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.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fiftieth Day – Separation Wall in Bethlehem

Mosquito bites on my leg

Mosquito bites on my leg

During this trip, I was free of mosquitoes in hotels, hostels, and in this family house.  But four days ago, suddenly I began to have mosquito bites.

Mosquito bites on my foot

Mosquito bites on my foot

I could not bear this.  Even I could not get to sleep.  So I asked my host family, and they gave me some electronic vaporizing mosquito scent.  And I was OK last night.

Separation Wall - Jesus Wept

Separation Wall – Jesus Wept

After I had fighting with the teacher yesterday, she was behaving today.  She was not angry at all today, and became nice.  Yesterday, all the dean and the teacher were worrying about was if I would drop the course.  Of course I would not.  Maybe she realised after she talked to the dean that there are so many replacement for her position, and she needs to behave herself.  The unemployment rate is pretty high here and it is quite easy to get Arabic teacher here in Palestine.

Separation Wall Painting

Separation Wall Painting

Anyway, after the class, the school told me that we would have lunch with all the Arabic students at a restaurant.  But many students did not join it including me.  I have free lunch home, then why would I pay for lunch?  Instead, I walked to the separation wall.

Wall surrounded House

Wall surrounded House

The wall is not just go straight.  It is bent crazy and I have no idea who and why drew the wall plan on the map like this.  One of the horrible thing is the house in the picture above.  The house is surrounded by the wall on its three sides.  Why the Israelis built the wall like that?

Wall becomes canvas

Wall becomes canvas

The wall is so horrible, and some Palestinians cannot go to Jerusalem which is within fifteen minutes driving, and some can go, but they also experience great inconvenience.  But the Palestinians turn the wall into the huge canvas for art.

Smiling Lady with rifle

Smiling Lady with rifle

This picture gave me some grief, because I am against the violence for both sides.  The lady is smiling with rifle.  I hope to see a smiling lady with flowers.

Make Hummus Not Walls

Make Hummus Not Walls

How funny it is.  Some pictures and writings are very humourous.  “Make Hummus Not Walls.”  I hope so too!

John Paul 2 Foundation

John Paul 2 Foundation

On the way back, I saw a building with the name of “John Paul 2 Foundation.”  Pope John Paul II was the 264th Pope of Catholic Church until 2005.  Even though we have two more Popes after him, when I think of Pope, I always imagine him in my head.  The building is on the Hebron Street.

I’d like to talk about the Palestinians and travel freedom because I am posting about the separation wall.  People tend to think the Palestinians cannot travel at all.  But that is not true.  We need to know that there are many different Palestinian groups in different situations.

  1. Palestinians in Israel having Israel citizenship.
  2. Palestinians in Israel having permanent resident.
  3. Palestinians in West Bank, having Israel entering permit
  4. Palestinians in West Bank, without Israel visiting permit
  5. Palestinians in Gaza

The Palestinians in Israel side having Israel citizenship has equal right as Israeli Jews.  They can travel within Israel and Palestine, and any other part of the world.  The McCormick’s January trip tour guide, George Filmon is in this group.  People in this group can use Ben Gurion International Airport.

Palestinians having permanent resident in Israel can travel within Israel and Palestine.  But they are not allowed to travel to other countries because they do not have a passport.

Palestinians in West Bank with Israel entering permit can travel within Israel and Palestine.  They also can travel the whole world since they have Palestinian passport.  But they are not allowed to use Ben Gurion International Airport, so they must go to Jordan first, and use the Airport in Amman.  The father of my hosting family, Hamdi Bannoura, is in this Group.

Palestinians in West Bank without Israel entering permit can travel within Palestine, and cannot go to Israel.  But they can still travel the whole world with Palestinian passport.  Actually they can travel more countries than Israelis including Israeli Palestinians.  Because most of the Muslim countries do not allow the Israelis to come except Egypt and Jordan.  The Israelis cannot even go to Bali because Indonesia is a Muslim country and they ban the Israelis.  The mother of my hosting family, Ilham Bannoura, and her three children are in this group.  She really wishes to visit Jerusalem and Nazareth as a Christian, so she applied a few times for the Israel entering permit in vain.  Her daughter studied in Germany, and her son will go to Germany next school year.  And her cousin goes to Washington state, USA to study.  They do not have any problem travelling the world, just they cannot use the nearest Ben Gurion International Airport.

Palestinians in Gaza cannot travel anywhere in the world except a few political leaders.  They cannot travel in Israel nor in West Bank.  It is mostly because of Israel, but Egypt is not free from the blame.  Egypt has border with Gaza, but they do not allow anyone to cross over.  When the Gazans did not have Palestinian passport, Egypt issued them the Egyptian passport.  But even at that time Egyptian government did not allow any Gazans to come over to Egypt even though they had Egyptian passport!

So except Gazans, Palestinians do not have any problem travelling the world (but still it is not convenient).  It is some of them cannot travel to Israel side.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty First Day – Back to Israel

So, I got on the bus at Cairo to Dahab.  And all my plan and schedule was with enough buffer, I thought.

Typical Muslim Lady

Typical Muslim Lady

I took a picture of Muslim lady who literally covers top to toe.  If I include her glasses in her covering, she covered almost all of herself.  It is not difficult to find such lady in Egypt, which is one of the most open country in Arab world.

Daewoo Bus

Daewoo Bus

This is the bus, and it is made by DAEWOO.  How many decades ago that company disappeared?

Even though I had more than enough buffer in my schedule going back, there was two big problems.  The first is from Egypt.  Even though McCormick travel group complained a lot about Israeli checkpoint, we need to admit that there is no checkpoint inside Israel territory or inside Palestine territory.  But in Egypt, there are so many checkpoints within Egyptian territory.  From Cairo to Dahab, dozens.  And from Dahab to Taba, also dozens.  I think I crossed almost 40 or 50 checkpoints from Cairo to Taba.  Half of them just stopped the bus, and check easily.  The other half checked the IDs and passports of all the passengers in the bus.  This delayed more than three hours than the schedule.  I thought I would be in Taba around 10am, but I was there at 2:30pm.

The other problem was at Israel border.  I understand the situation of war, but they checked me and many other passengers so badly.  They asked me tons of questions.

Officer: Why do you have soaps?
Je: Because I wash everyday.
Officer: What is this?
Je: It says shampoo.
Officer: Why do you have shampoos?
Je: You don’t know what the shampoo is for?
Officer: Why do you have music CD?
Je: Because I listen to music.

Then they opened my bag and suitcase, and checked every single item, even my unwashed underwear.  I warned them but they touched.  So I advised them to wash their hands before eat anything.  The Israeli border took slightly more than two hours for me.  But I met a guy from Texas who spent four hours.  This guy is actually quite annoying, and he made some racism joke to a Singapore American.

Israel side of the border

Israel side of the border

Israel side of the border is better in many ways.  First, people line up.  Yes, the exactly same people who made chaos in Egyptian side line up.  And there are many convenient facilities including water fountain (which is very precious in this hot weather), restroom, money exchange, and so on.

Anyway when I went to the central bus station in Eilat, it was about 5:10pm.  And the last bus to Jerusalem already left long time ago.  But I could not stay in Eilat.  If I depart Eilat tomorrow morning, I would be in Bethlehem in the afternoon around 3 or 4pm.  So I got on the bus to Tel Aviv.

SunCity Hotel, Tel Aviv

SunCity Hotel, Tel Aviv

When I was in Egypt, it was almost impossible to find a free WIFI.  Even the most expensive hotel in Luxor does not provide free WIFI.  The bad hotel in Cairo has free WIFI in the lobby (not in the room), but it is only ten minutes.  But in Israel it is much easier to find free WIFI.  And I realise even the inter-city bus (EGGED bus) has free WIFI!

I hit Tel Aviv at midnight.  And I went to a nearby hotel – SunCity hotel.  And the very first thing at the check-in was their instruction what to do when I hear siren because they have sirens and alarms minimum twice everyday anytime.  SunCity hotel is good one with nice staff who tries to help me as much as possible.  But the facility itself is quite old.  But I prefer this one rather than Le Meridien Hotel in Cairo where they have shiny facility with bad employees.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Ninth Day – First day in Cairo

View from the Hotel Room

View from the Hotel Room

This is the view from my room in Le Meridien Hotel.  This is a five-star hotel.  The building and facility are very nice but the management and customer service is so bad.  I would never use this hotel again.

Today, I had some problem because I did not know the time change.  During the Ramadan and the feast after it, Egypt change the time one hour earlier so that they can eat one hour earlier.  Now, the Ramadan and the following feast is over, so Egypt came back to its normal time.  Everything could have been messed up.

Ramses II

Ramses II

In the morning I went to the Mit Rahina Museum which was the temple originally for the god of textile and craftsman.  He is also believed to created the universe because he is craftsgod.  There is a huge statue of Rameses II.  Ramses II is the most powerful Pharaoh and everywhere the archaeologists dig in Egypt, people say that they find the name of Ramses II.

First Stone Building in the world

First Stone Building in the world

This is the first stone building in the world.  And the first means no experience, so they also built some useless or unnecessary supporting wall for the columns.

First Pyramid

First Pyramid

This is the first pyramid in Egypt, and also in the world.

Pharaoh's Court

Pharaoh’s Court

This is the Pharaoh’s court.  The platform in the front is where Pharaoh sits, and the wall on both sides has the governors’ seats.  Pharaoh promoted, punished, or executed the governors in this place.

No Egyptian Cats but dogs

No Egyptian Cats but dogs

Egypt has image of cat more than pyramids to me.  But for three days in Egypt, I have not seen any cat yet but a lot of dogs – Taba, Sharm, Cairo, and Luxor.  It is really hot here in Egypt, and Luxor was 47C or 117F yesterday, that is why all the dogs are looking for shades.  It was probably National geographic, if my memory serves me right, that they examined the cat’s DNA and concluded that the all cats in the world are descendents of originally five female cats in Egypt.  And Genographic project also found by the same technology of comparing and examining DNA that all living human race in the whole world are descendents of one female, namely mitochondria Eve.

Titi Pyramid

Titi Pyramid Entrance

This is the Pyramid of Pharaoh Titi, the longest lived ruler in Egypt history, and the last Pharaoh of the first or ancient kingdom.

Longest Reigned Pharaoh with Humblest Tomb

Longest Reigned Pharaoh with Humblest Tomb

During his reign, the Pharaoh lost its power and got weaker, so his Pyramid is quite small and even inside is very humble.

Servant's Tomb is more Glorious

Servant’s Tomb is more Glorious

But one of his high officials who had the real power, made his tomb so glorious and bigger than the Titi.  The photograph was forbidden inside so I could not take any picture, but it was literally so beautiful and every picture or wall carving was very good in detail.

Traditional Carpet Making

Traditional Carpet Making

I was told that there are five industries that still survived in the traditional method.  Carpet making is one of them.

Papyrus Factory

Papyrus Factory

Then I went to a papyrus factory.  Papyrus was worshipped because of two things.  The first one is its flower is looks like a sun is emitting its power and light.  The second one is that its stem looks like pyramid.  The worker in the factory showed and explained me how to make Papyrus paper (actually the word paper itself came out of papyrus).

Chicken Chicken!

Chicken Chicken!

And I had lunch at a very nice restaurant where the chicken is specialised.  Not like in American or Canada, water is not free in Egypt.  I experienced that in Luxor hotel, Cairo restaurant, and even in a restaurant at Haifa, Israel.  Because of yesterday’s experience, I brought my own water bottle today – saving money!

Climbing a Pyramid

Climbing a Pyramid

Then I went to the great pyramids in Giza.  As I knew already, the pyramids surface is like a steps.  But I was told that they are originally very smooth but during the Islam reign, the rulers took the nice stones on the surface to build mosques.

Picking a Pyramid

Picking a Pyramid

On the top parts of the centre pyramid, you can see the original surface of the pyramids.

Labourers' Village

Labourers’ Village

This is the village and cemetery of the workers.  Traditionally we believed that the pyramids were built by the forced labour of the slaves.  Couple of years ago, I watched NHN documentary about this, and an archaeologist found this worker’s village, and he also found some writing, which is task manager’s journal.  It has the recordings such as the names of the worker, and how many days he worked, And in case he did not work, what was the reason.  Some of the reasons are he got hurt, he is in medication, and his son has wedding party, or he has his father’s funeral.  Which slave can drop t he daily labour and work to attend his son’s wedding?  Pyramids were built by the freemen, and it may work as the national project to boom the economy as America did – mass construction of roads, dams, and other infrastructure.

Sphynx

Sphinx

Who can skip this Sphinx in Egypt?

Horse Station

Horse Station

There are so many horses in Egypt and even they have horse stations in most tourist attractions.

When I came back to Hotel, the cardkey to my room did not work.  I tried, and other hotel staff tried, but it did not work.  So I went down to the reception and asked them.  A guy checked with computer and told me that I already checked out this morning.  What the heck!  I explained him that my reservation is until Sunday morning.  Then other guy checked the computer and told me that 3090 is not my room.  Well, I slept there until this morning, and I did not check out.  And third guy checked the computer and told me that my room is 3045.  I said to him in a little bit loud voice, “how can you change my room without telling me anything at all?”  Then I began to worry about my stuff.  Finally I went up to my original room and thankfully all my stuff was there.  Then I got the new cardkey, and reconfirmed my room.

I was so mad, and I wanted to complain to the manager.  So I went down to the reception with the reception guy who came up to the room with me.  He asked me to wait five minutes.  So I did.  After fifteen minutes, he came to me and the manager is busy, and he would call to my room if I go up and rest.  He also said it would take ten minutes.  Now, five hours passed, but no call.  It was very obvious that all the hotel staffs are trying their best to protect their manager from me.  Le Meridien Hotel in Giza Cairo – do not use this one because customer service is very bad.  Today I also saw an Arabic speaking guy was yelling in the reception, and a middle-aged lady also was very mad.

Pyramids and Moon

Pyramids and Moon

I also went to the night-light show of the pyramids.

I had some chance to talk with Egyptians about current Israel-Gaza situation.  In my assumption, Egyptians would support Gaza, so I usually began my conversation by blaming Israel about the cruelty.  But to my surprise, most of them did not like Hamas at all.  I cannot transcribe all the conversations and dialogues, so I will just summarise them.

  • Hamas is not even a (true) Muslim
  • Hamas should stop making rockets and tunnels and use that money on the Gazans.
  • Hamas is a branch of Muslim Brotherhood and we had bad experience with them in Egypt.
  • Hamas also killed many Palestinians in Gaza.
  • Hamas refused to form one government with the West Bank, this is same as riot or coup.
  • Hamas must dismiss themselves and Gaza must make one government with the West Bank.
  • Using violence is wrong and it is not Islamic.
  • Hamas must follow the example of West Bank which is the resistance without violence.
  • Gazans are dumb that is why they cannot say no to Hamas.  Egyptians did revolution three years ago, and we are walking toward true democracy.
  • Hamas should not fire rockets to Israeli civilians.  To military base is ok.  Killing unarmed people is not Islamic

And I also asked people if they identify themselves also as Africans because Egypt is in Africa.  Such as most Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese identify themselves as Asians at the same time with their identity of being Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese.  And all people whom I asked said “We are Egyptian.  We are not African at all.”

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Seventh Day – Bus to Cairo

Today was very long day, spent most time in Buses.  I got up at five and checked out the Hostel in Eilat.  They packed me breakfast, which I ate for breakfast and also for lunch due to the huge amount of food.

Taba Egyptian Border

Taba Egyptian Border

Because the bus to the border runs from 8am, I had to get a cab.  Israeli exit border was OK, and everybody was in line, everything was in order.  I just paid big money for border passenger fee.  But as soon as I crossed over to the Egyptian border, it was total chaos.  There was no line at all, people were yelling and screaming.  Even the officers yelling at the people.  Sometimes people argued with loud yelling voice with the officers.  There was no line at all.  I have no other words but ‘total chaos.’  I spent about fifteen minutes at Israeli side, but I spent more than two hours in Egyptian side.  But I finally got the Sinai permit, with which I can stay only in Sinai peninsula.

Sherut to Sharm

Sherut to Sharm

Because I need to get the Egyptian Visa, I had to go to Sharm International Airport.  But anyway there was no direct bus to Cairo even though I had the visa.  The Egyptian Consulate General in Eilat opens at 9:30am, then I waste a day.  But if I get the visa at Sharm International Airport, I just waste couple of hours.  Thanks to the chaos in Egyptian border, I spent more than two hours and the bus to Sharm already gone.  The next bus is at 11am.  And I got a Sherut to Sharm, which turned out to be better eventually.

Mountain Area on the way to Sharm near Red Sea

Mountain Area on the way to Sharm near Red Sea

The sherut driver drove as if there is no centre line.  I did not see the Mount Sinai but passed around that.  When I saw the mighty mountains, I thought it is not strange even if a guy tells me that God came upon any of those mountains.

Sharm International Airport

Sharm International Airport

I went to the Sharm International Airport, but the immigration officer refused to give me the visa, but said that I have to apply through any Egyptian Travel agency.  The Sherut driver helped me to get the visa by introducing me a travel agent.  And he waited for me and gave me ride to the bus station for $10.  The other taxi drivers called $25.  While we were waiting for the agent, he said that Jewish Torah and Christian Bible were hand written, but Coran literally fell from the heaven.  And he said “Fucking Hamas,” which is the expression that I heard the most from the Egyptians today.

One thing I notice is that Russian sign everywhere.  And the Sherut driver confirmed me that Russians are the most tourists in Egypt.

Business Class Bus to Cairo

Business Class Bus to Cairo

I rode the Go Bus to Cairo.  When I bought the ticket at the booth, the guy asked me if I want Business class or economic class.  The price was almost double, but I was curious about the business class of the bus, so I paid 160 Egyptian Pound (L.E).  Well, the bus has its own flight attendant, I would say the crew.  And it has large legroom, and it also provides meal, not to mention bottomless coffee or tea.

Egyptian Checkpoint

Egyptian Checkpoint

McCormick Group experienced the Israeli Checkpoints and we complained a lot.  I have to say, that was nothing.  Actually, there was no checkpoint inside Israeli territory or West Bank.  The checkpoints are on the border of them.  We experienced the checkpoint when we went into West Bank and came back to Israel.  But in Egypt, there were dozens of checkpoints, probably every twenty minutes.  It was the same from Taba to Sharm, and from Sharm to Cairo.  And even the Egyptians have tanks and armoured military vehicles at the checkpoints.  Some places, they placed machine guns on top of the hills.

Nothing to See on the way to Cairo

Nothing to See on the way to Cairo

The scene on the way to Cairo was mostly boring.  That was just nothing but dry sands.  This experience is good for just once.

The bus finally arrived at Cairo.  And a taxi driver approached me, so I asked how much it would be to Le Meridien Hotel in Giza Pyramids Cairo.  He said 100 L.E, so I got on.  Then I found that it is not a taxi.  The car does not have windshield wipers, engine was knocking.  He turned the music as loud as it hurts my ears.  And all the cars in Cairo ignore the lanes, and drive crazy dizzy.  Right after he began to drive, he said I have to pay 150 L.E – 100 for going and 50 for him to come back to the bus station.  A month ago, I would pay just saying, “Oh really?”  But now, I am trained by the Palestinians:

Je: No, you said 100.
He: OK, then 125.
Je: No, you didn’t say anything about that. You said 100. Don’t LIE.
He: OK, 100.

And when we arrived at the hotel, he said I must tip him 50 because 100 is for the car, and 50 is for him.  And I repeated the above conversation.

Le Meridien Hotel, Giza Pyramids Cairo

Le Meridien Hotel, Giza Pyramids Cairo

Le Meridien Hotel is nice hotel, but I am not happy with it for couple of reasons.  First, they advertise Free Wi-Fi, but I have to pay for the Wi-Fi if I want to use in the room.  It is only free at the lobby.  Second, Hotels in Israel, the online price includes everything, but this hotel includes nothing.  For example, Gloria Hotel says $110.  Then I pay $110.  Eilat Hostel says $30.  Then I actually pay $30.  But here, they say online $78.60 but when I pay, they charge me $99.  Third, it is too far from downtown Cairo.  I didn’t know it is this far.

Well, today, I trod the African soil for the first time.

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.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Fourth Day – Preparing the new tour

This is the last week of excavation.  I think it was pretty good that I experienced Lachish and Megiddo.  If Jerusalem is the Capital of Ancient Israel kingdom, Lachish and Megiddo are both centre of North and South, like the two wings of a bird.

Not that big centiped here, but it is huge

Not that big centipede here, but it is huge

In the morning when I was moving to other area on the Tel Megiddo, I saw this centipede (I did not count if it actually has hundred legs; centi = 100, pede = leg).  We see a lot of centipedes in the early in the morning, and they rush to go underground.  But some of them lose its way, and they all die of the sun.

Excavation Notice

Excavation Notice

I also took this picture of the notice about the excavation on the entrance of the park (Many archaeological sites are national park including Tel Megiddo and Tel Lachish).

This is how you find an antique

This is how you find an antique

And this is today’s founding, the complete bottom of a jar.  I also found a few olive pits and grains, which are very useful for carbon dating.

I changed my plan of Egypt tour.  I planned to leave this Kibbutz Wednesday and arrive at Cairo by Thursday evening, so that I can see Cairo for two days, and see the Mount Sinai on the way back to Israel.  I decided to leave here a day earlier so that I can also see Luxor.  If I go to Egypt and do not see Luxor, I think that is so stupid.  So tomorrow is my last day of excavation.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Third Day – Truely Rested

I slept until 9 this morning.

It is not a cup ramen

It is not a cup ramen

And because no meal is provided during the weekend, I opened a cup ramen that I bought the other day.  And it was not a ramen nor noodle.  It was some weird grain and was salty.

I did not do much today, but just rested in the room and googled the Egypt tour.  Because all the tours require minimum 2 or more people for tour, I decided to do my own trip by myself.  At dinner time, some people told me that Egypt is still unstable and considerably dangerous.  And I told them I will go to Bethlehem after Egypt, then they were almost panic, saying that Bethlehem is highly dangerous and five people were killed there.

Well, it is dangerous wherever I go.  Strange.

Kibbutz Shower Control

Kibbutz Shower Control

This is shower control here in Givat Haviva, and Kedma had the same thing.  At first, I had trouble figuring out how to use them.  The top one controls hot water, the bottom one controls the cold water.  And the middle one controls the water flow itself.  So, if you want cold shower, you need to turn the middle and bottom knob on.

Tomorrow the day begins at 4am again.  I need to sleep as early as possible.  Suddenly I became thankful to the Ancient Jews that they made the custom of resting a day out of seven (I have to say that God ordered them).  If I work without resting like this, I may die soon.  And I wonder if any other ancient culture had similar custom of resting a day out of some days, or if it is unique to Jewish religion.  Christians and Muslims also rest a day out of seven, but both religions are rooted in Judaism.  Anyone to answer me?

Monday, 21 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Eighteenth Day – Rain in Dry Season

Filed under: Lang:English,Subj:Christianity,Subj:Travel — Jemyoung Leigh @ 9:33
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Rain in Dry Season

Rain in Dry Season

This is dry season in Israel and there is no rain at all until the end of the season.  But today when we went to the digging site, everywhere was wet.  You can see the land is wet.  The dry part was covered by tents.  And while we were working in the morning, we also got some drizzle.

Everybody said it is weird, and an Israeli girl said this must be the sign for the end of the world.

Italian Nuns

Italian Nuns

I did not find anything interesting or special but just some broken pottery pieces.  Around 11am, a group of Italian nuns visited the site.  I wonder what order they belong to because the colour of their clothing is not black and white which is usual Catholic clothing for nuns.

I found that there are huge disadvantage travelling alone.  Whenever I try to book a tour, most unpopular ones require at least two people.  I just booked a two-day tour to Egypt, and they informed me that if no other people book the tour for the same day, it would be cancelled.  I am planning to Jordan by myself to see the Petra, but I am not sure if I can do the Egypt tour by myself.  If that cancels, then I must find a way for the tour by myself.

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….

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Dad and Mummy

I was listening to the Moody Radio Chicago on the way yesterday morning, and they were talking about father because the Father’s Day was coming closer.

And they used the word Dad a lot (of course). But it sounds like Dead.

Well… Dad sounds like Dead and Mummy(female parent) sounds and spells exactly same as Mummy(the dead from the ancient Egypt).

Why is that?

무디 라디오를 듣고 있었는데, 아버지의 날이 가까와 오니까 아버지에 대한 얘기를 많이 했다.

Dad (아빠)라는 단어를 무척 많이 사용했는데, 마치 dead (죽은)처럼 들렸다.

흠…. Dad(아빠)는 dead(죽은)와 소리가 비슷하고 Mummy(엄마, Mommy라고도 함)는 철자와 소리가 완전 Mummy(미라)와 같다.

왜 그럴까?

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