Hannah and Je together

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Fourth Day – Palestinian Christian’s Baptism

After class, my hosting family asked me if I was interested in watching baptism.  Of course I was.  So I went to their church with the hosting family.

Palestinian Christian Church in Beit Sahour

Palestinian Christian Church in Beit Sahour

This is the 300 years old building.  They said that they built this church upon their old church, and still they use the older church now.  There are a couple of doors leading to downstairs or underground.

Baby Baptismal Tub

Baby Baptismal Tub

This is the baptismal tub for babies.  Baptism is processed by at least two priests.  One priest fill the tub with water and bless the water with prayers and continuously cutting the water in cross shape with his hand.  The other priest is next to him with the parents of the baby.  He blesses the baby with prayers and the Bible, and the put the olive oil on the baby in cross shape.  Now the baby is dressed in normal baby suit.

Baby Baptism

Baby Baptism

The other priest pours out the olive oil in the tub.  And the parents prepare the baby naked and also the priest put on a towel around his waist.  Before he puts the baby in the water, he lifts the baby high so that everybody can see it.  Then he puts the baby completely into the water three times.  And everybody in the church shouts for joy and makes loud happy noise.  And the priest put some special mixed oil onto the baby in cross shape.  Now, of course the baby is naked.

Procession of the Baby

Procession of the Baby

Then the priests go up to the pupil, and the baby is dressed in white (wedding) dress no matter the baby is boy or girl.  And the whole family processes to the front.

Merry Go Round?

Merry Go Round?

Then the baby’s family stands one side of the table, and the priests opposite side.  They go around the table and blesses the baby.  One of the priests shakes the incense case continually.  They do it for a while.

Bow to the Bible

Bow to the Bible

Then another priest come with the open Bible, and touches the baby’s head.  At this time, the whole family must bow down their heads.  And through all the ceremony, the people in the pew remain standing if possible.  And the baby gets the very first communion.

Then the family recess to the outside, and they stand in a row.  Then the whole crowd follow them and greet them with happy congratulation.  The baby baptism is not part of the Sunday service, but separate ceremony, and it is much like wedding.

There were about 80 people in the church, so I asked my hosting family if they are the congregation of this church.  And I was told that this is family event, so only the close relatives/kins came.

Christmas Year Round

Christmas Year Round

In Bethlehem and Beit Sahour, we have Christmas year round.

Fresh Figs

Fresh Figs

I had dried figs in Canada couple of times, but I’ve never had fresh figs before.  Fig is kind of unique fruit.  For apple, we do not eat the core part where there are seeds.  For orange, we do not eat the peel.  But for the fig, we eat everything, literally everything.  And it is very sweet.  If you eat two, you may feel happy.  I understand why Jesus was looking for fig tree when He was hungry.  And this is home-grown figs.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Second Day – Beit Shearim

I had no plan for today.  But in the morning Bill from Austin, Texas came to me and asked if I am interested in day trip.  I asked him where he was going.

Bill: Capernaum.
Je: I’ve alreay been there.  Not interested.
Bill: And the church of bread and fish.
Je: What is that?
Bill: blah blah blah…
Je: Oh, Tabgha!  I’ve alreay been there.  Not interested.
Bill: And Caesarea.
Je: I’ve alreay been there.  Not interested.
Bill: And Beit Shearim.
Je: Where?

So I decided to join his group.  There was another man from Germany, a retired pastor.  So we three went out for day trip.

Cave of the Coffins, Beit Shearim

Cave of the Coffins, Beit Shearim

Beit Shearim was very interesting.  It is in the city of Kiryat Tivon, and has so many tombs and caves.  The famous one is the Cave of Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, and since then many Jews came here to be buried from various places.  The above one is the Cave of the Coffins.  It is huge inside.  Tons of stone coffins with beautiful inscriptions and decorations.  The cave itself is like a city with so many chambers and hallways.

Above the cave, which is more than thousand years old grave, I found an used condom with its package nearby.  It is so gross having sex on the grave.  What is wrong with people living here?

Jesus Boat

Jesus Boat

Then we went to the Museum of Jesus Boat.  This is not the actual boat, but the replica.  They found this boat underneath the bottom of Sea of Galilee, and found that it is about 2,000 years old.  McCormick group came here last January.

Tabgha

Tabgha

Then we went to Tabgha.  The bottom mosaic is very famous with four loaves and two fish.  The reason of four loaves instead of five is that Jesus is holding on loaf in his hand for blessing.  McCormick group also came here last January.

St. Peter's House, Capernaum

St. Peter’s House, Capernaum

Then we went to Capernaum.  This is the St. Peter’s house near the synagogue.  McCormick group also came here last January.

Bahai Gardens, Haifa

Bahai Gardens, Haifa

Then we went to Haifa.  The picture above is the Bahai Garden at German Colony in Haifa.  We ate dinner in the German Colony and the food was not great.

Mediterranean beach, Haifa

Mediterranean beach, Haifa

Then we went to a Beach in Haifa – The mediterranean beach.  The water is salty.

Caesarea in the dusk

Caesarea in the dusk

Then we went to Caesarea at the dusk.  And as you may know, the Shabbat begins at the Friday evening.  I expected nobody, but the parking lot was full and all the streets are full of parked cars.  Double parking?  Are you kidding?  Everywhere is already triple parked.  Well, because the restaurants are open until 1am, everybody came here because this is the only (kind of) place to eat out.  I also saw many Muslims waiting for the complete sunset so that they can eat.  McCormick group of course came here last January.

So called Penis Man

So called Penis Man

I found an art which I did not see last January.  And when I found it, it was surrounded by girls aged around seven to ten.  The girls were grabbing, rubbing, and touching the penis of the statue, and their mothers were taking picture of that.  Well, great.  Early education, we need that.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twentieth Day – Flint

Today was not too bad, because I found at least something besides pottery pieces.

Pillar Base

Pillar Base

This is believed to be the pillar base.

Jaw bone of probably a goat

Jaw bone of probably a goat

This is the most interesting thing I found today. The jaw bone with some teeth on it. It could be a goat or sheep.

Flint

Flint

I also found several flints today for the first time. This is the nicest one.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Seventeenth Day – First day in Tel Megiddo

Before I begin today’s story, I met an African-American named Reggie.  He is very nice guy and taught many things that I need to know here.  We had supper together, and we began to talk about American Society.

First, I said America need gun control.  There are many countries where guns are illegal and the society is safer.  And he said NO!  He said the gun is to protect – protect yourself and your properties.  We talked a little more, but I realised that it would be useless because we cannot overcome the gap between our thoughts.

The other thing we talked about was health insurance and hospital system.  I said Canada and some (northern) European countries have national health insurance, and that is the way for America to go but it looks not easy.  He said that the national health insurance is stupid idea.  He said he would rather pay and get better health care.  I said that there are many people who are poor and cannot afford the hospital fee.  He said very shocking thing to me that those people are poor because they are lazy, and they do not deserve health care.  I was so shocked, and said, “but they are same human and citizen of America. Don’t you think government must take care of her citizens?”  But his thought was so firm that they chose to be poor, so they do not deserve anything.  I mentioned the documentary Sicko, and he became angry, saying that Michael Moore is a f**king communist and the film is 100% lie.  He also has similar idea about college and university tuition fee that the students can get loans and they can pay it back after graduation.  And that the only reason they are stuck in the debt is that they are dumb, stupid, and lazy.

Then, I changed the topic because I felt he is quite angry and it would be dangerous to continue the conversation on those matter.  But I was very much shocked because I have never met or conversed with anyone who thinks like that way before.

Tel Megiddo

Tel Megiddo

This the Tel Megiddo from under.  We got up at 4 which is half an hour earlier than in Lachish.  And they were so many people that we used two big buses.  It is because that many excavation sites were closed because of the warring situation, and Tel Megiddo is one of a few sites which continues digging, and many students moved over to Tel Megiddo team like me.

Area T, Tel Megiddo

Area T, Tel Megiddo

The is area T where I worked today.  There are many differences between Tel Lachish and Tel Megiddo.  First noticeable one is that Megiddo’s climate is much cooler than that of Lachish, so I did not drink a lot of water.  The speed of dust drying is also quite different.  It just took less than an hour for the fresh mud to dry in Lachish, but here people say that they need to wait until next morning.  The work pace is slower than that of Lachish, probably because of the number of people digging.  Maybe it was because I worked with other Koreans, and most Koreans are workaholic.

Sling Stones

Sling Stones

I was told that my work place is Assyrian Era which I think is very cool because I worked upto Babylonian era at Tel Lachish.  Those are sling stones I found today, and because of three sling stones at the same spot, they concluded it was sling stone factory.

The schedule here at Megiddo is very similar to that of Lachish, but we have fewer breaks here and they do not provide water here, but everybody carries his/her own water bottle.  They provided the water with Van because we needed more water than an individual person can carry.

Schedule is get up at 4, dig until 1, take some rest after lunch, wash potteries and bones, and two lectures in the evening which ends att 10.  Today’s lecture was very interesting and one of them was about DNA and archaeology.  It is very tiring and exhausting schedule, and I have to do this two more weeks including this week.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirteenth Day – Cleaning Lachish

I was told that today is the last day to come to the digging site.  Our major job of today is to clean up the digging site.

Military Helicopter

Military Helicopter

While we were cleaning, two military helicopters flew by over our heads.  This is serious war.  After I came back to Kedma village, I was outside checking some photos and blogging, facebooking.  It was around 3pm, and I saw the rockets flying and being intercepted.  There were many.  I began to count, and I gave up counting from 23, and the rockets were still coming.  It is crazy.  More than two dozens of rockets in three minutes.

Tel Lachish Area K (or C) cleaned up

Tel Lachish Area K (or C) cleaned up

Cleaning was not easy job.  How can we clean up the more than 2,500 year-old dust in a day?  While we were cleaning up, Professor Yossi came and check a few things.  He suddenly said “It is not logical.  I do not understand.  It does not make sense.”  Then he dug on.  Well, cleaning interrupted.  The photo above is after the cleaning.  The upper stone wall is of Persian Era, and the floor is destruction layer of Babylonia.

Dusty and Dry Top Soil

Dusty and Dry Top Soil

Cleaning was not easy job.  How can we clean up the more than 2,500 year-old dust in a day?  While we were cleaning up, Professor Yossi came and check a few things.  He suddenly said “It is not logical.  I do not understand.  It does not make sense.”  Then he dug on.  Well, cleaning interrupted.  The photo above is after the cleaning.  The upper stone wall is of Persian Era, and the floor is destruction layer of Babylonia.

The heat of the day is literally killing.  You can see the dust is coming up at every step of mine.  The top soil is not fertile at all.  Actually any plant which failed to root deep under the top soil dries and dies immediately.

And there is huge, extremely huge difference between the shadow and the sun.  In the shadow, it is not too bad with the cool breeze, but in the sun, you burn painfully.  You even feel like the sunrays prick your face and skin.  I now understand why Jonah was so upset dare against God when God removed the nice shadow from Jonah.  In the same situation, I might do the same.

Pottery Reading

Pottery Reading

Because we did not excavate but cleaned, we did not have any pottery or bone to wash.  So some volunteers were able to attend the pottery reading.  Identifying the pottery is not something anyone can do.  You must have accurate and a lot of knowledge on archaeological pottery.

Professor Yossi came and told me that I will dig at Megiddo from next week.

Second Holy Land Trip – Twelfth Day – Third Digging

I got up 4:30 today again.  We began the day at the same time as yesterday.

Babylonian Arrow-head

Babylonian Arrow-head

This is the arrow-head of the Babylonian army found right inside the city wall.  This very arrow-head was shot by the Babylonian soldier and may (or may not) pierce the body of the people in the city of Lachish.

Digging Je

Digging Je

Some people imagined the Indiana Jones when I told them that I would go for archaeological excavation.  But it is not that dangerous nor thrill.  Long boring job of digging.

Dumping Je

Dumping Je

What do I need to do after digging?  I need to dump all the dust and dirt to the dumping ground.

Measuring Je

Measuring Je

Whenever we dig more, we need to measure the depth of it using this measuring device.

Complete Jugglet

Complete Jug

We found this complete jug.  It has multi-purpose.

Because of the rocket attack of Hamas, today is the last day of actual digging.  Tomorrow, we need to clean and close everything, take some photos.  Then this site will be shut down until next year’s continuing excavation.  And the problem was our team did not finish the needed job before noon.  So we decided to stay in the site and continue the work under the burning and killing sun.

It was really so hot and I totally understood why Jonah was so upset to God when he lost the shadow.

Milk Shake and Cheese Cake

Milk Shake and Cheese Cake

After we finished all the job, we called Professor Yossi because none of us had a car.  Professor Yossi gave us ride and on the way, he bought us chocolate milk shake and cheese cake!

Now, I am waiting for tonight’s lecture which will go on until 10.

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.

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.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fourth Day – Museums

Today is my Museum day.  I wanted use the public transportation in Jerusalem.  I looked for the way in Google Maps.  I went to the Light rail station and bought two tickets at the vending machine.  But I was not able to find the bus stop for 66, so I came back to the Jaffa Gate for the Tourist Information Centre, and they taught me different road from the Google Maps.

Jerusalem Bus

Jerusalem Bus

So I got on the bus.  I gave the ticket to the bus driver, but he did not let me go back of the bus.  He said something, and I guessed he was saying to pay.  So I explained him that I bought the ticket this morning and never used yet.  But he was kept saying “Ofaam! Ofaam!”  And he did not understand me nor speak English.  We were not able to communicate each other because of language barrier.

Then a few people from behind came to help me.  They were all young and wearing kipa, so I guess they are Jewish.  One of them said to the bus driver that he would pay for me.  I was so moved.  It is not about the money.  The bus fare is less than $2.  It is not much, but just that he offered the small kindness to stranger was big thing to me.  But I refused because I had money.  The other guy translated for me and I found out that I must use the ticket within hour and half after purchase.  That is kind of stupid I think.  So I’d better use cash on the bus.

I was surrounded by several Jews who offered me kindness competitively.  I paid the fare by cash, and everything was settled.  God bless them!  But I had one more problem.  The bus announcement was only in Hebrew, never in English.  I had no idea where to get off.  So I asked another guy next to me (middle-aged man wearing kipa).  I was not asked the driver because he does not speak English.  The middle-aged guy brought me to the bus driver, and asked him for me in Hebrew.  Then he asked me where I am from, and I said that I am from Chicago.  Then he and I had pleasant conversation about Chicago until he got off the bus.

Last night I was insulted twice by Palestinians, and this morning I received kindness from the Jews.  If you had exactly same experience as I, then whose friend would you be?  McCormick people and I know about the Israeli government’s ill-treatment over Palestinians, but how many people do you think know all about that?  Even the people who know, they would be pro-Jewish and anti-Palestinian having such experience.

Signet Ring

Signet Ring

I went to the Bible Land Museum first.  The picture above is a signet ring.  This is the combination of passport, credit card and property certificate in the ancient world.  Judah may have been wearing and handed something like this when he went into his daughter-in-law.

Sumerian Mythology

Sumerian Mythology

This is the Sumerian mythology about the creation of humankind.  The gods were so busy, stressed and tired of taking care of the world after creation.  Even they expressed their frustration to each other.  Then they created human so that they can get relieve of the work.  So according to the Sumerian mythology, we are just free labours for them.

Family Idols

Family Idols

And the museum also said that this is what Rachel might have hidden from her father.  And if so, I guess she was desperate to be pregnant, because they are all emphasizing woman’s sexuality, which is fertility.

Riding Man

Riding Man

This is a man riding.  And we can see his sexual organ clearly.  And look at the picture below too.

Ancient Women

Ancient Women

I think they were not ashamed of sex and they did not try to hide it in the ancient world.  Then why we came to bashing the sex?  Because we oppress the sex, it grows in the weird way, and we have a whole lot of porn industry, and even Hollywood depicts sex in the wrong way.

Lachish Battle

Lachish Battle

Then I went to the Israel Museum.  I did not take much photo here.  In both museums, I borrowed the audio guide device, and I literally listened to the explanation one by one, not even missing one.  I focused on learning rather than photo.  The above one is the Lachish battle, where I am going to dig from next week.

Shrine of the Book

Shrine of the Book

I also went to the Shrine of the Book.  By the January trip, the McCormick group all know what the shape means.  But today, I notice that the four corners of the shrine set is exactly look like the four corners of the altar.

I had so good time in the museum.  When the museum announced for its closing, I was surprised because I thought I just spent a few hours (I thought it was around 1pm).  And then I realised that I was not wearing my sunglasses any longer.  I had no idea what happened to my sunglasses.

Yaffo Street

Yaffo Street

Then I got on a bus, not the 66 but 7.  I was supposed to get off at Jaffa street.  I thought I would get the word Jaffa in Hebrew, but I missed.  Someone next to me poked and told me to get off.  Why did I miss it?  Because the announcement said “Yaffo,” not “Jaffa.”  On the map issued by the Israeli government (tourism), it clearly says Jaffa, but the street sign says Yaffo.

Light Rail

Light Rail

This is the light rail in Jerusalem New City.  Jerusalem New City just looks like any other American or European city.

And I also realised that even in the Old City, Jewish quarter is much more clean and modern than the other quarters such as Muslim or Armenian.  And it also has more sunlight while the other parts of the old city is quite covered and lacks sunlight.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Third Day – Jerusalem Walking Tour

Before I begin today, I want to add some of yesterday.  I sat next to a mother-daughter family from Switzerland in the sharing taxi to Jerusalem.  I thought that they were speaking German, so I asked them a few questions.  I confirmed that Switzerland has four official languages.  I learned that majority speaks German though.  The mother told me that their German is different from the German in Germany.  They both said that they can understand what Germans say, but Germans do not understand well what they say.  They learn German German at school.  The mother said that Switzerland has four different German dialects, and the daughter said that her teacher in the class taught that they have twelve different German dialects in their country.

So, I got up early in the morning.  I asked the lady in the hotel counter where the Lutheran church is.  She looked up the map a bit but could not find.  She just pointed the Christian quarter and said, “it should be somewhere around here.”  I found that Church in the map from the book which theology professor Dr. Cathey borrowed me.  The map was not the best detail, so I asked people on the street.

Empty Road in Old City Jerusalem

Empty Road in Old City Jerusalem

In the early in the morning, there was almost no one on the street.  The same street feels so different without people.  It is people that makes a place lively or dead, holy or defiled, peaceful or turmoil.

Sunday Service at Holy Sepulchre

Sunday Service at Holy Sepulchre

I went to the Holy Sepulchre first.  There was some Sunday service was on going.  I went inside the tomb place, and tried to stay a little while praying because there were not many people.  But clergyman in charge of there tapped the door and asked us to come out quickly.  I found the line got so long in just a few seconds.

Byzantine Cardo

Byzantine Cardo

I went to the Lutheran church of our Redeemer to find out that the service is at 9.  I had little more than an hour, so I walked to Jewish quarter.  The picture above is Cardo, Byzantine market place, and is market now too.

Jewish and Learning, the same word

Jewish and Learning, the same word

Across the Cardo, there is a centre (there are so many centres in the Jewish quarter), “Arie and Eva Halpern Centre for Jewish Life and Learning.”  One thing I like about Jewish is that they value the learning.  It looks like being Jewish means continuous lifetime learning.

LUtheran Church of our Redeemer

Lutheran Church of our Redeemer

Then I went to the Lutheran church.  About 25 people gathered.  This is the church that Ted and Paula Hiebert and their children attended for a year while they were living in Jerusalem.  The service was OK, not that different from Presbyterians.

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

After the service, I went back to the Jewish quarter right away since nobody talked to me at the church.  This is the view of the Dome of the Rock, and we can see the Western wall below.

Ancient Wasabi Bowl?

Ancient Wasabi Bowl?

I went to the Burnt House Museum.  It is the excavated ruin of the house belong to Kathros family.  It is considered that the family is the priests.  The picture above is one of the founding in the house, and it looks like wasabi bowl in Japanese sushi restaurant.

Burnt House

Burnt House

Many things were found in the ruin including the cut bone of a girl’s arm and arrow-head.  I can just guess how the battle was when the city was destroyed.

In the burnt house I met two Korean girls.  One of them are working on M.Div at a full-gospel seminary (I forgot the school name).

Back on the street, I was looking at the street map, and a Palestinian old man came and he would show me things (he means guide, I guess).  I said, it is OK, and he said ‘just a few shekels, I will show you good things.’  I had only 16 shekels at that time.  So I showed it and he took it, then he said, “twenty-dollar more.”  And I realised that he is just a cheater, and said that I did not have any money.  Then he just left with my money, and I asked him my money back because he was not doing anything worth for the money.  He heard me and he ran so fast, disappeared.

About the money, I was not lying.  I actually had no money with me.  So I went to the nearby ATM.

Ritual Bath at Archaeological Museum

Ritual Bath at Archaeological Museum

I went to archaeological Museum, named “Herodia Quarter.”  It is very close to the burnt house, and this museum contains several houses all rich upper class Jewish people 2,000 years ago.

One thing unique about Jewish archaeology is that we find ritual bath wherever we go.  Some house has even multiple ritual bathrooms.  It looks like that ancient Jews only bathed without doing any other things.

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

Then I came out of the underground Museum (both Burnt house and Archaeological Museum are underground, and over the ground are normal building and shops), and ate lunch at Hallelujah, where the McCormick group also ate when we were visiting Jewish Quarter.  The burger was so huge!

Actually almost where I go, I can  recall my memory.  There are not many place that I have not yet been to.  The local tour guide George Filmon and the Guiding Star literally covered the most out of it.

Rampart Walk

Rampart Walk

Then I went to the Jaffa gate again, and began to walk down toward the south.  My plan was walk through the city wall.  Then I found the Ramparts Walk, and paid to enter.  The Ramparts walk led me on to the wall.  So I walked on the city wall.  It was so nice, and had great view.  I wondered why Guiding Star did not provide us this one.  But soon I realised that it is quite dangerous.  Unlike the picture above, most part of the walk is open one side, and the floor stones are worn and very slippery.  Even I did not run at all and walked as carefully as possible.  People who travelled with me would know what that means.  It is very high on the wall, and anyone who fears the height cannot walk there.  So I walked on the wall from near the Jaffa Gate to the Dung Gate.

Geopolitical location of Jerusalem - Archaeological Park

Geopolitical location of Jerusalem – Archaeological Park

Then I went to the Archaeological Park.  It is the down the wall near the dung gate.  It is said that it was the royal court and house of Muslim empires.  I found one good thing which shows the location of Jerusalem geographically and politically.  Israel and Jerusalem has been actually the connecting hub of the three continents.

Muslim Cemetary

Muslim cemetery

After the archaeological park, I kept walking through the streets, and I went to the Muslim cemetery right below the wall.  It was quite a walk, and then I met Lion’s Gate where McCormick group used to go to the Haram or Temple Mount.

Ecce Homo

Ecce Homo

I walked through the road and visited the points of Via Dolorosa again.  This is the Ecce Homo point.  People thought that Pontius Pilate said “Ecce Homo (Behold the man)” there.

I had two unpleasant experiences in the Muslim Quarter.  I guess they are Palestinian muslims because they were at the Muslim quarter.

The first thing:  Three young Palestinians were sitting side of the road, and when they saw me they asked if I am from Japan.  I said I am from Chicago, then a guy said with mocking voice “Ayy Am from Shee-Kay-go.”  Another guy also shouted at me, “Welcome to China!”  I did not respond further but kept walking.

The second thing:  A Palestinian young guy asked me, “Hey my friend, come to my shop.”  I gently said, “No thank you.”  Then he shouted “Chinese” twice and mimicked monkey sounds.  I also did not respond at all.

So I had three unpleasant experiences today with the Palestinians including the old man in the morning who ran with my 16 shekels, which is about $5.  There are many things to say about Jewish – Palestinian relationship, and I believe that the Palestinians must make (international) friends desperately, but they are turning possible friends into enemies.

Let me just do some simple calculation.  I met two groups (ignoring the old man because he did not do anything about racism), and let me suppose the two group meet so many Asians daily but mock them racially ten Asians.  And the two groups 3 in common everyday.  Then they together make seventeen Asians unpleasant and turn against them.  Seventeen a day is 6,205 a year.

They may have short fun time mocking others, but they are actually making more than six thousand Anti-Palestinians annually.  They should think what situation they have been in, and are in right now.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

2nd Holy Land Trip – First and half of Second Day – Flight

It is my second time to travel to Israel/Palestine.  There are two major differences: I was in a group, and now I am alone.  I flew Lufthansa, and now SWISS (I will say Swiss Air).  And consequently the comparison of Swiss Air and Lufthansa is inevitable.

Swiss Air

Swiss Air

Before I begin the comparison, I ate lunch at Chicago O’Hare. The restaurant named Big Bowl was expensive, untasty, and little amount.  I would not eat again.

Many people in my last travel group said that we were so spoiled by Lufthansa, and I totally agree, but Swiss Air also runs AirBus and the planes are equally good, or slightly better in a few ways.

Hanger Sign

Hanger Sign

In Lufthansa, I had hard time to figure out what the small button was, which was actually just a hanger.  But Swiss Air has bigger hanger and also has hanger sign on it so that I can know it easily without any hard guess.

Hat on hanger

Hat on hanger

And as the picture above, I hung my big hat on it.  The thing was, people walking in the narrow airplane aisle touched and dropped my hat almost forty times.

Hat in the pocket

Hat in the pocket

And finally, I began to put my hat in the wall pocket. Problem solved.

Swiss Air’s entertainment system was equally good as Lufthansa, but its control was better.  Lufthansa has touch screen which did not function as it should be while Swiss Air has wired remote which is easier to control.

Baby Bassinet

Baby Bassinet

And I think Lufthansa also has this, but I’ve never seen airplane wall hanging baby bassinet before.  In my second flight from Zürich to Tel Aviv, I sat next to twin babies.  They were so cute and adorable, and amazingly they never cried, but pleasantly playing and laughing the whole time!

Enough Legroom

Enough Legroom

The best of the Swiss Air was that I could choose my seat when I booked the flight, and I got the emergency exit seat which comes with more spacious legroom than business seat.  Having enough legroom is so great and amazing, I understood why people pay a lot to buy upper-class flight.  But still, I would not pay the first or business class.

But the flight was not that pleasant, especially the one from Chicago to Zürich.  I checked the option of Automatic Check-in when I booked, and the night before I got an  email from them notifying that the automatic check-in failed.  So I went to the airport a little bit earlier than that I planned.  And I asked the person behind the counter when I checked-in:

Je: I got an email saying such and such.  What does “Automatic Check-in failed” email means.
He: Automatic Check-in failed means that automatic Check-in failed.
Je: Why?
He: We don’t know.
Je: Is there any problem with me?
He: We don’t know.
Je: Is there any problem with your system?
He: We don’t know.
Je: Will this happen again on my flying back?
He: We don’t know.

Wow. Very kind, eh? And our conversation continued:

He: Sir, you can upgrade your seat.
Je: Oh, really!?
He: Yes, with just $500.

I think he should learn how to make them one sentence.  Then a few hours later, I was at the gate, and when people began to form a line, I was actually the first in boarding line.  I know that all airlines let the families with babies and/or people need help board first (mentioning the business or first class is needless).  And then the lines usually moves in, so I tried to go through the gate, and the lady said, “Go back! We will call your seat number.”  And they really called the passengers by the seat numbers in small range such as “seat from 45 to 49.”  And they called my number the very last!  I understand that they are extremely well organised (more than the Germans), but I was very unpleasant.  Well, being well organised is not wrong, and this is not their fault.  Did Jesus once said, “the first shall be the last?”

But that was just the beginning.  I loved my seat with enough legroom, but I was surrounded by some not that normal people.  Right next to me, a huge lady sat, invading my space the whole time.  The other side, a couple (middle-aged man and quite young girl) kissing and touching the whole time.  Their kissings were so loud and watery.  If you have heard them kissing without know what they are doing, you would have thought they were eating Ramen or something.  And behind me, two good friends talking so loud for more than ten hours (I guess).  And the other side of the huge lady, a middle-aged man was drinking wine whole time (which I guess more than thirty or forty cups), and finally he got drunk and could not even hold his cup right and spilt the wine.  The worst is yet to come.  There were several infants and babies crying and screaming hours and hours.  I felt sorry for the babies but it is fact that their crying and screaming is nerve-touching, especially when they are not your babies.  All these spoiled my plan to adopt the local time and minimise the Jetlag, because I was not able to sleep at night on Israel time.

And another thing I found is the flight crews are prettier than those of Lufthansa, but they do not really smile.  I prefer smiling normal face to unsmiling pretty face.

Donation Globe

Donation Globe

The painful flight was over and I landed on Zürich for the first time.  The airport was very impressive.

Design!

Design!

Switzerland is famous for the unique design.  And I could feel it even in the airport.

Even Payphone is cuter!

Even Payphone is cuter!

The Zürich airport is much smaller but cuter than Frankfurt airport.

Kids' Playground in the airport

Kids’ Playground in the airport

The playground was impressive.  There was only one kid in the picture because it was 6am local time, but I saw more kids playing later.

Charging Station

Charging Station

Free cellphine charging stations are easily found here and there, and was impressive because many people have hard time with their cellphone battery in Chicago airport.

Buy Buy Buy our watch!

Buy Buy Buy our watch!

Switzerland is very famous for the watch and clock industry.  Even I am wearing one.  And there are so many watch commercial and advertisements.

Standing Tram

Standing Tram

I had to use the tram to go to another gate (not terminal), and there was no bench in the tram (actually there were small ones at the both ends of the car).

Sky? Really?

Sky? Really?

You can see the tram’s name in the above picture.  And I don’t quite get that name.  The tram runs underground the whole time (it has only two stations), and the name is SKY-Metro.  Is it some joke that I don’t get?

Carmel Smoking Lounge

Camel Smoking Lounge

I saw Camel Smoking Lounge in Frankfurt, and now I saw the same thing again in Zürich.  Is this brand common across Europe?

The international travellers these days are desperate for the WiFi since we do not have network connection out of country or continent.  Chicago O’Hare airport has 20 minutes free internet which I also used for my laptop.  Frankfurt has one (I don’t remember any time restrict), and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport also has unlimited free WiFi.  And guess what, I found 60 minutes free WiFi in Zürich airport!  But you cannot use it, well, least I could not.  To gain the free WiFi access, you need personal code which they send you through cellphone text (SMS).  And my phone is not working being out of the country.  I looked around and saw so many faces changing from “Yay!” to confusion and finally to anger.  What the heck is this?  If I have cellphone connection, why do I need WiFi so desperately?

Because there are so many people having this problem even that one morning, thousands of people would have the same problem, and I guess, in that case, there must be some solution for this.  So I decided to ask for help.  I walked to the information desk and asked.  As soon as the guide in the desk figured out that my question was about the free WiFi, he cut me while I was still speaking and said with so cold voice, “There is nothing I can do for you about that.”

I was so shocked.  Wow, people in this country have so awesome attitudes, even the people working in the service industry.  So disappointing, and I guess this airline, this city and this country will never be in my favourite list.

The WiFi is so stupid.  The first sixty minutes is free, and you need to buy to use more.  But because you cannot get the first free connection, you cannot purchase it.  Because they send you the code through cellphone text message or email.  But how can you check your email without connection?  They are so dumb.  I do not care that John Calvin was working in this country.  I judge by my own experience, and I had very bad experience even from Chicago, and in the air, and in the city.  Swiss Air is like a Air Canada, and Lufthansa is like a WestJet.  Canadians would understand what I am talking about.

In Frankfurt, a gate was assigned only for the flights to Israel, and the security check was literally extreme.  But in Zürich, there was no specific gate.  Actually the gate was not assigned until one hour before the flight departure which I think stupid because I had no idea where to wait.  But the security check was just normal.  But after the gate for the Tel Aviv flight was assigned, two Swiss policepersons came to the gate with machine guns!  And I thought, “now it looks normal to me.”

Frankfurt airport has two languages for signs.  I understand because it’s Germany speaking German, and English is international language.  Zürich airport also has two languages – German and English, which I do not understand because Switzerland has four official languages, then they must have five languages for signs.

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