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.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Fifth Day – Walking to School

Since I had bad experience with the Palestinian taxi driver, I avoid taxi ride as much as possible.  And from the hosting house to Bethlehem University, it takes 50 minutes to walk.  And from Beit Sahour to Bethlehem is always uphill, sometimes very steep.  And I am walking twice everyday.

Sheep? Goat? on the street

Sheep on the street

On the way to school, I encounter the herds of sheep and goats a couple of times.

Sidewalk in Beit Sahour

Sidewalk in Beit Sahour

The overall walking experience is not good.  First, the sidewalk is very narrow.  And even many cars blocked the sidewalk by parking on it.  The sidewalk discontinues several times.  Some places, the trees are planted on the sidewalk which take all the room on the sidewalk.  The streets in Palestine is not the cleanest but it is much better than in Cairo, Egypt.

Peaceful Protest

Peaceful Protest

While walking in Beit Sahour, I found my favourite wall painting.  I believe, hope, and pray that peaceful protest would work eventually.

Bethlehem Peace Centre in Manger Square

Bethlehem Peace Centre in Manger Square

This is manger square where the Nativity church is.  Many of the McCormick travel group may remember this building, and there is “Stars & Bucks” nearby.

Star of Bethlehem

Star of Bethlehem

From the manger square, I walk up to the market, and there is small plaza with the star of Bethlehem.

Then I need to make a right turn and then left to go to the Bethlehem University, but I was a bit confused at first day walking.  So I asked a Tourist Police on the street, where the Bethlehem University is.  And he said, “What?  Do we have a university in Bethlehem?  Really?”  Well, I walked straight another minute, and found very small sign of Bethlehem University with arrow mark.

View from classroom

View from classroom

This is the view from my classroom.

Korean-Palestinian Friendship Street

Korean-Palestinian Friendship Street

I walked the same road on the way back home.  My hosting family lives on “Korean – Palestinian Friendship Street.”  How nice the street name is.  I heard that this road is sponsored by Korean embassy.

Korean Cultural Centre

Korean Cultural Centre

And down on the street, the Korean Cultural Centre is under construction.  This building is located on the lowest corner of the street.  In Israel/Palestine, good buildings and rich people live on the mountain top and high places.  In Korea, poor people live on the mountain top and high places.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Eighth Day – Luxor

I began my day getting up at 2:30.  It was my first time flying Egypt Air.

Egypt Air Boarding by Ladder

Egypt Air Boarding by Ladder

In the Cairo International Airport, there is no sky passage to the plane which is very common in most Airports.

Muslim Prayer in the plane

Muslim Prayer in the plane

Before the take-off while the engine was running hard, suddenly they pulled down the TV with the mosque image and played the Islam prayer.  I don’t know they do this always before flight or it is because of the regular prayer time.

Sunrise in the Airplane

Sunrise in the Airplane

I saw the sunrise in the plane to Luxor.  Luxor was great.

Sitting Pharaoh is overwhelming

Sitting Pharaoh is overwhelming

This huge sitting statue of a Pharaoh thrilled me.  When the ancient people saw this statue, I am pretty sure that they were all overwhelmed and felt like the Pharaoh is God and looking down.

German Excavation

German Excavation

The two pharaoh sitting statues were side by side, and a little back, there was another smaller statue.  And I was told that the Germans digging now.

Colour is still alive

Colour is still alive

I went to the temple of Hatshpsute temple or Al-Deir Al-Bahari temple.  Queen Hatshpsute is the only female ruler in ancient Egypt.  She is the daughter of a Pharaoh, brother and wife of a Pharaoh, and step-mother of a Pharaoh.  The temple was huge and with lots of inscriptions.  And many of them have colour.  The colour is still so much alive, and I would even believe if someone tells me they painted it last year.

In the tourism site, there are always local people selling stuff.  A guy tried to sell some photos to me which I did not buy.  Initially he called 20 L.E.  Guess how much the price went down.  It got down to 1 L.E.  Wow.

Stone Work Factory

Stone Work Factory

Then I went to stone work factory, near the Queen’s temple.  It was interesting how they make and work the stone in the traditional way with traditional tools.  They showed and compared the differences between hand-made and machine-made.

The Nile

The Nile

This is the famous Nile river in Luxor.  The mother of the ancient civilisation, still Nile is feeding Egyptians.  Most people in Luxor work in tourism trade, and other small amount of people works at agriculture.

Cow Transportation

Cow Transportation

In Luxor, the animal is still very important.  So many donkeys are used as main mean of transportation, and lots of sheep and goats are on the road too.

Downtown Luxor

Downtown Luxor

This is downtown Luxor, and I bought a Arabic language music CD for my friend in Korea.

Egyptian Music

Egyptian Music

I bought the traditional Mix.  I paid 30 L.E.  They called way higher price, but I dealt with the guy several times and it came down to 30 L.E.

Burnt CD, not original

Burnt CD, not original

When I opened the CD case, what the…  Well…  But I checked that it is real music CD in a language which I do not understand.

Sugar Cane Juice

Sugar Cane Juice

I stopped at a juice store.  I was told that the sugarcane is the most important agriculture in Luxor.  The sugarcane is piled in the left, and the guy squeezed a few sticks and put some ice.  It was very good, sweet of course.  I think this is the real life Candy Crush. 🙂

Then I went to Kings Valley, but I do not have any photos because it was prohibited.  All the caves are amazing with beautiful carving and inscriptions.  It is truly amazing that those carvings and colours survived many thousand years.  Funny thing is that the most famous Pharaoh, the Tutankhamun has the smallest tomb.  His name has three parts: Tut – Ankh – Amun and means “Long Live Amun.”

Karnak Temple

Karnak Temple

My next destination was Karnak temple, dedicated to the god of Amun, and his wife, and his son.  It is very huge temple, and I was told that the Pharaohs ruled here.

Thutmoses III

Thutmoses III

This Pharaoh, the step son of the famous queen conquered many cities.

Conquered Cities

Conquered Cities

And he left all the names of the cities he conquered.  The ancient Egyptian writing represents meaning, but when it is circled, they represent sound.  All the people have tie on their arm which means that they were captured and bound.

Nile View

Nile View

This is the Nile view of the hotel where I had lunch.

Bus Business Class is better than the airplane Business Class

Bus Business Class is better than the airplane Business Class

Then I flew back to Cairo by Egypt Air.  The funny thing is that they distinguish the Business Class (total 8 seats) just by curtain.  They just have a foot more room and still pays almost three times of economic seat.

Most Asians know that Japanese are mostly quiet, and polite, while Chinese are usually loud.  But Japanese can go crazy too in some situation.  That is when they are not with other Japanese or their neighbours.  Two Japanese girls were sitting behind me.  They were so loud talking and laughing, even singing as if they are drunk.  I could not endure any more, so I greeted them in Japanese.  Then they became cute and quiet Japanese girls.

Sunset in the Airplane

Sunset in the Airplane

I saw the sunrise in the plane, and I also saw the sunset in the plane again in the same day.  Egypt Air is part of Star Alliance which means I can collect the mileage.

Moon from the Airplane

Moon from the Airplane

Right after the sunset, I pictured this moon.

I had diarrhoea this morning first time in this trip.  Maybe the food and water in Egypt do not cooperate with my body.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twentieth Day – Flint

Today was not too bad, because I found at least something besides pottery pieces.

Pillar Base

Pillar Base

This is believed to be the pillar base.

Jaw bone of probably a goat

Jaw bone of probably a goat

This is the most interesting thing I found today. The jaw bone with some teeth on it. It could be a goat or sheep.

Flint

Flint

I also found several flints today for the first time. This is the nicest one.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Israel Trip Fourteenth Day: Zippori, Mar Elias School, and Nazareth Village

Today, we first went to Zippori or Sepphoris. I have no idea where I can find this in the Bible.

Water Reservoir

Water Reservoir

This is the water reservoir little bit far from the city. It is very deep and big. It can contain more than one million gallons of water.

Roman Paved Road

Roman Paved Road in Zippori

This is Roman paved road, and still well-preserved. According to Roman recording, there was not even enough space to put needle between the stones. And the road is always two wagon width for the marching of the legions and slightly arch shape so that it can drain water to both sides. Roman architect used to say that the stone is their friend and the water is their enemy.

Not only the road, but also there were so beautiful mosaics along the road side.

Nile House Floor Mosaic

Nile House Floor Mosaic

We went into Nile House which is one of the public buildings. It contains so many beautiful floor mosaics.

Zippori Theatre

Zippori Theatre

This is a theatre. I wonder if the show was free and open to public or they charged in some way.

Toilet in private Mansion

Toilet in private Mansion

And we went into an ancient mansion. The picture above is private toilet. And the Greek writing is “to health.” Talmud has a Q&A: “How do you know some is rich?” “If he has a privy near the dining place, he is rich.” So the owner of the mansion must have been so rich having this flushing toilet near his living room where I saw the “Mona Lisa of Galilee.”

Zodiac in the Centre of Zippori Synagogue

Zodiac in the Centre of Zippori Synagogue

Then we went to a synagogue. It was also very beautiful. But the zodiac mosaic in the CENTRE of the synagogue shocked me. All other floor mosaics are related to Torah and/or Judaism, but why the ancient Jewish people put the pagan zodiac in the centre of the synagogue?

The city of Zippori is so well-preserved because it was destructed by earth quake and never rebuilt. And the city of Pompey was also so well-preserved because of the volcano. Same is Qumran. They were threatened, so they put the scriptures into jars and kept them in the caves. The community itself was completely destroyed. It may not proper to say in this way, but their disaster and catastrophe is our blessing. Because of their disaster, many things were able to be preserved, and now we can study them.

Director and Teacher of the Mar Elias School

Director and Teacher of the Mar Elias School

Then we went to Mar Elias school. The Christian school in small town of Ibillin near Nazareth. It provides education to any students including Palestinians, Arabs, and so on. They used to have Jewish students too, but none now. One of the building was funded solely by the ex-president Bill Clinton.

Kids in the class

Kids in the class

After we heard from the director and teacher, we went into a classroom. It was Hebrew class taught by Jewish teacher. And I was told that this school is the only one where Jewish and Arabic (or Palestinian) teachers teach together. The kids are typical kids – laughing a lot and noisy, happy. It was my happiest day just watching the kids being kids.

Girls who love Korea

Girls who love Korea

When we were leaving the classroom, the girls came and asked me if I am from Korea. I said, “I am from Chicago, but I was born and grew up in South Korea.” They were so happy and asked me to take picture together. And then they talked about a few Korean TV shows and signers which I did not recognise because I do not keep track with the Korean culture. I just felt wow!

Church near the school

Church near the school

Then we went to the Church next to school. If you see it from the side, you may recognise it is ark (boat) shape.

Stairway to the church

Stairway to the church

On the stairway, Jesus’ preaching on Matthew chapter 5 beginning “Blessed are…” is written in four languages of English, French, Hebrew, and Arabic.

Church door

Church door

This is the Church door. You may recognise the children around Jesus are actually from all around the world. And the two boys standing a bit farther than other kids are a Jewish boy and a Palestinian boy. The smaller boy is wearing Kipa on his head, so he is Jewish. This scene is that the Palestinian boy is bringing Jewish boy to Jesus.

Inside the church

Inside the church

This is the inside of the Church. The church is so beautiful, made out of donations not only money but also talents. Each piece was all made. The church has partition which blocks people going to the holy place. It is their tradition.

Shepherd and Sheep in Nazareth Village

Shepherd and Sheep in Nazareth Village

Then we went to Nazareth Village, kind of living museum. The sheep were in the cage with the door closed. According to Daniel, the Nazareth Village guide, During the day time, the door is open but the shepherd is standing on it in first century then, no sheep can go out, and no one can get in. This is John 10.7: “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.”

Tomb Gate

Tomb Gate

This is the replica of a typical first century tomb. They said that they have actors on the Easter morning, playing the resurrection scene from the Bible. If I have another chance to be in the holy land and if it is during the Easter time, I would be good to come and watch the play. And this is small replica, so the actual door stone would be much bigger.

Daniel on Wine Press

Daniel on Wine Press

This is upper part of the wine-press. People tread on the grapes and the juice flows down to the lower part which gathers and contains the juice. In the first century, they must tread on the grapes with barefoot lest they crush the seed which makes very bitter taste. According to Daniel, the wine-press is under the terrace field while the threshing field is above the terrace which is the top of the hill. That is why Gideon was threshing in the wine-press so that he can hide. This is from Judges 6.11: “and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the wine-press, to hide it from the Midianites.”

Watch Tower

Watch Tower

This is typical watch tower in the first century.

Olive Oil Press

Olive Oil Press

This is an olive oil press and there is olive grinder next to it. To grind the olive, they used a huge mill with heavy millstone. Usually donkey moved the millstone, but today I volunteered and moved it as if I am a donkey even wearing the yoke. They crushed all the pits because even pits contains oils. You can see three places to tie stones in the wooden arm of the press. They pressed three times, first with just one stone, then it makes best and purest oil sometimes called as virgin oil. It is cleanest, and they donate them to the temple in Jerusalem. Second time, they use two stones to make not the best but still good oil and used it for human for every possible use. They pressed the olive with all three stones for the last time to make dirty and crude quality oil, not usable for human body but they used it as lamp oil.

Carpenter and Sister

Carpenter and Sister

These people are dressed in first century Galilean. He acts as carpenter and showed us some first century skills. She also showed us how to make thread out of the sheep wool. Her name is Hannah.

First Century Synagogue in Nazareth Village

First Century Synagogue in Nazareth Village

This is first century Jewish synagogue. Unlike the other later synagogue we’ve seen so far, it does not have the seat of Moses or the scroll place. Daniel said that the synagogue literally means gathering, and served like that. People gathers, prayed, studied, talked kind of town centre. It was not religious centre until the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. One think I like in the synagogue is the pillar on the corner. The other side of the pillar is 90 degree which makes the pillar heart shape. Not only here, I’ve found those pillars in many other synagogues on actual archaeological sites. When Jesus or any other disciples including Paul went into a synagogue, they might have seen similar synagogues like this.

Daniel is kind of interesting person to me being a messianic Jew, believing in Jesus as messiah. George said there are many divisions in messianic Jews, and many of them does not think Jesus as God.

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