Hannah and Je together

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Eighth Day – Flight Back

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

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

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

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

What other airport has this easy chairs?

What other airport has this easy chairs?

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

Playground at Ben Gurion Airport

Playground at Ben Gurion Airport

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

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

One thing Chicago Airport does not have

One thing Chicago Airport does not have

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

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

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

Another story. Egypt Story

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 1 September 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Seventh Day – Last Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gemma from Spain

Gemma from Spain

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

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

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

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

Ilaria from Italy

Ilaria from Italy

Here comes small stories from the trip.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Fifth Day – Rachael’s Tomb

Beginning of last week, the teacher told us that the final term exam would be on Wednesday, but today, she changed her word and we took the exam today.  The other students were a bit mad but I was OK because I know one day would not make any difference to me.

After class, I wanted to visit the Rachael’s tomb.  When I googled a few days ago, one of the result webpage said that the Israel Authority would not allow anyone to walk there, so I must use a vehicle.  But I just thought I would try.

Dumb boys doing dumb things

Dumb boys doing dumb things

So after the class, I walked to the Checkpoint because the Rachael’s tomb is the other side of the separation wall.  When I was walking on the Hebron road near the separation wall (checkpoint was still far), I saw about twenty boys were on the road.  They looked like middle school students.  They put a lot of garbage and stones on the road and blocked the traffic, and they were yelling at the cars when they tried to pass.  I was just walking on the sidewalk, and when I almost passed them, suddenly the boys came to me and pushed me roughly, yelling something I don’t understand.  Someone told me later that the boys were protesting against Israel.  But I don’t get it.  How can it be a protest against Israel when they block the traffic illegally with bunch of garbage and stones on the pavement, and yelling at the drivers?  All the drivers are Palestinians because this is Area A where no Israelis present.  And how can it be a Protest against Israel when they yelling at and threatening a foreign tourist?  Bunch of adults were on the sidewalk in front of their shops, but nobody tried to stop the boys bullying a tourist.  The boys got more and more rough with they pushing, and I reached my limit, so I thought I would kick and punch, and beat a few of them.

Nostalgic Tear Gas

Nostalgic Tear Gas

At that time, I heard two familiar sounds – the shooting of the tear gas.  I was protesting a lot when I was college student in South Korea, so I am very familiar with tear gas.  With the hat that Hannah bought me in Chicago, I look very much like a tourist even from afar.  And the Israeli soldier on the watch tower saw me surrounded by the angry Palestinian boys, and they shot two tear gas cans towards me and the boys.  The Palestinians boys all ran away in a blink.  When I looked up the Israeli watch tower on the separation wall, the soldier waved at me.  And his waving made it clear that he shot the tear gas for me.  What I do not understand is where the hack are the Palestinian police officers?  They are responsible for the safety and the order of the society in Area A.

When I finally walked to the Israeli checkpoint, I met Hamdi, the father of the hosting family.  So he became my guide in the checkpoint.  The walking checkpoint was huge, and it is like a maze.  But I was OK because I was with him.  Even though he has a Israel entering permit, he cannot drive there.  So he parked near the checkpoint, and cross there walking, and get a bus after the checkpoint.  While George Filmon, McCormick’s January tour guide, can drive both sides because he is an Israeli Palestinian.

After the checkpoint, there is an initial gate for the Rachael’s tomb.  There were two girl soldiers, and they told me that they cannot let me walk in because it is dangerous.  I asked them if I had to get a bus or taxi here (there is a Egged bus from Jerusalem Central Bus Station coming to the Rachael’s tomb).  The girls were very kind and nice to me, so I also told them that they are cute and pretty.  They became so happy, and we talked and laughed about ten minutes.  Then there was a car coming.  The girls stopped the car, and let them give me a ride.

Gender Separated Entrance

Gender Separated Entrance

After we got there, I asked them if they want me to pay for the ride, and they answer me back, “English No.”  So I didn’t pay.  And before I went inside, I asked a lady in front of the building if it is the Rachael’s tomb just to make sure of it.  And she did not understand, so I said “Rachael’s tomb” a few times and very slowly.  Then she asked me back, “Bathroom?”  Then I thought that the Rachael’s tomb must be “Kaber Ra-hel” in Hebrew, and that was right.  And of course, the entrance is separated by Warriors and Women.

Inside the Synagogue of Rachael's Tomb

Inside the Synagogue of Rachael’s Tomb

There were lots of Jewish people wearing the thick black coat, and a Jewish guy wearing casual with just kipa guided me and took the pictures of me there.

Rachael's Coffin

Rachael’s Coffin

This is the actual (but no evident except tradition) tomb or coffin of Rachael, the beloved wife of Jacob or Israel.  Even though Jacob loved Rachael more, I think God loved Leah more.  After all, she is the mother of tribe of Judah, and the grandmother of Jesus and David.  And she is buried with her husband while Rachael is lying alone.

Toward Jerusalem

Toward Jerusalem

One common thing of Islam and Judaism is that they always tell the direction, and pray towards there – Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem for Jews.

Parking lot

Parking lot

This is the parking lot at the Rachael’s tomb.  The pavement on the right of the picture leads to the bigger parking lot.  The other day I complained about the shape of the separation wall when I visited the Palestinian side of the separation wall.  And I realised that was for the Rachael’s tomb.  No Palestinians are allowed to the Rachael’s tomb.  I got another ride back to the gate.  The kind Jewish guy helped me to get a ride too.  When I got to the gate, the two girls were still there, and we talked and laughed a little more.  Then I walked back home from the checkpoint, taking about hour and forty minutes.  When I told my hosting family that I walked from the checkpoint, they were very surprised and told me that they’ve never seen anyone walking that distance.

Is it mosquito or what?

Is it mosquito or what?

I posted two photos of my leg and foot with the (mosquito) bites.  Since that day, I used the electronic mosquito repellent, but still I get lots of fresh bites.  And when I was writing this blog, I felt my arm bitten, and caught this.  Is it a mosquito?  It is very small – a quarter size of the mosquitoes in Chicago.  Maybe that is why they can come through the bug screen on the window.  But two more nights in this house, and a night at the airport.  So I will be OK.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Third Day – Baraka Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem

The first day I came here, I found the sign of Presbyterian Church in front of the house where I am staying.  But my hosting family told me that they have not seen them worship on Sundays.

Church Entrance

Church Entrance

My hosting family told me that they heard of bigger Presbyterian church in Bethlehem, not do not know the exact location.  As a favour to me, the father of the family called his neighbour this morning who is in the Beit Sahour Presbyterian Church (the official name is Shepherds’ Field Presbyterian Church), and asked the location.  It was on the Hebron street, and he gave me ride there.

Church Building

Church Building

The church was on the down-side of the road (everywhere here is hill).  So the ground floor from my side (west) is underground level 1 from the other side (east).

Common Room in the church with pingpong table

Common Room in the church with ping-pong table

When you go in, you get to the back of the sanctuary.  And on the right, there is a door to the common room for after service refreshments.  There is a ping-pong table for the youth activities.

Simultaneous Translator Receiver

Simultaneous Translator Receiver

From the common room, you can enter the tech room where they control the overhead projector and computer, sound mixer and everything.  Even they have simultaneous translator equipment.  Today, a guy was translating in the tech room only for me.

Christmas Year Round

Christmas Year Round

In Bethlehem, it is Christmas year round.

Childrens' Story Time

Children’s Story Time

The service was much like ours in Canada or America (I mean PCC or PCUSA).  And there were about or little more than fifty people including children.  There was a Children’s story time, and then they went for Sunday School.  Though the service was much like ours, the demographic was quite different.  They are mostly young parents, probably around 20s and 30s.  I think that is good sign because even here, the church goers are mostly seniors for Greek Orthodox.  And the service was about hour and half (thank God it is not three hours like Greek Orthodox).

Back to School Gift

Back to School Gift

All the children were given a gift package at the Sunday school because the school begins tomorrow.

Playground at Church

Playground at Church

I know the churches in North America usually have yards and some rich Churches (like my church which is Knox Presbyterian Church in Naperville) have even its own playground.  That is not true for churches in Korea.  I also haven’t seen any playground at Greek Orthodox Churches.  But this Presbyterian church has its own small playground.  I love it!

Olive Everywhere

Olive Everywhere

And it is kind of law in Palestine and Israel that where there is yard, there are olive trees.

I found that the Presbyterian church in Beit Sahour comes here to join the Sunday service because they do not have a lot of people, and it is the daughter church of Baraka Bethlehem Presbyterian Church.  They also have a day-care and education centre in Beit Sahour.  So instead of walking back hour and twenty minutes, I got a ride back home.  And thank God that the Beit Sahour Presbyterian church is literally right next door!

In the refreshments, people asked me a few questions such as if I am alone.  I guess they meant if I am single because they also told me that they have good Christian girls.  So I told them “Ana mit-jawiz,” which means I am married.  Another lady asked me how long I’ve been here.  I asked her back, “in Palestine?”  Then she said, “Thank you for saying Palestine.”  To give you an advice who wants to travel West Bank later, it is not safe to call there “Israel,” and they do not really like to be called “West Bank” either.  They are happy when they hear “Palestine.”

Who knows this?

Who remembers this?

They sell some souvenirs in the church along with some Christian music.  Some of them are in cassette tape.  I cannot really remember when was the last time that I listened to the cassette tape.  And I don’t have a cassette tape player, so I could not buy this one even though it was cheaper.  But does not the sales mean people actually listens to it?

Arabic Gospel CD

Arabic Gospel CD

Instead of the cassette tape, I bought a gospel music CD in Arabic.  I can borrow this CD if you are my neighbour and you want it.  The church was selling it for 30 shekels.  And I found later that it is cheaper if you buy it at Amazon.  But that is OK, it is just 5 shekels (which is about $2), and I may think I helped the church.

It is not related to today’s topic, but: the father of this hosting family installed an alarm app from the Israeli government that warns the location and sounds the siren when the missile launch was detected from Gaza so that people can run to the shelter. And it sounds the siren twice every minute, literally.  But the location is mostly southern Israel, so we don’t have to run.  Well, actually we don’t have a shelter to run in Beit Sahour or any Palestinian area in West Bank.

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.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Forty Fourth Day – Protesting

Today is Friday, and there was supposedly no class today, but because the teacher moved the day from Monday to Friday, it was school day only for my class.

For the week day name in Arabic, they just use number from Sunday to Thursday.  Sunday is “Day one,” and Thursday is “Day five.”  But Friday is called “Day of Jum-ah.”  I think this name possibly came from the word mosque which is “Jami-” in Arabic.  And most of the Arabic speaking area is muslim.  So Friday in Arabic might mean “the day for Mosque.”  And Saturday is “Day of sabt” in Arabic, which I guess came from the word Shabat.

Friday Worship of Muslims on the street

Friday Worship of Muslims on the street

After the class, I understood why this Christian University does not have class on Fridays.  They broadcast the service into the air with so loud volume of speaker, and people worship on the streets.  The other side of the picture and the street is totally blocked by the people.  Every Friday, the Manger Square is filled with muslims.  And I was not able to move at all.  This is not cool.  And there is not even an easy detour.

Palestinians protesting against Israel

Palestinians protesting against Israel

After the Muslim service, people began to shout something and raised many flags.  I asked some people around me, and was told that they were protesting for Gaza and against Israel.  They were marching to the “famous” Israeli separation wall.  They said that they would throw many stones at Israel soldiers.  I just hope that no one would get hurt, because Israel soldiers might shoot at them.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fortieth Day – Walking in Beit Sahour

The class is supposed to be from Monday to Thursday.  But this week only the class will be from Tuesday to Friday because our teacher has to go to the court for the parking and traffic ticket.  She has to pay several hundred shekels, but she expects to lower it until two or three hundred shekels.

Glass Bead

Glass Bead

I found this glass bead on the street.  The Palestinian kids must play with those.  I also played with those when I was young.  It had so much fun, and I was glad to find the same thing in different country.

Damaged Hosue

Damaged House

Then I went to the house where they got rocket the other day.  The debris were all cleared on the street, and the owner was repairing the house.  I wanted to ask him who pays for the repair, but I could not because he does not speak English, and my Arabic is just beginning – all I can say is greetings and introduction of myself.  After I took this picture and about to leave the site, I heard the children’s laughing from upstairs.  When I looked up again, I saw a young girl, around seven or eight years old, was waving at me with big beautiful smile.  And that smile broke my heart and made me deeply sad.  People tried to kill that beautiful little girl, whichever the rocket is from either Hamas or Israel.  What kind of crazy thing we the people are doing?

PalPay, not PayPal

PalPay, not PayPal

Then I found this.  Many people already know about the “Stars & Bucks,” but maybe not this.  There is Paypal in America, and Palestinians have PalPay.

Beit Sahour Hospital

Beit Sahour Hospital

And it really looks like a Walk-in clinic, but this is Beit Sahour hospital.  And this is even built by Japanese Embassy, not by the Palestinians.  I hope there would be better and bigger general hospital in Bethlehem or in Ramallah, because they need it.

LOL Retaurant

LOL Restaurant

And there is a restaurant named LOL.  I think we read it El-Oh-El in America, but they read it loll here in Beit Sahour.  And later my hosting family told me that this restaurant is owned and run by their relative.  But they said they do not go there because it is too expensive.  It would cost around 40 shekels per person, which is less than $15 which I think not too bad.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

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

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

King of Jordan welcomes you!

King of Jordan welcomes you!

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

Bedouin Village

Bedouin Village

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

Aaron Tomb Mosque

Aaron Tomb Mosque

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

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

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

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

Gateway to Petra

Gateway to Petra

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

Peeping the Petra

Peeping the Petra

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

The carved palace!

The carved palace!

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

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

Tourism Police - To Protect and To Serve who?

Tourism Police – To Protect and To Serve who?

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

View from the Restaurant

View from the Restaurant

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

Back to Israel

Back to Israel

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

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

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Seventh Day – To Eilat and People of Megiddo

I’ve got my hosting family arranged through the Siraj centre, and I also applied for some activities.  And the centre emailed me that the activities were cancelled due to lack of people, and also to come to the centre on Friday to get the refund.  I went to the Siraj centre because today is the Friday.  They sent the email a week ago, and when I went to the centre, they said that the money is not ready.

So I just wasted an hour.  From the centre, I took a taxi to the bus stop in Bethlehem.  The bus goes to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.  There I took the light railway to the central bus station.

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

When I went to the ticket office in the central bus station, a guy approached to me asking where I am going.

He: Hey my friend, where are you going?
Je: To Eilat.
He: All the tickets to Eilat are sold out.
Je: What? The whole day ticket?
He: Yes.  How about private transportation?
Je: How much?
He: 200.
Je: In Shekel or Dollar?  Wait, let me ask the ticket office first.

When a stranger call you a friend, that means you need to watch out and be careful.  I asked the ticket office, and it was true that the ticket was sold out, but there were lots of seats left for the following bus at 2pm.  I was more than OK to wait 2 hours rather than paying stupid amount of money.

So I went to Eilat again and stayed at the same Hostel.

I did not have a chance to write about my excavation team at Megiddo.  The Lachish excavation did not have much people because most volunteers left Israel right after the war began due to the proximity of the location to Gaza.  And finally the site was shut down.  Actually most sites in southern Israel were closed.  And more than half of them left Israel, but some people like me joined the northern sites such as Megiddo.  The UCLA students were digging at Jaffa, but they also joined Megiddo.

My team, digging the same square were mostly from UCLA.  There was a girl named Sarah, Iranian American, and 18 years old.  She is the youngest in the whole Megiddo excavation people.  She will study in George Washington University for Archaeology, and she began her expedition since 10 years old.

Another girl who I would not reveal her name was quite lazy, but extremely talkative.  Other team members told me that she works only two days a week, and that was true.  She actually worked two days a week, and she reported herself sick for the other days while she looked healthier than any other people.  She told me that recently she came out as LGBT, but is not seeing anyone yet.

Two girls from UCLA, named Vanessa and Jennah told me that they are a team and their name is Va-Jennah whose pronunciation is very similar to the lady’s sexual organ.  So I asked them if that implies that, and they said yes.  They are the very best workers at my team.

Canadians mostly left Israel or cancelled their trip to Israel, but quite many American students remained.  I guess Americans are more brave or they are used to the gun violence.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Third Day – Rocket from Hamas

This is my first morning in the house in Beit Sahour, neighbouring city of Bethlehem.  I was having breakfast with the hosting family when the house shook and heard the huge explosion sound.

Building Attacked by a rocket

Building Attacked by a rocket

Everybody was very surprised and stunned, and we went out of the house.  All the neighbours also came out.  We saw black smoke was rising up from the downtown of Beit Sahour.  Because of the lady in this house went to downtown earlier, the host family and I went to the spot right away.  She was not there.  She was safe in other place.  And thank God that no one was killed.

Broken Building Pieces

Broken Building Pieces

There were lots of people and they were a bit angry, and about to be outrageous.  People were asking each other where the rockets are from – Israel or Hamas.  The Palestinian authority took the remain of the rockets, and later I was told from the Palestinian police officer that the rocket is Arabic, and most probably from Hamas.  Then everybody became calm, and they were not angry any longer.  People kept quiet about it, and no one was talking about it.  I saw a Palestinian guy who writes online about the Palestinian life and Israeli oppression on them.  He took a lot of photos, and after he heard that it is from Hamas, he deleted the photos on the street.

It is cease-fire from today which Israel announced one-way.  And I guess Hamas does not want toe cease-fire even though more than 1,800 people of their own were killed.

Palestinian authority officially said it is Arabic rocket, and all the news say the same thing.  And I found that some people began to say that the rocket is Israeli in the evening.  Personally it does not make sense to me because Israel wants to finish the war with Gaza, and why would they want another brand new war with West Bank?  And there is no terrorist organisation in West Bank such as Hamas, consequently Israel has no excuse making war in West Bank.

Last night, I talked with some Palestinians.  They said many Palestinians were killed by Israeli attack, but only a few were killed in Israel.  And also they said it is OK for Gazans to fire rocket because it is not powerful and home-made.  I think that does not make sense as well.  It is not OK for both sides to attack each other no matter how weak the weapons are.  I do not know the owner of the building where it got rocket, but if possible I want to talk to him to ask if it is really OK to get rocket because the rocket is weak and did not kill any.

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.”

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.