Into the holy land.

Middle East » Israel
January 18th 2008
Published: January 23rd 2008
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"Attention ladies and gentlemen! We regret to inform you that the pilot has been unable to make it in today and we cannot supply another so Im afraid this flight is now cancelled. Please go down collect your luggage and make your way to the Alitalia service desk to arrange another flight" This is definitely not the way I wanted the day to start. My flight being cancelled is one thing but the probl... Read Full Entry

Photos are below
Photos: 56, Displayed: 21



Ein Gedi
What's wrong here??What's wrong here??
What's wrong here??

Wet flour?? Tel Aviv

23rd January 2008

Wow, great reporting and photos. Thanks a load.
26th February 2008

back home?
Just read your parents title. You are back in Oz? How long for? You've travelling again soon? Email me mate and fill me in!
16th November 2009

Palestinian Taxis
Hi, First of all, brilliant blog! It's great to finally read one that is well written, informed, balanced, and lined with historical notes as well as incidental travel details. I discovered yours whilst reminiscing about my own European/Middle East adventure (April - June 2008). Yours is an incredibly enjoyable read. Reading your encounter with the Palestinian taxi drivers brought a smile to my face. I too decided to venture into the Palestinian territory alone, and was confronted with the massive bank of taxis you mention. I initially had the 'owner' of a raft of them negotiate the price with me (in much the same way you mention - seems the haggling needs to involve a brochure and then some kind of heated argument), before he shipped me off to 'his cousin'. This cousin then brought out the brochure again and tried to get more money. I told him I'd give him extra regardless - I knew his boss/cousin would get most of his fare anyway, so long as he just took me where I wanted to go and was nice, he'd get his money. Suddenly his whole attitude changed, he was deeply grateful, and then offered to take me home for lunch to meet his wife. I politely declined, but then we got talking about the troubles he and his family face living in Palestine (particularly in regards to their treatment by the Israeli government). He asked me my opinion of the issue - I told him I can't pretend to know the full story, although I know that what the Western media tells me is less than the whole truth. He smiles, and then tells me about 'what they do' to the Palestinians. After taking me to the Church of the Nativity (and waiting for an hour and a half), he then offers to take me to a UN refugee camp just outside Bethlehem. I ended up having lunch with a Professor of International Conflict, the head of the Refugee Camp (a student who studied in the US but returned home to help his people)and a member of the UN. They confirmed for me the sanctions and terrible conditions imposed upon the Palestinians - again, things you never hear about. What they told me about the children is something that still makes me shudder. It was an incredible day. As I tried to return to the Israeli side, I was held up at the border crossing due to a 'malfunction' on the Israeli side. It seems there are many malfunctions, leading to many delays in allowing Palestinians trying to conduct cross-border business (and the unlucky stray tourist) from getting through. In 40 degree heat, in a small little cage for 22 hours, I came to understand the frustration many of them feel every day. I understand completely what you mean about the rudeness of the taxi drivers - the boss/cousin was a downright bastard, and if I hadn't offered more money (which made my journey inordinately expensive) my only experience would be a resoundingly negative one. But many of these people have no other means of income other than tourism (whilst every Israeli told me not to go to Palestine as it is 'full of terrorists')... and the economic sanctions (including drip-feeding the people water, so they are unable to grow crops) are slowly suffocating them. I guess I was able to understand why the taxi drivers have come to be so demanding in financial terms - when your family are at risk, you will try anything. Sadly, their heavy-handedness only makes the tourists more inclined to stick with the Israeli tourist buses: a catch 22 indeed. I don't mean to impugn your already-balanced and accurate depictions of Palestinian travel; what you write is completely true of my own experiences also! I am still neither pro-Palestinian nor pro-Israel - I can definitely still see both sides of this sad coin. But hopefully the above might add another small layer to the tapestry of your tale. What is happening there is incredibly sad, no matter which side of the fence you sit. Hopefully, in a land soaked an a bloody history, a little forgetfulness and peace might somehow find a way. Sorry for the long, rambling post - but congratulations again on a wonderful blog. It's a pleasure to read, and I'm looking forward to reading more. Thanks! Cheers, Notleonardo.
5th March 2010

Hi Notleonardo
Thanks for the message. It was great to hear it wasnt just me who had problems with the taxis there. I guess since you payed them you got a great experience but unfortunately I have little patience for people trying to rip me off so I just went it alone and perhaps didn't have as fulfilling experience as I could have. Although the taxi driver I did end up was nice and seemed keen to show me everything. Glad you enjoyed my blog. Sorry no more planned anytime soon.

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