to the Church of Nativity.  It was nice because the Milk Grotto Church was not covered by last trip.  They believe that the holy family hid in this cave.  And when the Mother Mary was feeding baby Jesus, she slipped a few drops of her milk, and it changed the colour of the rock permanently into white.  So the rock down the cave church is all white.

Church of Nativity

Church of Nativity

Last time, we went to the Church of Nativity, but we were not able to actually go down to the star spot where they believe Jesus was born.  Today, we were also supposed to wait at least two or three hours, but the tour guide divided our group to make it smaller than eight people in a group.  Then the controlling police officers let the small group go in through different entrance.  So we went in without waiting eve five minutes.

Christmas tree in July

Christmas tree in July

We also went to the Catholic Church, and out side of the Catholic church, they made the small tree or bonsai like a Christmas tree.

One thing I found out today is that Jewish tour guides are not allowed to lead the tourists in Palestinian area.  So our Jewish tour guide stayed in the mini bus, and we met local Palestinian tour guide for the entire Bethlehem tour.  Well, I think it is better to have Palestinian tour guide as the McCormick group did last January.  Having George Filmon was very good, I think, in many ways.  He can guide people in both Israel and Palestinian area.  We were able to hear the view-point from the Palestinian side, and he is not actually bias.

Bedouin

Bedouin has satellite dish

On the way to Jericho, we saw many Bedouin homes, much more than January.  If you see the picture above closely, you can see the house animals in the upper part of the photo, and most of them are staying in the shadow because the sunlight is more than even the animals can bear.

11000 year-old tower

11000 year-old tower

It is good to see again the 11,000 years old (the oldest) structure in the world ever found so far.  Those are the very first bricks that humans made.  Because of the invention of bricks, the town and city were made possible.  It is literally the revolutionary invention.

Jericho updated in April 2014

Jericho updated in April 2014

The Jewish guide said something shocking to me.  He said that by the recent excavation in Jericho, the Bible was proven to be truth.  Then I found the new explanation board which is newly updated – 2014 April, which is after McCormick group’s visit.  I need to research more about this.

Elisha's water

Elisha’s water

Then I drank some water at the Elisha’s water fountain.  I would not say more about this because I wrote about it already in the first trip to Jericho.

Mount of Temptation

Mount of Temptation

Then we went to closer to see the Mount of Temptation where Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights, then was temped by Satan.

Zacchaeus' Tree

Zacchaeus’ Tree

We also stopped at Zacchaeus’ tree.  As everybody knows, small Zacchaeus climbed up this tree to see Jesus, and Jesus called him down and stayed his house that night.

Taking Dove

Taking Dove

So I had not that bad day today even though the plan was completely ruined because my original tour was cancelled.  It is not bad to visit the same place again.

But when I came back to Jaffa gate, I saw something unusual.  I found a few people caught the doves, and they just took it.  And the weird thing was that the dove did not fly or flee, it looked quite easy to catch.  I do not know why they take it.  Do they eat it?

After supper, I heard the sirens a few times which means Jerusalem is under rocket attack.

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