Hannah and Je together

Monday, 4 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirtieth Day – Second Day in Cairo

I began today by visiting the Old Cairo, especially Christian area.

Brand New Roman Tower

Brand New Roman Tower

This is Roman Tower which is about 1500 years old, if my memory serves me right.  After seeing all the greatness and glories of three or four thousand years old Egypt, anything less than 2,000 years is brand new to me.

Hanging Church in Cairo

Hanging Church in Cairo

This is so-called hanging church which is built upon the two Roman pillars.  There are many relics and painting of St. Mark.  As Catholic regard St. Peter as their founding father, Copts regard St. Mark as their founding father.

Home of the Holy Family

Home of the Holy Family

This is the place where they believe that the Holy Family lived and hid themselves from the threat of Herod the Great.  Egyptians are very proud that they hosted the Holy Family with hospitality.

Salah Al-Din Citadel

Salah Al-Din Citadel

Then I went to Salah Al-Din Citadel.  He is well-known to the Christians too because he defeated the Crusaders.

Mosque in the Citadel

Mosque in the Citadel

This is the mosque inside the citadel.  I was told that (all) mosques have plain bottom and floor with beautiful ceiling so that they can make the people focus on their prayer.

Cairo Overview

Cairo Overview

The citadel gives a good view of Cairo.

Egyptian Cats.

Egyptian Cats.

Then I went to the oldest market in Cairo.  And look what I found!  Eventually I found Egyptian cats!  All the Egyptians told me that they have tons of cats, but I have not seen almost any.  Now in this old market, I saw several cats.

Ceiling of the Oldest Market in Cairo

Ceiling of the Oldest Market in Cairo

This is the remaining column and ceiling of the oldest market.

Revolutionary Plaza

Revolutionary Plaza

Then I went to the famous Egyptian Museum.  And right in front of it, there is a big plaza where the Egyptians began and completed their revolution.

Cairo Security

Cairo Security

McCormick Group always complained the soldiers on the streets with rifles.  How about this?

Cairo Security

Cairo Security

In Egypt, you can see not only rifles and soldiers, but also tanks and armoured military vehicles a lot.  I mean, A LOT.  They are everywhere.

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

There are so many cool things inside the Egyptian Museum, but photographs are entirely forbidden inside the museum.  I could not take any.

Cairo on Fire

Cairo on Fire

One thing you can see everywhere in Cairo is the mountains of trashes where on the streets, roads, and highways.  And the smoke does not mean Cairo was under attack, but people were burning the trashes.  It is bad for the environment, and for their health too.

I went back to the hotel and rested a bit.  And when I was checking out, I had a trouble with the hotel.  I’ve never used the phone in the room and they charged me for the phone use.  Eventually I did not pay anything, but I had so bad memory about Le Meridien Hotel in Giza Cairo.  I will write another blog about the experiences in this hotel.

Nile Dinner Cruise

Nile Dinner Cruise

Then I went to the Nile Dinner Cruise.  The food was OK.  And they also charged me 15 L.E which is about $2.  Isn’t it supposed to play live music in those Cruise Dinner?  Two singers were singing but with the Karaoke machine.

I found that 80% of the people in the cruise were in a wedding reception.  It was very loud with the dancing new couple.  And actually after cruise, there was another wedding was going on in the harbour.  So I saw one wedding reception, and four weddings in Egypt.  Wow.  Is it wedding season in Egypt now?

Belly Dancer

Belly Dancer

After a while, a fat belly dancer came out and danced.  I’ve never seen such an abundant belly dancer in my entire life.  I thought the Muslim women would hate this kind of things, but actually almost all ladies (covering top to toe) were taking video of the belly dancer dancing.

Spinning Skirt Dancer

Spinning Skirt Dancer

Then a guy wearing double skirts did spin-dancing for more than ten minutes.  He spun without resting for ten minutes and he was not dizzy.  Amazing.

Bus to Dahab

Bus to Dahab

Then I went to the East Delta Bus station to go back to Israel overnight.  But I found that there is no direct bus from Cairo to Taba.  In most undeveloped countries, internet information is always out of date.  I was told from the ticketing guy that they used to have direct bus to Taba, but after they got terror on that bus (where Korean tourists were killed), the government shutdown the line.  But the websites still says the bus runs from Cairo to Taba.

They say that the bus would arrive at Dahab at 7.  From Dahab to Taba takes little more than two hours.  So let me say I will be at Taba at 10.  Crossing the border would take 30 minutes.  So I will be in Eilat around 11.  From Eilat to Jerusalem takes five hours.  And I will be in Jerusalem at 4pm.  To Bethlehem less than an hour.  So I may be in the hosting house hopefully 6pm or at least 9 or 10pm tomorrow.

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.

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