Hannah and Je together

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Eighth Day – Flight Back

After I arrived at the airport Terminal 3, I waited several hours because they allow only three hours prior to the flight.  I went through the initial security check at 2am (my flight was 5am).  They just x-rayed my check-in baggage and asked just a few questions such as if anyone gave me anything, if I have a weapon or something sharp.  That was it.  It was very easy.  Then I checked in my baggage, and I went through the second security check.  The line was not too long at that time of day, but it moved slow.  A guy in front of me complained that it is too slow.  The guy looked like from East India but I cannot be sure.  The young lady staff set him aside, and eventually he got the security check after me.  She said to the guy quietly but firmly, “BEHAVE YOURSELF!”  The security check was very easy, they were all smiling at me, and I was joking with them too.  They had a strange thing, a light blue stick.  They rubbed the tip of the stick on all my belongings such as backpack and laptop which are pretty much all I had then.  And they put the stick onto a machine to analyse.  I asked the lady what that was, and she waved her index finger, smiling and said “secret.” Oh, the guy who was not behaving eventually went to a separate room, and I saw him two hours later at the gate. It looked like he was just released right before the flight.

It is always good to see the windows error message in public

It is always good to see the windows error message in public

McCormick group flew with Lufthansa, and we know that only Lufthansa uses terminal 1 while all other international flights use terminal 3.  Ben Gurion Airport gave the German airline its own terminal.  The security check at terminal 3 was normal, almost same as in America.  That of terminal 1 which is for Lufthansa was extremely terrible.  It looks like that Israel gives German airline very hard and difficult security check only for them.  So, my advice is not to use Lufthansa when you go to Israel.

What other airport has this easy chairs?

What other airport has this easy chairs?

When I went to my gate, I could not believe my eyes – the easy chairs.  So I rested two hours on one of the chairs.

Playground at Ben Gurion Airport

Playground at Ben Gurion Airport

Ben Gurion Airport has very good facilities including this bigger playground for kids.  The picture above is only part of it.

I flew to Zürich airport, and there I transferred to the airplane to Chicago.  As I had the emergency exit seat on the way to Israel, I also got that seat on my way back home.  It was very pleasant flight.  The best thing of flying with SWISS air was that they gave us ice cream as dessert.

One thing Chicago Airport does not have

One thing Chicago Airport does not have

It was not too difficult to find a power outlet in Ben Gurion Airport, and it was very easy in Zürich airport.  The power outlet is one thing almost impossible to find in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

The immigration line at Chicago Airport was a bit different from last time which is January 2014.  If I remember correctly, there were three different lines – for US citizens, for US green card holders, and for anyone else (in other words visitors).  But this time, they had three lines, but the first line was different.  It was for the citizens of US and Canada.  Why American immigration treats Canadian citizens as their own?  Are the two countries going to do M&A?

It was very good to be home, and I realised why everybody says “Home Home Sweet Home.”  It is because there is my sweet honey.

Another story. Egypt Story

When I planned to go to Egypt first time, I booked at a travel agency in Israel.  Not like the trips within Israel, the agency requires at least two or three people to do the trip to Egypt.  And because of war between Israel and Gaza, all other people cancelled the trip, and I alone left which resulted in the automatic cancellation of the trip itself.  Of course I got refunded.

I was digging at Megiddo at that time. I had no idea how and what to do.  Then my co-volunteers told me that we had a guy from Egypt.  His name is Remon Nabil Samuel, and he was actually a square supervisor, and I talked to him about it, and he was kind to help me.  He talked to several of his friends back in Egypt, and one of them was willing to help me.  Her name is Dina Jacob.

She told me to just come and she would guide me all about Cairo for a week.  And of course I trusted her.  We talked through the Facebook messenger, and she also gave me her cellphone number so that I can call her once I got to Cairo.  At that time, I had no idea to visit Luxor.  But two days before my departure, Shirly Ben Dor Evian, the supervisor of my area and squares, strongly suggested me to see Luxor.  So I booked a day trip to Luxor from Cairo for the first day.  Because Dina Jacob, the friend of Remon in Cairo, told me that she would be flexible, so I thought I would see her from the second day.

I went to Cairo from Israel’s Taba border by two buses.  First night I messaged Dina Jacob with Facebook messenger, but my messages did not go through.  And I realised that she blocked me on Facebook!  So I called her by the number she gave me, and nobody answered.  I felt like I was lost in the space, but soon I realised that I had a day of buffer or cushion because the first day was already booked for Luxor trip.  For that night and next day, I googled crazy, called many places crazy.  So I successfully managed all of my days in Egypt – some I used travel agency and some I travelled by myself.

If I did not booked Luxor trip in advance, I would have spoiled and wasted most days in Egypt.  I have no idea what is wrong with Dina Jacob, but I did not complain to Remon.  Knowing everything, God let my supervisor suggest me Luxor, I believe.  Thanks be to God, and also I personally thank Shirly, my area supervisor and the mother of two beautiful girls.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Seventh Day – Last Day

There was no class on the last day.  The school always told us that the last class is Thursday, but the day before, the secretary of the language centre told us that there would be no class on the last day.  But we just had small ceremony.

I left the house around 10:30 in the morning because the ceremony was at 11.  I asked the family to call a cab, and I paid 20 shekels from home to school.  Do you remember the cab driver on my first day in Bethlehem who yelled at us and dropped us in the middle of the way to the Siraj centre because we refused to give him 25 shekels?  Home-Bethlehem University is 3/4 longer than Siraj-Bethlehem University, and today’s driver charged me 20 shekels.

Classmates.  Lina from Germany, me, Cletos from Ghana, Mateo from Italy.  Anna from Switcherland is not here

Classmates. Lina from Germany, me, Cletos from Ghana, Mateo from Italy. Anna from Switzerland is not here

The ceremony was simple, and I’ve got a certificate.  Anna from Switzerland could not attend the ceremony because her airline emailed her that her flight is changed one day earlier, which is Thursday.  So she went to the airport.  And the Spoken Arabic Level 1 teacher did not show up too.  Anna is from Switzerland, but working in Germany.  She is very nice girl, but also very strong in her opinion and people must agree with her.  Once we were talking about the war, and she was demonising Israel with the number of death in Gaza.  I do not deny that many people were killed in Gaza by the Israeli attack.  I told her that Hamas also tried to attack, they just did not succeed.  Then she mentioned the number of deaths on both sides and said “how can it be the same!”  I also told her it is because Israel has defensive technology and successfully defended its citizens, not because Hamas was better in spirit and mind and refused to attack the other.  Then she became so mad.  I do not understand why so many people especially from Europe think Palestinians are good, but Israelis are pure evil?

A few days before the talk, our classmates, including Anna and I, were talking about airlines.  I said that I am flying with SWISS (Anna was happy), but I think Lufthansa is slightly better than SWISS.  At this point, she became so offended with that.  And yesterday, we were talking again in the class about the airlines.  I told her that SWISS is one of the top airlines.  Then she said with still little bit angry voice, “SWISS air is NOT one of the top airlines.  It is the ONLY TOP airline!  I am not saying this because I am from Switzerland.  It is just the FACT!”  I wanted to ask her to prove it with the numbers and evidences, but I just said, “OK” to avoid her anger.

Gemma from Spain

Gemma from Spain

After the ceremony, some of the students had lunch together.  And there were three people going to the airport including me.  Edward Fox, middle-aged guy from England wanted to join me but was not sure.  And Zoey from rural Illinois wanted to go to the airport with me and she asked me to wait for her in the bus stop for an hour.  Actually she came to the bus stop in two hours.  She is very spoiled daughter, and her father does everything for her even for now when she is in college, and consequently she does not know to do anything.

While I was standing next to the bus stop, the taxi drivers came to me to ask the taxi ride.  I told them that I am waiting for my friend, then they found that I speak Arabic, and became very curious about me.  So I was surrounded by them and talked two hours.  I found that Christians and Muslims have different greetings in Arabic.  Some of the people I talked have multiple wives (the maximum number is four).  Later, they began to shout “Fucking America” surrounding me as if they protest in front of the Embassy.  It was half joke and half serious.  They said no Palestinians like America and they hate it more than Israel.  Later, one of them advised me not to say I am from America but just say that I am a Korean because identifying oneself as an American is not wise in Palestine.

After waiting two hours, Zoey came to the bus stop, and I also found Edward too.  So we three journeyed to the airport together.  The bus was full of Students of Bethlehem University, Palestinians living in Jerusalem.  At the checkpoint, everybody got off the bus, and walked through the soldiers showing the permits and passports.  It was my first time getting off the bus for the checking.  Every time, the soldiers got on the bus.  And because of this, I lost my seat.

Edward’s flight was 9pm, Zoey’s 11pm, and mine was 5am next morning.  From Jerusalem, there are two ways to go to the airport.  Getting a sherut (or shared taxi), and using the public transportation.  The best and fastest way is to use the sherut.  I explained them about both ways, and I recommended the sherut.  But somehow, Edward insisted on the public transportation.  It was about 5pm, and I was kind of worried about his flight, but he insisted.  From the Damascus gate, we used light railway to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.  ANd we waited an hour and got on the bus to the Haifa, and got off at the airport city.  There we were supposed to get on the free shuttle, or any public bus to the airport terminals, but we did not see anything.  And finally we got on a cab all together.  It was about 8pm when we got to the airport terminal.  He ran as fast as he can.  Zoey went through the security check right away  because the security check begins three hours prior to the flight.  Later I met Edward again.  He told me that he missed the flight.  We spent three hours on the public transportation system when we could have just spent 45 minutes on sherut.

Ilaria from Italy

Ilaria from Italy

Here comes small stories from the trip.

My hosting family in Bethlehem has a Hyundai Tucson.  I do not know how they got this, but it must be from Korea.  The owner’s manual is in Korea.  The car speaks Korean (voice activated features and instructions).  The navigation systems also shows and speaks Korean.  And they cannot use any of the advanced features of the car including Bluetooth, multimedia features and navigation.  They just drive.  And they said that they suffer from Korean language.

The family has a daughter, and two sons.  And I stayed in the daughter’s room, and every night she slept on the couch in the living room (she graduated college).  I did not feel happy and comfortable about that.  Except, the hosting family was very good.  They are super nice people.

In Palestine (and probably all the Arab world), mother does everything.  Father cannot do anything about house chores, and children are the same.  once I wanted to do my laundry and asked the daughter where the washing machine is, and she asked me back if they have one.  Five minutes later I found it in front of her room.  The family do not even gather the laundry for their mother.  She goes everywhere to collect the laundry.  When I told another lady that men do half (or more) of the house chores in Canada and America, she was shocked.  And she said complaining about the house chore is not possible and if one does, then she is considered as an evil mother and evil woman.

In Palestine, people live in peace between them, not like in other areas of middle east where they kill each other.  Even Christians and Muslims have no problem living together in Bethlehem.  But in my perception, it is just because they face bigger problem of Israel.

As I wrote above, Palestinians hate America.  Then how about Israelis?  I was told many times from the Israelis that “Do you know we hate Obama?  All Israelis hate Obama”  when I told them that I am from Chicago.  America is fool, spends a lot of money and effort on both sides and being hated from both.

On the trip to Hebron together, the so-called tour guide was talking about Hamas. I was not actually listening because he has no logic in his speech. But Lina, the girl from Germany, told him that it is not 100% that she agrees. Then the guy began to yell at her. She was freaked out, and she stopped talking with him. I think that attitude will never work to make friends. And they need friends.

Yesterday when I was sitting on a bench in the school yard, an old gentleman (he is a professor at Bethlehem University) came to me and asked if I am a Korean.  I said that I am a Korea but I am from Chicago.  He told me that they have two exchange students from Korea every year, and he thought I am one of them.  We talked a bit more.  Suddenly he asked me if I fell in love with a Palestinian girl.  I said no.  He, then, pointing two girls sitting beside me, asked me again “Don’t you think the Palestinians girls are beautiful?”  I told him that I am married.  Well, this is third time that people tried to connect me with someone.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Israel Trip Eighth Day: Lachish and Beersheva

Today, we left the White Sister’s guest house and brought everything into the bus. Our first destination was Lachish.

Ark of the Covenant stayed here for 18 years

Ark of the Covenant stayed here for 18 years

On the way, the local guide told us that the picture above is where the ark of the covenant stayed for 18 years in the time of David. You may remember that when the ark came back to Jerusalem, David danced and became (half) naked.

David and Goliath

David and Goliath

Then we also stopped at a point where David and Goliath fought. The picture above is where the Israelites were camping.

Green Green on the west

Green Green on the west

So far, I’ve never seen the west of hill country before because we went to east side only such as Qumran, Jericho, etc. And first day when we landed on Ben Gurion airport, it was already dark so I could not see anything. On the east side, everywhere is almost wilderness. And today, I was so surprised that the west of hill country is so green. It is such great contrast.

Lachish Wall

Lachish Wall

At last we went to Lachish. Lachish is the city at the border of Southern Kingdom of Judah, and was conquered by Assyrians in the time of Hezekiah.

Lachish from down under

Lachish from down under

If seen from down under, it is just another same hill. It is not impressive at all. But you need to go up to find out why it was very important place.

Altar of the Sun

Altar of the Sun

On the way up to the Lachish wall, we saw the temple of Sun built by Canaanites before Israelites came.

View From Lachish

View From Lachish

Once you come up to Lachish, you know why it is so important. You can have 360 degree view which means you can control the area. It was Judean military camp and after it conquered, it became Assyrian military base. And even geographically, it is the connecting point between Mesopotamian and Egypt. It is very important place for strategical purpose.

Gate of Lachish

Gate of Lachish

This is the city gate of Lachish. It has three gates and a few chambers where the elders were and where people brought their issues to them.

Lachish Ramp by Assyrians

Lachish Ramp by Assyrians

This is the remain of the Assyrian ramp. I wonder when the Israelites in the Lachish looked down on the Assyrians working and building the ramp, what would they have felt and thought? And what would they prayed for?

Regular size Espresso

Regular size Espresso

And then we went to highway resting area where McDonald’s is with other restaurants. I just had an Espresso coffee. It was good and it was 10 NIS, but it was really small. That cup is half-size of my palm.

Military Training

Military Training

I saw the military training or doing something a few times. In the resting area, three or four Apache helicopter was hovering around. I even saw a tank travelling on the highway. Of course, this is the land of conflict.

Well of Beersheva

Well of Beersheba

This is the well of Beersheba where Abraham made treaty with the people there, basically saying, “I’ve good to you. So be good and nice to me and to my descendants.” So it is mutual treaty to be nice each other. Now where is the mutual treaty gone?

Bench at the Beersheva Gate

Bench at the Beersheba Gate

This is the bench between the city gates in the time of Boaz. This is the bench where Boaz sat with ten elders of the town.

Beersheva Downtown

Beersheba Downtown

This is half or one thirds of Beersheba from the higher point.

House remain on the wall

House remain on the wall

This is the remain of the house built upon the city wall of Beersheba. Rahab in Jericho also had a house on the city wall. I think marginal people would have lived on the city wall because it would be dangerous and scary in time of invasion.

Where they store rain water

Where they store rain water

This is the water reservoir. It is so deep and even down there, there are much space to store water from the rain.

Hagit Beck, Jewish activist

Hagit Beck, Jewish activist

Then we went to Hagit Beck, a Jewish lady in the very nice town of Omer near Beersheba. She is an activist and volunteer member of Machsom Watch. We heard many interesting things from here.

Hyundai Bethlehem

Hyundai Bethlehem

In the town of Bethlehem, I saw a Hyundai. It is always nice to see Korean companies doing well around the world.

Nazi Dental Lab

Nazi Dental Lab

This is the dental lab right next to the Hotel. We all were surprised by the name of it. Is it what I think it is, or just a personal name. If it is just a personal name, is his/her name just happened to be like this or by purpose?

Saint Gabriel Hotel

Saint Gabriel Hotel

This is St. Gabriel Hotel. It is very nice and beautiful. The dinner was buffet, a very very nice one. But my room mate experienced very bad thing here. Well….

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