Hannah and Je together

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Eighth Day – Flight Back

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

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

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

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

What other airport has this easy chairs?

What other airport has this easy chairs?

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

Playground at Ben Gurion Airport

Playground at Ben Gurion Airport

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

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

One thing Chicago Airport does not have

One thing Chicago Airport does not have

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

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

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

Another story. Egypt Story

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Israel Trip Seventeenth and Last Day: Flight Back

We couldn’t even stay one night at the very good hotel because we got up at 12:30am, ate 1am and left there 1:30am for Ben Gurion airport at Tel Aviv.

Beginning of annoying and paranoid Israeli security

Beginning of annoying and paranoid Israeli security

When we were entering to the airport area, we passed the initial security. The guy on the picture has a machine gun. It was just the beginning of very annoying Israeli security. They are paranoid because they know what they’ve been doing.

Not like other airport security, we had to go through the security with our check-in baggage. They scanned everything, and many of us, including me, had to go through another manual check by opening the baggage. They found four mud packs from my bag, and asked me:

“WHY DO YOU HAVE MUD PACKS?” – “Because I bought them.”

“WHERE DID YOU BUY THEM?” – “Qumran gift shop.”

“WHY DID YOU BUY THEM?” – “For my wife.”

“WHY DO YOU GO TO AMERICA?” – “Because I live there!”

What stupid questions, and why do they care? Because I did not have US passport, I was checked my green card three times. Once they took my green card and went somewhere and came back in ten minutes.

The security opened a bag of a girl in our group and checked all the books and literatures and read to see what was written.

Many people go to Israel once and no more. I see why. Basically the Israel government is saying to all the tourists, “Don’t you dare come back again!”

Airport Synagogue

Airport Synagogue

There is a synagogue in the airport. I thought it is interesting. Are the religious Jews supposed to be in the airport on Sabbath? Why do they need a synagogue in the airport? Secular Jews don’t care, and religious Jews don’t come to the airport on Sabbath day.

BAYER

BAYER

This is of course Germany that we can see huge BAYER sign. Frankfurt airport is so huge, ridiculously huge. We rode an airport bus, and walked thousand miles after that. I do not mind walking a lot, but I do mind the timing. I walked fast and I reached the gate first in our group, and already people were boarding into the plane! Even a flight attendant in the first plane advised us that we may make it to the connecting air plane but we need to move fast.

Smoking Zone

Smoking Zone

This looks quite interesting to me. There are many smoking zones in Frankfurt airport, I could not take photos because there were always many people inside the box.

Lufthansa

Lufthansa

If I remember right, Frankfurt is the home airport of Lufthansa. I don’t like long flight, but I am quite satisfied with Lufthansa.

Not like on the way to Israel in Frankfurt, there was no security check this time on the way to Chicago. In Chicago, there were three different immigration gates: one for US Citizen, one for Green card holders, and the other was for everyone else.

After long flight, I landed on Chicago O’Hare airport. While the plane was landing, at the right moment that the landing gear began to touch the runway pavement, my wife Hannah called me that she is waiting at the airport terminal 5. She was not supposed to come and pick me up, but she skipped her work.

I’ve always driven to Chicago, never landed on Chicago. Chicago. This is what home feels like. During this trip, I saw many things, I felt many things, I learned many things, and I realised many things. But the biggest thing is this: I realised that I truly love my wife, Hannah.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Israel Trip First and Second Day: Flight

As part of school course, I took Israel Trip in this J-term. Its departure was from O’Hare Airport at Chicago Wednesday 8th of January, 2014.

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Lufthansa – German Engineering

It was my first time using Lufthansa. It was good overall and I noticed that the flight attendants are healthier than other airlines, and they smile less.

Waiting for the flight. I was lively at that moment.

Waiting for the flight. I was lively at that moment.

After the two painful flights, I realised that the flight is the worst part of the good trip. But if I think about how much time I can save and how safe it is than in older days when people travelled by ships, I am so thankful about the painful flights.

The plane from Chicago, USA to Frankfurt, Germany was so big with ten seats on a row and it is even double-decker. Ten seats on one row means only two can have window view while other 80% of the passengers cannot see outside. And Lufthansa did something for the poor 80% passengers.

Window view for everyone

Window view for everyone

On the personal screen, you can see the window view as if you are on the window seat. The only thing not right was that it showed daytime view when we flew during the night. And by the screen there was a button.

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And it even comes out like the shown picture above. I had no idea what that is for. I discussed with my classmates sitting next to me. I spent hours in vain to figure it out. Finally I asked a flight attendant, and she said it is for coat hanger! We were all shocked and said that it is true German Engineering which Americans can never understand.

Meal on the way to Frankfurt

Meal on the way to Frankfurt

The flight is painful, mostly because of the insufficient leg room. But what makes it better is of course food. The meals were very good overall. They asked me if I wanted vegetarian meal and I answered that I wanted predator’s meal, and I’ve got chicken.

Frankfurt Tram

Frankfurt Tram

We landed on Frankfurt on time. And we walked a lot to gate C13. We walked, walked, and walked. Then we got on the tram to another terminal. And after the tram, again we walked, walked and walked.

What was impressive to me was smoking zones – glass boxes. And I went into a rest room and found the manager’s picture for that rest room.

The one in charge of the rest room

The one in charge of the rest room

The gate C13 is dedicated to the planes whose destination is Israel. I always thought the American Airport security check is the worst in the world, but Frankfurt gate C13 security check is even worse than any American airport. Professor Ted said that it is because the planes are going to Israel. Other gates whose planes are going another places, the security checks are not like that. This one reminded me the special (in good and bad aspect) situations of Israel.

Frankfurt gate C13 after the security check

Frankfurt gate C13 after the security check

The plane to Israel was delayed about an hour. So we waited a bit. I think it was kind of nothing. On January 1st, my niece waited six more hours at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

Walking on the cloud

Walking on the cloud

In the plane, I was sitting next to a Jewish guy. He is very kind and nice even though he was wearing all black and hats. A big hat, and another small one inside, called Kipa (כיפה). He explained that kipa has many different colours and patterns and that means something, like dark black is orthodox Jewish.We talked a lot during the flight. He strongly suggested me to visit Masada. He also taught me Toda Adonai (תודה אדון) which means Thank (you) Lord. One interesting thing was that he distinguished strictly between the religious Jewish and secular Jewish.

Finally ארץ ישראל (Land of Israel)

Finally ארץ ישראל (Land of Israel)

Finally I saw the Land of Israel with the Mediterranean sea. I was goose bumped and thrilled just to see it down from the sky.

Cute Village near Tel Aviv

Cute Village near Tel Aviv

And finally we landed on Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. It was very nice airport, probably better than most Airports in America.

Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel

Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel

Before the trip I was told, the immigration may stamp on separated paper in case I ask for. It was necessary for those who want to travel to other surrounding countries after Israel because those countries will not let you in when they find the Israeli stamp on your passport. So I asked for it just in case, and they replied that they do not stamp any more, instead, they gave me a bar code.

With Ted Hiebert

With Ted Hiebert next to the bus

Ted Hiebert is the leading professor for this trip with his wife Paula. He is the OT professor at McCormick Theological Seminary, and one of the greatest OT scholar of our times, and the translator of Genesis for Common English Bible. He recently promoted to the position of Vice President at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

The Bus was very good. It even provides free Wi-Fi.

This Bus is so good.

This Bus is so good.

We went from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by this nice bus, and checked in White Sisters Guesthouse in Palestinian area of Jerusalem. After check-in, some of us walked outside along the Wall of Old City where the Gate to Damascus is. This gate is very probably St. Paul stepped out when he began his journey to arrest Christians. Not the same exact gate, but the gate at the same place.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

After we saw the Notre Dame Cathedral, we went back to the Guesthouse and had dinner.

Dinner at Guesthouse

Dinner at Guesthouse

This was just the humble beginning of the glorious meal.

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