Hannah and Je together

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.

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, 17 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Forty Sixth Day – Sunday Service at Palestinian Greek Orthodox Church

Today I went to Greek Orthodox Church in Beit Sahour with my hostess lady.  The service was from 7am, but we left home at 7:05.  And we went there less than 10 minutes, mostly because Beit Sahour is very small town.

Paintings in Narthex

Paintings in Narthex

In the narthex, there were four pictures.  I recognised the two which are Jesus Christ and St. Mary.  And almost everybody stopped at those pictures and bowed and kissed them.

Candle Light

Candle Light

And at the corner of Narthex, there is a place where you can light the candle.  I also did one.

Blessing, blessing

Blessing, blessing

Throughout the service, people went to the front of the right corner by family.  And they bend their back and bowed before the priest.  And women must cover their heads with scarves.  Then the priest cover everybody with a clothe like towel.  And he crossed over their heads, and blessed them.  Then he finished with another making cross over their heads.  He uncovered the towel, and fed them with wine and bread.  It looks like a small communion but it is not a communion.  And not everybody goes there.

Kissing the Bible

Kissing the Bible

The actual service begins about 8:15.  Then what we were doing until then?  I was told that it was preparing the service by asking God the permission of service, and blessing.

The priest took the golden Bible, and the guys went to the front and kissed the Bible.  Then the priest came to the middle of the hallway.  And the ladies went and kissed.

Light up the Church!

Light up the Church!

Then the all lights were turned on even Christmas decorations (in the back side door).

Choir seat

Choir seat

The choir was upstairs.

First Procession

First Procession

And there was a procession.  The boys carry two candles, and two symbols, and a cross.  Then the priests carry the Bible.  I heard that the two symbols which go before the cross means John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord.

Men and Women should not seat together

Men and Women should not seat together

Most Jewish synagogues in Israel have separate rooms for men and women.  The churches do not have such things.  All men and women worship God together.  But if you look at the picture, all men are sitting on the front pews, while all ladies sitting behind them.  Because I went with my hosting lady, I was at the back, and almost everybody looked at me and their eyes were like saying what the hack is wrong with me.

Second Procession

Second Procession

Almost at the end of the service, there was another procession.  And during the procession, people kissed the relics, bible or kissed their finger and stretched their finger towards the relics.

Offering is Universal

Offering is Universal

The offering system is not much different from the Presbyterian or any other Protestant churches in North America.

Sharing the bread, but not communion

Sharing the bread, but not communion

Then a guy was distributing chunk of bread to the people, and also many (aged) ladies brought their own breads and distributed to the nearby people.  I thought this is the communion, but again, it was not.  They said this is the “holiness of bread.”  They said it is for blessing, because not everybody can join the communion.

This is communion

This is communion

Then the real communion was at the very end of the service.  People lined up, and went to the front.  The priests blessed the wine and bread, and distributed one by one.  Just as I was told a minute ago, not everybody went up.  I don’t know what is the rule of the communion, but I did not go up as well because I did not want to break any possible rule there.

The service lasted three hours.  It was very different from typical Presbyterian or any other Protestant worship service.  If I had understood Arabic, it would have been better and exciting.  there was lots of singing by the cantors.  And the cantors were on both sides of the holy place (or stage), because they said someone in the Bible or in their legend saw heaven, and saw the angels singing in the left and right of the throne.

It was very interesting experience.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Forty Fifth Day – Food for Gazans

Today I went to a supermarket in Beit Sahour.

Palestinian Supermarket

Palestinian Supermarket

And it looks like the picture above, with huge Coke sign on it.

Food for Gazans

Food for Gazans

Then I found this shopping cart with a picture and an arabic writings on it which I could not read.  So I asked a girl working there.

Je: Marhaba (Hello)
She: Marhaba (Hello)
Je: Bihki Inglize? (Do you speak English?)
She: Yes.

This is my current Arabic level.  And then I asked her what the shopping cart is for.  She told me that it is for the food donation which will go to the people in Gaza.

My food donation

My food donation

So I bought two cans of food, and put them in the cart.

When I came back home and told the hosting family about that, they told me that every single supermarket in West Bank now has the food donation basket for Gazans.

Pita Bread

Pita Bread, Image from Google Image Search

And the father of the house has a close friend in Gaza, and yesterday he talked to him over the phone.  According to his friend in Gaza, there are food distributions there, but it is just almost nothing.  He waited eleven hours (actually he did six hours, and his wife did another five hours) in line, and all he got is one pita bread for whole his family.  NOT one STACK, but one PITA (the Palestinians do not call it pita, but I forgot the Arabic name of this bread).

A lady posted on Google+ that Gazans may freeze to death this winter because Israeli destroyed the houses.  But what is really urgent is not the cold weather in another four months, but the food to eat right today.  And as far as I know, Gaza is not that cold so that people would freeze to death.  I commented there asking how cold it is in Gaza, and she answered me after three days, “It is cold in Gaza.”  Well, that is not a real answer.  It is OK to blame Israel or others, but blame them with true facts, not fake lies.  There are thousands other true factors to blame them.

Anyway, I think we seriously need to help the Gazans with foods (not with money).  Why not with money?  Because the Hamas and political leaders use the money to buy weapons, to build tunnels, and to make themselves millionnaire.  And consequently the people stay hungry.  We need to help them with foods.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Forty Second Day – Personal name change

Filed under: Lang:English,Subj:Christianity,Subj:Travel — Jemyoung Leigh @ 10:12
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These days, I am just taking the Arabic course everyday.  And it is not easy because it is intensive course which I am not good at.

Today in the class, the teacher told us that people change their name when they have a first son.  For example, let say husband’s name is Yusef, and wife’s name is Marwa, and they have a new born son names Yakob.  Then the husband’s name is no longer Yusef but “Abu Yakob,” and the wife’s name also is no longer Marwa but “Imm Yakob.”  “Abu Yakob” means father of Yakob, and “Imm Yakob” means mother of Yakob.

This is not legal name change, they still have the same ID card.  But this is practical name change that they call themselves like this and all other people call them like this.

This must be the first born male child’s name.

If so, what if they have a girl?  Do they call them by their daughter’s name or do they wait until they have a son to change their name?  They do change their name at the time of their first daughter but not by their daughter’s name but by their son’s name.  But they do not have a son, right?  It is easy.  They just assume, “Someday we will have a son named Yakob.”  So they call themselves by their imaginary son in the future.

If they have seven daughters and no son, then still they keep call themselves by their unreal imaginary son which will never be born.

I asked the teacher if it is possible when I want to be called by my daughters name.  Teacher said, “NO! That is NOT POSSIBLE AT ALL.”

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.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Sixth Day – Car Accident

After school, I was studying at my room when I heard the loud crash sound and people screaming.

Accident Happened!

Accident Happened!

I went out and saw a car upside down and people around the car.  And I also went there.

Upside Down

Upside Down

The car is a KIA.  This photo is after the people were sent to a hospital by an ambulance.

I do not exactly know how the accident happened.  The two girls in middle twenties were in the car.  They are sisters.  The driver looks like broke her two legs, and the passenger was able to walk but hurt her right leg.

Palestinian Ambulance

Palestinian Ambulance

This is Palestinian ambulance, and it came quite late – about 25 minutes after people reported by their cellphones.  If you know how small Bethlehem and Beit Sahour are, it is amazingly late.  The driver also said that he lost.  Aren’t the police and ambulance drivers supposed to know the roads?  Even it is a very small town which you can walk from one end to the other in half hour.

Dangerous Road

Dangerous Road

When I walk by the road, I always wondered if it is safe.  As you see in the picture above, there is no fence or guard rail.  And I was told that the same accidents happens once or twice every month.  Thank God this was not fatal accident.  But I want the roads to be fixed to be safer with guard rails.

People were blaming Israel about this accident and the bad roads.  I do not know if I should agree with them or not.  People were also blaming Israel about the ambulance being late.  They said that Israel do not allow the GPS to be installed in the ambulance so that they can be lost.  Well, that might be true, but I think the ambulance driver must know all the roads in the town, especially this is very small town.

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 Second Day – First Day in Class

I left SunCity hotel at 5:10 in the morning for Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv.  There I got on a but to Jerusalem at 5:50.  Then I went to Damascus gate by the light railway in Jerusalem.  And this time also, I got help from a Jewish guy.  He was very caring and concerning about me, and try to give me as much tips as possible such as to buy bus ticket to travel cheaper in Jerusalem.

I got two school for this summer: Hebrew University in Israel and Bethlehem University in Palestine.  They both gave me instructions how to get there.  The Hebrew University emailed me with a map attached with has pin points on the map where I can get a bus and where we would gather and meet.  From Bethlehem University, I also got a text email just saying “Take Arab bus number 21 in Jerusalem to Bethlehem.  And walk to school or taxi if you like.”  But I don’t know where to get on the Arab bus.  I googled many times, and asked many people, but I failed to get an answer.  It took me more than three weeks to figure out what is Arab bus and where is the station.  And even in Bethlehem, quite many people do not know what and where is Bethlehem University, including a police officer.

Anyway, I got on the Arab bus 21 at Damascus gate.  I was the only passenger in the bus.  The bus from Bethlehem to Jerusalem was packed like sardine, but the bus from Jerusalem to Bethlehem was empty.

Bethlehem University

Bethlehem University

I went to the University directly by taxi.  And I learned some Arabic beginning with pronunciation.  McCormick travel group may remember this building.

There is another difference between Hebrew University and Bethlehem University, and it is about money.  Hebrew University has much flexibility.  I can pay in US dollar, Euro, or Israel Shekel.  They told me I can pay anytime or any day I want.  And I also can pay in cash, credit card, or cheque.  But Bethlehem university emphasized many time through several emails that the students MUST pay at the FIRST DAY in US Dollar ONLY and in CASH ONLY.

My room for one month

My room for one month

After the class, I met a gentleman from England who also stay at a family in Beit Sahour, the same town of my hosting family.  We were supposed to go to the Siraj centre.  So we shared a cab.  The teacher and staff at the University told us that it is about 15 shekel and do NOT pay more than 20.  We said that to the taxi driver.  He did not say anything at first, but be suddenly said that we need to pay 50 shekel because we are two people, so it must be double price.  We argued about the price, and he began to yelled at us.  We said that 20 is maximum we can pay.  Then the taxi driver dropped us on a street.  We thought we were at Siraj centre.  After we got off he asked again 5 more shekels from us which we did not give.  And we found out that we were not there.  We walked ten minutes to the centre.  I had another very bad experience with Palestinians.  I don’t really know why I keep having bad experiences with the Palestinians.

The centre called the hosting family, and they came to the centre to pick me up.  The family is Palestinian Christian.  They are very nice.  And the photo above is my room for one month.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Fifth Day – Last day of digging

Today is my last day of digging.  Tomorrow I go to Tel Aviv to get the Egyptian Visa, and then Eilat to stay a night.

Still Digging

Still Digging

Because it is the last week of excavation, we were supposed to clean up all week for the last day aerial photo shoot, but we were actually digging more and more.  It is OK because I am leaving now, but I guess it would be very hard Wednesday.  Photo shoot is Thursday, and they must clean up by Wednesday.

My lovely Trainers

My lovely Trainers

After I finished my digging today, I threw away my trousers and shoes.  Both I bought in Canada as work pants and work shoes, and I wore them about five or six years.

Bottom of the shoes

Bottom of the shoes

This is the bottom of my shoe.  My Nike shoes travelled from Canada to US, Israel/Palestine twice and finally died in Israel.

From Tel Aviv to Cairo is about 250 miles or 403 km.  The distance between New York and Chicago is 713 miles or 1147 km.  It is about one-third, and the airfare is over $400 and also it took 15 hours mostly because of waiting for the connection.  Stupid.

Well, anyway I need to get the Egyptian Visa by tomorrow.  And I need a passport photo, which I do not have right now.  And I do not know where I can take my passport photo in Tel Aviv.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Ninth Day – Bethlehem and Jericho

I was supposed to go the Negev desert Safari tour.  But when I was picked up from the hotel, I realised that the desert tour was cancelled and they tried to put me in the Dead Sea and Masada tour which I did two days ago.  So I refused and they finally put me to the Bethlehem and Jericho tour.

Church of the Shepherds' field

Church of the Shepherds’ field

We went to Beit Sahour, where I was last night to see Mara with George.  I thought the Shepherds’ field was in Bethlehem last January tour, but I now know that it is in Beit Sahour, the neighbouring town.

Star of Nativity

Star of Nativity

There was not much things to see because I’ve been already there before.  I just took this picture of shining star in one of the caves.  The guide said that it is believe that the three magi stayed in this cave and did not go to king Herod.  And this shepherds’ field is actual the field of Boaz, the grandfather of king David.

Milk Grotto Church

Milk Grotto Church

In Bethlehem, we went to the Milk Grotto Church before we went to the Church of Nativity.  It was nice because the Milk Grotto Church was not covered by last trip.  They believe that the holy family hid in this cave.  And when the Mother Mary was feeding baby Jesus, she slipped a few drops of her milk, and it changed the colour of the rock permanently into white.  So the rock down the cave church is all white.

Church of Nativity

Church of Nativity

Last time, we went to the Church of Nativity, but we were not able to actually go down to the star spot where they believe Jesus was born.  Today, we were also supposed to wait at least two or three hours, but the tour guide divided our group to make it smaller than eight people in a group.  Then the controlling police officers let the small group go in through different entrance.  So we went in without waiting eve five minutes.

Christmas tree in July

Christmas tree in July

We also went to the Catholic Church, and out side of the Catholic church, they made the small tree or bonsai like a Christmas tree.

One thing I found out today is that Jewish tour guides are not allowed to lead the tourists in Palestinian area.  So our Jewish tour guide stayed in the mini bus, and we met local Palestinian tour guide for the entire Bethlehem tour.  Well, I think it is better to have Palestinian tour guide as the McCormick group did last January.  Having George Filmon was very good, I think, in many ways.  He can guide people in both Israel and Palestinian area.  We were able to hear the view-point from the Palestinian side, and he is not actually bias.

Bedouin

Bedouin has satellite dish

On the way to Jericho, we saw many Bedouin homes, much more than January.  If you see the picture above closely, you can see the house animals in the upper part of the photo, and most of them are staying in the shadow because the sunlight is more than even the animals can bear.

11000 year-old tower

11000 year-old tower

It is good to see again the 11,000 years old (the oldest) structure in the world ever found so far.  Those are the very first bricks that humans made.  Because of the invention of bricks, the town and city were made possible.  It is literally the revolutionary invention.

Jericho updated in April 2014

Jericho updated in April 2014

The Jewish guide said something shocking to me.  He said that by the recent excavation in Jericho, the Bible was proven to be truth.  Then I found the new explanation board which is newly updated – 2014 April, which is after McCormick group’s visit.  I need to research more about this.

Elisha's water

Elisha’s water

Then I drank some water at the Elisha’s water fountain.  I would not say more about this because I wrote about it already in the first trip to Jericho.

Mount of Temptation

Mount of Temptation

Then we went to closer to see the Mount of Temptation where Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights, then was temped by Satan.

Zacchaeus' Tree

Zacchaeus’ Tree

We also stopped at Zacchaeus’ tree.  As everybody knows, small Zacchaeus climbed up this tree to see Jesus, and Jesus called him down and stayed his house that night.

Taking Dove

Taking Dove

So I had not that bad day today even though the plan was completely ruined because my original tour was cancelled.  It is not bad to visit the same place again.

But when I came back to Jaffa gate, I saw something unusual.  I found a few people caught the doves, and they just took it.  And the weird thing was that the dove did not fly or flee, it looked quite easy to catch.  I do not know why they take it.  Do they eat it?

After supper, I heard the sirens a few times which means Jerusalem is under rocket attack.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Seventh Day – Masada and Dead Sea

Map of Westbank and Vicinity

Map of West bank and Vicinity

This is the part of the map hanging on the hotel wall.  The name of the map differs according to where you buy it, from Israeli or Palestinian shop.  It could be Map of Israel, or the map of the West bank and vicinity.

Gerald Halbert Park

Gerald Halbert Park

I also used the tour service from the same company.  Unlike yesterday, we gathered at Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv because the destination is through Jerusalem.  We gathered at Gerald Halbert Park where we can see the east side from Jerusalem.  The farthest line of mountains is the Mountains of Edom where the descendants of Esau lived in the Bible.

Ahava Factory

Ahava Factory

Today’s major destinations are Masada and Dead sea beach.  But before we get to the first destination, we stopped at Ahava factory and visitor centre where they produce skin care products from the muds and minerals of dead sea.  Unlike yesterday, it was quite huge group and we used big tour bus.  I had Amir, the Jewish guy as tour guide and a Muslim Palestinian as driver.  As far as I know, Amir is Arabic name meaning “Prince,” and I wonder if it is strange for a Jewish guy to have Arabic name.

Masada from afar

Masada from afar

Masada is one of the most famous place in Israel because of its tragic history.  After the Jerusalem was captured by the Rome, some people came into the Masada and resisted.  Masada, built by Herod, is cliff all around.  But they were hopeless, and killed themselves, and roman soldiers entered easily.  Masada is truly unbreakable place.  All other mountains in the area is cliff, but the tops are all connected but only Masada is separated and cliff all around.

Model of Masada

Model of Masada

This is the model of Masada, and you can see it is cliff all around.  The most amazing thing is that Herod built amazing town and even his palace on the Masada.  It is crazy difficult just climb there but they moved all the huge stones and jars three times bigger than me.

Masada Cablecar

Masada Cable car

There is a very nice cable cars in Masada from the visitor centre to the top of Masada.  Actually I asked Amir, my tour guide, if I can walk up the Masada.  He said they do not allow people to walk up after 9 in the morning because it is too hot.  He, then, checked the temperature and said “This is over 43 degree, and if you walk up that steep hill for more than forty minutes, you may die.” For Americans, 43 celsius is about 110 fahrenheit.

Snake path from above

Snake path from above

This is the walk path, named Snake path.  Even Josephus mentioned this path.  Believe me, this is the most levelled and widest part of the path.  When I got off the bus, the enormous heat from the ground chalked my breath and the sun rays were so strong that I even felt it was pricking my skin.  I am glad that I did not walk.

Original Wall painting in Masada

Original Wall painting in Masada

When we walk up there, all buildings have black lines.  Above the line is renovated by scholars, but below the black line is original and untouched at all.  The painting on the wall is genuine from the Herod’s era.  How amazing that the painting is so lively preserved!

Herod's Palace on the edge of Masada

Herod’s Palace on the edge of Masada

At the edge of the Masada, Herod built three level’s palace for himself.  This is the second level viewed from the top-level.  Herod, Herod, Herod.  McCormick group may remember that we heard his name every single day no matter where we go.  If not him, Jews and Israel would have had almost nothing because he built almost everything.

Ritual Bath of Masada

Ritual Bath of Masada

Amir the tour guide said that Herod was (or at least tried very hard) more Jewish than Jews, and more roman than Romans.  This is one of the more Jewish thing for him.  He built ritual bath and baptismal bath upon the high Masada.  And all the arts in Masada is just pattern.  There is not even single image of anything such as animal or human.

Hot Bath on Masada

Hot Bath on Masada

This is another proof that he was more roman than Romans.  He equipped Masada with cold and hot bath.  And this is the hot bath.  The bottom part is where they make fire and burn stuff which would heat up the floor, and the floor eventually heat up the water.  The smoke escapes through the channel, and out of the root side, so the people in the bath place would not small anything.

Small Cistern on Masada

Small Cistern on Masada

This is desert area, where there is almost no rain.  I mean, almost.  The guide said it rains two or three times a year, sometimes once in three years.  To survive in the place like Masada, they have to gather and store the rain water, even a drop.  This is a cistern upon Masada, and it is small one.

Model for Rain water collecting system of Masada

Model for Rain water collecting system of Masada

Herod built another system, way bigger system to collect the rain water from all neighbouring areas, using the gravity, he stored the water under Masada.  Because of the great water system, the Jews protesting had enough water while Roman soldiers had trouble because of no water – they got the water from Ein Gedi which is very far from here.  Well, I have to say that it is very un-roman.

Synagogue on Masada

Synagogue on Masada

To be more Jewish, Herod also built a synagogue upon Masada.  This is the synagogue, and it also has scribe’s room.  I saw another scribe was working here, as in Qazrin, writing and selling blessings to the tourists.

Dovecot on Masada

Dovecot on Masada

What did they eat?  They found lots of dates pits (they even planted the pits and it became the actual date tree – revived in 2,000 years)  They also had a dovecot where they kept and grew doves, which is Kosher meat with right amount of portion.  Cow or bull is very hard to raise in Masada, and even bringing them up would have been impossible.  The cow provides too much meat, but the dove has right amount of meat to be a meal for couple of people.  This is the dovecot on Masada.  How can’t I say Herod the great!

View from Masada Restaurant

View from Masada Restaurant

This is the view from the Masada restaurant through the window.  Oh how beautiful the dead sea is!

Reading on the Dead Sea

Reading on the Dead Sea

Then we went to the Dead Sea Mineral Beach.  It is my second time to be in the dead sea.  It is always fun to be there and play reading which I cannot actually read (it was Arabic paper).

Dead Sea skincare

Dead Sea skin care

This time, I covered myself with the dead sea mud.  Even now, late at night, my skin is very soft and smooth, and I love my skin so much!!

Hot Mineral Spa of Dead Sea

Hot Mineral Spa of Dead Sea

They also have “free” hot spa with the dead sea water.  As you may know, dead sea water is ten times saltier than the sea water.  If you taste it, you will not taste saltiness, but the extreme bitterness.  You can taste a little bit, but you should not drink it.  The guide said if you drink a cup, you will die.

Rocket trail on the sky

Rocket trail on the sky

Then we came back to Jerusalem and I got off at David Citadel Hotel.  It was beautiful day.  Look at the picture above.  How beautiful it is!  I cross the road and I looked up the sky at Mamilla Street and King Solomon Street, which is the entrance to the Mamilla mall, and which is five minutes walk from my hotel.  There was a rocket flying and coming down, but it was shot down in the sky.  My crappy camera was not fast enough to take the photo of it, but it just got the trace of it.  Does it look like a cloud or aircraft trace?  It is actually the rocket trace from Hamas that reached Jerusalem!  I circled the rocket trace with black pencil so that it can be easily spotted.

The CNN news says that the number of casualties of Palestinians and Israelis are 81:0.  This is just one of the many big news here.  The news talks more about US immigration, US-Germany spy, and massive shooting in Texas.

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