Sunday, 30 January 2011

Timna and Masada - Day 3

Our beautiful and luxurious resort by the Red Sea, also known as the Gulf of Eilat. We had a buffet of pancakes, fish, eggs, fruits, salads, meat and desserts for breakfast! It was my favourite hotel/resort in Israel. Apparently, shopping is good in Eilat as well.
The chef who let me make my own pancake! He was actually making something more like pikelets, but I didn't know that so mine must have looked massive to him! :)


We visited the Timnah National Park where we were given a tour of a replica of the Jewish Tabernacle that the children of Israel built while they were journeying to their Promised land. 

Timnah National Park - Rocks!

Replica of the Tabernacle that the Israelites built on the way to their promised land. This is a project by the Messianic Jews. One of them took us on a tour of this tabernacle and gave us very detailed an insightful explanations.
The laver that the Priests used to wash and cleanse themselves before going into the Tabernacle.
Taken by Zhu Ping Loh.

Altar of Incense before going into the Holy of Holies.
Taken by Zhu Ping Loh.

The Table of Showbread. Taken by Zhu Ping Loh.

Replica of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. Taken by Zhu Ping Loh.

Replica of the contents of the Ark of Covenant: 10 commandments, Manna and Aaron's rod that blossomed

View of the complete Tabernacle and Courtyard in the Timna National Park. I had to climb partway up a mountain to get this!


 Then, we visited Masada. Masada is a Judean fortress in the southern part of Israel overlooking the Dead Sea. It is famous in historical records for mass suicide of its inhabitants the day before Romans captured the fortress after a seige. The Jews killed their families before ending their lives when it was clear that the Romans were going to overtake the fortress. They chose death over possible slavery and torture.

Herod also had a palace on Masada. It was a grand, luxurious palace in those days. Part of the frescos remain to this day. In some of the pictures, you will see a black line. The black line was drawn by archaeologists to show which parts were uncovered as it was and which parts were reconstructed from the torn down materials. Everything below the black line stands now as it did all those years ago. Everything above the black line has been reconstructed with the original pieces - it is just that those pieces broke off over the many years it was under rubble.

You can still see the original frescos that were handpainted over 2000 years ago.

Roman sauna - Imagine that! They had a sauna all those years ago already with a limited supply of water - they had to invent creative ways to cycle the rain water they got with a very intricate water system.

Masada today - still much work to be done.

Jewish family at Masada

Our tour group at Masada

There were 2 options to get off the fortress of Masada: we could take a cable car, or trek down the treacherous snake path. That's dad in the picture as evidence he went down the snake path. There are railings to start off with, but once you get further down, there are no railings for holding on to. You needed to watch your steps.

Still in the early stages of climbing down Masada. BUT IT FELT LIKE A LONG TIME! We still had a long way to go before getting to the bottom. Because the path zig-zagged across the mountain face it actually took a lot longer for us to get down than it first looked like it would!

This is a picture I took when I simply HAD to stop to let my quivering legs rest! We were only about halfway down. My legs were shaking and felt like jelly by this time. It wasn't that it was such a long distance - it was just that it was continually walking downhill on loose stones that really exercised those thigh and calf muscles!

The rest of those game enough to take the long trek. They were right at the back - and ironically, they comprised of the fittest of the group who went down the snake path.


It was dusk by the time we finally reached the end of the snake path and the bottom of the Masada mountain. So it was time to head to our accommodations for the night: a Bedouin camp.

One of the Bedouins turned out to be a musician! Fancy that! He studied music in university and wanted to pass on the Bedouin tradition of music. He played a wedding song for us and even allowed my brother and I to try out some sort of mortar and pestle like instrument that creates the beat for his music. He played a Bedouin instrument which looked like a cross between a banjo and a guitar.

Archway made of dried palm leaves - I thought it was a fire hazard, especially since the place was so dry and hot.

Panorama of the Bedouin camp

Campfire site - told jokes, sang songs (including Somebody to Love by Queen!) and played cards by the fire.

Singing silly songs :D

Our sleeping arrangements - everyone slept in one giant tent! However, it is usually the custom of the Bedouins to separate the men from the women with a partition.



HAHA - in the middle of Israel! who knew. Guess China's goods really are irresistable.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Petra - Day 2

Some of the pictures this time are stills taken from my video-camera. But you can probably tell the difference between the quality of those shots and the others taken by Zhu Ping with his SLR.

One word that sums up Petra is: Majestic.

It was such a wonder walking through the entire range and being this tiny little figure beside the towering structures - and to think that they were all natural! The rocks also varied in colour - some of them had gorgeous streaks of red, orange and yellow on the rock surface caused by erosion. Even more amazing though are some of the man-made structures - these are completely carved out of the rocks!!

Bread from our Breakfast that was left on the windowstill to cool down before being served to us on a buffet! The Petra dust must have made it especially yummy though.

Gift Shop at Entrace to the Petra Gorge

Clothes on sale - its amazing how touristy that area is!

Petra Gorges

Ancient Edomite writing on the Rocky mountains of Petra. A lot of these places used to be inhabited by Bedouins who subsequently moved out by order of the Government because of a fire.

Ancient Egyptian influenced style palace in Petra

Family riding on the camels - reminds me of the 3 wise men seeking out the Messiah!

One of the horse guides - we were given an option to ride a horse or a horse carriage instead of walking through the Petra Gorge if we queued up and paid money!

Ancient Egyptian styled palace at Petra

Just a cool random picture that I had to throw in :)

I call this the fishphalant because it is both a fish and an elephant depending on the angle you look at it!  I wonder if it's natural or if it is semi man-made. It's a fish if you look at it from the side. But from this angle you can see the elephant's trunk. Pretty neat, huh!

Treasury of Petra. A pot right at the top of this gigantic treasury is fabled to contain gold/riches beyond imagination.

Perspective. Yes we really are that tiny compared to the majestic Petra rocks that form the Gorge!

I love this one - it's supposed to be a fertility god - look at how it is depicted - the shape of a round belly!

Giant's URINAL! Imaging that. How huge must their splash be. >.<

One of the old Bedouin caves that finally got evacuated due to fire.

                                                           Guards at Petra


Panorama of the ancient amphitheatre at Petra - wonder what they used it for? Surely they didn't have the Olympics then?

Panorama of Petra

Panorama of Petra

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Jordan and Amman - Day 1

These are some pictures that were taken by Zhu Ping Loh, a member of our Israel tour group. He had a wonderful Canon SLR that did the scenery justice! And he also had some very amazing photography and photoshop skills which brought out the panoramas even better. So kudos to him! :)

I've left the panoramas to the end.

Memorial of Moses's burial place at Mount Nebo

Sand Art sold at a shop

View from Mount Nebo that Moses would have seen

Some random shop

Monument on Mount Nebo

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Some where along the way - this is what the 'countryside' in Jordan look like. Very deserted.

Along the route to the Hotel