Saturday, 12 February 2011

Jerusalem Part 2 - Day 6


So today we made it to the most sacred and controversial site in the whole of Jerusalem - Temple Mount! Woohoo!

Dan Hotel in Jerusalem - just the driveway.

(On a completely different tangent - have you seen the videos of the supposed 'UFO' descending and then ascending on Temple Mount? I'm pretty sure it's a hoax.)

But anyway, back to the topic here.

On day 6, we visited Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It was freezing that day and everyone was huddled in layers of clothing. I was in a dilemma as to whether to keep my hands in my pockets where it was infinitely warmer or bring out out into the wind and cold to take pictures! I think in the end pictures won out though, since it was sort of once in a blue moon trip! My fingers were frozen stiff after though!

Yep, mine is the only one with gloves - although I bet everyone else was wishing it was theirs instead! ;)
Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

Red Riding Hoods visit Jerusalem - look out, wolf!
Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

Yup. Hair all mussed up from the wind!

The Temple Mount is is one of the most controversial sites in the world. It is special to many Jews because it was the site of the first and second Temple. Some also believe that it will be the site of the final Temple. The Temple is however also special to the Muslims because the Dome of the Rock is built there. The Dome of the Rock is believed to be the spot from which their prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

Must be a Qur'an study?

A little further out, there were a lot of excavated findings. This is just one of the door entrances that must have belonged to the wall? It's actually quite a small archway. I don't think the typical Aussie would be able to walk through without stooping. I can of course because I'm not a typical Aussie. :D

Guess what? You're right. It's a toilet... no really, it is.

The Temple Mount is built on Mount Moriah (where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac and also where Jesus stayed behind to talk with the elders and priests of the Temple after his parents had left the Temple)

Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

We also visited the Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall) on that same day. The Wall is divided into 2 sections. Only men were allowed in the left part of the wall, and only women were allowed to pray at the right end of the Western Wall. There were bits of paper stuck all over the wall - in every nook, cranny and crevice. White bits, yellow pieces, pink slips and what not. You name it. There were also white plastic chairs placed just in front of the wall for women to sit on and pray in front of the wall (those not able to stand for long periods of time). Silence was observed when one was standing in front of the wall - everyone prayed fervently but quietly. Also, after prayer, it is tradition and etiquette (I suppose) to back away from the wall. One was not allowed to turn their back to the Wall. I guess it was sort of like bowing out of a Chinese Emperor's presence - one didn't just turn and walk away. Well, I had to learn that the hard way. I didn't know about that until I had walked about 4-5 meters away from the wall, and there was this middle-aged lady who keep signalling a circle to me. She didn't say a word! I just stared at her blankly, like - are you talking to me? what are you saying? SPEAK! Yeah well, I eventually got the message that I was meant to walk backwards. Awkward.

I really like this picture. I think it's very touching - especially when you think about how much this Wall means to the Jews - and the reality of war in their lives. Any day, any moment could be their last - or that of a loved one.

Adam and John Tay at the Wailing Wall.

Subsequently, later in the afternoon, we visited the Jewish Quarters. I guess this was more like the suburbian area for the Jews? There still were tourist shops in that area, but the stuff there were sold at much cheaper prices than those in the more 'touristy' areas.

Houses in the Jewish Quarter
Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.


While at the Jewish Quarters, we were taken to visit the Burnt House Museum. This is the remains of a house in Jerusalem, probably belonging to a rich Jewish family before it was destroyed by the Roman soldiers in 70 AD. Archaeologists found a kitchen, work rooms and a small ritual bath. There were also some interesting other remains dug up at the site.

A picture of archaeological findings at this site. In the bottom right picture you can see a girl's arm and a broken spear head. Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

The basement of the Burnt House - where the girl's arm bone and spear head were found.


Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

First Grade Logic

This was emailed to me from someone at work and I thought it was pretty good for laughs. I personally didn't really get the last one, but oh well - some of the others are good!


A first grade school teacher had twenty-six students in her class. She presented each child in her classroom the 1st half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. It's hard to believe these were actually done by first graders. Their insight may surprise you. Keep in mind that these are first-graders, 6-year-olds, because the last one is a classic!

1. Don't change horses ---- until they stop running.

2. Strike while ---- the bug is close.

3. It's always darkest before ---- Daylight Saving Time.

4. Never underestimate ----- the power of termites.

5. You can lead a horse to water ---- but how?

6. Don't bite the hand ----- that looks dirty.

7. No news ----- is impossible

8. A miss is as good as ---- a Mr.

9. You can't teach an old dog ----- new Math

10. If you lie down with dogs ----- you'll stink in the morning.

11. Love all ---- trust Me.

12. The pen is mightier than ----- the pigs.

13. An idle mind is ----- the best way to relax.

14.. Where there's smoke ----- there's pollution.

15. Happy the bride ----- who gets all the presents.

16. A penny saved is ----- not much.

17. Two's company ----- three's the Musketeers.

18. Don't put off till tomorrow ----- what you put on to go to bed.

19. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and ----- you have to blow your nose.

20. There are none so blind as ----- Stevie Wonder.

21. Children should be seen and not ------ spanked or grounded.

22. If at first you don't succeed ----- get new batteries.

23. You get out of something only what you ------ see in the picture on the box

24.. When the blind lead the blind ----- get out of the way.

25. A bird in the hand ------ is going to poop on you.

The WINNER and last one!

26 Better late than ----- Pregnant

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Jerusalem Part 1 - Day 5


The Church of St Peter in Gallicantu

The Church of St Peter in Gallicantu is a remembrance of Peter denying Christ, but also of Christ being led to torture and crucifixion for the sins of the world. Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

                                                                Pictures by Zhu Ping Loh.

If you look closely enough, you will be able to see the faint scratchings of the middle cross on the layer just above the dark hole. Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

This is the Dungeon area of Caiaphas's house - where Jesus would have been tortured and beaten before being crucified. It is probably also where both Peter and John would have been beaten for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Next we visited the Upper Room. The Upper Room actually means a guest room - it was a spare room used for guests. It doesn't really have special connotations.

In the Bible, the Upper Room is also known as the room where the last supper of Jesus and His disciples took place (Matthew 26:26-35). This is also where the disciples were gathered together praying when the Holy Spirit descended upon them on Pentecost after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (Acts 1:13-16).

The Upper Room is located just outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in Mount Zion. It was rebuilt by the Crusaders after it was razed to the ground by the Muslims. Therefore you will be able to see quite a bit of the Crusader influence in the architecture of the building. The floor below the Upper Room is the traditional burial place of King David (Tomb of King David).

Upper Room. Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

The Olive branch is used as a symbol of faith in that room because it was non-offensive to all religions - Muslim, Jews and Christians.

Upper Room entrance/exit


After visiting King David's tomb downstairs of the Upper Room (we weren't allowed near the actual coffin because it was barred away but we could see it), we visited the Tower of David Museum. This museum features the history of Jerusalem from its first Canaanite inhabitants to the current Middle Eastern populace in it today. Pictures are by Zhu Ping Loh.

Scaled life-sized model of Jerusalem in the 2nd Temple Period.

Tower of David Museum - gorgeous isn't it? It's magnificient. I would really have like to have seen King David/Solomon's palace in those days and what the splendour of that place would have been like!

Statue of David after cutting off the head of the giant Goliath

Map of Jerusalem in the Byzantine empire



The Garden Tomb is believed to be the tomb and site of Jesus Christ's resurrection. There are several sites proposed to be possible sites of Christ's tomb, but this one seems the most likely for several reasons. Firstly, there is a large cistern located underneath the garden which indicates that this could be the garden of Joseph of Arimathea. Secondly, there is a very strong resemblance of the rock face on which the tomb is built to resemble a skull. The Biblical account tells that Jesus was crucified in 'Golgotha' (translated literally, it means 'place of skull'). Also, the Biblical account tells us that Jesus was crucified by a wayside (those who passed by wagged their heads and blasphemed Jesus). The Romans crucified people at the wayside as a message/deterrance to others, and this place is located by the main roadside where many would have passed by. In fact, the place has been converted to a busport today! Again, pictures were taken and shared by Zhu Ping Loh.

Our tour guide through the Garden Tomb. I believe his name is Phillip.

There was a group of people from Congo there making a joyful shout and song to God - rejoicing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was pretty hilarious really, because our tour guide could barely be heard over them. He tried unsuccessfully to quieten them down several times - all to no avail! And there was even someone who looked like a cameraman for a news station there. You can see him in this picture carrying a clunky camera around with him!

That small hole in the rock is the entrance to the tomb.

The place where Jesus would have been buried if this was His tomb.

This is the interior of the tomb. It was very small. As you can see, it's EMPTY!


Just a random window in Jerusalem that I really liked. Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

Both my right and subsequently my left sole fell off halfway in the trip!! So I had to make do with rubber band until I found super glue to glue it back together! I'm SO glad for super glue - it's one of the BEST things man invented. Picture by Zhu Ping Loh.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Dead Sea, En Gedi, Gethsemane and Bethesda - Day 4


So it turns out the Bedouins owned camels and donkeys and we got to pick one to ride on. Of course everyone picked the Camels!

The camels are tall creatures. You can tell when they are seated - or more accurately, kneeling on the ground - but when they get up you feel like you are standing on someone else's shoulders! The process of getting up from the kneeling position is really quite funny. The guide pulls on the halter of the first camel. The first camel obediently rises WITH ITS BACK LEGS FIRST! So it feels like being thrown forward out of the saddle as the camel is getting up! I was gripping so hard to the saddle. Then when the camel stands up with its front legs the whole thing evens out - it was pretty fun. After the first camel in the chain stands up, all the other camels behind it stand up too - It was like watching the domino effect being replayed backwards.

Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh

Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh

I was so scared for Daniel when he went so close to the camel! They're pretty scary creatures because I'm pretty sure they bite. AND THE CAMELS WERE PERPETUALLY CHEWING SOMETHING IN THEIR MOUTHS! It was freaky - like a Willy Wonka everlasting chewing gum or something. Photo courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.

Photos courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.

So you know how we didn't shower yesterday because - well it was too cold to shower and the bathroom facilities were kinda inadequate and to be fair nobody felt like showering - so anyway, we made it up by going for a early bath in the Dead Sea right after lunch and then showering in the shower facilities provided by the Sea (how convenient for us tourists).

The Sea was so cold even though it wasn't too unbearable I suppose simply because it was supposed to have the lowest atmospheric pressure in the world at -415. So even though it was 'winter' there, we could still swim in the Sea (unlike our wintery Australia!)

So the water was VERY cool, VERY calm,VERY salty, VERY murky and VERY slippery. You can't see the bottom - the water sort of looks brownish green. But apparently VERY good for one's skin. Everyone who went down to the sea started applying the mud from the bottom of the sea floor to their face, arms, legs and body - someone *AHEM* even applied it to his hair/scalp - like it was going to do any good there.

Dead Sea - Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh

Courtesy of Zhu Qing Loh.

Before we got over enthusiastic with the mud. Courtesy of Zhu Qing Loh
AFTER we got over enthusiastic with the mud! Courtesy of Zhu Qing Loh

Salty enough to float on the water without effort! Courtesy of Zhu Qing Loh
Washing all the mud off before going to shower - We weren't allowed in the shower rooms until we were spotless - which kinda defeats the purpose but hey - it's their showers! Courtesy of Zhu Qing Loh.


Panorama of En Gedi. Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.

Rock Badger in a Tree - mine :) I didn't really expect a Rock badger to look like this! I thought it'd be black and white like the old Badger in Wind in the Willows. Oh well... gues that's why they call them ROCK badgers - because they are supposed to match the colours of the rocks - which are most definitely brownish, limestone yellow.

Rock Badger in the Crags - Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh

Ibets - The Deer in the Psalm referred to as Hinds (see how small its legs are that they can walk so sure-footedly on the narrow ledges and mountain trails in the Judean deserts). Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.

Our Israeli tour guide - Donny Brody.


After En Gedi, we headed off to visit the Sanctuary of the Dominus Flevit - which is like a small church/chapel built to remember the spot where Jesus wept for Jerusalem on top of the Mount of Olives. All of these places observe strict silence and no flash photography.
Dominus Flevit - the Church built to as a memorial of where Jesus wept. Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.

The view from the Dominus Flevit window - especially created to show what Jesus would have seen when standing on the top of the Mount of Olives weeping for the lost souls of Jerusalem. Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.


 Then we headed for the Garden of Gethsemane. We passed by a lot of cemeteries on the way.
It's a cemetery on the slope of the Mount of Olives. See the 'white-washed sephulchers'. Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.

View from the Top of Mount of Olives. You can see a lot of Jerusalem from up there! It's completely breathtaking and so lovely.

Panorama of the Garden of Gethsemane - photo by Zhu Ping Loh. Truth be told, I was rather disappointed with the Garden of Gethsemane. It was too neat and pretty. I was expecting something from the scene of the Passion of the Christ - you know - the moonlight night with dark shadows and huge boulders any of which could have been the one Jesus sweated blood on. Oh well....  at least these trees are supposed to be great great descendents of the ones that were alive back in Jesus' days. So that's something I suppose.

Another church to memorialise the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and gave Himself over to the will of the Father. Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.

Depiction of Jesus praying - Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.

Altar of the church - Courtesy of Zhu Ping Loh.

High Priest Caiaphas's house and probably also where the Dungeons were. The signs below explain more about it.


Pool of Bethesda

I couldn't find a picture of Bethesda so I got one off the internet for you :D The pool is currently located within the grounds of St Anne's Church. The church had amazing acoustics - the sound echoed and dragged out beautifully even after we'd finished the song. It was fantastic.