Hannah and Je together

Monday, 25 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Fourth Day – Herodyum National Park

I was supposed to have a class Arabic class, but the teacher got another parking ticket and went to the court to get some discount, and the class was cancelled.  So I decided to go to Herodyum (or Herodion) National Park.  When I asked my host family, they told me to get a taxi, but I wanted to walk there if that is a walkable distance.

Google Maps Sucks

Google Maps Sucks

When I looked for the route on Google Maps, it showed me 6 hours and 16 minutes.  But it goes around so much, so I abandoned the Google Maps and trusted on my guts.  Actually Google Maps on Palestine is almost useless, not even giving clear satellite images and the roads are wrong many times.

Herodyum from afar

Herodyum from afar

I did not have a compass nor a map.  But I had a watch, and the sun.  I already knew that the Herodyum is almost direct south but little bit eastward.  And if I know the time, then I can tell the four directions (east, west, north, and south).  And when I walked almost half way, I began to see the Herodyum.

Sheep and Goats

Sheep and Goats

It is now pretty much normal to see the sheep and goats.  Can you tell the sheep from the goats?  It is easy to tell because they look different, but hard to explain.  One easiest thing is the tail.  Goats’ tails are lifted up while the sheep’s tails are fell down.

Olive trees are everywhere

Olive trees are everywhere

I walked totalling hour and half on one way.  And I saw so many olive trees.  I even felt like that it must be a law to plant olive trees wherever possible.  There are also many wild cats and dogs.  And on the way, a huge wild dog barked at me from afar.  Usually wild dogs here avoid people, but it barked at me, so I picked up several stones in case, and walked slowly.  Thankfully it just went its way and nothing happened.

Herodyum from closer spot than before

Herodyum from closer spot than before

And I went closer and closer to the Herodyum.  As I wrote above, it took an hour and half, not six hours and sixteen minutes.  My guts are much better than Google Maps.  Well, frankly speaking, I cannot say it is my guts because I was trained for this when I was in the army.  I can tell the direction at night as well with the moon.  It is little more complicated but not that difficult.  With the sun, you need to know the time, and the location of the sun.  With the moon, you need to know the time and the location of the sun too.  How do I know the location of the sun at night?  With the location and the phase of the moon, you can tell the location of the sun.  Actually the time is not necessary because if you know the location of the sun, you also know the time.

Top Palace Model

Top Palace Model

This the model of the top palace.  There are two palaces in Herodyum – top and lower.  But the lower palace was not ready for the visitors, so I could not enter, but I saw it from above.

Top Palace Ruin

Top Palace Ruin

This is the top palace remains.  That round ruin is original watch tower (even before Jehovah’s witness).  Herodyum was an integrated entertainment place, having almost everything here.

Herodyum Tunnel

Herodyum Tunnel

There was a tunnel and water system.  It goes down quite a lot, and has huge cistern.

Royal Theatre

Royal Theatre

The other side of the mountain, there was a royal theatre.  It was not a huge size like in Caesarea.  But it was not for the people but for Herod’s personal and private use.  So it does not have to be big in size.

Herod's Tomb Model

Herod’s Tomb Model

And there is also his tomb.  Herod was buried here, of course his tomb was already destroyed and forgotten, but it was found around 2007 (if I remember right).  This is the model of his tomb.

Israeli Army base seen from above

Israeli Army base seen from above

This is clearly Palestine territory, but the Herodyum is Israeli National Park, and Israel government manages.  There are also Israel settlements, and to protect them, they installed army base.

Herodyum Model

Herodyum Model

This is the whole model of Herodyum.  Herodyum is one of the highest point in this area, so you can see and control the whole region.

USAID

USAID

When I was walking back (I walked another hour and half), I saw a few USAID signs.  It is good to see those signs because it means America is doing some good things.

Kids on barefoot

Kids on barefoot

The Palestinians kids were playing barefoot.  I was worried if they were OK.  This is not a tourist area, and no foreigner comes here, and they looked like that they saw non-Palestinian for the first time.

Steeper than it looks

Steeper than it looks

I took this picture from on a hill to the other hill.  It may not look that steep in the picture, but it is crazy steep, and I had to walk up and down, up and down, and again for three hours today.  People always live on the mountain (hill) tops.  It is of course for the protection from the enemies (from the ancient times).  But the mountain tops are less hot than the valleys.  And there are always winds on mountain tops, so if you sweat, it cools you down quite a lot because it is dry here and the wind is constant.

When I walked almost half way, a car stopped and offered me ride.  I said no because I wanted to walk and see the village and people.  He asked me where I go, so I told him that my house is near the YMCA in Beit Sahour.  He said to me that he would give me a ride with so cheap price because he is not a taxi driver and taxis are expensive.  I did not even ask the price but just said “Thank you but I am OK to walk.”  He then told me, “Just 100 shekels.”  I know the taxi price.  From the spot I was to my home is about 15 shekels.  What the freak is he?  I am really on the Palestinians’ side on the matter of Israel-Palestine conflict and civilian victims, but honestly, Palestinians try their best to rip off the strangers.  The other day I bought a bottle of water for a shekel and half.  I spoke Arabic, but another guy speaking English bought the same for three shekels.  I can say that was cute, but trying to get 100 shekels from me with 15 shekels’ driving is not cute at all.  So I told the driver for the last time, “Shukran Ktir, bass Ana BID-DI aruf.”  This means, “Thank you very much, but I WANT TO walk.”  Then he left.

Thorns in our hearts

Thorns in our hearts

If you go to any field where no one ploughs and works on, the field is full of thorns.  And I just thought that if we do not plough their hearts with God’s teaching and love, our hearts will be full of thorns – hatred and anger towards others.  Even though this is the Holy Land, the root of three religions, the believers do not plough their hearts with God’s true teaching and their hearts are full of thorns, and that is expressed by the violent conflicts between the Jews and Muslims.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Ninth Day – Back to Beit Sahour

After I had breakfast at the hostel (I saw huge Korean teen group from a church), I asked the reception about the bus schedule to Jerusalem.  The lady told me 7am, 10am, 2pm, and the last one is 5pm.  I decided to go to the central bus station earlier so I got there 8:50am.  I thought I need to wait about an hour.  But when I purchased the ticket, the clerk said “The bus is now leaving.”  The bus to Jerusalem was at 9am.  If I had been ten minutes later, I would have waited a couple of hours.

My seat was 13, but before the bus departed, two soldiers got on, and asked me a favour.  A girl and boy soldiers were a couple, and their seat were 14 and 20.  They wanted to sit together.  So I moved to seat 20.  And I found that soldiers get free ride.  It takes about five hours from Eilat to Jerusalem, and throughout all five hours, the soldier couple were licking each other.

At the beginning, I sat alone having two seats which was very comfortable.  But before I got to the Dead Sea, a girl in early 20s got on the bus and sat next to me.  Then she farted, and the smell was so gross – the worst fart smell I’ve ever experienced.  I looked at her face, but she closed her eyes and pretended sleeping.

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Now the travelling is easy because I already know how.  From the Jerusalem central bus station to Damascus gate by light railway.  And then to Bethlehem by Arab bus 21.  And this time, I walked home, about an hour.

Shps close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

The market behind the Nativity Church was open and there were people, but fewer people than usual.  And quite many of the shops were closed also.  But out of that area, almost all shops were closed and nobody on the streets.

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Shops close on Sunday in Beit Sahour

Because it is Sunday, and there are huge Christian population in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour.  Jews rest on Saturday, Christians on Sunday.  It is said that Muslims on Friday, but most of them still work.  Unlike other places, there are huge Christian population here and also Ramallah, even though the majority is Muslim now.  Bethlehem and Beit Sahour is neighbour cities and quite small.  I walk between the two cities and it takes not even an hour.  But still the two cities have many differences.

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.

Blog at WordPress.com.