October 28, 2015
I remember my mother reading stories from the children’s version of the Bible to my brother and me growing up. Even though I did not regularly attend church or pray daily, I was strong in my faith, values, and morals.
When my father passed away, I was in a dark place because other than my father, I lost other people in my life, people who I cared about but were callous as far as comfort. To remember my father’s birthday, the first one where he was not physically alive, I went back to my roots to find myself again and to forgive those who left me when I needed their support the most. I embarked on a short spiritual journey to find inspiration again with humanity.
Israel was the perfect place to travel to because everything I read about growing up was referenced there. I had no real plan and was not sure what I would gain out of this trip, but Israel was as magical as I imagined.
Masada National Park
I learned when traveling to Israel, it is the safest to book tours within the country because the guides will be aware of any signs of danger. Through my research, I found that the best tour to join was Shalom Israel Tours, mainly for the flexibility of group, day, and/or custom tours. I originally signed up for the 3-day tour to Eilat and Petra, Masada and Dead Sea Tour, and the Jewish Jerusalem Day Tour. However, I found out right before I was about to depart to Tel Aviv that my passport was expired due to Israel’s regulations. Israel considers a passport to be valid if it is 6 months from the expiration date; my passport was 5 months from the expiration date. Therefore, my trip was delayed, and I was not able to include visiting Jordan on my trip. But, I was able to spend the weekend in Los Angeles and visited San Diego for a day.
Masada and Dead Sea Tour
I booked a day tour with Shalom Israel Tours. In this day tour, the itinerary included the Masada Mountain Fortress, Ahava Dead Sea Cosmetics Factory, and a Dead Sea float and mud experience.
I learned from my tour guide that the key to attract birds is to hold onto Cheetos for dear life, and the birds will fly towards you hoping to snatch the Cheetos from you.
According to Shalom Israel Tours, the minerals and the salts in the water have strong healing properties and can aid in healing skin tissue, skin allergy, and arthritis.
The Dead Sea has a high salt concentration, which is how many people can float very easily. It is also the lowest point on earth.
I was told that giving yourself a mud bath at the Dead Sea will make your skin smooth and soft. My group were all convinced to try and experience the aftermath of smoother skin.
Jersualem – the place where three religions co-exist: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; within Jerusalem, it is divided between Old and New City
Jewish Jerusalem Day Tour – a change of plans that became an impromptu tour since the group consisted of only one other person other than myself
Amir Call Or was an amazing tour guide! His love for Jerusalem and heritage came out during this tour experience. He was a great storyteller, filled with passion and excitement. One of the things Amir wanted everyone to experience was to “feel” Jerusalem, not just to be educated from the tour. He also made sure all needs and suggestions were met. My love for Jerusalem came out during this once in a lifetime tour.
Bar Mitzvah – a religious initiation ceremony of a Jewish boy coming of age (13 y/o)
Photograph from the Jewish Quarter
Photograph of a synagogue, Jewish place of worship
Photograph of the markets within Old City, Jerusalem
Church of the Holy Sepulchre – a church inside the Christian Quarter
I took this photograph of a man making my tour group a fruit juice; I don’t recall the name of the fruit, but it was delicious and fresh.
Photograph of the Muslim Quarter
Photograph of Mahmud Baidun, Founder of Baidun: Fine Antiquites Jerusalem
Baidun – specializing in all types of antiquities from the Iron Age to the Ottoman Empire, The Baidun collection contains works from every major Levant civilization: Canaanite, Phoenician, Israelite, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Persian, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Islamic (Baidun, 2017).
Western Wall – I was moved by everyone praying at this wall and remembered seeing this wall in the movie, Jerusalem
I saw many people praying and writing their prayers down while placing the paper in the crevices of the wall.
Nachlat Binyamin Arts and Crafts Fair – open every Tuesdays and Fridays weekly
Photograph of a candy stand in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv – one of the modernized cities of Israel; there is free WiFi throughout the city
I met this photographer while watching the music performance. Although few words were exchanged, we both took a portrait of each other. Art translates even through different languages and cultures.
Jaffa – one of the oldest part of Tel Aviv and was once an ancient port city
I wanted to capture this photograph from the other side. It required hopping over a fence in order to capture this shot.
I love silhouettes, especially capturing them in photographs. It’s like we are looking at someone’s back, walking in a similar path, and sharing a moment together, although unbeknownst to him.
I was drawn to the architecture and thought the lighting that day would make a great photograph.
Maya Shalev – I met the designer in person, and she wanted to take a photograph of me modeling one of her purses that I purchased
I met a local who gave a me a night tour of Tel Aviv.
Sea of Galilee – Israel’s largest freshwater; according to the Bible, Jesus spent most of his time here
I booked the Nazareth, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee Day Trip from Jerusalem via Bein Harim Tourism Services.
Yoav Malachi did a great job showing everyone the best parts of Nazarreth, Tiberias, and the Sea of Galilee. My favorite part of the tour was when he shared with everyone his favorite view of the Sea of Galilee.
Church of the Annunciation
I met some other travelers on this day tour, and we took photographs of one another at the Sea of Galilee.
This was one of my favorite shots I captured of the Sea of Galilee.
Yardenit – baptism site on the Jordan River
My faith is what keeps me going when times seem tough. It was also something that kept my father going even when he was near the end. My father was always a fighter and striven for the best in and out of life. He rarely complained even when he encountered obstacles. Some may say that he was unlucky, but I think my father was blessed. He lived probably the most enriching life, fulfilling every one of his dreams: to come to the States for higher education, to accomplish and live the American Dream, and to create a family.
Where have I traveled in Western Asia?