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, 7 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Third Day – Jerusalem Walking Tour

Before I begin today, I want to add some of yesterday.  I sat next to a mother-daughter family from Switzerland in the sharing taxi to Jerusalem.  I thought that they were speaking German, so I asked them a few questions.  I confirmed that Switzerland has four official languages.  I learned that majority speaks German though.  The mother told me that their German is different from the German in Germany.  They both said that they can understand what Germans say, but Germans do not understand well what they say.  They learn German German at school.  The mother said that Switzerland has four different German dialects, and the daughter said that her teacher in the class taught that they have twelve different German dialects in their country.

So, I got up early in the morning.  I asked the lady in the hotel counter where the Lutheran church is.  She looked up the map a bit but could not find.  She just pointed the Christian quarter and said, “it should be somewhere around here.”  I found that Church in the map from the book which theology professor Dr. Cathey borrowed me.  The map was not the best detail, so I asked people on the street.

Empty Road in Old City Jerusalem

Empty Road in Old City Jerusalem

In the early in the morning, there was almost no one on the street.  The same street feels so different without people.  It is people that makes a place lively or dead, holy or defiled, peaceful or turmoil.

Sunday Service at Holy Sepulchre

Sunday Service at Holy Sepulchre

I went to the Holy Sepulchre first.  There was some Sunday service was on going.  I went inside the tomb place, and tried to stay a little while praying because there were not many people.  But clergyman in charge of there tapped the door and asked us to come out quickly.  I found the line got so long in just a few seconds.

Byzantine Cardo

Byzantine Cardo

I went to the Lutheran church of our Redeemer to find out that the service is at 9.  I had little more than an hour, so I walked to Jewish quarter.  The picture above is Cardo, Byzantine market place, and is market now too.

Jewish and Learning, the same word

Jewish and Learning, the same word

Across the Cardo, there is a centre (there are so many centres in the Jewish quarter), “Arie and Eva Halpern Centre for Jewish Life and Learning.”  One thing I like about Jewish is that they value the learning.  It looks like being Jewish means continuous lifetime learning.

LUtheran Church of our Redeemer

Lutheran Church of our Redeemer

Then I went to the Lutheran church.  About 25 people gathered.  This is the church that Ted and Paula Hiebert and their children attended for a year while they were living in Jerusalem.  The service was OK, not that different from Presbyterians.

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock

After the service, I went back to the Jewish quarter right away since nobody talked to me at the church.  This is the view of the Dome of the Rock, and we can see the Western wall below.

Ancient Wasabi Bowl?

Ancient Wasabi Bowl?

I went to the Burnt House Museum.  It is the excavated ruin of the house belong to Kathros family.  It is considered that the family is the priests.  The picture above is one of the founding in the house, and it looks like wasabi bowl in Japanese sushi restaurant.

Burnt House

Burnt House

Many things were found in the ruin including the cut bone of a girl’s arm and arrow-head.  I can just guess how the battle was when the city was destroyed.

In the burnt house I met two Korean girls.  One of them are working on M.Div at a full-gospel seminary (I forgot the school name).

Back on the street, I was looking at the street map, and a Palestinian old man came and he would show me things (he means guide, I guess).  I said, it is OK, and he said ‘just a few shekels, I will show you good things.’  I had only 16 shekels at that time.  So I showed it and he took it, then he said, “twenty-dollar more.”  And I realised that he is just a cheater, and said that I did not have any money.  Then he just left with my money, and I asked him my money back because he was not doing anything worth for the money.  He heard me and he ran so fast, disappeared.

About the money, I was not lying.  I actually had no money with me.  So I went to the nearby ATM.

Ritual Bath at Archaeological Museum

Ritual Bath at Archaeological Museum

I went to archaeological Museum, named “Herodia Quarter.”  It is very close to the burnt house, and this museum contains several houses all rich upper class Jewish people 2,000 years ago.

One thing unique about Jewish archaeology is that we find ritual bath wherever we go.  Some house has even multiple ritual bathrooms.  It looks like that ancient Jews only bathed without doing any other things.

Hallelujah!

Hallelujah!

Then I came out of the underground Museum (both Burnt house and Archaeological Museum are underground, and over the ground are normal building and shops), and ate lunch at Hallelujah, where the McCormick group also ate when we were visiting Jewish Quarter.  The burger was so huge!

Actually almost where I go, I can  recall my memory.  There are not many place that I have not yet been to.  The local tour guide George Filmon and the Guiding Star literally covered the most out of it.

Rampart Walk

Rampart Walk

Then I went to the Jaffa gate again, and began to walk down toward the south.  My plan was walk through the city wall.  Then I found the Ramparts Walk, and paid to enter.  The Ramparts walk led me on to the wall.  So I walked on the city wall.  It was so nice, and had great view.  I wondered why Guiding Star did not provide us this one.  But soon I realised that it is quite dangerous.  Unlike the picture above, most part of the walk is open one side, and the floor stones are worn and very slippery.  Even I did not run at all and walked as carefully as possible.  People who travelled with me would know what that means.  It is very high on the wall, and anyone who fears the height cannot walk there.  So I walked on the wall from near the Jaffa Gate to the Dung Gate.

Geopolitical location of Jerusalem - Archaeological Park

Geopolitical location of Jerusalem – Archaeological Park

Then I went to the Archaeological Park.  It is the down the wall near the dung gate.  It is said that it was the royal court and house of Muslim empires.  I found one good thing which shows the location of Jerusalem geographically and politically.  Israel and Jerusalem has been actually the connecting hub of the three continents.

Muslim Cemetary

Muslim cemetery

After the archaeological park, I kept walking through the streets, and I went to the Muslim cemetery right below the wall.  It was quite a walk, and then I met Lion’s Gate where McCormick group used to go to the Haram or Temple Mount.

Ecce Homo

Ecce Homo

I walked through the road and visited the points of Via Dolorosa again.  This is the Ecce Homo point.  People thought that Pontius Pilate said “Ecce Homo (Behold the man)” there.

I had two unpleasant experiences in the Muslim Quarter.  I guess they are Palestinian muslims because they were at the Muslim quarter.

The first thing:  Three young Palestinians were sitting side of the road, and when they saw me they asked if I am from Japan.  I said I am from Chicago, then a guy said with mocking voice “Ayy Am from Shee-Kay-go.”  Another guy also shouted at me, “Welcome to China!”  I did not respond further but kept walking.

The second thing:  A Palestinian young guy asked me, “Hey my friend, come to my shop.”  I gently said, “No thank you.”  Then he shouted “Chinese” twice and mimicked monkey sounds.  I also did not respond at all.

So I had three unpleasant experiences today with the Palestinians including the old man in the morning who ran with my 16 shekels, which is about $5.  There are many things to say about Jewish – Palestinian relationship, and I believe that the Palestinians must make (international) friends desperately, but they are turning possible friends into enemies.

Let me just do some simple calculation.  I met two groups (ignoring the old man because he did not do anything about racism), and let me suppose the two group meet so many Asians daily but mock them racially ten Asians.  And the two groups 3 in common everyday.  Then they together make seventeen Asians unpleasant and turn against them.  Seventeen a day is 6,205 a year.

They may have short fun time mocking others, but they are actually making more than six thousand Anti-Palestinians annually.  They should think what situation they have been in, and are in right now.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

2nd Holy Land Trip – First and half of Second Day – Flight

It is my second time to travel to Israel/Palestine.  There are two major differences: I was in a group, and now I am alone.  I flew Lufthansa, and now SWISS (I will say Swiss Air).  And consequently the comparison of Swiss Air and Lufthansa is inevitable.

Swiss Air

Swiss Air

Before I begin the comparison, I ate lunch at Chicago O’Hare. The restaurant named Big Bowl was expensive, untasty, and little amount.  I would not eat again.

Many people in my last travel group said that we were so spoiled by Lufthansa, and I totally agree, but Swiss Air also runs AirBus and the planes are equally good, or slightly better in a few ways.

Hanger Sign

Hanger Sign

In Lufthansa, I had hard time to figure out what the small button was, which was actually just a hanger.  But Swiss Air has bigger hanger and also has hanger sign on it so that I can know it easily without any hard guess.

Hat on hanger

Hat on hanger

And as the picture above, I hung my big hat on it.  The thing was, people walking in the narrow airplane aisle touched and dropped my hat almost forty times.

Hat in the pocket

Hat in the pocket

And finally, I began to put my hat in the wall pocket. Problem solved.

Swiss Air’s entertainment system was equally good as Lufthansa, but its control was better.  Lufthansa has touch screen which did not function as it should be while Swiss Air has wired remote which is easier to control.

Baby Bassinet

Baby Bassinet

And I think Lufthansa also has this, but I’ve never seen airplane wall hanging baby bassinet before.  In my second flight from Zürich to Tel Aviv, I sat next to twin babies.  They were so cute and adorable, and amazingly they never cried, but pleasantly playing and laughing the whole time!

Enough Legroom

Enough Legroom

The best of the Swiss Air was that I could choose my seat when I booked the flight, and I got the emergency exit seat which comes with more spacious legroom than business seat.  Having enough legroom is so great and amazing, I understood why people pay a lot to buy upper-class flight.  But still, I would not pay the first or business class.

But the flight was not that pleasant, especially the one from Chicago to Zürich.  I checked the option of Automatic Check-in when I booked, and the night before I got an  email from them notifying that the automatic check-in failed.  So I went to the airport a little bit earlier than that I planned.  And I asked the person behind the counter when I checked-in:

Je: I got an email saying such and such.  What does “Automatic Check-in failed” email means.
He: Automatic Check-in failed means that automatic Check-in failed.
Je: Why?
He: We don’t know.
Je: Is there any problem with me?
He: We don’t know.
Je: Is there any problem with your system?
He: We don’t know.
Je: Will this happen again on my flying back?
He: We don’t know.

Wow. Very kind, eh? And our conversation continued:

He: Sir, you can upgrade your seat.
Je: Oh, really!?
He: Yes, with just $500.

I think he should learn how to make them one sentence.  Then a few hours later, I was at the gate, and when people began to form a line, I was actually the first in boarding line.  I know that all airlines let the families with babies and/or people need help board first (mentioning the business or first class is needless).  And then the lines usually moves in, so I tried to go through the gate, and the lady said, “Go back! We will call your seat number.”  And they really called the passengers by the seat numbers in small range such as “seat from 45 to 49.”  And they called my number the very last!  I understand that they are extremely well organised (more than the Germans), but I was very unpleasant.  Well, being well organised is not wrong, and this is not their fault.  Did Jesus once said, “the first shall be the last?”

But that was just the beginning.  I loved my seat with enough legroom, but I was surrounded by some not that normal people.  Right next to me, a huge lady sat, invading my space the whole time.  The other side, a couple (middle-aged man and quite young girl) kissing and touching the whole time.  Their kissings were so loud and watery.  If you have heard them kissing without know what they are doing, you would have thought they were eating Ramen or something.  And behind me, two good friends talking so loud for more than ten hours (I guess).  And the other side of the huge lady, a middle-aged man was drinking wine whole time (which I guess more than thirty or forty cups), and finally he got drunk and could not even hold his cup right and spilt the wine.  The worst is yet to come.  There were several infants and babies crying and screaming hours and hours.  I felt sorry for the babies but it is fact that their crying and screaming is nerve-touching, especially when they are not your babies.  All these spoiled my plan to adopt the local time and minimise the Jetlag, because I was not able to sleep at night on Israel time.

And another thing I found is the flight crews are prettier than those of Lufthansa, but they do not really smile.  I prefer smiling normal face to unsmiling pretty face.

Donation Globe

Donation Globe

The painful flight was over and I landed on Zürich for the first time.  The airport was very impressive.

Design!

Design!

Switzerland is famous for the unique design.  And I could feel it even in the airport.

Even Payphone is cuter!

Even Payphone is cuter!

The Zürich airport is much smaller but cuter than Frankfurt airport.

Kids' Playground in the airport

Kids’ Playground in the airport

The playground was impressive.  There was only one kid in the picture because it was 6am local time, but I saw more kids playing later.

Charging Station

Charging Station

Free cellphine charging stations are easily found here and there, and was impressive because many people have hard time with their cellphone battery in Chicago airport.

Buy Buy Buy our watch!

Buy Buy Buy our watch!

Switzerland is very famous for the watch and clock industry.  Even I am wearing one.  And there are so many watch commercial and advertisements.

Standing Tram

Standing Tram

I had to use the tram to go to another gate (not terminal), and there was no bench in the tram (actually there were small ones at the both ends of the car).

Sky? Really?

Sky? Really?

You can see the tram’s name in the above picture.  And I don’t quite get that name.  The tram runs underground the whole time (it has only two stations), and the name is SKY-Metro.  Is it some joke that I don’t get?

Carmel Smoking Lounge

Camel Smoking Lounge

I saw Camel Smoking Lounge in Frankfurt, and now I saw the same thing again in Zürich.  Is this brand common across Europe?

The international travellers these days are desperate for the WiFi since we do not have network connection out of country or continent.  Chicago O’Hare airport has 20 minutes free internet which I also used for my laptop.  Frankfurt has one (I don’t remember any time restrict), and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport also has unlimited free WiFi.  And guess what, I found 60 minutes free WiFi in Zürich airport!  But you cannot use it, well, least I could not.  To gain the free WiFi access, you need personal code which they send you through cellphone text (SMS).  And my phone is not working being out of the country.  I looked around and saw so many faces changing from “Yay!” to confusion and finally to anger.  What the heck is this?  If I have cellphone connection, why do I need WiFi so desperately?

Because there are so many people having this problem even that one morning, thousands of people would have the same problem, and I guess, in that case, there must be some solution for this.  So I decided to ask for help.  I walked to the information desk and asked.  As soon as the guide in the desk figured out that my question was about the free WiFi, he cut me while I was still speaking and said with so cold voice, “There is nothing I can do for you about that.”

I was so shocked.  Wow, people in this country have so awesome attitudes, even the people working in the service industry.  So disappointing, and I guess this airline, this city and this country will never be in my favourite list.

The WiFi is so stupid.  The first sixty minutes is free, and you need to buy to use more.  But because you cannot get the first free connection, you cannot purchase it.  Because they send you the code through cellphone text message or email.  But how can you check your email without connection?  They are so dumb.  I do not care that John Calvin was working in this country.  I judge by my own experience, and I had very bad experience even from Chicago, and in the air, and in the city.  Swiss Air is like a Air Canada, and Lufthansa is like a WestJet.  Canadians would understand what I am talking about.

In Frankfurt, a gate was assigned only for the flights to Israel, and the security check was literally extreme.  But in Zürich, there was no specific gate.  Actually the gate was not assigned until one hour before the flight departure which I think stupid because I had no idea where to wait.  But the security check was just normal.  But after the gate for the Tel Aviv flight was assigned, two Swiss policepersons came to the gate with machine guns!  And I thought, “now it looks normal to me.”

Frankfurt airport has two languages for signs.  I understand because it’s Germany speaking German, and English is international language.  Zürich airport also has two languages – German and English, which I do not understand because Switzerland has four official languages, then they must have five languages for signs.

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