Bethleham, Palestine

After reading this post, you will perhaps want to review the current travel warning I have on Israel. It is currently not possible to travel to the Palestinian West Bank without going through Israeli authority, ever if one is travelling by land from Jordan.

25734475_10156863585843998_3317822459058912883_o

Bethlehem, the alleged birthplace of Jewish moral leader Jesus, the pretender to the throne of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah.

26025908_10156863590198998_2310464882105998200_o

Bethlehem is only around 30 minutes from central Jerusalem, but since it’s in the Palestinian territories, public transport is not particularly frequent. Taking a taxi there is easy, although you would need to negotiate the price and you will have to have an Arab taxi driver, as Israeli Jews are not typically allowed to enter it (although somehow there are many exceptions, and the intercity buses certainly do pass through Palestinian territories, even when the bus drivers and many of their passengers are Israeli Jews).

26060129_10156863587433998_5304601009413188057_o

The town itself was OK. Quite orderly, not dirty, and very lively. The highlight is of course the Church of the Nativity, and it’s filled with tourists everywhere.

26063661_10156863582208998_1914159229826980279_o

The nativity scene opposite to the church. It was boxing day.

26114383_10156863588868998_7333844096815867263_o26171350_10156863584193998_2363496969036108489_o

Petra, Jordan

26025902_10156875289013998_4707239658527518622_o

The lost city of Petra is one of the main tourist attractions in Jordan.

26060254_10156875294528998_2388968661316586912_o

It is a city that is basically a collection of temples, with a very nice landscape.

26060429_10156875292398998_2615551488208259977_o

It’s got some plants and is firmly in the desert.

26063438_10156875286233998_5284683309734258511_o

Bought another headgear. Bargained it down from JOD15 to JOD6.

26114559_10156875293863998_5434494992707033931_o

There were a gigantic amount of oriental tourists, although Japanese ones seemed to outnumber the rest.

26114587_10156875289293998_8917400088586043749_o

It has gotten plenty of Roman structures, too.

26114696_10156875288058998_2144687852978106812_o

Interesting rocks.

26170051_10156875287623998_7063708634994474780_o

It’s a pretty big place and there are many routes. But the hike up to the monastery is the main one. It’s around 1.5 hours for me from the entrance to here.

26170951_10156875288713998_5834545588002270040_o26171496_10156875286713998_8102533242260567166_o

Many people will try to sell you a donkey ride, telling you it’s an hour-long hike. Fake news. It’s around 20 minutes each way.

26171837_10156875290568998_5134795619677731496_o

To get to Petra by bus, you will need to be at the bus station before 6am, and to leave, be there before 3.30pm. It’s around 4 hours each way. They played a promotional short film with His Majesty The King taking an American journalist on a tour around the country.

26171867_10156875294803998_6458943147202757168_o

The only theatre caved into a rock.

26172954_10156875296408998_6490040181062518646_o26173518_10156875287293998_3362223524721924888_o26173674_10156875291898998_3648886235164172351_o

The ceiling of the main building of the royal tombs. It’s the only one tourists are allowed in. In the middle, you see the crack created by the major earthquake.

26173678_10156875295718998_8400815495908485622_o

The famous treasury.

26173882_10156875295453998_3694685098999479375_o26197741_10156875285293998_6924658325379075966_o26232905_10156875296053998_789294047501099033_o

Amman, Jordan

26026067_10156872947808998_3676505307817683490_o

Amman, the capital of Jordan, is the seat of His Majesty The King, one of the current monarchs partly educated at Oxford University.

26026144_10156872943443998_1020856476836149663_o26060160_10156872944488998_8863679550414416989_o

Good views at the citadel. Certainly is worth the 3 Jordanian diners.

26060428_10156872937448998_2381304061612566869_o

The Roman theatre.

26114476_10156872953688998_3022174857322383395_o

If you are visiting Amman, I would advise against going out of this area. It’s safe, but it’s quite dirty (not as dirty as Egypt was) and there’s lots of dust everywhere.

26170141_10156872935148998_7803646676706209405_o

I was quite surprised by the fact that there were plenty of Roman buildings.

26170269_10156872941588998_3394187444244809993_o

A part of the citadel.

26170812_10156872933943998_8021198913617210093_o

The museum.

26171089_10156872939388998_262585080311287455_o26171223_10156872949663998_2879384669372846467_o

City walls.

26171279_10156872940253998_9069962923165853904_o26172136_10156872942698998_3305511221749962616_o

Looking like Greece.

26172875_10156872936303998_9067272852255811163_o26173287_10156872951853998_4807401788710632880_o

The big flag is where the palace is at.

Cairo, Egypt

25626876_10156860001563998_3958076148518241780_o

Cairo, the capital of Egypt, is a metropolitan with its tourist attractions basically all at the centre.

25627031_10156860012088998_7531662353526148226_o

Pollution was pretty bad and so it’s not very clear.

25734349_10156860015748998_4527003775560737640_o

The Coptic Church.

25734495_10156860004703998_6824394446876039175_o

The mosque and the Saladin Citadel.

25790869_10156859998153998_8531666571790049776_o

Some Egyptians asked for a photo with me. That must be how being white feels like.

25790973_10156860008878998_962019326515216384_n

If it’s a clear day, one would be able to spot the pyramids easily from here. I could see them, but couldn’t really capture them.

26023908_10156859999298998_1397498352264368300_o

The mosque is magnificent.

26024103_10156860010478998_5224346528284029320_o26025688_10156860006373998_6891907734158067459_o

The hanging church. Not that interesting.

26060288_10156860000213998_3279759295345976888_o

Inside the mosque.

26114342_10156860016813998_2484923899138330169_o

The Egyptian Museum. They closed parts of it.

Aswan/Abu Simbel/The Nile/Felucca, Egypt

25542554_10156852817843998_6673685077650627938_o

Aswan is the southern-most city in Egypt with some temples.

25542556_10156852823823998_5683883129471997726_o

One of the nearby temples in this one built by the Greeks who ruled Egypt after the death of gay emperor Alexander the Great.

25542557_10156852827533998_1913099721901459899_o

The Greeks wanted to be accepted by the masses, thus they built everything in Egyptian style.

25542722_10156852780438998_831020536688116953_o

Some years later, Coptic Christians occupied many of these places.

25586762_10156852836038998_7969187171688592857_o25586922_10156852714363998_134360774470766404_o

Abu Simbel, another temple, is one that’s relatively close to the Sudanese border and is another popular attraction around 3-4 hours from Aswan.

25586970_10156852786973998_3401198939747568662_o

Another main activity to do in Aswan is to go on the Nile.

25587073_10156852810053998_990610037498527545_o25587158_10156852886838998_6216189376667815449_o

There are two temples in Abu Simbel. Carved into rocks, designed to let the light shine into the sacred room, and later moved up to avoid having them drowned, it’s definitely worth a visit.

25587872_10156852769378998_4988000644108698674_o25626041_10156852820913998_1747107023895621131_o25626077_10156852894633998_6236880170442349611_o

The famous statues in Abu Simbel.

25626228_10156852708803998_8019543265342650457_o25626249_10156852903298998_1259679942980320059_o25626393_10156852832463998_6937871224868120930_o25626914_10156852771033998_4635121330746619142_o25627088_10156852784323998_7905440135216709292_o

A felucca. One can choose to take a cruise or one of these up the river.

25627120_10156852772858998_4943611090392238178_o25734144_10156852815128998_2844943505958868655_o25734180_10156852775953998_8341243212078903330_o25734182_10156852924698998_9030066018465433193_o25734226_10156852705363998_6856276165188181285_o25734264_10156852862023998_520574516625740832_o

This lake was in fact artificial to an extent so Egypt gets enough electricity. It would flood many archaeological sites, so there were large projects to relocate them.

25734378_10156852805298998_4102271292634234563_o

The feluca is a tiny boat that allows around 10 people to sleep on the same surface, and does not have a lavatory or anything.

Most people seemed to have really enjoyed it, but it was hell for me. There were lots of mosquitoes after sunset, it’s quite cold in the mornings, quite hot in the afternoon, one may not shower there, may not have a decent mattress or pillow to sleep on, and the blankets were itchy. Oh, and you eat where you sleep too so it’s scraps everywhere.

It’s also very boring. And the crew smoked.

25790855_10156852702583998_7311067567909680463_o

The High Dam. Definitely can skip this. They built this but they didn’t have the money, so they nationalized the Suez Canal.

25791111_10156852867183998_2389405953028819393_o26024000_10156852927598998_8626752482225580771_o26024190_10156852802243998_4884476405859995926_o

Luxor, Egypt

25487188_10156844406143998_8148661323722941889_o

The Egyptians warned us of the arrival of the Dark Lord Taylor “Hitlor” Swift.

25487283_10156844409433998_8728805963053062208_o

We had a donkey ride as a part of our tour.

25487354_10156844408343998_6436713509393206604_o

Luxor is the historic capital of ancient Egypt.

There are loads of tombs, and each ticket entitles one to enter three (not including King Tut’s – but King Tut’s actually quite small). Photos inside the tombs cost extra.

25487585_10156844402218998_7221445721081921212_o

And its main attraction is the Valley of the Kings, a collection of tombs, as well as the temple pictured here. (Behind the Valley.)

25488047_10156844407728998_5490093304395421352_o

The temple was reasonably well preserved, but not that big on the inside.

25488363_10156844405008998_1044083450859340505_o

The many people who worked there kept offering to adjust our headgears. They asked for money, of course.

25488468_10156844403958998_352907834576507486_o25532257_10156844408643998_9221318363695047049_o

The donkeys were all led by children, who were enthusiastic and very willing to take photos for you.

25542343_10156844403063998_6184328394542989051_o

It’s amazing how the colours have remained after several millennia.

25542492_10156844409058998_3793441762114347201_o25542704_10156844402698998_6885475149900297403_o25586914_10156844406993998_3327292265640229268_o25587862_10156844410088998_5040267113486892188_o25588121_10156844410543998_5360448990596001902_o25626007_10156844406463998_1556951171361565435_o25588052_10156853649908998_8486153145017931012_o

In the city, which was likely the nicest city in Egypt, by the way – all other parts of Egypt seemed worse than the worst parts of Mexico, there was also this temple.

25625995_10156853198058998_4362443771169602988_o

And of course the Nile.

25626245_10156853652438998_7749124354043180141_o

The temple in the city had a Coptic Christian church built on it, which was then destroyed by the Muslims who built a mosque on it. So it’s one of those places that have been continuously a place of worship for thousands of years.

25626440_10156853197588998_5545229219838321411_o

The Arabic dress was a two parters I bought in Abu Simbel. He originally asked for 950LE but I bargained it down to 200.

It was actually very nice. The exterior was a bit long for me, but I’m definitely wearing it as a bathing robe. It’s very comfortable, very convenient, and warmer than expected. There’s a reason why so many still wear it in the Middle East.

25626453_10156857235808998_3049243298491657689_o

A bit farther away from the city is the main temple of the Sun God Ra.

25734055_10156853197828998_2850359943178362746_o

Say you’ll remember me, standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset babe…

25791221_10156857235428998_8076562974399653630_o

The Romans took many of these.

26023792_10156853654668998_2748217665508368573_o

It was hidden under sand and so it escaped destruction.

26063289_10156857236373998_8802491912374594689_o

Istanbul, Turkey

25398170_10156838799233998_739360494431316301_o

It’s probably the best Muslim-majority city I have been.

25398252_10156838800878998_1004737012939948845_o

On my way to Egypt, I had a seven-hour stopover in Istanbul, so I thought I might as well go and see the city.

Turkish Airlines actually offer free tours with meals and transport, but on this particular day, they weren’t going to go to any of the main attractions, and so I decided to go out on my own. It’s not costly anyway.

25398432_10156838804723998_1271265233695897627_o

The city is quite easy to navigate, and most people seemed to speak some English. The metro was very easy to use, and the main tourist attractions were all rather close to each other.

25438620_10156838809398998_6125988461568169350_o

The food was nice, too. I even bought an oriental cushion for me chair.

25438791_10156838832258998_5699430625429337434_o

I was a bit disappointed at Hagia Sophia, considering the fact that it’s usually considered an ancient wonder. Or perhaps it’s just because it’s not that easy getting a good photo/look of it from the ground.

25438862_10156838796113998_790253902412686407_o25439019_10156838842858998_8821396910976360320_o

The Blue Mosque, on the other hand, was amazing.

25439921_10156838833158998_7588464716466639166_o

It may not look that good because the weather was pretty bad, but it was amazing in person.

25440034_10156838842103998_1651492036245105901_o25440044_10156838834563998_1770090220299990724_o

It has also got some European buildings.

25440105_10156838803663998_5170102940939051044_o

And a lot of other mosques look nice.

25487352_10156838796918998_700260165218338966_o25487431_10156838814538998_7023789787865864055_o25487537_10156838816983998_8716703602530366744_o

Something Byzantine.

25487593_10156838806798998_2392340489854885836_o25487599_10156838813148998_8116166180940978491_o25488089_10156838799898998_894931260703959166_o

The Grand Bazaar was a bit uneventful.

25488100_10156838818893998_6377591264422643107_o25488249_10156838798013998_3329814895479424201_o25531870_10156838794778998_4947142921609681477_o

Giza, Egypt

20024216_10156840705068998_5391938991180353229_o

The first thing to visit in Egypt was of course a pyramid.

25438662_10156840704098998_5143876033204654341_o

The Giza pyramids are technically not in the Egyptian capital of Cairo (though it’s within its metropolitan area), but the city of Giza, on the west bank of the Nile.

25438770_10156840697873998_6101994628144234822_o

They are three pyramids that are quite close to each other, and in fact quite close to urban areas.

25438794_10156840749613998_5263340936674690407_o

But they weren’t that old – this, the “step pyramid”, is much older at around 5000 years old.

25438796_10156840734043998_3946091777564371068_o

One will find it extremely easy to get a donkey or a camel ride around the areas, and they are in reality keep getting pushed to you.

25438805_10156840692713998_9090252012673190307_o

Near the three pyramids is this statue. Within walking distance of two of the pyramids.

25438906_10156840744923998_9097424867623266970_o25438957_10156840699348998_2743754471366176324_o

As you can see, one of the three pyramids is a little far.

25439008_10156840703413998_5229346592664104315_o25439937_10156840695293998_5223259257097923751_o

Where you can see everything.

25440054_10156840702278998_125002337742879380_o

Going to tourist attractions in Egypt is indeed an extremely irritating activity. You get pestered a lot with loads of vendors and people enticing you to a donkey or a camel ride. They literally push their products to you, drop them, and ask that you buy them.

25440197_10156840729013998_7024380589378824302_o

You can enter one of the great pyramids.

25440284_10156840746618998_4360840757001721595_o

And some would tell you it’s a gift or that the service is free, then ask for money. You wouldn’t necessarily know whether they have overcharged you either, as Egypt is ridiculously cheap. Cheaper than Mexico.

25440332_10156840711278998_7590001196592499147_o

Photos are typically not allowed, at least not without paying extra, inside pyramids and temples.

25487303_10156840738948998_6425557928596754506_o

I was offered to take a photo with the donkey and literally carried up to it, taken somewhere, then was asked to pay 200 Egyptian pounds.

25487377_10156840748683998_7526409007547358855_o25487613_10156840743893998_131811348957969426_o

Dug deep to make it more difficult for Angelina Jolie to steal things.

25488074_10156840737308998_5784285370270219922_o25488213_10156840701603998_705052525467573633_o25488266_10156840701288998_8481494078542141216_o25488377_10156840702733998_7306722097882778759_o

Those camels kept shitting and peeing.

25488406_10156840696263998_2200586580857694992_o

One of them kept pushing me to buy a headdress, and I refused, instead going for someone else who did not annoy me, as an attempt to promote good behaviour.

25531949_10156840700813998_7820905380486611380_o25542422_10156840693423998_8617717328304055055_o25586749_10156840698748998_3312970660405949385_o

There are some monuments near the pyramids.

25586948_10156840745533998_7544386090082857733_o

I was taking a selfie and this guy just randomly popped into it. When you experience something like this, be sure to get angry and tell them off, as in the end they will always try to get money from you for unsolicited “services”.

25586976_10156840704638998_8215934239426013437_o