Hannah and Je together

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.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Sixth Day – Golan Heights

For the first time in this trip, I used tour service.  Until now, I just walked around by myself in Jerusalem, but today, I went to Golan Heights Day Trip.

Jerusalem trip this time was a little bit different because I did not use any modern transportation except to the Museums.  Through the last January McCormick trip, I realised that the Old City Jerusalem is very small, along with other friends in the travel group.  But this time, I am surprised that Old City Jerusalem is way smaller than that I realised before.  Last time, we walked in part here and there, but we used bus to travel between the sites, for example, we were on the bus from Gethsemane to the City of David.  So the parts of walking experience, which is Jerusalem geographical knowledge, were not connected each other but scattered in my brain.  But this time, I walked any and everywhere.  I now have complete Jerusalem knowledge in my brain.  I walked and circled Jerusalem a few time on the wall, along the wall.  I walked inside the Old City, I walked outside the Old City.  Circling the Old City took less than four hours including stopping and resting and everything, but if the people in the past (or even I now) hurried and ran in an emergency, circling Old City Jerusalem, I bet, would take less than two hours.

And the city which David built, and it not included current Old City Jerusalem, is very small and possibly one tenth or one eighth of Jerusalem size.  Now I realised that when we think and talk about the city in the old day, we should not think about modern-day cities such as Seoul or Chicago.  In the ancient days, even a modern block or two could make a city.

I am sorry to say that but it was possible because I was alone.  I am not talking about my wife but any one.  If I had any company, even a strong guy, I could have not walk this much.  I used to walk two hours everyday for six years to and from school for Middle and High school.  I think during this trip I walked the most except the military marching training.  Until now, I walked from 7am until 6pm except for lunch.

Baptismal Site

Baptismal Site

So I went to Golan Height by Bein Harim Tourism Services.  They picked me up at David Citadel Hotel which is around 8 minutes walking.  They were supposed to pick me up at 5:50 but they came 20 minutes later, which is typical here.

Then the bus went to Tel Aviv where the people from everywhere were reorganised by their trip destination.

My group was small of six, or seven including the guide/driver.  The guide is Jewish guy, but the strange thing is all other tourists are Jewish except me.  Some are Jews from America (New Jersey), some are Jews from Iran (but good English-speaking), and some are from other part of the world.

And I realised that most Israelis does not like President Obama.  The guide who claimed himself as centre right told me that he was almost fighting with “his” tour group from Chicago.  But this kind of composition gave me the opportunity to listen to whole new perspective.  The Palestinians tend to think about the relationship between Jews and them, but the Jews (right-wing or centre right Jews) think more about the neighbouring countries, Palestinian problem is not the big thing to them.

Fish in the Baptismal site

Fish in the Baptismal site

Our first destination was the Baptismal site on Jordan river, right south of the Sea of Galilee.  Speaking of Galilee, the Lake Superior is a lake in modern term, but the Sea of Galilee is a sea in ancient term which we can guess about their term of city.  The tradition says that John the Baptist baptised Jesus here, but many scholars do not agree now.  But it is true that somewhere on Jordan river.  It is very beautiful place, and there are lots of small fish.  When I put my feet, they came and kissed and tickled me.  Actually they tried to eat me, but it is just that I am too big and they are too small.

Three countries in one sight

Three countries in one sight

Then we went to some place on the way to the Golan Heights where we can see three countries of Israel, Jordan, and Syria.  On this picture above, we are standing on Israel land, the other side of the valley is Jordan, and the mountain area in the far back is Syria.  Golan Heights are right above the Galilee, and Syrians used to fire rockets to Israeli Galilee from the Golan Heights using the escalated heights when they had this land.  According to the guide, Israel government suggested the peace agreement offering the Golan Heights, but Syria refused.

Scribe in Qazrin

Scribe in Qazrin

Then we went to Qazrin, the Talmudic village which is after the Biblical periods.  Israeli archaeological scholars found and excavated this village after they annexed Golan Heights.  This is the scribe’s room attached to the synagogue.  He is real scribe whose main job is copying the Torah and side job is writing the blessings for the tourists.  But it looks like his main and side job switched.  It was fun watching him writing some Hebrew words.

Olive Oil Lab

Olive Oil Lab

This is the lab of Olea Olive Oil Factory.  They grow their own olive trees, use only their own olives to make their products.  They showed us a short film about them, and I liked the demonstrations.  Their olive oils are so tasty, but I did not buy.  They also make many different skincare products from the residue of olive, and I bought two for my wife.

View from Golan Heights

View from Golan Heights

Then we went a few more places to see the scenery.  This is the place adjacent to Syria.  But the road up there was so steep, and I was worried if the van full of bags and people can climb up that steep hill.  And the bad feelings always come true.  The engine stopped when the guide tried to shift from the second gear to the first (yes, the van is standard shift).  The guide tried to start the van like ten times, but failed because it was too steep.  There was almost no traffic which was good for us, not blocking any traffic.  But almost all cars stopped and ask if we are OK.  Even a car before us came back to see if we are OK.  The Jewish guide became so happy and said, “This is typical Israelis.  We care each other, we love each other.”  Finally the guide reversed the van and went to a less steep runway in the corner, and the van began to move in the first gear.  We stayed in the first gear until we climbed all the way.

It was nice because the Golan Heights was not covered in the last McCormick trip.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Israel Trip Thirteenth Day: Hazor, Dan, Banyas, Tabgha

Today was field study day without any speaker.

Wall of Hazor

Wall of Hazor

We went to Hazor first. It is one of the strong fortress which Solomon built to strengthen his kingdom. Just as other ancient sites, it is also built upon older town, and it has twenty different layers. Among the layers, scholars found total black layer which means it was burnt totally. Not just a small fire, but total destruction. And the date matches with Joshua’s invasion.

Burnt and Broken Stones

Burnt and Broken Stones

These are some of the remained burnt stones. They are very strong stone, but in the great fire, they broke like this.

Biggest Source of Jordan

Biggest Source of Jordan

Then we went to ancient location of the tribe of Dan. And we found the beginning of Jordan river. The sound was so good. This is from Ezekiel 43.2: “and his voice was like a noise of many waters.”

Dan Trail

Dan Trail

Then we had nice hiking through and along the trees and forest.

Altar at Dan

Altar at Dan

We found the altar and worshipping place built by Ahab, so that people in northern kingdom would not go to Jerusalem to worship God. The iron bars marks the actual size of original altar. It is so huge. And behind the altar, we can see the elevated site where Korean people from Hanaro Church sat. It is like Ziggurat and it is typical to be with the altar.

Israeli Gate

Israeli Gate

Then we found a Israelite city gate, probably built by a Northern king.

Canaanite Gate

Canaanite Gate

If we go around the Israelite gate, archaeologists found and dug Canaanite gate. It is at least 1,000 years older than the previous Israelite gate. And possibly Abraham went through that gate.

Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon

This is mount Hermon. It is Psalm 133.3: “As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” And many people believes that this mountain is where Jesus transfigured himself.

Zeus Temple

Zeus Temple

Then we went to Banyas. Its name in Jesus time was Caesarea Philippi, and is under the Mount Hermon (so-called Mount Transfiguration) in Golan Height. This is the temple of Zeus. There are many temples for Pan, sacred goat, and August of course. It is built by Herod. Wherever we go, we hear the name of Herod at least once a day.

Cave in Banyas

Cave in Banyas

This is a cave there. And probably somewhere around here Jesus asked his disciples who does the people say he is. It is from Matthew 16.13: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”

Roman Bridge

Roman Bridge

People began to go back to the bus, and I ran farther with D’Angelo and Eileen as far as we can run. We saw more of the Herod’s structure, and saw this roman bridge.

K-Bab, Original Taste of Galilee

K-Bab, Original Taste of Galilee

We stopped at a highway rest area and went in K Bab, “Original Taste of Galilee,” to find out it is one of the best restaurants we been to so far.

Heptapegon Church

Church of Multiplication

Then we went to the church of the multiplication where Jesus blessed two fish and five loaves to feed five thousand men (without counting women and kids). The church was built upon a rock which you can see under the table. And it is believed that Jesus put the loaves and fish on the rock to bless.

Floor Pattern

Floor Pattern

This is ancient church built upon another church. And we found some so beautiful floor mosaics even from 4th century. The courtyard was one of the best place to enjoy the peace and meditate. They have an olive tree in the centre, and running water with beautiful sound and lots of Koi fish. Koi is Japanese word for the fish, and at the same time, it means love, too.

Papyrus

Papyrus

We found the famous Papyrus in the courtyard too, where the word ‘paper’ came from.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

And my favourite – flowers.

Blog at WordPress.com.