Friday, March 28, 2008


Leaving Jerusalem was a difficult thing. I had definitely grown to love the city. It's a place that captures the imagination. I had seen so much there and I was even lucky enough to see someone with a full blown case of "Jerusalem Syndrome" on one of my last days there!

However, it was definitely time to move on. I wanted to see more of Israel, to explore more of this incredible country.

After tossing a coin to determine where I was going next.... I realised that the next location was HAIFA!!!!!

I was definitely excited about this place.

This was the location of the famed Baha'i gardens! The holiest location of one of the world's youngest religions.

After a short bus ride that involved me freaking out (an IDF boy fell asleep opposite me and the barrel of his M16 just seemed to.... follow my head.... no matter how much I tried to get out of the way).

But soon enough, I was there!

And I headed to the gardens as soon as I could.
Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

I can quite confidently say that these were the most beautiful gardens I had ever seen in my life (and probably ever will see for that matter!)

However, I wasn't able to get inside straight away.

So, instead I headed off to my hostel. Definitely a good idea! There I met Adam and Jesse, a Canadian lawyer who had quit with desires to see the world and an American-Jewish writer looking to learn more about the Israel.

With them, I was able to explore Haifa and more importantly the Baha'i gardens!!!

Again, absolutely amazing!

There was nothing in the entire place that wasn't perfect.

Everything was perfectly symmetrical and inline.
Even the road running down to the ocean had been shifted to ensure that it was inline with the path of the garden.

All 19 levels brought an extra vision of absolute beauty.

Even the sounds were soothing and gentle, with soft gushing water being present everywhere you walked.

This place was so calming and soothing.

It was an oasis. A shining light of beauty.
I'm not sure I'll ever see something so stunning ever again to be honest!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fire and Passion!

Ramallah is a place full of contrasts. There are modern points and there is what appears to be the beginnings of commerce and trade blossoming.

And at other times there is the poverty and the sadness.

I had decided to come back into the West Bank to experience exactly this contrast. Keeping me company were the two Daves that I had met in the hostel. One from Singapore, one from the UK. The three of us drew plenty of interest from the people there! We were CLEARLY not from around the place!

We drank tea, we ate chicken and just walked around. It was lovely to just stand and talk to the locals, all of whom happily chatted away with us.

As the day continued, what we came for started.
The rally commemorating the 40th anniversary of the political party Fatah.
Yasser Arafat's party!
People were out in numbers, and the two Daves and I wanted to see! We wanted to get in the middle of it all and experience it all. We had seen the other side, and now it was time for us to get a different perspective of thoughts and feelings.

It was a VERY different experience!
As we followed the crowds heading towards the main event, we realised that this rally wasn't being held anywhere, oh no! This event was being held in Yasser Arafat's compound! The place were he was holed up until his death a few years ago.

Upon getting inside, we realised that we weren't too happy with our view. So after a bit of quick talking (and the passing off of British youth cards as press passes) we were able con our way onto the press gallery!!!

To the left was Reuters, to the right was the Associated Press.... over to the side was the Beeb.
Within the crowds, people were cheering and dancing. Children were there with their parents, the old people were all smiles.

It was a bizarre scene. To the front, the VIPs were on stage all speaking passionately into the mics. Former prisoners were pampered and fetted in front of the stage. Childrens' groups marched in to applause as did womens' groups.

Everywhere, there were guns and more guns..... no shooting in the air.... but definitely an experience none the less to see it all.

Monday, March 03, 2008


The time I spent in the West Bank enticed me. I wanted to see more.

I wanted to go back and see the lives lived by the people there.

This desire drew me towards the hub of politics and commerce in the West Bank.

It drew me towards Ramallah.
This city is effectively the capital of the West Bank. It is also the economic centre for the people here.... for what economic activity that still happens anyway.

Everywhere I wandered, I was greeted by smiling faces! I couldn't believe how friendly everyone was. Regardless of where I was in the West Bank, I was shown kindness.

.... I also found the funnier side of the West Bank as well!